Cleaning Out My Closet

Just some of the hangers I got rid of cleaning my closet.

After writing my post on capsule wardrobes last night I decided it was time to do the big clean on my closet. I stayed up till almost 4 am driving myself crazy and getting rid of a lot. It’s the next morning and I feel fantastic. I didn’t realize how happy getting rid of things would make me.


I used some of the guidelines you can find on Un-Fancy or Project333. I knew I needed to take everything out of my closet. I liked the idea of putting things into different piles and sorting through everything. I also realized the importance of trying on every single item. But I did have some issues with this system.

I have tried this before where I take absolutely everything out of my closet and try it on in an attempt to get rid of things. But I never really got rid of much. I would take everything out, lay it on my bed, and start trying things on and sorting them out, but I had so many clothes I got exhausted of trying on clothes and and wanted to sleep and would eventually end up putting everything right back in my closet. To fix this I started small. Instead of pulling absolutely everything out of my closet at the beginning I pulled out small groups. So I grabbed my buttons ups first and tried them on and decided their fates. Then I moved onto my purple shirts. My closet is color coordinated by type, so it was easy to just grab a color and try them on before moving onto the next.

The general rule is when you clean out your closet you make four piles.

  1. Keep (fits and looks right)
  2. Maybe (needs mending, is sentimental, or want to keep)
  3. Consign/Donate (things that don’t fit or look right but are in good condition)
  4. Trash (anything torn, stained, or gross)

I hate how messy the idea of a pile is. I think that has really held me back from doing this in the past. If I take everything off hangers and throw them in a pile at the end I’ll have clothes all strewn about and have to hang up everything and it’ll take longer. To combat this, I didn’t put things in piles. If an item was a keep, it went right back into the closet. If it was a maybe, I folded it neatly and put it in a chair in my room until the end. If it was a donate, it went on a hanger and I put them on the edge of the door to my bedroom. I work at a consignment shop, and it’s preferred that items come in on hangers. Trash pile went into my desk chair. At first I had a few other piles, like one to go to my mom, then I realized that I should just take everything I’m planning on consigning to her first to see if she wants any of it. Aside from the trash and maybe categories the rest was hung up and neat.

My guidelines:

  • Take everything out of your closet
    • Start slowly. Take out 5-10 shirts at a time and thoroughly sort them out.
  •  Try on everything
    • Even if you wore it yesterday. If you want it to go back in the closet you have to try it on.
  • Keep a capsule in mind.
    • What season capsule would you put each item in. Would this item work in a capsule you’re thinking about. Would you pick something else over it?
  • Be ruthless.
    • There’s no shame in keeping sentimental items. Just put them in a box, don’t hang them in your closet.

The Results:

So here was my closet before. Organized chaos. Remember that this was my closet after I had angrily purged my closet 5 or 6 times of items I knew I didn’t wear, or didn’t fit, or that I knew I didn’t want any more.

Doing my counts for the post yesterday I found that I owned 120 shirts.

  • 47 tank tops
  • 64 tops
  • 9 button ups

Keep in mind that this count was just what was in my closet at that moment, not including three full laundry baskets of clean/dirty clothes.

After the clean yesterday my big count is 61.

  • 28 tank tops
  • 27 tops
  • 6 button ups.

I still have laundry to do, but this was a great start.

My process:

I love these swivel hangers. I have 40 bajillion of them, but never seem to have enough with my hoard of clothes. My mother recently gave me about four bags of the black ones. I’d been using clear ones forever, but I didn’t really care what color they were, I just liked the swivel ones more than other hangers. At the very beginning of my clean I decided that I would put the clothes I was keeping on black hangers, hoping that using the black hangers would help me really get rid of things I didn’t want. It worked 110% When I was unsure about a shirt I asked myself if it deserved a black hanger. If I couldn’t say it deserved that hanger it went on a clear one and was put with the consign pile.

  • Try everything on.

Seriously. Biggest tip out there, the most tedious one, and the best, most useful one. I got rid of so many clothes because they were too small. I had a few really nice shirts in my closet that I got rid of because they didn’t hang right. I knew that was the reason I always skipped over it when looking for a shirt, but “it was so nice, and expensive, and I liked ____ detail about it” I stopped letting myself use those excuses and if I couldn’t get it to look how I wanted I put it in the consign. It was funny because I started to say a shirt deserved a black hanger before I tried it on, and then I would and decide I didn’t want to keep the shirt. In my first 5 purges I skipped over a lot of clothes I knew in the back of my head didn’t fit.

For instance, remember when I cried that I didn’t own enough neutrals to start a capsule wardrobe?These sure look like neutrals to me. They were there but I always skipped over them because they didn’t fit right. They were to thin, small, clingy, etc. I donated them all and now I can get nice items that do fit, and make me look and feel good.

