Learning how to declutter clothes is one of the best things I’ve done for myself in my 20’s!
Over the last few years, I’ve come to realize how much clothes I have. I follow several fashion bloggers – some of my favorites are Savi’s Look (for the Chinese speakers out there!), Chriselle Lim, and Jenn Im – and over the years they’ve helped me elevate my style. At the same, I accumulated a lot of clothes, clothes that I’d wear few times a year and never see the light of day again.
THANK GOODNESS Mari Kondo came to the rescue not long after I came to that realization, and my journey to decluttering clothes and living more minimally finally began. I’m still learning, but here are 5 ways I’ve been able to declutter clothes to-date.
1. Sell and Donate Clothes
Many major cities have consignment or resell stores. For examples, there’s Crossroads and Buffalo Exchange in the Bay Area. The way it works is you take your old (but still desirable) clothes in to trade for cash or store credit. If you trade for store credit, you can purchase other used items at their store for a pretty good price.
This has been a great way for me to declutter clothes while also making some cash. It’s also given me the opportunity to try on other styles without breaking the bank. I’ve been able to pick up some really nice pieces from the Crossroads on Fillmore Street in San Francisco, although not so much at the one in Berkeley. I think the quality of clothing and styles largely depend on who lives in the neighborhood.
As for the items I couldn’t sell, they usually ended up at Goodwill.
Selling my clothes worked even better for me once I made it into a habit. Every time I notice myself itching to shop, I tried to pick an equal or higher amount of clothes to sell.
2. Create a Budget and Stick to It
I’ve been setting budgets for a while now, but started a more rigorous process this year to declutter clothes. It’s stopped me from making a few impulse purchases so far and I’m so grateful for it!!
Here’s what I did. At the beginning of the year, I set budgets for everything: clothes, car expenses, learning, entertainment, travel etc…I based my budget on spending patterns from previous years and how much I wanted to be spending on each category moving forward. Usually looking at my old spending patterns is shocking enough for me to want to take action.
Once I set a budget, I stuck to it by tracking my expenses in real time. Say I set a budget of $1000 for shopping for the year. I would literally write down the amount I spent every time I made a purchase.
This has been effective because 1) I became aware of how quickly I was burning through my income and 2) the act of recording every transaction could be so much work that I end up not buy anything lol. The second one has especially helped me quickly realize if a purchase was truly necessary.
3. Use a Capsule Wardrobe
Capsule wardrobes have been a popular topic, and for good reason. And they are a GREAT way to declutter clothes. The concept is that you create a lean collection of clothes that is timeless, versatile, and customized for your taste and style (more on this coming up next).
When my boyfriend and I decided to become digital nomads last summer, I had to bring only what would fit in our 5-seat sedan. This forced me to pack only the clothes I absolutely loved and allowed little room for mistakes. I think I was at the peak of my Mari Kondo-ness right around that time.
I created a capsule wardrobe for summer and one for winter because we only planned on being digital nomads until the following spring.
Here’s how I created my capsule wardrobe:
- I set aside all the clothes I wore from the previous week and curated my capsule wardrobe from there. About 80% of the clothes I set aside made it into my capsule. If you wore something recently, it’s a good indicator of how much you like it and how likely you’ll keep wearing it in the near future.
- I made sure I only had 1-2 of everything. I owned four sneakers and I ended up only bringing one with me. Like why did I need so many sneakers in the first place?!
- I created my wardrobe so that 70% of the pieces were core pieces (t-shirts, jeans, sweatpants etc.) and mostly neutral colors and the rest were statement pieces (e.g. 1-2 hats). I wanted most of my wardrobe to be the core pieces so that I could create more outfits with less.
4. Develop Personal Style
The Curated Closet changed my view on clothing and fashion. Written by Anuschka Rees, the book provides practical steps on developing your style. It talks about how to create a mood board for the types of clothes you like, identifying the colors that match your skin tone, and much more.
You’ll have to read the book yourself to really learn her system 🙂 It’s worked so well for me and it’s been a key step for me to live more minimally.
Once I learned my style, I stopped buying clothes that I would only wear once. It’s also saved me trips to the post office for online purchase returns.
5. Avoid Space Creep
I only had so much space in my San Francisco apartment that this was less of a choice and more of a necessity haha. Once I allocated certain shelves and drawers for my tops, bottoms, outerwear, shoes and accessories, I tried my best to keep everything only where they belonged.
This meant no more slinging my jacket over the couch and leaving it there for weeks. Or worse, leaving my sweater on my cat tree (sorry kitties!!)
I Hope You’re Inspired to Declutter Clothes!
I can’t say there’s no clutter at all in my home anymore, but I’ve definitely become more conscious of what’s stopping me from living minimally. I’ve made it a habit to maintain a certain amount of clothes, sell or donate the rest, and to stick to my style as much as possible.
I hope you’re feeling inspired to start afresh. If you’ve tried any of the above, let me know how it went. And if you are trying any of the 5 methods for the first time, let me know how it goes!