Over the years I’ve written many posts on how to edit your closet. My process has changed very little over the years. It’s exactly the same one I follow when working with clients today. 

Essentially, you need to set aside a chunk of time and create six categories of wardrobe items

  1. Keep: These are the items that you like, make you feel fabulous, FIT, and have earned their place in your wardrobe. Be careful not to pass on orphans because they’re lacking the support act that completes the outfit. If the item sparks joy, give it a chance by styling it correctly first. Items that have been orphaned for a while CAN fit into the keep category. You may have loved wearing certain pieces in the past, but they fell by the wayside when newer items took their place. Orphans do come out of hibernation and back into rotation. So if you still love a piece dearly — keep it.
  2. Temporary Keep: These are the items that aren’t perfect but you need to hold on to them until they can be replaced. 
  3. Alteration: All items that need alternation or repair – which includes shoes and accessories – go into this pile.
  4. Holding Zone: These are the items that you’re not sure about letting go, or that don’t currently fit because of weight fluctuations. Instead of passing them on right away, you’ll keep them temporarily in an area that is out of sight. Pass them on if you haven’t reached for them in a year.  
  5. Sentimental: These items are no longer wearable, but you keep them because they’re memorable in some way, and fun to look at. 
  6. Pass On: These are the items that no longer work, or have never worked for your style. Items that are damaged, worn, dated or ruined go into this pile. Items that are ill-fitting, unflattering in some way, overly fussy, impractical, uncomfortable, the wrong colour, or are no longer in line with your style goals go here.

You might not need to create six piles. For example, I have clients who prefer not to have a holding zone or to keep sentimental items. Sometimes alterations are not worth the time and expense. And sometimes there’s nothing on temporary hold. 

Don’t let the holding zone become a crutch. The point is not to avoid parting with items that no longer fit, were pricey, or to keep things for every “just in case” scenario. The goal is to streamline your wardrobe to the point where it covers your needs and wants, AND can be managed with ease and joy. 

Editing a closet — especially when you have a lot of stuff and want to pare down — can be a physically and emotionally demanding process. Here are some tips to see you through.

Don’t Compromise Too Much

You might think that you can successfully refresh your style, assess your needs, filter through trends, and review your wardrobe without editing your closet properly – but half measures do not work. You have to know EXACTLY what you have, how it fits, and how you currently feel about an item in your wardrobe before you can make a good decision. Start the new season clean, light and organized, and you’ll reap the reward over and over again. 

Edit ALL areas with wardrobe items. Don’t forget the stuff under the bed, in the spare room closet, in the coat closet, in all those drawers, in the garage, or in the basement. Be ruthless. Try to edit your closet in one session because keeping the momentum allows you to judge your closet contents as a whole. If editing in one go is not an option – tackle one item category or closet area at a time. 

Refit All Items

Your opinion about how an item looks or feels needs to be CURRENT, so do not base its fate on a past memory. For accurate assessment, re-fit wardrobe items that have gone unworn for a while. This is especially important if you’ve recently lost or gained weight, or are post pregnancy.  

Go in Groomed

Fix your hair and make-up before you re-fit wardrobe pieces because you’ll judge them differently if those parts of your outfit are off.

Get Emotional Support

If you find yourself losing momentum because you’re procrastinating, tired, short of time, or down on yourself for weight fluctuations and wasting money on new purchases that did not work — get support. Solicit the help of a friend, family member, a fashion forum, or hire a wardrobe consultant. Don’t beat yourself up about how your body has changed if you don’t like the changes. Do some soul searching, start again, and move forward. Get to the heart about WHY the item did not make you feel fabulous and try not to make the same mistake again. 

Be Realistic

We cannot create a perfect wardrobe over a set timeframe. It takes time, resources, patience, dedication, an interest in our current fashion era, and a little luck to create a fabulous wardrobe. But we can strive to achieve our wardrobe goals over a longer period of time. Just like our style is a never-ending journey, our wardrobes are a permanent work in progress. Enjoy it, and learn and laugh along the way. 

As with most things, practice makes perfect. The more regularly you edit your closet, the less time-consuming and easier the subsequent edits become. Monthly closet edits are a beautiful thing, and I highly recommend them. Start Spring cleaning!