So much valuable input. I have a few years on most of you but work in a creative field so try to stay current and relevant, whatever that means. Janet, one thing I have been doing this summer is to evaluate each piece the day I wear it. Was I physically comfortable all day? Did I feel good and look my best today or was it simply "meh"? If the answer was no to either of these, into the give pile immediately, not another moment of thought.
Along with all of the above, this might be a helpful tool to evaluate the pieces you are unsure about or that you have no ties to because you haven't worn them.

Super chic skirt - really great colours for you ! I agree with shoulder pad tshirts - especially on sleeveless tops . I like mine too

Those sandals you are wearing are totally fab! I like Joyce's idea about evaluating a questionable piece by wearing it.

Yes to Joyce- this is why I understand that having “ too many clothes” is not for me any moral failing , but just that in my current life I’m not able to wear and re- mix them often enough to get my own feedback about how they’re working or get my arms around dressing for “ now”.
( This takes into account needing to wear within the right season and occasions, else it’s another year or more away, maybe another me by then).

Whether I will move closer to the goal is another thing!

Like your outfit!!

I tend to edit regularly when I notice wear or something annoys me. And then again at the change of seasons.

I would do a quick cut of what is definitely not right. I would then experiment a bit - trying to wear something and make an outfit or wearing all day can be revealing.

I maintain a holding zone - for out of season and things I like but am not wearing. It’s not large - probably around 4-8 pieces depending on the year.

I could do with an edit of occasion wear - that’s the only area where I do own things I doubt I will wear again.

You have had lots of great advice, Janet. It can be tough to do a clean out, especially when you actually love or at least like most items in your closet -- which I think is true for you, because you have chosen well. Also, some of your items were chosen with your beloved DH and so you have happy associations tied to them even if you are no longer wearing them.

Also, it may be less that the items are no longer "you" than that you have trouble making outfits that you like for who you are now with them and whatever else you have in the closet. If the item itself, when looked at on its own, still pleases, that makes editing harder.

I felt like that about a number of things that I let go this spring. There were sunk costs (so guilt -- even though most got reasonable wear in their time). I still *liked* them -- in theory. But applying Joyce's test, I wasn't enjoying wearing them any more. So -- out they went. I have edited out 41 items this year so far. A few are in a holding zone and might earn a place again in the fall -- but it's kind of doubtful. Meanwhile, I've purchased almost as many new items and I am wearing those quite happily.

So my next point it -- my last BIG edit/ shift was actually when I joined YLF, and then I had several years of wardrobe building, so the working closet really came together in about 2014 or thereabouts. Of course I made many purchases and edits in the intervening years -- but the overall feel of what I was doing remained constant.

I think this is the year of needing to make a bigger shift in my style. I have not completed that shift and what I am wearing may look entirely similar to an outsider. But I am thinking about it in a slightly different way and do feel I'm moving into a slightly different place sartorially speaking. This makes sense considering I am a decade older.

If you consider the timing of your last big shift -- maybe this is *your* time now, as well.

You just did a huge reno and then a fabulous epic trip. Very forward looking activities. Even if you are sentimental (which I believe you are) your older items may be holding you back. Instead of lamenting the changes that come with aging as ‘losses’, consider those that are gains: knowledge and wisdom, the time to do the things you want to do, a different kind of beauty. Edit with the attitude that you want things you will wear because they are relevant to you now and going forward.

Consider your butt kicked!

PS: if you have to make an excuse for the item (it might come back in fashion, I can wear it open instead of buttoned, I paid $$$ for it) - let it go.

Well I am blown away by this thread and how much wisdom and insight everyone has contributed. I am the last person to give advice on closet editing - I do it all the time but my archive is large. But the feeling that what worked at an earlier point might no longer work definitely resonates. I am also feeling that strongly lately. After all, style is not just clothes, it is how we wear them, and as we change the same clothes do not interact in the same way. Anyway, not much to add but I hear you.

I like runcarlas advice; if you have to make an excuse for the item then…. Probably time to pass on it. Let’s face it; none of us here are likely to have any real danger of not having anything at all to wear…. the problem is generally having too much.

When struggling with letting go of items with limited wear but expensive, good condition items I think about dinners out. I know sounds crazy comparison, but I never give a lot of thought to dinner out with hubs & friends or fret over ordering a nice bottle of wine or two as long as on budget. So spending per hour of enjoyment? I've stopped focusing on spend per wear and focus on did I enjoy it when wearing and is dinner over? Also, it has been helpful that I found a person in my local area to donate items to. She is a single mom on limited budget and is beyond thrilled to receive. Easy to edit when you know will be put to good use and not end up in landfill.

