Let me start with a disclosure: my closet is not nearly minimalistic, just yet, and I’m just aiming for the so-called capsule wardrobe. But when else if not now to write minimalism tips for closet decluttering for those who, just like me, are just starting out?
So here’s a quick background on my journey. I started realizing how much too much stuff, especially in my closet, I have once I started an extensive traveling. On my first long-term journey abroad I took TWO luggage cases. Now, I’ve minimized to just one rather big backpack. My next goal would be to move abroad and travel long-term with hand-luggage only.
Now I had two years back home that gave me enough time and space to do the actual “decluttering”. Understand what’s crucial in my closet and what’s rather unnecessary. It also gave me enough time to evaluate any doubtful decisions I had in my way (or rather – in my closet).
With all this time and effort, I’ve come to several master-tips on decluttering your closet I’d love to share in this post.
Why to declutter?
Oh, I won’t get into the whole science of minimalism, simplicity and intentional living. Not now, anyhow.
Here are just a few simple reasons why closet decluttering is a great thing to consider:
- You can free up space for the new. Not only new clothing but also new feeling. And more fresh air between your most-favorite pieces of clothing. (Not even kidding)
- In the long run, decluttering and more intentional shopping will let you save TONS of money
- You can give away things you don’t need for those in need
- You can save a lot of your time on decision making. Although this might not feel like a reason powerful enough, many minimalists consider this one of the most important reasons why to declutter your closet!
As said, these are just a few reasons. The baseline is – you don’t need to declutter if you don’t want to. But those who go in this process with an open mind very often come out of it A LOT happier.
In some of the following blog posts, I’ll make sure to review other aspects of decluttering besides your closet but let’s start with the obvious.
Minimalism tips for closet decluttering
TIP #1: Donate one bag of old clothing for each new purchase
This is my #1 tip although its execution will totally depend on many, many factors. For example, how many things do you really have in your closet?
I started with a decent amount but it’s never been “full American closet” kind of thing. I mean, we’ve all seen some movies…
I might’ve had roughly 50 pieces of clothing, except for underwear, socks and all kinds of tiny stuff. I’ve never been a clothing junkie and I’ve never spent tons of money on these things either but I had more than several “just in case” items hanging in there (pun intended).
This tip is an especially amazing way to get started with.
For example, you saw an amazing cardigan on a Sale just yesterday and can’t stop thinking about it. Quite likely, you already have one or several of those so it’s time to really consider what are you ready to give up for this new one?
It doesn’t have to be a bag of clothing each time. The ratio can also be one in – one out.
Clothing brand H&M have this amazing initiative of giving 10% discount code for you in exchange for a bag of old clothing. So now I have a great tradition of giving away a bag of old clothing and getting 10% discount for each new purchase. The discount aspect doesn’t matter as much but does give a good trigger.
And since I do most of my shopping in H&M, it works out for me pretty perfectly…
TIP #2: Consider first, buy second
Whenever possible (which is almost always), I leave the shop without making any purchases and go back when I’m over-the-head sure I really want what I was looking at.
This has been my own favorite tips so far. Very often I’ve purchased things because of the first impulse – it was either the price, the print, the unusual style.
But if I don’t make the purchase right away and give myself at least an hour or two to consider this step, I can really evaluate how much I need it, how much it’ll be worn and is this investment really necessary.
Also, I’m always following the good old “if you don’t LOVE it in the shop, you won’t love it back home”. With this, I mean, you have to really ADORE and commit to wearing all-day-long anything you purchase.
At first, I had this doubt – but what if it’s not there anymore when I get back?! From tons of times, this has happened only once. And in this case, I actually waited and doubted for more than a month. So that one is on me.
If you’re shopping in any bigger chains – the only thing that might not stick for longer is discounted items. And even those tend to come back on their shelves.Start the journey of minimalism with your closet! Here are a few tips & tricks for closet decluttering: Click To Tweet
TIP #3: Always combine in your mind
This is another tip I’m personally very excited about because this is something I never really did before getting into minimalism.
I guess that’s how capsule wardrobe is made!
Before making any purchase, make sure to think about how you can combine it with other things in your closet.
I can’t count how many times I’ve made a purchase that literally makes no sense for my closet whatsoever. Very often it’s something specific that requests just another specific piece of clothing to work. Other times it’s just a weird color or print combo.
Now, when I’ve learned to think about combining in advance, I can easily see whether this item will be worn more than once or no.
Also, another thing to keep in mind – just because you can combine it with your wardrobe, doesn’t work as the factor for making the purchase.
TIP #4: How often will you wear it?
Recently I had a funny thought. I never want my bridal dress to be over-the-top amazing. I’d much more prefer a simple and nice dress that I could use afterward as well. And not only that one other time afterward. But way more.
So this is another thing I’m all in for: really consider how useful is the purchase you’re planning to make.
If the question of “when could I wear it?” doesn’t trigger a dose of responses, make sure to reconsider whether this piece of clothing really has a place in your closet.
I recently had this dilemma with a long, black summer dress. But when I left the store, I was already living in the dress in my dreams. Going to garden-parties, beach, birthdays, dinners, cinema. I knew I was ready to wear it all day long, just let me back in the store!! That’s the feeling you should be going for.
TIP #5 Don’t let the sentiment decide
Oh, dear old sentiment. My nemesis.
We all have some piece of clothing that we have because we’ve participated in an event, were part of a group, either in work or school, or did something.
Another category of sentiment clothing are things we simply like too much for too long. Very often we don’t even wear them as much, they’re worn out or no longer in any kind of a fashion but… oh, these memories!
This is something The Minimalists look into a lot. Things don’t hold our memories. We do.
No memory will be taken away just because you throw away a shirt with your high school logo. We still have photos. And our actual memories. And stories.
When the situation is critical – sure, keep that damn thing. Frame it and use it as a wall decor. Whatever.
But if a simple sentiment is the only thing holding up this space, consider ways how you can keep this sentiment with you, in a simpler and less-cluttered space.
In New Girl, they had a great episode where Nick had a helmet from his father. He cherished it a lot but Jesse’s head got stuck in it and the choice was to either crush it or find a hard way around it to get it off. Long story short – the helmet got crushed and Jess gave Nick a framed element of the helmet as a memory.
Redundant but a very lovely story.Should you hold on to sentimental things? When the situation is critical - sure, keep that damn thing. Frame it and use it as a wall decor. Whatever. Click To Tweet
To be honest, shopping is a bit harder when I put so much thinking into it. First of all, I usually have to make more than one trip to the store to actually purchase the thing. Before that, I have to consider all pros and cons, remember all I already have in my closet and really evaluate the usefulness of the product. It’s a whole lotta work! But my wallet is happy, my closet is clean, I save tons of my time and I do feel like I’m living more intentionally.