10 Rules To Follow When Cleaning Out Your Closet

I talk a lot about all of my favorite petite fashion to hopefully help inspire you. However, there is another important piece to the puzzle that can’t be forgotten, getting rid of the closet clutter. You know what I am talking about. The dress you promised you would fit back into one day, or the hoodie that is falling apart at the seams, or even those pants you bought because you swore you’d wear them to help you break out of your comfort zone but never did.

I know I am guilty of doing this so I can’t be the only one. I always convince myself that I will need, or want it someday. Which means somewhere in my closet are fast fashion piece that I probably wore once rather uncomfortably and then shoved deep into the black depths of my closet never to be seen again. Whats worse is that I try to clean out my closet on a fairly regular basis, only to have every item I carefully sorted out end up back on a hanger when I have a sudden burning desire to wear it again.

spring war

But once a year the seasons go from cold to warm, days go from short to long and like so many people I began to feel the burning desire to clean out my life with some good old spring closet cleaning! I buckle down, spend out hours going through every little corner of my apartment getting easily distracted by long forgotten items shoved into the most random spots, and end up with several trash bags full of items to be to tossed or donated. Unfortunately, by then, I am way too tired to actually do away with the bags so I stack them by the door promising myself I will take them out the next day.

Which I don’t.

And then I end up digging through the bags for that thing I no longer needed but now can’t get dressed without. Yes, I am a disaster so in order to hold myself accountable and hopefully help all of you decide what you can cut and what you should keep I’ve come up with a checklist of ways to decide what should stay in your closet.

1. The Last Year Rule

Let’s start with the most obvious. Have you worn it in the last year? If the answer is no I am probably going to say chuck it. However, as with a lot of rules, there are exceptions. For example, if its a really nice dress worn only for the fanciest occasions which don’t come up that often but you need in your closet just in case, holding onto one is okay. You just can’t have 5-6 of these exceptions filling space in your closet. My grandma once told me that you buy the dress and then find an occasion to wear it. Well, sometimes I wish this were true and while I hope to one day have a closet big enough to accommodate such lofty fashion goals, for the time being, I need to be more cautious of what I am keeping in my wardrobe and you should too. This is a great starting point for spring closet cleaning.

2. Does It Fit?

This one might be even more obvious than the first but holding on to those items in the back of your closet in hopes that you will one day fit back into the skirt from 4 years ago, while admirable, is just a waste of space. If you are serious about getting in shape that is amazing but why not have a closet full of clothes that look great on you now and buy yourself new clothes as a reward for kicking ass with your fitness goals? The number of clothing items I’ve held onto and probably attempted to wear long after I should is embarrassing. It’s natural for your body to change as you go through different phases in your life and adjusting your wardrobe appropriately is super important. I went from being an athlete who practiced, played a game, or worked out 6 days a week to being a college kid and young professional who most of the time barely had time to motivate herself to go to the gym twice a week.

Needless to say, the clothes that fit me while I was still an athlete are no longer going to be an option and it took me a long time to realize that I was okay with it and was far happier in clothes that really fit rather than trying to force the situation.

spring closet cleaning

3. Has Your Style Changed?

I know for a fact the person I now looks back on some of the fashion choices I made even just a year or so ago and is shocked. You are probably like me and in digging through your closet and drawers found more than one item of clothing that you are wondering if you would ever be bold enough to wear it again. The answer is no. Your style changes and that’s okay. I know in the past year I have definitely started embracing my girly side a little more and while I try to add some color to my clothes the fact is that I like the neutral basics that I can wear with any combination of things. I did go through a period in my fashion life where I was all about color and that’s fine. However, there is really no reason for me to be holding on to the collection of bright colored cardigans, sweaters, and t-shirt I haven’t touched in years. I mean really? Who let me out of the house in bright orange? See, there is another reason I didn’t start my fashion blog sooner, I needed some time still to find my sense of style as an adult. Closet cleaning is about saying goodbye to all the things that don’t fit your life any more.

4. The Multiples Rule

Have you fallen prey to the multiple rules? You know that moment when you find an item of clothing you love so much that you buy it in multiple colors or patterns because you know you are going to wear it all the time. While in some cases I can be an advocate of this such as that perfect t-shirt or those jeans that just fit you like no other, there is a line with this rule and if you’ve crossed it, its time to let some things go. Hold on to that dress in the color you love the most and get rid of the rest, find the 2 or 3 most worn colors of that sweater and donate the rest. Odds are there are colors of your favorite items you’ve never worn but you bought because you just couldn’t love the item more it didn’t matter how unlikely it was you would wear the color.

This used to be my bread and butter. I had such a hard time finding clothes that really fit me well that I would buy my favorites in every color they had. Which then led to a major problem when I wanted to dress up or wear something different.

 spring closet cleaning

5. Is It Falling Apart?

Okay I know I am guilty of hanging on to some items far longer than I should simply because I couldn’t let go. Like the old pair of jeans, I couldn’t part with even though they were falling apart and really not acceptable to be worn in public. But they were the perfect amount of worn denim soft, and no matter how nasty the hens were or how many belt loops were coming off, I was never going to stop wearing them. Eventually, something happened, I am not sure if they ripped beyond repair or if I finally found the willpower to throw them in the trash but they made their way out of my collection.

