7 Steps to Declutter Your Closet, Once and for All

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spring clean closetApril showers bring May flowers—and plenty of rainy days spent indoors. What better way to channel your drizzly weather restlessness than to tackle some much-needed spring cleaning? After all, there’s nothing like being forced to stare at your own clutter to spur you into action.

One of the toughest organizational projects is, of course, your closet. Whether you’re working with a small space, funky layout or too many items you swear you’ll wear someday, figuring out what to keep, what to toss and what to buy more of is a challenge many would prefer to forgo altogether.

And not only can it clear mental space, cleaning your closet can lead to tax write-offs—and perhaps even a profit. “Unclutter” maven Donna Smallin Kuper, professional organizer and author of “How to Declutter and Make Money Now,” points out that most people wear just 20% of their wardrobe 80% of the time, and letting go of those unworn, ill-fitting or misguided items may be easier than you think—if you commit to trying.

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Ready to free up space? Here are seven tricks that may clean your clutter, clear your mind and, perhaps, pad your wallet in the process. 

1. Grade Your Closet on a Curve

The first step toward a clutter-free closet filled with clothes you love is to try everything on, says David Zyla, Emmy award-winning stylist and author of “Color Your Style.” This will help you analyze how you look in the garment, not just how it looks on the hanger. “Do the color, fabric and cut express your authentic self? Would you rank this as an ‘A+ look?’” Zyla asks.

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Here’s how to go about The Great Try-On: Consider each item, placing A+ looks on the left side of your closet. Then, for the next week, dress from the left side of your closet to determine what you truly love. “When you wear those items, do you get more compliments from your friends? A different type of romantic attention? More respect at work? Do you feel more confident? The ultimate goal is that eventually everything in your closet ranks an A+,” says Zyla.

  • mary

    Compared to what I get selling on the Poshmark, Threadflip and Vinted apps, and using eBay, consigning is just not worth it. Or any apps/sites that have you send in your clothes, it’s like taking clothing to Plato’s closet etc., they reject a lot of it based on an algorithm, not how it looks, and give you $0.25 to $2 per item. On the other hand on Poshmark, Threadflip, and Vinted I make 80% of the sale price, which I set. Yes, it’s a big time commitment. But I actually make enough selling stuff each month on those apps to pay my rent. So to me it’s definitely worth it!

  • Ellen

    Super helpful. I’ve also had a clothing swap every year with a large group of friends. Sort everything by size and try things on. Talk out any disagreements. Everything else gets donated. It’s a great way to get pieces you may need for nothing while getting rid of what you don’t.

  • bellxchat

    My rule for the closet (and the rest of the house, for that matter) is “One thing in, one thing out”. If I’m not prepared to let something go, then I don’t buy. Replacement only, not additions.