Closet Decluttering For Normal People

I know people are obsessed with the Konmari decluttering method, but when it comes to closets, I seriously CANNOT with the advice to start by dumping out your entire closet. It's overwhelming and unrealistic for many of us. Case in point: I haven't even put away my luggage contents from my trip to California TWO WEEKS AGO so who knows how long I would leave the entire contents of my closet sitting on the floor if I dumped everything out to start!

I clearly have the spring decluttering bug (see yesterday's post on decluttering and organizing toys) and today I wanted to share my closet decluttering for normal people tips.

1. Get a fixed number of matching hangers

A few years back I decided to ditch my crappy, mismatched hangers and buy 100 velvet hangers. This serves the purposes of: 1) creating (and inspiring me to keep!) order through a standard look, and 2) helping me stick to a fixed number of items in my closet. I do not do a seasonal rotation of my wardrobe; I simply commit to having 100 or less hanging things in my closet. This means that if my 100 hangers are full and I buy new things, I need to also declutter to make room for those new things!

2. Commit to purging nostalgic/ill-fitting clothing as a way to make room for clothes you love

Whether it's a piece of clothing gifted to you by a friend, a dress you wore on your first date with your partner, or your pre-pregnancy jeans that haven't fit in 7 years, there will be items in your closet that trip you up. If you don't love/fit into/or wear them anymore, GET RID OF THEM to make room for clothes that make you feel happy.

3. Set up your donation and consignment bags

When I'm gearing up for a closet decluttering session I set up two bags: one for donation (our city runs an awesome curbside clothing recycling program) and one for nicer pieces that I want to consign. If you're looking for a local consignment place, check out this roundup of awesome Boston-area consignment shops. Or right now I'm going the super easy route and using thredUP for consignment.

4. Go section by section

In my opinion this is the key step to making tangible progress while you're decluttering your closet. Instead of doing the giant closet dump out, go section by section -- it's so much more achievable! For example, go through tops one day then bottoms, skirts, dresses, t-shirts, etc. the days following. As you go, organize your remaining items by color within category and do step #5 below.

5. Turn your hangers around

I picked up this great tip from professional organizer Rachel Rosenthal of Rachel & Company when I interviewed her for the Edit Your Life episode Decluttering For Normal People. Rachel suggests turning all your hangers around in the opposite direction from typical. And then as you wear and return items to their hangers, switch the hanger back to the typical direction. This way, at the end of the season you'll be able to easily see which items you passed over repeatedly and never wore and it will give you evidence for why you should get rid of those pieces.

6. Get real about shoes

Last year I had a realization about myself. As beautiful as I think shoes are, I simply can no longer tolerate regular pointy heels. Seriously, everything hurts after I wear them, even if just for a short duration. I do prefer elevation, though, so it's block heels or nothing! I freed up a ton of closet shelving getting rid of pointy heel shoes (that I had not worn in years!).

7. If your closet is big enough, consider skipping a dresser 

One of the happiest things I have ever done was get rid of my dresser. This was made possible by my walk-in closet but I should say my walk-in is not the stuff of Sex and the City lore. I have enough hanger space for blouses, jackets, dresses, skirts, and dress pants, and then enough shelves to hold jeans, t-shirts, work out gear, bathing suits, shoes, and bags. The reason I like using the shelving in my closet instead of a dresser is akin to having glass kitchen cabinets. Everything is on display so I actually know what I have and am more likely to declutter because it gets too messy if you have too many items.

8. Do a final edit

After you've done the above, do a final edit. Since you ordered your clothing my category and color in step #4, you'll be able to see whether you still have, say, 5 black button down shirts. Retain only your very best fitting/quality items and ditch the rest!

What am I missing? What works for you when you are decluttering your closet? Feel free to share in the comments below!


Featured photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash