It’s hard to believe that we’re already on the cusp of fall. I’ve had the September issues on my coffee table for a couple of weeks now, and while I’m being careful to not wish summer away, I can’t wait for the shift in style that a new season offers, especially autumn. Layers, boots, and plenty of texture — after a long, hot summer of one-piece dressing and sandals, fall makes the act of getting dressed feel fun again. If you’re like me and pack away your off-season clothes (a smart decision if you’re also dealing with a too-tiny closet), the cooling days of late August mean it’s almost time for the Great Closet Switchover. I’ll soon be rummaging through bins and boxes in search of the sweaters, jackets, flannels and boots I boxed up months ago, and making a list of the must-haves I hope to buy for the months ahead (suede miniskirt, anyone?). The transition into a new time of year isn’t just great for personal style though, it also happens to be the perfect time to plan a major closet cleanout.
Why clean out your closet from season to season? Besides allowing you the opportunity to take stock and see exactly what you already own making shopping for what’s to come more streamlined and intentional, detoxing your closet a few times per year lets you clearly steer your personal style in whichever direction you please. Think about it: if you haven’t worn a fit-and-flare in years, but your closet is full of them, there’s no room for the new silhouette or color that you love (not to mention, there’s likely someone out there who would be ecstatic to find those pieces for a steal on Poshmark!). Reselling your castoffs also ensures less landfill waste, and those extra bucks in your Poshmark account make it easy to refresh your own wardrobe with gently used pieces when the time comes. Not sure where to start? Check out my five tips below for executing a successful closet cleanout, and then share your own!
1. Plan Ahead
While a full wardrobe overhaul is tempting to just jump right into on a Saturday afternoon, I’d advise against it. I’ve made this mistake countless times and usually what I’m left with is a giant mess, flagging motivation and more disorganization than when I started. Plan a few days in advance to give yourself time to gather supplies, even better, pencil it in. Set aside a full morning or afternoon (whenever you feel most productive), more if your wardrobe is large and your intent is a major cleanout. Be honest with yourself, if you feel you need a full day, take it.
On the day-of, brew a fresh pot of coffee (or pour yourself a glass of wine if it’s after noon), grab some snacks, and crank your favorite Spotify station. This should feel like a party, not a chore!
2. Gather Supplies
If you’re still using plastic hangers, now is the time to upgrade. I prefer velvet slimline hangers, which are gentle on clothes while providing a non-slip grip and save you serious space (clutch if you’ve got a small closet). I also have a small arsenal of sturdy wooden hangers, which I use for heavier jackets and for displaying special items on the back of my closet door.
Along with upgrading your hanger situation, get your hands on three large bags (I love the blue bags from Ikea for this). You’ll need one for clothes to keep, one for clothes to sell, and one for donations.
If you’re not already packing away seasonal clothes, but want to start, grab a few large plastic or cardboard storage bins, some masking tape, a sharpie, and some cedar blocks (found in the closet section of most big box stores).
Make sure your full-length mirror is handy, and if you’re really in fall cleaning mode, you’ll want a vacuum or broom and duster close by, too.
3. Take Action
If you packed away clothes last season, drag the bins out, but don’t dive in just yet. Instead, open up that closet of yours and… remove everything. Get it all out. Every last piece. Even those shoes hiding in the back. Your room might look like a nightmare, but this is why you set aside a solid chunk of time to devote to this. Once you’ve hauled out the contents of your closet, vacuum it out and give it a wipe-down. Replace shelf paper if you need to. Add a few jewelry hangers on the inside of the doors. Creating a clean, beautiful space in which to hang your most-loved items will make the pieces you keep feel that much more special.
Next, it’s time to get sorting. There are tons of techniques for parting with belongings, personally I like to ask myself questions: When did you last wear it? Will you really ever wear it again? Would you buy it now if you found it in a store? Can you immediately think of three different ways to wear it? And most importantly (for a sap like me): does it actually hold sentimental value, with valuable memories attached, or is it just another piece of clothing that you remember doing things in? With the exception of a few very special vintage pieces, if the answer is ‘no’ to most of those questions, into the keep or donate bins it goes.
Sort fast, tossing gently worn and like-new items into one bag to sell on Poshmark, pieces to donate into the second, and pieces to pack away for the season into the third. I like to place all-season items on my bed, keeping them handy so I can try them on later and determine whether I actually want to keep them or whether they should be cast off. Once you’ve sorted everything from the closet, try on the clothes in the ‘to keep’ pile to ensure pieces fit as they should and that you feel good in them. It should go without saying that if you don’t feel like a million bucks in an article of clothing, it shouldn’t be allowed back in your closet.
Next, repeat everything listed above with the clothes in your storage bins. Once the bins are empty, pack away the clothes you’ve set aside in the “to pack away” bag, tossing a few cedar blocks into each bin to discourage moths, and using the Sharpie and tape to label the side of each box.
4. Say Goodbye
The longer you keep your castoffs around, the better chance they have of sneaking back into your closet. After you’ve tidied up and packed everything away, immediately transfer the ‘to donate’ goods into a garbage bag and take them to the donation center. Say goodbye and don’t look back. Next comes the fun part, listing your ‘to sell’ pieces on Poshmark! Take the ‘to sell’ bag and make sure everything is clean and pressed. Fold everything up neatly, and place the bag somewhere in your home that isn’t near where you get dressed so you won’t be tempted to rummage through on a hectic Monday morning. Keep a measuring tape and your packaging supplies close by so you can easily send out orders when they come through.
Now that your closet is (hopefully) lighter, it’s time to see what you might be missing for the season ahead. I like to keep inspiration boards on Pinterest for each season so I can keep track of the trends, outfits and silhouettes I’m feeling inspired by, and maintain a mental tab on the items I can’t stop dreaming of that I know will last more than one season. Chances are, if I can’t stop thinking about it, I’ll likely wear it for years to come. Consider what you might need, and then mindfully add to your closet — and of course, don’t forget to check out Poshmark for the items on your list!
What are your closet cleanout tips? Please share!