The Closet Cleanse
Pull everything (and I mean everything) out of your closet and dresser, and sort it into piles to keep, sell or donate.
To decide what to do away with and what to hold onto, ask yourself these questions: Does it fit? Is it flattering? Do I actually wear it? If it’s damaged, am I really going to fix it in the near future? If my closet were a store, would I buy this today?
If those answers lead you away from the keep pile, but an item feels too sentimental to part with, find or take a picture of you wearing it. If it’s still too special, store it away out of sight for a few months. If you find yourself searching for it later, keep it, but if you completely forget it exists, you can safely get rid of it.
The Long-Term Strategy
If you’re too indecisive to evaluate which pieces you should part with or just unsure of how often you actually wear them, put off your spring cleaning until next year … kind of.
Turn everything in your closet the opposite direction so the hook of the hanger faces you. Whenever you wear something, return it to the closet with the hanger facing the normal way.
After a year, get rid of everything that’s still on a backwards hanger. An alternative to the hanger strategy is the ribbon method. Simply tie a ribbon on the far right side of your closet rod and move items to the right of the ribbon after you wear them. This theory works well for your folded clothes too. Just stack things on the left side of the drawer and move them to the right after they’ve been worn.
What to do with the Castoffs
Apps and websites like Poshmark, thredUP and the Fargo/Moorhead Online Garage Sale Facebook group are useful for selling your used clothes.
You can also take them to a consignment store like Plato’s Closet or Clothes Mentor. Whatever doesn’t sell can be donated to a thrift store or clothing drive, but never throw away clothes unless they are truly unwearable.
If donated items don’t sell at thrift stores, they are often given to textile recyclers or sold to secondhand clothing vendors overseas, which extends a garment’s life longer than if you would have put it straight into a landfill.
Having a clothing swap with friends is another environmentally friendly idea, although if your friends happen to have really great style, that might not actually solve your overflowing closet issue.
Organize to Maximize Space
While space is a precious commodity in a tiny residence hall room or apartment, you’ll wear more of your pieces if you can clearly see them, so make sure they aren’t just packed into drawers.
Sort your clothes by style so that all your options are easy to find when you’re looking for a certain skirt or jacket. You can also store away seasonal items like coats and shorts during their off season to give frequently worn items more space.
Placing folded shirts upright instead of stacking them flat on top of each other makes seeing your choices and picking one out much easier, and investing in thin velvet hangers for your closet lets you fit in twice as many clothes.
Prevent Future Clutter and Shopper’s Regret
If you want to build a truly great wardrobe, you need to make smart purchases.
As broke college students and frugal Midwesterners, we’re suckers for a good deal, but just because something is cheap doesn’t mean it’s a good buy.
When shopping the clearance rack, pretend everything is full price; if you wouldn’t pay full price for it, don’t pick it up on sale. Although it’s also tempting to skip the dressing room and head straight to checkout, fit is the most important factor when choosing clothes, so make sure everything fits well before swiping your card.
When you’re unsure whether or not to get something, always ask yourself these two questions: Do I love it? Do I need it? If your answer is yes to both, you can bet it will still be in the keep pile come next year.