  • Use your Favorites to your Advantage

Something I did, that I didn’t really see online, related to the other items I wore while I tried things on. I wore my favorite bra. I love the fit of the bra, and I wear the same cut bra almost every single day. It was important I wore this bra to make sure that the shirts looked right with that bra under it. A couple shirts didn’t make it just because they looked weird over my bra.

I also wore my favorite pair of shorts. I had washed them recently and I had a little muffin top over them. I think this was good though. Because I got to see how my shirts looked if I had some pudge. Shirts that clung to much to that area were out. Shirts that floated over that area were kept. Plus they were a neutral blue jean short, so every single shirt looked good with it, although sometimes out of place. Wearing these favorite items, helped me make decisions because if a shirt didn’t look right with my favorite bra and shorts, would it look right with anything else I owned? I didn’t think so.

  • Keep the Capsule in Mind & Purge Ruthlessly

As the night wore on and I got tired, I told myself I could stop and finish tomorrow. At the same time I wouldn’t let myself. I was so close to finishing. This happened around when I started my tank tops. I had already gone through so many shirts. I was tired of trying things on. I was freaking out because I was running out of black hangers. But I powered through.

Tank tops are hard because I wear them year round. They go under shirts and jackets and add tiny bits of flare with patterns, lace and sequins. I love tank tops. After my first 5 purges I didn’t think I would get rid of any other tank tops. But I stuck to trying everything on. If you’ll notice in my pictures, I own a lot of brightly colored tanks. Those don’t get used a lot in fall and winter. We’re in spring, and summer is about to begin. What really helped was going through and asking myself, “would this make it into my summer capsule?” If the answer was no it almost always went into the consign pile.

Times I cheated:

Alright, yes. I cheated on my own guidelines a few times. I was running out of black hangers and desperate.

  • Business Casual

I used to work in a beach vacation rental agency and I had to wear nice clothes. I’ve also kept a few nice outfits with slacks or skirts in my closet at all times. This was important during school, because sometimes teachers would offer extra credit if you came to class in professional clothes. It also looks better when you dress up for a project. Presenting in slacks and a blouse looks a lot better than presenting in cutoffs and a t-shirt. As I went through my closet I found items I didn’t necessarily want in my closet, but that I did want for job interviews and for if I land a job in an office again. I put these on clear hangers and put them in my other closet.

  • Black T-Shirts

As I got through my shirts, I arrived at my black section, and I knew I was running low on black hangers. My solution was to put my black tees in a pile to fold instead of hanging them in my closet. A few tees made it onto a black hanger (specifically my Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga Cheek to Cheek tour shirt, since I just got it, and haven’t worn it yet) But the rest (my Harry Potter and Rocky Horror Picture Show shirts) were put in a pile to fold in a drawer.

  • Tank tops

Yes. I cheated in the tank tops. In several ways. The first time I cheated here was when I decided that tank tops I didn’t necessarily like, but were needed for layering could be put on plastic, non-swivel hangers. I ultimately want to replace these with nicer tanks in the same colors that I could wear stand-alone or under other shirts. For now I’m keeping them, but I may decide later on to just toss them and replace them eventually.

The second time I cheated was not trying on a few. There are four tank tops I’m talking about specifically here, and they are my patterned ones I bought at walmart. These tanks are reversible so you can wear them as a scoop neck or a v-neck. I own four because of the patterns. Lips on black, rainbow peace signs on grey, leopard print on rainbow, and rainbow butterflies on white. I use these tanks a lot and I know they don’t fit the best. But I wear them under a lot of different shirts. I will probably also get rid of these. I’m just not there yet.

The last cheat came at the end. 3:30 am. Not a black hanger in sight. Not even anymore plastic, non-swivels. I put the last few shirts on regular clear swivel hangers and called it a night. It’s possible that as I clean my room I might find more hangers, or my mom might give me more. Or who knows, I’ll do another purge.

Where do I go from here?

I’m out of black hangers. But I have a whole basket of clean laundry to hang up. I also have a basket of dirty laundry that needs to be washed. In my head I’m thinking I want to keep everything in my dirty clothes because it means I’ve worn it recently. I’m still going to try everything on and keep myself ruthless, but I wish I’d gone through all my clothes at one time.

I feel really great. I’ve gotten rid of so much, and I’m just going to get rid of more from here on out. I’m really glad I did this now, and not after I moved. I got rid of almost 60 items from my closet last night. It feels great knowing I won’t be bringing all this extra with me! If any of you are working on cleaning your closet I wish you luck!



4 thoughts on “Cleaning Out My Closet

  1. Pingback: Moving | ayvul

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