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When cleaning out the bedroom closet, deciding what to keep and what to let go of can be difficult. It doesn’t have to be if you ask yourself these 10 important questions when cleaning out clothes. Most people can come up with all kinds of reasons why they should hang on to something and as a result, very few items leave the closet. Clothing that is not worn is clutter. Clutter is anything that is not needed or wanted and is taking up valuable space.
As you evaluate your clothing, be honest with yourself and stick to your initial reaction. By the way, don’t hold each item when evaluating it. Research shows that the longer you touch an item, the more attached you become to it. I always suggest working with a friend or professional organizer to take away this attachment issue.
Question 1 – Does it fit?
The fit is everything! If it doesn’t fit properly it will never be worn! If you’re not sure – Go ahead – Try the item on. Is it too tight or too loose? If a shirt or dress, does it fit under the arms when you move? When I wear something that is too small, even just a little bit, I spend the entire day asking myself why I kept this item in my closet and wish I could change into something else. Somehow that same item seems to make its way back into the closet. If you have items like this, make the decision today to let them go. Make room in the closet for the other pieces you really love – and perhaps some new ones? If you just can’t let some go, store them in a container under the bed or somewhere out of the way.
Question 2 – Does it look good on me?
This is where a friend really comes in handy! Ask for an honest opinion and also be honest with yourself. Go take a look in the mirror. Have you been given compliments in the past about this item?
Question 3 – When was the last time I wore this?
The quickest way to know if you really like a clothing item is to ask yourself how long it has been since you last wore it. A standard rule of thumb is: let it go if you haven’t worn it in six months. I believe a better rule is: make it two months. Unless it is a sweater or very seasonal item, if you haven’t worn it in the last two months it is probably not something that needs to be taking up space. Think about it – that’s a minimum of 60 opportunities to wear an item!
Question 4 – How many do I need?
We all have something we really love and subsequently purchase more often than we should. For me it is black t-shirts. I love when they look fresh and new and I am just drawn to them. For a long time I just kept adding them to my closet until I eventually had more black t-shirts than I could ever wear. The best way to avoid problems like this is to live by the rule: one in, one out. Evaluate your multiples and decide how many you really, actually need. Then choose your favorites to keep.
Question 5 – Do I really want it?
When I cleaned out my closet a few years ago I was amazed by the number of items I let go. The most powerful question for me was – Do I really want it? Would I even miss it if it was gone? As I sorted through I realized that I had kept items simply because they had been there so long. They were just part of the closet. But more importantly, many of the items held memories – some good, some bad. They told a story. Some held me back.
Do you have clothing in your closet that tells stories from years ago? I didn’t keep these items because I still liked to wear them, but because they held emotions. I am happy to say I did let them all go. It wasn’t easy but it was necessary. I had to be honest with myself about why I was holding onto items that hadn’t been worn in months or even years. As I pulled each of these items out of the closet, I thought about the memories they held and then said “I am letting this go so I can live in the present.” It was one of the best things I ever did for myself.
Question 6 – What is the condition?
This is a no-brainer, yet sometimes we still struggle with it. We have all had that favorite shirt or sweater or whatever that we love. It’s those items that you can’t bear to let go of even though they are now worn and may be damaged with stains or tears. Clothing in poor condition does nothing for self-esteem or improving our look. When clothing is damaged it is always best to let it go and find something similar to replace it. Who doesn’t like an excuse to buy something new! If you can’t let it go, keep it for wearing around the house.
Question 7 – Would I buy this item again at full price?
This question often brings most people to a screeching stop. It is a very straightforward question that doesn’t have anything to do with emotions or memories or condition. It’s simple. Have you enjoyed this item enough that you would purchase it again at full price? If answering this question requires a lot of thought, the answer is likely “no.” Go with your gut. Really pay attention to items that were purchased on clearance. Did you purchase because it was a good deal or because you loved the item? I have found that very few items pass the test if they were purchased at a 50% or greater discount. To help maintain your closet in the future, ask yourself this question when considering an on sale purchase at the store.
Question 8 – Does it make me feel confident?
As you evaluate your items, think about how your feel when you wear them. Do you feel good in the item or does it make you feel fat or uncomfortable? There is no reason to keep clothes that don’t make you feel good!
Question 9 – Is the color good on me?
We each have undertones to our skin which affect our ability to wear (and look good in) certain colors. If you are unsure of which colors are best for you, ask family and friends which colors they love on you. Another resource I have used since it was published in 1980 is a book by Carole Jackson called Color Me Beautiful. Carole provides excellent information to help you discover the right colors for you. Armed with this information, take color into consideration when evaluating your items. Wearing a color that is not in your color wheel can make even the best looking outfit look awful. When you are done with your closet, you should see a spectrum of colors that work well with each other and also look great on you!
Question 10 – Do I have room for it?
Unfortunately we only have so much room in the closet, which is why it is important to keep only the items you really like and will wear. If you are struggling with whether to keep an item or let it go, think about the space you have to work with. I see my closet as my own private boutique. I want items I am proud to wear, that are arranged neatly and hung with care. I love using slim, velvet suit hangers to maximize my space and to keep my clothes wrinkle-free. I will not add items that create clutter in my boutique – that wouldn’t make for a good shopping experience. Think about your favorite boutique and then recreate the ambiance in your own closet.
Decluttering the clothes in your closet will take time and energy but will be well worth the effort! If you are like many others, once you start you may just want to continue through the whole house!
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