Closet Challenge

New Year Closet De-Clutter: 5 Steps

January 4, 2017

From a shoot I did at Favor Jewelry, Portland, Oregon

As I shared with you guys on Monday, there’s something about a new year that is very motivating to me. It’s a time for fresh starts and new beginnings, two phrases that are as cliché as they come, but bear a squeaky clean appeal. I’m ready to be the boss of my goals and the boss of my physical spaces.

I am eager to pare down, clean out, and do away with the unnecessary. Naturally I like to go to my zen garden, aka my closet. I like to shuffle things around, see what I like, and then trim a bit.

I’ve made a few purchases for winter, and even with avoiding post-holiday sales, suddenly it seems like I have more garments than hanger slots, and my shoe collections looks like it might have procreated while we were asleep.

The remedy: ride that inspiration wave high and engage in a little new year closet clean-out. In the past two-and-a-half years I’ve gotten pretty good at pare downs. We’ve moved twice, and I cycled through several seasons of capsules. Here’s how I do it.


Take everything out and put it on the bed.

You have to take everything out of your closet, or you might as well quit before you start. Something about cleaning out the whole closet, makes every item need to ‘earn’ it’s way back in. Plus, when you own lots of black (like me!), it can be kind of hard to see what’s really in that shadowy section of the closet! If nothing else, consider this a good familiarization step.



1) What do you love? What are the items you would grab to wear on a day you want to feel your very best? What would you grab for a weekend getaway if you had to pack in five minutes. Immediately put these items back in the closet.

2) Which (weather-appropriate) items did you only wear 1-2 times over the fall? Put them in the maybe pile.

3) Which (weather-appropriate) items did you NOT wear this last fall? Put them in the sell/donate pile.

4) Locate what needs mending or ironing. Set aside and take care of it. I am embarrassed to say how long some shirts have collected dust in my closet because I simply won’t take the time to iron them. Is a button too lose? Maybe a break in a seam? Get that stuff done! Do it yourself, or drop it off at the nearest dry cleaners. You will instantly augment your wardrobe – in the way you want – if all your items are ready to wear.


Grab each item from the maybe pile and try it on.

I know, more work. But all good things take hard work, no? Trying items on gives you the clearest idea of how an item really works for you.

1) How do you feel in it?

2) Would you pack it for a trip?

3) If you were going to a gathering where it was important for you to feel your best, would you consider this item?

4) Thin down the pile accordingly.

5) Move the remainder of the pile to the sell/donate pile. Or, if you’re chicken like me, put these items in purgatory under your bed until you decide 100% for sure.


Look at the sell/donate pile and consider what is marketable.

1) What is the condition? Are there excess pills or any tears or stains? Set aside for donating or repurposing.

2) Does it have a name brand that re-sells well (ie. Madewell, J.Crew, Everlane)? Sell it on Poshmark (they really do make it so easy!). 

3) Remaining items: see if friends are interested or consider re-purposing for accessories (headbands, doll clothing, cleaning rags, patches for other clothing).


Admire your hard work. I would call this a few hours well-spent. I am starting to find that getting rid of clothes almost feels as good as getting new ones. For me, it alleviates the ‘pressure’ or ‘need’ to wear them. When my closet stops being crammed, and returns to a simple space of my favorite items, it makes the start of each day a little more peaceful and relaxed.

I bid you the best of luck in your closet clean out!


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  • Elaine January 4, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    Love this post and your super practical paring down tips! Definitely going to give this a try once I get all my clothes in one place >.<

    • Andrea January 5, 2017 at 9:51 pm

      And when will that be??? ;) Looking forward to hearing more Elaine!

  • natalie January 4, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    Alright. I thought I did this last month, but what I really did was scratch the surface. I am going to dive in. Thanks for the tips. “See if any friends are interested…” is one of my favorites. :)

    • Andrea January 5, 2017 at 9:51 pm

      I have found it takes several rounds to really get to a good, paired down place. I’m excited to help!

  • Sheryl Helms January 4, 2017 at 5:50 pm

    I just did this, too. Except my underwear drawer. I swear I have undies I’ve had since high school. But how fun is it to shop at Haines? Bleh.

    • Andrea January 4, 2017 at 9:06 pm

      Agreed!! You should try Pact, you can shop online! And they’re good for you and good for the environment. ;) They usually have great sales.

  • Savannah January 4, 2017 at 7:21 pm

    I always like seeing closet clean outs! They help motivate me to get off my butt and do some of my own, ha!

    • Andrea January 5, 2017 at 9:57 pm

      Right?! Me too!

  • Kalee J January 5, 2017 at 3:03 am

    This is great!! I already have a paired down closet (from moving overseas) but I’m thinking I need to pull everything out of my closet & reassess. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Andrea January 5, 2017 at 9:57 pm

      Yeah! You’re welcome! Mine is pretty paired down, but I always seem to find a few things that can go. It’s a great feeling!

  • Rebecca N January 5, 2017 at 6:32 am

    I did a clean out right before Christmas, although not quite as thorough as yours! A lot of things went to the goodwill pile and I have a few things to take to consignment and several things in a drawer for if (when!) I lose weight. I’m pretty good a getting rid of things seasonally if I did not wear them the year before, and I only have a certain amount of hangers, so I always have to remove something if I buy something new. I even cleaned out my workout drawer after reading Unfancy’s post on her pared down workout drawer. :-) My sock drawer got an overhaul, too. I bought some quality socks from Darn Tough and Smartwool, so my old holey polyester socks went in the textile recycle box. Like Sheryl above, my underwear drawer needs it next! :-/ Ha!

    • Andrea January 5, 2017 at 9:58 pm

      My biggest problem is my sleepwear! I swear I have 15 years worth of clothing in there. :/ Need to purge that soon!

  • Jessica January 5, 2017 at 8:39 am

    Thanks for this post! I’m interested if you have any tips for selling on Poshmark? And especially for first-time sellers?

    • Andrea January 5, 2017 at 9:59 pm

      Jessica, I’d say, good, clear pictures taken in natural light, like near a window, instead of overhead light. Good, thorough descriptions. Good luck!! Think: what would you want to know if you were the buyer?

  • Hannah L January 6, 2017 at 10:40 am

    Delurking to say thanks :) This is so helpful! I’ve done several rounds of closet clean out, including one about 6 weeks ago, but somehow your questions just hit the right spot for me- lots of clarity about what to keep and what to ditch. You’re right, it really does alleviate the pressure to wear things, and it’s so nice to have the extra mental space that is freed up by just letting go of all the “shoulds.”

    • Andrea January 8, 2017 at 9:28 pm

      Hannah, I am all about extra mental space! I agree! And it has taken me several rounds of whittling down too. And I still feel like I could cut more! Thanks for delurking. :)