Ellie-Jean has a wardrobe editing video that goes through some of theses issues.

She’s a “ slow editor, “ so more my speed, but may be too chatty and convoluted for others. Still it’s another view, another pep-talk for the process and I sometimes find it helpful to hear things just slightly differently.

I really like the way you think about it, tam!

For myself, I feel like hanging on to unworn pieces (clutter) causes me more stress and mental energy in the long run than getting rid of them does. Like some of the others here, I rarely do a huge clean-out, but keep a small basket in the bottom of my closet where I toss things as soon as I am uncertain about them, like a holding zone. I go through it regularly to see what I want to keep or get rid of. I sell quite a few of my things on a second hand app, and have a separate drawer for all the things I have listed there. Sometimes it takes ages for something to sell, but as long as it’s out of my closet and in a designated place I don’t really mind. I aslo let my sisters and mom go through it when they visit to see if they would like anything, and the rest I donate. I do feel better about getting rid of things if I know someone else will be excited to have it.

Appreciate the thought provoking post, Janet (it resonates for me!) and all the wise input that it generated. I share some of the dilemmas and preference shifts, as well as the hesitations. I had a major re-think of my wardrobe planned for January, but have yet to be able to dive in as I recover from ortho surgery.

Reading this thread, I found myself turning my dilemma upside down. Instead of thinking about my clothing/footwear/accessories individually (overwhelming!!!), I started considering my literal closet, shelves and drawers. What do I want it to be like to use them daily? The road to enjoying outfit creation and optimizing whatever I choose to keep is now to have less to consider or maintain. Through this lens, for me, subtraction is adding- to quality of life and making future decisions easier and more fun. Since like you, I have a lot of ‘good’ pieces, my goal can’t just be to eliminate the obvious ‘heck no’ ones, but also to consider how many pairs of good-great black pants, bags, etc. work best (perhaps by season), and say good bye to excess. A big measure of my success will be the creation of space. The absence of stuff will help clarify my current preferences and direction. Over editing seems unlikely, but if I miss something, it will be good to identify a specific gap and fill it with what works today.

Best to everyone who is shifting gears, tackling a big dilemma and trying to make something work better. YLF is a great resource and inspiration.

Great stuff in this thread!

Eliza, YES, you get it. There really isn’t much of “heck no” in my closet. That stuff is low hanging fruit, easy for me to let go. What trips me up are the pieces that I like, they look good on me when I try them on, but I somehow don’t reach for them much for one reason or another.

I’m thinking especially of jackets, for instance. I have a whole rack of jackets. Denim, moto, bomber, blazer, utility… all in good-for-me colors and a variety of styles, weights, and uses. I LOVE jackets and don’t mind having a rail in my closet dedicated to them, but…it’s kinda full! There are some I don’t wear often but they fulfill a specific if not frequent need (sleeveless white cape-jacket thing from Zara, or long black blazer, or cropped black jacket that is a good topper for dressy dresses). There are others that I like and are unique but just don’t get worn much. Some are feeling a little off trend for me now (grey leather moto jacket) but I’m reluctant to let go because they’re good pieces. I think because jackets are a bit more of an investment than tops or pants, which tend to be cheaper, I hang in longer. I also really enjoy jackets so I tend to buy them more. You see the conundrum.

Right there with you on jackets, Janet. I have too many that I like and the collection is nuanced in terms of purpose, season, degree of humidity, mood, etc. My outerwear, same. My footwear, same. In a way, I am grateful for choices and yet the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I have room for more than I can optimize and haven’t moved in 30 years. This upcoming edit is towards a broader goal than typical. I both can’t wait and dread it…

I do see the conundrum with jackets, because I am the same way with cardigans.

I'm wondering if you have in the past had the experience that a jacket fell out of favor for a while but then you "rediscovered" it and brought it back into rotation after some years? Or do jackets tend to fall out of favor, languish in the back of the closet, and then you finally pass them on without them coming back into use?

