How to be Ruthless when Decluttering Clothes

Needless to say, you need to be ruthless when decluttering clothes. Otherwise, your wardrobe will always be full of clothes you don’t wear.

Decluttering clothes is not an easy task. It requires you to be honest about the clothes you like and wear and those you don’t. It also requires you to let go of sentimental attachments to certain items of clothing.

However, if you want to declutter your wardrobe effectively, you HAVE TO be ruthless. Not only that, but you also need to be systematic in your approach.

And as you already know, it is not easy:

  • You might have spent a lot on a dress that doesn’t suit you;
  • you might have received a T-shirt that you don’t like but you feel guilty letting go of;
  • you might have items of clothing from your high school that you’re not sure you should keep or let go of.

But unless you want your wardrobe to be full of clothes you don’t wear, you need to learn how to be ruthless when decluttering clothes.

So in this guide, I’ll show you how to be ruthless when decluttering clothes, step by step, and what you need to do in case you get stuck. This article is inspired by the KonMari method of tidying up, created by Marie Kondo.

Steps on ruthless decluttering

1. Place all of your clothes in one spot on the floor

The first step is to take all of your clothes out of your closet or wardrobe and place them in one spot.

By doing so, you can see everything you own at once and it will be easier to make decisions about what to keep and what to let go of.

And when I say all of them, I mean every single piece of clothing. Dig out those clothes you never wear from the back of your closet and put them with the rest. Also, check your entranceway, your other drawers, and any other place where you might have clothes stored.

It is truly essential that you take everything out so that you can make an accurate assessment of what you have and what you need. Also, it is going to be super satisfying at the end to see where you came from and how much you decluttered.

2. Take each item of clothing in your hand

Now that you can see all of your clothes, it is time to start decluttering. And the best way to do that is to take each item of clothing in your hand and ask yourself this question:

“Does this piece of clothing bring me joy/happiness?”

We all want to surround ourselves with happiness, so this is the perfect question to ask yourself when decluttering. This might be the only question that will put you into a ruthless mindset when it comes to decluttering.

Use your intuition here. You will know in one second whether an article of clothing brings you joy or not. If it does, keep it. Otherwise, let it go.

If it takes you more than a few seconds to think and you start including your rational part, like “I spent so much money on this shirt and didn’t wear it enough. I must keep it” or “I might wear this piece of clothing again in the future when I get slimmer”, then it doesn’t bring you joy and you should let it go.

The idea is to sink with your heart, not your head. So if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

The role of that piece of clothing that you haven’t worn in a long time was to teach you a lesson. And that is, not to buy clothes just because they are on sale or because you feel like you need them.

Be thankful for the lesson and let go.

3. If you still can’t decide, ask yourself some more questions

It is not unusual to feel attached to certain pieces of clothing, even if they don’t bring you happiness. If that is the case and you find it hard to let go, ask yourself this question:

“Is it hard for me to let go because it reminds me of the past or makes me anxious about the future?”

We are living in the present. And right now, we want to be happy, to feel light, and to move forward. The past is long gone, and it is not coming back. It just makes you less likely to enjoy the now.

The future is also not here yet. Would you better keep just-in-case items and let them dust or jet moldy in your storage, or just let go and move freely without any burden?

The present is all we have. So if something doesn’t make you feel good in the present, it is time to let it go.

It’s not the end of the world, you can still rebuy it if you truly need it

You might think that if you will let go of that piece of clothing, you will never find anything like it again. But that is only a thought in your subconsciousness.

You can rebuy it if you want it that badly. The thing is, you will probably never even remember about it.

And if you do, it means that now you know what brings you happiness and what your true style is.

With this mindset, it will be easier for you to be ruthless when decluttering clothes.

4. Donate the discarded items as soon as possible

Have you ever placed an item in your storage room for getting rid of it later but after a few weeks you have changed your mind and took it back?

It is human nature. We are sentimental creatures, and we tend to rethink the story that we are telling ourselves to our advantage.

The solution is to get rid of the clothes that you no longer want as soon as possible. Donate them to a charity, give them to a friend, or sell them online.

The further away the clothes are from your sight, the less likely you are to change your mind.

How to be ruthless when decluttering clothes flowchart

Items that you MUST get rid of

There are certain items in your closet that have to go without too much thought. These items include:

Clothes that don’t fit

If an article of clothing is too small or too big, it doesn’t belong in your closet. It is taking up valuable space and making you feel bad about yourself.

Let it go and make room for clothes that fit you and make you feel good.

Broken/worn-out clothes

Shirts that are missing some buttons, worn out jeans, or clothes with holes and stains are not doing you any good. The best you can do is to recycle or repurpose them.

Outdated clothes

I am quite outdated when it comes to fashion. But even I know when something is too old-fashioned and it is time to get rid of it.

I mean, if that piece of outdated clothing still brings you joy when you wear it, then keep it. But if you are only keeping it because you think the trend will come back or because you are attached to it, then let it go.

