Inside: How do the clothes in your closet make you feel? Here are 12 things you should ditch from your wardrobe right away to clear up space and clear out negativity.

Whether you realize it or not, the clothes in your closet communicate various things to you. They can evoke positive feelings as you look at the pieces that you love and enjoy.

But they can also create negative feelings when you hang onto pieces that cause you to feel guilty, sad, or regretful.

A cluttered closet can also cause you to feel anxious or frustrated. It’s no fun to have trouble locating something you planned on wearing while you’re trying to get ready in the morning.

An overly full closet makes it more challenging to find things and can make it difficult to see what you even have when the clothes are all crammed together.

If you’ve ever looked at a closet full of clothes and yet felt like you had nothing to wear, you know how disheartening it can be.

No one needs this kind of negativity in their life. Here are twelve things to ditch from your wardrobe to create a more functional and enjoyable space.

things you should ditch from your wardrobe

12 Things to Ditch From Your Wardrobe

Ready to get rid of the clothes that are no longer benefitting you? Let go of these twelve things and the negative emotions that come along with them.

1. Pieces that are stained or need repair

Do you have clothes that have been sitting in your closet for an extended time waiting to be repaired? Or perhaps a piece that you loved was stained and you’re having trouble letting it go.

Let today be the day that you get real with yourself on whether or not you can (or will) actually fix these articles of clothing. Repairing pieces when you’re able is great.

But if you can’t fix it, go ahead and let it go. Those nagging reminders hanging in your closet aren’t doing you any good.

2. Items with tags still on them (from more than a few months ago)

If you have items in your closet with the tags still on them and you can’t even remember when you bought them, now’s your opportunity to let them go.

The tags still being on the item is a clear indicator that you haven’t worn it. If it wasn’t a very recent purchase, then chances are good it was a purchasing mistake, which we will talk about in more detail later.

You can let go of pieces, even if they are brand new, if you realize it is not something you love.

3. Clothing that makes you feel self-conscious

Remove clothes from your closet that make you feel self-conscious. You should feel good in the clothes that you wear.

Ditch pieces that you don’t feel are flattering or that you know you won’t be happy wearing.

These items are taking up space unnecessarily and aren’t helping you to feel good about yourself. Let them go.

things you should ditch from your wardrobe

4. Pieces that are too big or too small

No one wants to be reminded everytime they look in their closet of a size they no longer are. It doesn’t feel good to see pieces you can’t wear or to try to put on something that doesn’t fit.

Remove the clothes from your wardrobe that are either too small or too big. If you know you have a tendency to go up or down in size, store the clothes that don’t currently fit elsewhere for a time and revisit them later.

You will remove a lot of negative emotions from your closet by taking out these clothes.

5. Sentimental clothing

Are you keeping sentimental articles of clothing that you know you’ll never wear? Now is a good time to evaluate why you’re holding onto it.

If it’s because you are holding onto the past, determine if you’re ready to let it go.

Consider taking a picture of the item before letting it go if you find that to be helpful. If there are a few select pieces you really want to keep, perhaps store them elsewhere.

Your closet should really only house the clothes you love and wear.

6. A piece waiting for its perfect partner

Do you have any pieces of clothing you are holding onto waiting for it to find it’s perfect partner?

If so, now is the time to release it. Your clothing should be versatile and able to be worn with multiple things.

It’s not helpful to have pieces that are only usable if you buy another specific item. If it doesn’t work with what you have now, let it go.

full closet

7. Clothes you settled for

Have you ever shopped for a specific type of item and settled for ‘good enough’ when it really wasn’t what you were looking for?

If so, chances are good you don’t wear that item much if at all. Perhaps you settled on the color, fit, fabric, or style. It was close to what you wanted but didn’t quite hit the mark.

These are typically pieces you don’t gravitate towards in your closet. You have other pieces you like better but you’ve hung onto them because they were close to what you thought you wanted.