I have to just sdmit the need for more discipline. I am a jacket - collector partly because I just love them. If I try one on and I like how it looks, I don’t seem to be able to say, ok, it’s fun but I don’t really need it. So many jackets, so little time!
Also, I have trouble identifying “ one jacket to rule them all”— I get hung up on needing various proportions, length especially, and colors that work (not using black or navy ) , and then there’s fabric weight- I wear or at least take a jacket every time I go on any errands in high summer, because, air -conditioning, but these have to be the lightest linen or cotton. Then don’t wear those for 8 months.
I had hunted for years, maybe 5, for another color of a Jones &Co linen sort of trucker jacket from TJMAXX that I have in white, that’s not exactly my perfect style in other seasons but works in summer. This summer I came across the jacket in 4 great colors- a toned- down lavender, black, raspberry and gray. I bought them all to evaluate at home, and with some degree of discernment and discipline kept just the black & lavender. The black sounds paradoxical but works similarly to what I recall might be an Angie post on “ summer black”. Then I got a Tommy Bahama in animal print! I’m actually wearing them all using them like an accessory to basic summer pants & T’s, but, …really. Similarly, I have the Kensie cotton jacket in 3 different neutral colors.

These may not be the best example, but I’m trying to figure out how to either quit over duplicating, or just saying no to more jackets, or figure more ways to extend the seasons of wear by shifting color palettes for mood ( a darkish lavender is one of my HEWI colors that I feel can go with cool and light colors like white, navy, denim, or with moodier taupes and chocolate, and even black) or by changing up the warmth of top or pants. I find it hard to edit them out once I have them, because of those weird fears I’ll need just that color or length.

Sarah, I have had jackets fall out of favor and then return! Sometimes it’s due to shifting trends in silhouettes — the longer, wider pants now may be bringing me back to my shorter fitted jackets. I’d be wearing them a bit differently than I did ten years ago.

Below are three examples of jackets that are a bit orphaned at the moment. The Ted Baker is a really specific feeling piece — a little stiffer and dressier than I typically want in a bomber but I love the unique print/textile. The grey leather moto is a shape I’ve been off of for a while but it’s classic and quality enough that I may come back to it soon. The color is a little hard to match — not as cool as it looks here. And the Zara bomber doesn’t get the kind of wear it used to, but I love the design and expect I may come back to it.

If someone said I needed to let go of one, it would be the Ted Baker or the grey leather moto — probably the Baker. But it’s hard to let go when I still *like* the item! LOL

I remembered one editing tool that I know I’ve mentioned before and need to imprint on my brain: Would I buy this again? To these three jackets, I’d answer yes to the Zara bomber, and maybe to the other two. I need to try them on styled to get a more definitive answer. So it may take me some time and effort to do a good thoughtful edit.

Janet you sound really thoughtful and self-aware about all this!

I hope this isn't an unconstructive comment, but I think it would be fine to have a kind of jacket archive that items cycle in and out of. It seems like archives work really well for some folks like Jaime and big edits work well for some folks like LJP. Neither approach is "better" or "right" it just depends on what works best for the individual, you know? But I do think, culturally, there can be pressure to do those massive culls -- given the pervasiveness of "massive declutter" content in media/social media these last years. I am not critiquing that! Just saying that it's a wardrobe management trend and like any fashion trend we can choose whether or not it's best for us to hop on it.

I hope this doesn't come across as lecturing! Inspired by you and others I've been doing some wardrobe assessment myself these last couple days so in part I'm just cogitating out loud.

But re that gray moto jacket -- your comment that "The color is a little hard to match — not as cool as it looks here" is really interesting to me in light of your earlier thoughts that you are feeling less good in matching complements than you used to. Maybe it's worth playing around with that jacket as a kind of "wrong topper"?

The space between "No, I would not buy it again" and "but I still like it" is really interesting...and hard to figure out what to do with...

SarahD8 love your comment, all of it. Makes sense to me. I have those pieces that I would not buy again but still like to wear. Can't get my head around those.

I like the "if it's not a hell yes, it's a no" rule, since your wardrobe is so large!

Re: jackets, I personally only wore thin jackets a few times this year. We just don't have those middle temperatures that much. Now YMMV cause you travel a lot, and have more storage space for them!

Another thought: I've been doing a major cull in all areas, and have been thinking of things a bit differently.
1. How long have I had it?
2. About how many times overall have I used it?
3. Did I use it a lot in the past, and not lately?
4. What changed in my life since I used it a lot?
5. Is my life going back to how it was when I used it a lot?
6. Do I want my life to go back to how it was when I used it a lot?

