The Big Wardrobe Cull – A Step-by-Step Guide to a Closet Clear Out

While I’m well aware it’s Autumn here, I’ve been Spring cleaning like a sprightly spring chicken (haven’t we all?!) and my wardrobe has been amongst the many things around the house I’ve been tackling.

I should preface this post by saying that I’m not qualified to write a life-changing piece about tidying up. Inside my bags, you’ll find old receipts and random loyalty cards. Look inside my shoes and you’ll find pieces of Lego (I blame my one-year-old) and my drawer of smalls has probably seen more organised times.

However, since we’ve been stationed at home in recent months, I’ve taken the opportunity to further curate my closet. There is something very rewarding looking into my wardrobe and knowing the pieces in there will get the love and attention they deserve.

Giving my wardrobe a bit of a makeover has been so therapeutic and I wanted to share with you the rules I’ve applied to achieve a more curated closet.

The big wardrobe cull

#1 – Set aside pieces you no longer wear

…whether it be due to the fact that the pieces no longer fit you anymore, are damaged beyond repair or are no longer suited to your style.

In doing a big purge, I took the opportunity to get rid of all the pieces I had been keeping for when my body would return to its pre-pregnancy weight. Instead of providing me with the motivation to lose the extra kilos, it only made me self-conscious about the squishy bits I had acquired – so sayonara.

#2 – Adopt the 12 month rule

Go through the rest of your wardrobe and pull out the pieces that you haven’t worn for 12 months. Chances are if you haven’t worn it in a year, you most likely won’t be wearing it again. Of course there are exceptions to this rule including occasion wear or if you’ve been on maternity leave and haven’t been able to fit into your wardrobe for the majority of the year.

I’ve heard of others adopting a more ruthless approach and culling pieces they haven’t worn in a 3 month period. Personally, I find that too short a time frame to be an indicator of whether I’ll wear an item of clothing again. Plus, the change in seasons means that I naturally won’t be reaching for pieces that are limited to a particular season. Either way, you can tweak this time frame based on your lifestyle.

#3 – Eliminate double-ups and similar items

If you own several white t-shirts or several pairs of jeans, you’re probably only choosing to wear your favourite ones or the ones you purchased most recently. Assess whether you need to keep the rest and if not, set it aside.

Recycle your wardrobe

Determine whether you will sell, donate or discard the pieces you’ve set aside. Here are my general rules:

Discard

…all the pieces that are beyond repair or the pieces that you think won’t serve anyone else.

Retailers like H&M and Zara have garment collection programs for clothing and textiles that are subsequently reused or recycled.

Donate

Professional attire makes up a large chunk of my wardrobe. So for the gently-used workwear pieces that I choose to donate, I’ll drop them into Dress for Success – a not-for-profit organisation that provides clothing and styling advice for women seeking to re-enter the workforce after a period of unemployment. They’re currently closed due to the pandemic but will accept donations again once it’s safe to do so.

For general clothing, including clothing outgrown by my sons, I’ll pop it into clothing bins in our local area. We have a few around facilitated by The Smith Family, Vinnies and The Red Cross to name a few.

Sell

Sometimes pieces are too good to donate. This could be due to the fact that the piece still looks new or is a designer item that will most likely be appreciated by someone also a fan of that designer.

I’ve bought and sold pieces in my wardrobe for many years. My current selling platform of choice is Depop. It’s quick and easy to list and the app is very straightforward to use. For many years, I used and had a lot of success with eBay, but in the last couple of years, I haven’t found it to be the most seller-friendly platform.

wardrobe cull and closet clear out tips

Organise your wardrobe

The remaining pieces of your wardrobe should be stored neatly and sorted into categories. My husband and I share a built-in wardrobe so I have a allocated tall section where I store my coats and long dresses and a shorter section where my skirts, pants, tops and jackets are stored. My knitwear is folded in separate drawers.

If you can, buy new hangers and keep things uniform. I like using flocked hangers (I’ve got these ones from Kmart). They don’t take up as much room as wooden hangers and my delicate silk pieces don’t slip off.

I hope I’ve inspired you to do a wardrobe cull. I’m aiming to maintain a succinct wardrobe and will be repeating these steps every few months so that the clear out process doesn’t get too big on me!

P.S. My current WFH favourites and check out some of my bag and shoe reviews.

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