Here is something I’ve read in fashion magazines, heard on television and seen mentioned in the forum: if you haven’t worn an item of clothing for over a year, pass it on.

I encourage closet editing, but I don’t agree with the strict application of this rule. If an item is dated, uncomfortable, ill-fitting or unflattering – by all means pass it on. But what happens to the items that are perfect, but are not in current circulation. Do they need to go? I don’t think so.

I suggest keeping items that are still in vogue, fit well, look good and that you enjoyed wearing before your preferences changed. Here are a few examples from my wardrobe:

  • Premium bootcut jeans: I prefer to wear skinnies and straight legs, but these five year-old jeans are in mint condition and staying in my closet.
  • Bias cut tweed jacket: I was into the “English countryside look” four years ago but have not sported it since. My funky tweed jacket was left orphaned for years until I renewed its life yesterday by matching it with a new black necktie shirt, slouchy grey boots and a bee-brooch. I’m glad I hung on to it because the cut is unique and flattering.
  • Pinstripe pants suit: I haven’t worn my pants suit in a while because I’m wearing pencil skirts instead. But I adore my suit and the fit is impeccable. Perhaps I’ll haul it out for cocktails over the holiday season and re-invent it’s look. It’s also a handy outfit to have for more conservative situations.
  • Formal dresses: I have a few vintage-looking cocktail dresses which are several years old. They don’t come out to play each year, but are fairly timeless and put out fires when I need a formal outfit in jiff. I’m not throwing them out any time soon.

It is important to be selective though. Don’t use this rationale to hoard questionable items. If in doubt, pass it on.

What’s your keep or toss rule?