Often just 1 and 2 are enough to make a decision. If I had something 5 years and used it only twice, it's likely a canditate for someone else's home!

Soooo many comments that I didn’t read them first, so I may be repeating others.
1. Sunk costs shouldn’t continue to sink you by cluttering up your closet. That’s double damage.
2. Anything that you feel meh about can go.
3. Anything you still like and wear can stay, as long as you don’t continually pass over it for something else. Unless you know that once the first item wears out you will then wear it.
4. I like using a holding zone when I am truly unsure.
5. It’s okay to hold on to items that serve a purpose, even if you don’t love them. And it’s okay to replace them.
6. Do make sure you have something for all likely contingencies, like funerals, weddings, etc. Can be items from your regular wardrobe.

Biggest piece of advice-just start. Maybe with a small or easy category. And leave time for cleanup.

One question I ask myself-will I feel relieved once this item is out of my life? Oftentimes even if I feel guilty over the sunk cost I feel relief in the idea of letting something go.

Good luck!

Hi Janet.
Just a short comment.
When I was agonising about too many jackets in my wardrobe, Angie posted about not being keen on peacoats - but she keeps them.
If you have the space, keep them all
My space is limited now and I have to pack things into 2large boxes twice a year to take to a very small external storage.
Getting tired of all that steaming and ironing.
Trust yourself to just wait for inspiration and take time.

There are so many great comments and suggestions here! As usual I am reading on my phone so it’s very hard to respond individually, but I love how much wisdom you all are sharing.

I think this is something I need to tackle from both ends — the editing of an already-generous wardrobe, and slowing the acquisition of new items. I’ve had a bit of shopping fun this summer, and it’s now slowed to a standstill, which is where I would like to keep it. When I add something, it will need to be with the caveat that something else will go.

I’ve got a modest pile growing in the corner of our room of items that I think I’ll let go — a dress that hasn’t been worn in the past 2 or 3 summers, a Ripskirt that hasn’t been worn since before the pandemic, a couple of lackluster tees and tops, a pair of “wear around the house” shorts (when I have at least four others that serve the same purpose, but I like more)…

I’ve put some things in our camping capsule, which can live in the Airstream, a nice way to use flawed or worn items that I don’t mind getting beat up or worn out (and less packing required when it’s time for a trip!).

The truth is, we have room, but I sometimes feel a little overwhelmed with choice and things feel a little overcrowded, so I would prefer my closet to be a bit more streamlined. But I also get a case of the wantsies when I see certain items, even though I don’t need them. Shopping as leisure activity is a hard habit to break!

I was just going to reiterate what Helen247 said.

Janet, if you like the item, think you will wear it again - AND CAN STORE IT - keep it. The problem comes in when you can't store items because of very limited space. Like me in our loft! So I kept my old navy pea coats, but passed on my old Boden blazers.

I'm tagging on with Helen247 and Angie, and particularly SaraD8 with the "archive" idea. I'm like you, Janet, in that things are cyclical with me. For example, in my big first-ever wardrobe cleanout about 7 years ago, I got rid of a lot of nice peasant-style blouses. I was moving into an all-dress phase instead of tops and skirts, and I just didn't see reaching for them. Now I'm really regretting that. I've found skirt styles I really love, and for warm weather I pair them with breezy blouses instead of tees. I'm mourning a few in particular that I loved and would happily wear now if I had them, and coming up with a multitude of ebay saved searches to find the right kinds of replacements. So I've learned that I may go off of a look, a particular element for years, but it's quite likely I'll come back to it. I like the idea of an "archive" since my "holding zone" is large. Again like you, Janet, I tend to be very particular about colors and fits, so I'm a lot more careful now about passing on things because they may be temporarily out of favor but still really great.

I like the idea of moving some of your jackets you are currently off of, or wearing less often, to a separate space if possible.

Angie, Ginger, and all — this is great. A good reminder that I don’t need to part with things I truly like to achieve some arbitrary goal. I do wish for a little breathing room in my wardrobe, and I want to *wear* my great stuff, and sometimes I just feel like I have more great stuff than I have days to wear, LOL. Not a bad problem to have. I need to continue to be more realistic about how much wear I will get out of dressier pieces, in particular.

As a crazy archivist, I will say that I get a lot of joy out of rediscovering and reevaluating older pieces. Keeping a manageable active closet does not necessarily entail constantly purging.