Keep the clothes you love and wear. Let go of the ones that you don’t.

8. Items that make you feel guilty

Clothing pieces can also make you feel guilty when it’s something you spent too much on or received as a gift from someone else.

That guilt doesn’t serve any productive purpose though. Holding onto something only because it makes you feel bad to let it go isn’t a good enough reason to keep it.

An expensive item hanging in your closet not being used does not justify your purchase. All it does is continually remind you that you made a mistake.

Likewise holding onto a gift that was well-meaning, but not a fit for you doesn’t help you to feel better. Let go of those pieces and the guilt as well.

9. Fussy pieces

Clothing pieces that require constant adjusting are not worth the effort. Ditch the fussy pieces and the overly high-maintenance fabrics.

I will be the first to admit that I do not dry-clean anything. I’ll still put dry clean-only items in my washer. If it’s truly a fabric that can’t be washed at home, then it’s too high-maintenance for me to own.

I also don’t want to spend my time ironing so I don’t own anything that requires it. It’s up to you to figure out what your tolerance is, but simplifying for me has meant getting rid of all fussy fabrics.

things you should ditch from your wardrobe

10. Clothes that don’t fit your lifestyle

Clothes that don’t work with your current season of life is another one of the things you should ditch from your wardrobe.

If you have a corporate wardrobe, but left that job with no plans to return to that world, it’s time to let those pieces go. Or perhaps you used to regularly attend formal events, but that’s no longer part of your life, let those go.

There’s no need to hold onto clothes that don’t fit your life now. Let go of the past and embrace the present.

11. Anything that is uncomfortable

Get rid of pieces that are scratchy, itchy, or uncomfortable for any reason.

If your shoes give you blisters, let them go. They’re really not worth the space they’re taking up and your shoes shouldn’t torture you.

Life’s too short for uncomfortable clothes (or shoes). It’s time to ditch them.

12. Pieces that you wouldn’t buy again

The final one of the things you should ditch from your wardrobe is pieces you would not buy again. These are typically pieces of clothing you are not wearing anyway as you wish you never bought them in the first place.

Maybe you got carried away with a style of shirt you liked and bought it in too many colors. Or perhaps you tried to buy pants in the same size and style you already had only to later find that they fit slightly differently (it’s annoying when that happens!).

If you wouldn’t buy it again, that means you don’t love it and likely don’t wear it, so let it go.

What to do with unwanted clothes

You’ve taken out the things you should ditch from your wardrobe. Great! Now, what do you do with them?

Thankfully there are a number of good options for passing along unwanted clothes. Items that are in good shape can be sold or donated.

If you’re considering selling more valuable pieces, there are a few things to consider. Selling does take more time and effort.

If you’d like to donate, check with family, friends, or local organizations that you’d like to support. Buy Nothing is another great option for gifting freely to people in your community.

For the clothing that isn’t in good shape, look into what options are available for textile recycling in your area or repurpose them as rags in your own home to keep as many items as possible out of a landfill.

Being very thoughtful and intentional about clothing purchases and buying secondhand are great ways to improve sustainability going forward.

Want more help decluttering your clothes?

Ready to have a wardrobe with just pieces you love and wear? Here are a few posts with additional tips to help you declutter your clothes.

Which of the 12 things you should ditch from your wardrobe will you tackle first? Tell us in the comments.

Sign up on the form below to get weekly decluttering tips sent straight to your inbox. You’ll also get the free Your Home Decluttered Jumpstart which includes 100 easy items to declutter and 12 high-impact areas to declutter in 10 minutes.

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  1. #10 Clothes that don’t fit your lifestyle.
    You had me at the reference to, “season of your life”. I’m 62, Ann artist and bohemian personality who is firmly, lovingly grounded in my Christian faith. My wardrobe has gone for many years without an update. Without a full time job, &with a quiet lifestyle, I saw no need.
    So my clothing will regularly be a decade or more old, have repairs, and stains that have be transformed with embroidery or bleach painting.
    this year I decided it was time to make a change. I ordered several styles to try & returned what was obviously not me. Now it’s the hard part… letting go of Clothes that I’ve constantly worn for over 10 years.

