• 04/01/2024

How to Be Ruthless When Decluttering Clothes in 2024

A pile of clothes.

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Humans are craving more self-awareness as we continue to be more connected than we have ever been. With that comes recognizing how physical objects hold us back — like our clothes.

For many, the clothes and accessories in our closets represent more than we intend. It holds memories, insecurities and financial value. So, how do we jump over those mental hurdles to ruthlessly declutter closet with purpose?

Why Is Getting Rid of Old Clothes Difficult?

Looking at your closet can be overwhelming, making decluttering challenging. The clothes you see aren’t just pieces of fabric — they are things that remind you of the past, people and experiences associated with them. Here are some of the common reasons why deciding what clothes to get rid of can be tricky:

  1. You’re afraid to face your past: Maybe you’ve spent lots of money on things you regret and the last thing you need is to be reminded of your poor purchase decisions. Sorting through piles of clothes feels like a painful journey to the past.
  2. You want to own more clothes: Having a full closet thrills you. But think about the time you wasted contemplating what to wear because too much is happening inside.

You don’t have a specific style: Perhaps you’ve spent the last few years experimenting with different clothing to find which style fits you best. Time has passed, and you still lack clarity about your personal sense of style.

Creating Guiding Intentions

It’s not as simple as it sounds in concept — open the closet doors and pick and choose clothes to get rid of. Some mental preparation can help you from standing motionless in anxiety to making confident choices. It’s time to start setting your intention and creating guiding questions. 

It’s essential to discover why you have motivated yourself to declutter your closet in the first place. Some common motivators are reducing anxiety in picking outfits, attempting to craft a minimalist capsule wardrobe, or trying to earn extra cash by selling unused garments. Knowing why you’re going into this project will help you make decisions.

Once you discover your intention, writing down some guiding questions to supplement will make you even more unyielding with each piece. Here are some examples to help you analyze your clothes more thoughtfully:

  • How can this item help me best achieve my intention?
  • When I wear this, how does it make me feel?
  • Would I still buy this now if given a chance?
  • Do I think someone else would find more joy wearing this than me?
  • Am I holding onto this piece because of a negative emotion like shame or guilt?
  • Does this fit with my current personal style vision?

This mental work is an achievement in and of itself as you grow into a more empowered individual. Now, it’s time to embark on the actual decluttering process. 

How to Decide What Clothes to Get Rid Of?

Many systems exist for ruthless decluttering, such as the KonMari method or the 30-Day Minimalism Game, made famous by The Minimalists. Some choose to set a deadline or make it a party — turn on some mood lighting and a playlist to pump you up. These are options, but if you don’t want to follow a set format, here is a simple yet decisive method:

  1. Hold up every item: No need to separate clothes and accessories into categories if you don’t want to. Ensure you aren’t holding multiple pieces at a time. Every piece deserves individual attention.
  2. Analyze it with your intention and guiding questions: If you need to, ask that dress, “Do you match my personal style?” To be even more ruthless, sort out any item that fails to pass your guiding questions.
  3. Pick a home for the item: Many individuals make piles — keep, sell, donate, gift or discard. Feel free to create your own that fits your unique situation. Once everything is in piles, it’s time to store them or send them to their new homes.
  4. Try it on: When stuck deciding what clothes to get rid of, another excellent tip for easier decluttering is to try on each item you feel like keeping in your wardrobe. Assess how you look and feel in each item. Keep in mind to see if it still fits you and your style. Take pictures of yourself and ask a trusted friend to be brutally honest if you should keep it.
  5. Confront “just in case” moments: Do you keep that fancy dress “just in case” you’ll need it in the future? If the unforeseeable future keeps you from decluttering your closet, ask this instead: “If I don’t have this item, do I already have something that I’d wear if that probable event?”

There will be temptations to try on every piece or instances you second-guess yourself. This is normal. It’s essential to recognize there is no singular correct way to declutter clothes — what you’re trying to do is ensure you’re being relentless. 

It might be tough to eliminate an item someone gifted you or something you spent a lot of time or money to obtain. Maybe there’s a shirt that holds a lot of memories. Also, let’s not forget the one — or several — items that may be lingering to motivate a fitness journey.

Though you are trying to be ruthless, the most meaningful theme is becoming a happier version of yourself after this is complete.

Crafting Closets Consciously

You may have to go through this process a couple of times. Decluttering is like working a muscle — the more it’s practiced, the more you hone the skill. At first, That’s why it’s essential to be strong during the decluttering process and after.

Cleansing your closet may feel like a one-time event, but it’s about continued maintenance. That persistent, intentional mindset you created going in will stick with you. Here are some ways your mind might shift:

  • Shopping for more clothes will be more intentional — you’ll avoid one-time items, consider renting for special occasions and save money in the long run.
  • You’ll notice the number of times you wear certain clothes compared to others, helping future decluttering sessions.
  • More clothes will be altered or repaired instead of tossed because you appreciate your clothes more than before.
  • You’ll develop a more generous mindset, understanding your clothes may be better served for a local women’s shelter or donation center.

Decluttering any physical space could foster better mental health with decreased stress and anxiety levels. This benefit will show itself over time, making you even more selective about

Decluttered Closet, Decluttered Life

Look at your closet — every item has earned a spot through a rigorous process. Now, mornings won’t seem so ridden with anxiety that you can easily pick something that matches your current style. 

Original Publish Date December 7, 2022 — Updated 4/1/2024

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