Spring is upon us, and if you’re anything like me, the change in seasons feels like a fresh start: a time to clean, purge, and organize. And it’s the perfect trigger to tackle a bigger project like a wardrobe audit!
The thing is, overhauling your closet is way easier said than done. It takes time, some serious organization, and thoughtful decisions. While everyone has their own organizing style, below are the steps I follow to update my closets and get rid of things I don’t wear.
How to Start a Wardrobe Audit
My recommendation is to first tackle your existing season’s closet. Meaning that if you currently have your Fall/Winter clothes more accessible (with your Spring/Summer clothes in storage), you’ll start with Fall/Winter.
By tackling things in stages, you contain the audit (and mess!) and if you get tired or run out of time, you can easily stop. It lets you split the overhaul into steps more easily.
Step 1: Start sorting everything in your wardrobe.
Go through your existing closet (in our example, Fall/Winter) creating several folded piles. Folding your clothes now (or keeping them folded if they already are!) will just make things easier moving forward.
You’ll need 5 piles:
Pile 1: Keep, but put away until next season.
These are items that are too warm to wear until next Fall, but that you think you’ll want to wear again next year. Place these in a box or bin and into storage until next year. You may also wish to label the box for easy locating.
Pile 2: Keep, and keep accessible year-round.
This would be anything you can wear all year. Examples include dark jeans, black tank tops, layering camisoles, etc. These can stay in your closet, but feel free to refold/reorganize as needed.
Pile 3: Keep, can wear into next season for a few weeks.
These can be wintery items you don’t want to get rid of quite yet, like one or two sweaters you’d like to have on hand for a cooler day. Or they may be pieces that can be worn into Spring, like a pair of booties.
Keep these items separate from the rest of your wardrobe in either a bin or bag so that you can easily locate them and put them in storage with your other Fall/Winter items once the weather gets too warm.
Pile 4: Donate.
These are items that you either don’t like, don’t fit you properly, or you just don’t see yourself wearing in the future.
Be sure to consider “wearable all year” options for this pile too – just because you’ve had a pair of jeans in your closet for years doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be audited! If they don’t fit you properly or you don’t wear them, consider donating them.
Put these items in a disposable box or bag so that you can easily take them to your local thrift store or donation centre.
Or, if you’d rather, consider selling your clothes online. My post How to Sell Your Clothes Online and Make Hundreds covers everything you need to know.
Pile 5: Maybe keep, maybe donate.
These are items you can’t classify. Keep these items separate – later I’ll cover how to tackle them.
I’d also recommend keeping a garbage bin nearby to act as an unofficial 6th “pile” for items that are too old or damaged to be donated.
How to decide how to classify things
If you’re stuck, here are some questions to ask yourself when deliberating over clothes:
1. Will I wear it? Think about your typical style, daily activities, upcoming events. Can you picture yourself actually wearing this item?
2. Does it fit me? Check out the garment’s fit from different angles to help you assess. If you really like it, explore having it altered.
You should now be left with a pared down closet. Depending on how much time/energy you have, you can stop here and tackle your Fall/Winter clothes another time – I know it can be a big ordeal going through your closet!
Step 2: Tackle your “off season” clothes and accessories.
Bring your off-season clothes into the mix, using a similar strategy as in the first step. In our example, this would be your Spring/Summer wardrobe.
Sort them into a few categories:
Keep, bring into current wardrobe.
These are the items from last Spring/Summer that you want to keep. Fold/hang these items in your closet/dressers.
There may be a few items for this category – things you liked last year but that you don’t see yourself wearing this coming season due to changing taste or trends. Or they could be things that don’t fit you properly.
Put these items with the other donations in a disposable box or bag.
Maybe keep, maybe donate.
These are items you can’t classify. Put these items in your existing Fall/Winter maybe pile.
Step 3: Go through your “maybe” pile.
Give yourself a time limit – say, 1 month or 2 – to wear these “maybe” items. If they make it into an outfit during that time and you like them, keep them. If not, donate them!
Step 4: Donate your cast-offs.
Take your items for donation to your local donation centre. You can either do this after Step #2, or wait a little while until you’ve vetted your “Maybe” pile.
I hope that helps those of you who are looking for a closet overhaul as well as those just looking to update their wardrobe! Let me know how you like to organize your clothes as well as any tips for conducting a clothing audit.