    1. Dear Sonya, you do not wear them so it’s clear you do not need them. Still, it’s hard to let them go: bravely choose the hard way (which is said to most often be the best one!!! lol).

    2. Right on! My closets are so jam packed the whole mess drops to the floor when the overweighted rod gives way.
      I’ve been hanging on to everything for all the wrong reasons. The occasional piece consigned or donated is quickly
      replaced with several others. Time to accept my current lifestyle, size and comfort expectations. Thanks for the timely
      suggestions. LIL

    3. Hi Sonya

      Letting go can be difficult, we always think ‘I’ll use it one day’, or ‘I got a good deal during the sales’, or ‘I wore this to that occasion’

      I actually copied the sub-title :
      10. Clothes that don’t fit your lifestyle
      to keep in a corner of my mind.
      it so clearly defines me

      I have been wfh since 2020 and go to office twice a week.
      All the shoes I bought since 2019 are broken and most jeans don’t fit anymore.
      Long-sleeve blouse for meetings, black pointed heels.

      These articles r so well-said.
      Am attacking this one :

  2. This is such an approriate article meant for me. I have been decluttering for the past weeks. I have not touched my closets yet, still in my tons of papers that need to be shreded, so many knickknacks, so many of everything. I sold some books and donated most books to different libraries in our community schools and church. I had a hard time decluttering at first cuz am a very sentimental person. But not anymore. I am turning 65 next month.
    Now with this article, I now know how to start this time with my tons of clothing. Thank you so much.

  3. I especially like using my own senses to judge whether or not to keep an item. It doesn’t matter if I have have a super warm sweater in my favorite color- if the lambswool is so itchy against my skin that it drives me crazy, out it goes. Same goes for anything with a scratchy tag that I cannot rip or cut off without compromising the item. If a piece is not versatile enough to be easily dressed up or down, I get rid of it as well. The process is emotional for sure. There are so many items tied to good memories too. It is even more frustrating when you have OCD and are constantly striving for a color palette that works for each season/weather/occasion especially in the Midwest where you NEED every type of outerwear there is. Sometimes I think life would be easier living somewhere tropical – dresses and sandals would be the only items I’d have in my closet!

  4. I was laughing, nodding and responding to myself all throughout this article bcz I resonated with it all the way, it was so Me, sizes going up and down, scratchy,itchy things,self conscious pieces, sentimental pieces,corporate clothes which I’m no longer in,clothes with tags still on, items to be mended staring, feeling like I have no clothes to wear yet the closet is so full and might not remember other items in there, oh I could just pull you out of the article straight to my closet. Main challenge presently is financial ability to replace the gaping hole after removal of all these items. Thank you so so much for this article,really, thanks

    1. But surely the idea is to declutter and end up with fewer clothes that you can actually wear, not go out and replace the ones you get rid of?

  5. What I am doing now is certainly not working. I’m ready for help and my closet is a good place to start. I have clothes that fit every category in this article. I moved from a large house into an adult family care home. It started out ok, I moved in with an appropriate amount of stuff but over time I’ve collected things like I was still living in the large home and now I can barely move on my little room. I need to declutter my closet so I can use it for storage then sort through the knick knacks and crafting things and other stuff so I can get back to a normal life. This is ridiculous. I’m counting on you for help. Here goes nothing or I should say everything….. Julie

  6. I begun decluttering a few months ago. Labeling each box; friends, donate and self, meant for my family when I’m gone. I started in my kitchen, the china cabinet then finished off the cabinets of nic- nacs in my living room. Actually my closet has been easy and didn’t realise how many pairs of one item I had. For months I could not/ did not want to face it but now especially after your article I’m only keeping what reflects on my personality & suitable for everyday wear. If I haven’t worn it by now it goes bye-bye! Loved the article. Kathy in AZ.