As with most rules, there are of course exceptions to this one. Because I understand sentimental attachment, and I have a few items in my closet that I will never part with. However, I won’t continue wearing them and they have now earned an honorary place into a keepsake box under my bed to try to help reduce the clutter. I reserve this for very special pieces and try not to let my heart talk my brain into keeping every little item that has some kind of vaguely important memory attached to it. Another thing I am extremely guilty of doing.

6. The Lifestyle Rule

As with your style and physical appearance your lifestyle can change as you go through different stages of life. Maybe at one point, you were working a job the required you to dress up every day and now have a vast collection of business clothes swallowing space in your closet. I bet you can guess what I am going to say you should do with it. Dump it. If you aren’t working that job, or have moved or have made some other big life change that has left part of your wardrobe neglected than just say goodbye.

The exception to this rule would be of course if you foresee this change being a farily short term, but those items have been sitting in your closet for months on end, untouched, with no light at the end of that tunnel that donates them or gives them to a friend. After I graduated college my wardrobe consisted of mostly t-shirts, worn out jeans and sneakers, which while as you know, I love a good casual look, wasn’t going to cut it in a professional atmosphere, even the casual one I am in. So I had to transition into the world of a young adult while obviously hanging on to a few pieces for weekends and the time I spend outside the office.

spring closet cleaning

7. The Alteration Rule

Do you have items sitting in your closet that you don’t want to get rid of cause you paid a good bit of money for them or you keep thinking maybe I’ll like it more the next time I try it on? I know I do. So I found myself asking why I don’t like them. Why am I not reaching for it when I get dressed. The answer was pretty simple. It just didn’t fit the way I wanted it to. By taking them to be altered or altering them myself, I went from having items in my closet that I might never have worn to great pieces I can use again and again. Sometimes its as simple as getting some fitted to you to make you see its potential. I had a couple of dresses that I wanted to absolutely love and when I bought them I did love them, but every time I tried to wear them I would end of changing because something felt and looked a little off.

I finally took them to the alterations place and once he had adjusted some hems and fixed some straps that kept falling down those beautiful sundresses were ready for all the summer fun. If clothes are going to be taking up valuable real estate in your closet at least make sure that they are adding something to wardrobe not gathering cobwebs shamefully in a corner unused.

8. Do I Like Something Better?

This rule is important. While I was going through my closet I discovered I have items in my wardrobe that I never reach for because there is a similar item I own I like better. Whether its that pair of pants or that skirt or t-shirt or whatever. Why was I holding on to things that I wasn’t wearing because I had something I wore more? It makes no sense at all. So I went through and donated or got rid of anything that had a similar but more loved counterpart and good lord did I free up some space in my closet! Its okay to admit when something has outstayed its welcome or has been eclipsed by something better. Plus if you donate it, your forgotten fashion will be someone else’s fabulous find.

Find the similarities and clean them out because honestly there is no point in having it if you are never going to wear it. Think about how much room for new stuff you’ll have if you get rid of everything that is crowding and taking up space!

spring closet cleaning

9. Everything Needs A Spot

No matter how much you cut down your wardrobe it is still going to be a disaster is everything doesn’t have a spot in your closet. I promise you that organization will save your life. When I finally got my hanging rack up in my closet for my hats and shoes, organized my dresser and gave everything a proper place my wardrobe was not only cleaner but it was so much easier to find the shit I was envisioning in my head when I planned out outfits. Yes, I know its weird but when I am thinking about clothes I have a pretty good idea of what every item I own is, so I go through and have sudden bouts of inspiration for cute outfits. Which is awesome until you are digging through piles of stuff and have no idea where that one piece you wanted that was going to make or break your outfit is.

Give your self the proper tools to keep everything nice and proper, and you’ll be amazed at how much more manageable your closet suddenly becomes!

10. The Shopping Rule

If you don’t love it don’t buy it! End of story. If you just like it, if you are second guessing yourself then it isn’t worth having in your closet. Fill your wardrobe with items that you love to wear, that inspire you to slay your fashion every day and that fit you perfectly. As a kid, I would grow out of clothes so quickly or I would ruin them that most the time it wasn’t worth the investment to own really nice clothes or worry about getting them altered. But now as an adult, I am learning to invest in my clothes and it has made all the difference. Now I can feel like no matter what I decide to put on I can know it’s going to look great and make me feel great which is really what you should strive for when it comes to the fashion you own.

If you aren’t sure about an item when shopping, walk away from it and continue shopping. If you can’t stop thinking about it by the end of the shopping trip or the next day then go back and purchase it because you know its something you really want to have that might be worth the extra work of altering or styling it a little more to get that just right look. Finding the perfect is super important and I have a blog post all about finding the perfect petite fit for your clothes, so go check it out if you need some tips!

Wow, so there you have it. I know that post was a bit of a long one but hopefully, all of these rules will help as you go through your closet and get ready for spring and summer.

Not sure if you should keep or toss an item? leave a comment below or tag me on Instagram and facebook @livinglifepetite or twitter @livinglifepetit and I can help you decide whether it stays or goes!

I hope you are all having a terrific week and congrats! We are halfway done!!



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