Clothes that you haven’t worn in the last year

Clothes are there, in your closet, to be worn. So if you haven’t worn something in the last year, it is time to let it go.

You will feel lighter, trust me. The fewer pieces of clothing you have, the easier it is to get dressed in the morning. You will also have more space in your closet for the things you wear.

Too many clothes from the same category

Duplicates are taking up valuable space in your closet. If you have more than one black blazer, for example, get rid of the ones you don’t wear.

The same goes for other items, like jeans, sweaters, or dresses. If you have too many of the same item, discard them.

Now, it is ok to have more than one pair of jeans, for instance. But it is not ok to have more than one pair of jeans in the same style.

Unwanted gifts

We have all been there. We received a piece of clothing from someone and we don’t like it. But we feel bad about returning it or getting rid of it.

If you don’t like the gift and you will never use it, get rid of it. Do you think the person who gave it to you will appreciate it if he/she will know that you hold onto it only out of guilt?

I think not.

Related: Unwanted Gifts: How to Handle & Prevent Receiving Them

Clothes that don’t make you feel good

This is a very personal reason to let go of something. But it is a very valid one.

If a piece of clothing doesn’t make you feel good when you wear it, it means that it is not for you. I am sure you don’t want to feel uncomfortable in your own clothes.

So if something doesn’t make you feel good, you must let it go.

Related: The ultimate minimalist list of things to get rid of

Work on your mindset

Your mindset is the one that makes you either ruthless when decluttering clothes or not.

If you want to keep everything because you are attached to it or because you think you might need it someday, then you will never declutter your closet. Remember:

Fewer clothes mean more time for other stuff

If you declutter your closet and get rid of clothes you don’t need, you will have more time for other things.

It will be much easier for you to choose the outfit for the day, and you will save time because you won’t have to look through your whole closet.

Fewer clothes mean less stress

Studies are showing that fewer clothes mean less stress and anxiety. Isn’t that a huge reason for you to be ruthless when decluttering clothes?

Just let go of that “maybe” pile that had to be gone a long time ago. You will feel so much happier, and less stressed.

If you don’t like it, you just know

You know when you like something and when you don’t. So if you are not sure about something, just let it go.

You can always buy it back if you change your mind. But chances are, you will never even notice that it is gone.

The money is gone

Once you have bought something, the money is gone. Next time, hopefully, you will be more rational when making a purchase. So this was a lesson for you. Thank life for the lesson and say goodbye to that new but ugly piece of clothing.

Related: How to Finally Get Into the Decluttering Mindset

Free yourself

When you declutter your clothes, you are freeing yourself from the burden of too many things.

You are also freeing yourself from the need to keep up with trends. You are making space for yourself, both physically and mentally.

So be ruthless when decluttering clothes, and you will see how much better you will feel.

The past prevents you from living in the present

This is the most important reason to declutter your clothes. If you keep holding onto the past, you will never be able to live in the present.

You will always be attached to your memories, and you will never be able to move on. That is why keeping sentimental items leads to unhappiness.

It is time to let go of the past and move on with your life. Make space for new memories, and new clothes that bring you happiness and fulfillment.

Related: How to Get Rid of Sentimental Items With No Regret?

Tricks you can use to ruthlessly declutter your clothes

Turn hangers around

This is a great way to see which clothes you actually wear.

Take all the hangers from your closet and put them facing the opposite direction. After you wear an item of clothing, put the hanger back in the closet facing the right direction.

At the end of the season (about 4 months), you will be able to see which clothes you have actually worn and which ones you haven’t.

Let go of the ones that are still facing the opposite direction without too much thought.

Create a “maybe” box

If you are not sure of some of the pieces of clothing, place them in a box and write “maybe” on it. Then put the box away somewhere where you won’t see it for about 4-6 months. Write a deadline on the box, as well as in your calendar.

If you don’t even remember that you have the box after the set time, it means you don’t need the clothes.

So you can get rid of them without any guilt.

Decide how many clothes you want to have in total in your wardrobe

This is a great way to be ruthless when decluttering clothes. Let’s say for instance that you want 50 pieces of clothing in total (excluding underwear, socks, and shoes) in your wardrobe.

So play around with your clothes and don’t let more than 50 pieces in your closet after the end of decluttering.

You can also decide on how many clothes you want in each category:

  • shirts
  • pants
  • dresses
  • skirts
  • jackets, etc.

This method might be even easier for you because it is more specific and it creates a balance between your outfits. And you will have a better idea of what to keep and what to let go of.

Related: Life After Decluttering: Now What?

Final words

By being ruthless when decluttering clothes, you are making space for the things that bring you joy. You will always feel better when you open up your closet and see clothes that make you happy.

So be ruthless, and let go of the clothes that don’t do anything but occupy your precious space, both physically and mentally.

I hope these tips were helpful! If you have any decluttering tips of your own, please share them in the comments below.

Happy decluttering!

Cheers, Diana

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