  7. wonderful article! The only thing I would add is under the heading of “things that don’t have a partner.” Each season I find myself with something really nice that needs a partner. So, this year it was a sage green down vest with a beautiful handmade scarf. I searched high and low for the perfect plum-colored sweater. I finally found it, and now I have a beautiful outfit that I love for only the cost of a sweater (which, happily, was on sale!)

    I am feeling smug and satisfied LOL

    Like Chrissy above, I live in the Midwest and need everything sooner or later, as the seasons change. So, it is often better for me to add one item than to shop for a whole new outfit.

  8. Decluttering has always been a challenge for me. After several years of having “cleaning out my closet” as a winter project that didn’t happen, this year it IS happening! Earlier this year I signed up for a trial of Ridwell, an “add-on” recycling service now available in many areas. They go the extra mile to find partners for hard to recycle items that will give them a new life. One of their regular pick-up categories (every 2 weeks) is “Threads” which includes all kind of clothing & shoes. I’ve discovered that it’s fairly easy for me to find something to put in the “Threads” bag each time & some weeks it’s actually stuffed full! Since I know it is going to a new life somewhere else, that makes it easier to “let go” of a few things week by week. The cool thing is that in addition to several categories they pick up each time, they also have rotating categories that they let you know about in advance so you have a few weeks to look around your house & gather things to pass along. One week they were picking up extra bedding, sheets, towels etc. I was able to gather and pass along 5 stuffed bags of items that had been taking up closet space for a long time. Another pickup involved jewelry including old watches (which went to creative crafting people to be remade into new artistic items). My husband was able to let go of quite a few old non-working watches, so he’s now on board with Ridwell, too! In fact we have set up a little Ridwell recycling area to collect upcoming “featured” items like empty printer cartridges, wine corks, bread bag plastic tabs & so much more! It has been a fun way, almost like a game, to look forward to “letting go” a little bit at a time, knowing your clutter is moving on to a new more useful life somewhere else! It’s like getting rid of stuck energy. Using this service has allowed us to downsize our municiple garbage collecting containers and save enough $ each month to pay for the modest Ridwell fees! We Love it!

  9. After deciding to go away for 6 months when I retire, and turning my home over the a rental agency, the huge job of decluttering started 3 months ago. Ebay, and free sites have helped. haven’t started on clothes yet!

  10. I can relate to Vivian – so much of everything!! I’ve been trying to declutter for a few months now -it takes time and I find it difficult to make decisions (the what ifs) so I do a little bit at a time or what I’m in the mood to do (paperwork, etc.). I too live in the Midwest and can relate to needing so many types of clothes for the seasons. I finished my closet this summer – sorted by color. Now I am working on accessories (scarves, etc.) and what to do with all the items I don’t want (donate, consign, sell). I packed up one small tote with “Nostalgic” clothing for remembrance – couldn’t let go enough to save by picture yet. We’re all in this together – just keep going – do something to declutter. I always feel like I’m never doing enough, but something is better than nothing. I like articles like this.

    1. I love the little-bit-at-a-time approach you advocate, Debra, and your positive, gentle approach to the whole undertaking. Thanks for the encouragement!

  11. Love this list of criteria. I’ve been minimizing for several years now. During the process it occurred to me I have a definite style, both in clothing and home design, and have no tolerance for low quality items of any kind. Knowing what I like prompted me to go through and collect my must keeps, a way smaller collection, and then go back to sort the remaining donate and sell items. The trash went out with my first round of collecting the keepers. I have used this method to help my elderly father as well. We call it “finding our favorites” Using your list I bet I can go back through things and find more to declutter. Thank you!

  12. When working, I dressed according to dress code, and wore professional clothes. I had a nice variety. Within the first week of retiring, I gladly removed every piece from my wardrobe, gave every stitch away and never looked back. (Needed no reminders of life in the work force). I then bought casual wear, which is “me” and was very selective about what I bought. Had to love it, have a good fit, and no more ironing! It is so liberating having enough, but not so much the closet is jam-packed. Next thing to go will be my iron and ironing board. Great article and agree with it all.

  13. The closet is the hardest thing!! I’ve decluttered everything else & procrastinated this. But, I’ve been working on it for the past 3 days (before I saw this post). It’s been a very challenging couple of years and I’ve gained 40 lbs, bla bla bla. So I’ve had to try on almost every single piece. I have an extra closet where I can keep a few faves that will fit again after some weight loss. There’s a big pile to go to a resale shop (we both make a little $), some went in the trash, some to GoodWill, etc etc. But boy has it been a long, arduous, depressing task. The closet is dusty, the clothes are dusty, I have to wash the hangers! (Live in an area w agriculture) I’ve decided I need to be grateful for what I do have. And that I have that second closet! I also think of how happy the woman who owns the second-hand shop will be. Her inventory is low. She reminded me of accessories- so I’ll bring her shoes, purses, and jewelry also.
    I can’t wait til this is over!

  14. Don’t forget that when your “donate” box is full, get rid of it! In times past, I have found myself reopening them to see if there is something I might need and ended up keeping most of the box! Get it out of the house right away!

  15. Three n a half years ago, I joined Weight Watchers. In January I lost 2#, since February 1st I got a cold, cough, fever (diarrhea TMI) n lost 8# in in eight days. With a 10# loss, Sunday I started going through my pants that I’ve collected over the last 5yrs.

    This article is perfect timing, got rid of pants that I said, What was I thinking when I bought those 😆😆.. I though I was brutal cleaning out a bag n a half. After I go through my tops, I’ll go back n be BRUTAL on the pants, again..

    I’m sending this article to my daughter, she’s doing the same!!!

    Thanks for your help!!!!!

  16. During Covid I haven’t socialised, or met many friends, or been out in the evening. So I have clothes I love that I haven’t worn for 3 years or so. They still fit. I hope to get back to going out, to entertaining, to being entertained. But during the patch 2020-23 I’ve lost many friends, I’ve significantly aged, and may not get back to the way I was (I’m now 83) I’ll keep these clothes another year or two, to see what changes in my life bring about.

  17. I just switched out my winter clothes for summer(YEAY) and even eliminated one tub! When I brought out the bag yes a garbage bag-my husband said “Is there anything in there that I bought you?” There wasn’t but that is the big issue whenever I purge! He did shock me by saying to wait to haul it out as he wanted to go through his stuff and clear out some clothes. Then we can make the trip worth while. I nearly fainted!!!

  18. I recently got rid of a ton of clothes that I no longer use. I kept some things that I’m unsure of because I’m moving to an area that has a significantly different climate. If I haven’t worn them by the time winter is over they’ll go away. The one thing I can’t bring myself to get rid of but rarely wear are a couple of tshirts that I bought when I did a study abroad program in my fifties in Costa Rica. Sentimental.

  19. Fussy pieces… best described for me as those annoying frills and layering effects that women’s clothing tends to have these days. I’m a busy Mom, and I like classically structured clothing, but tried a few pieces with the layered neckline, a feminine shoulder, or sleeve, but quickly have found that these are definitely not for me- yet such beautiful pieces. Saying goodbye to them, and accepting that the next gal may have the time for constant readjusting of the 8 layer neckline on a cute little fall sweater piece, or the sleeves that ride up when an arm is slightly raised. Best of luck! 😊

  20. The hanger method would be great, except that anything that I have only worn for a few hours and is still clean, I put back in the wardrobe with the hanger backwards. Then I know that it’s more likely to need washing next time I wear it.

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