Team holding zone too! Put the items into bags and then in 3 months time, if you haven't missed them, say goodbye. It makes the decision so easy.

This is a great post. The comments are helpful. I especially love "your notes to self." Great analysis.

Rabid purger weighing in here. BE CAREFUL. Purging feels great, but it's easy to get carried away. I agree with Angie about not taking the "one year" rule too firmly. Personally, I would think more about fit, fabrication, and deep love. Because if you love something, chances are there will be an opportunity to wear it again.

I have a perfect recent experience to share. Six or seven years I bought tall boots when in NYC on a girls weekend. I loved those boots. But for the last 2-3 years it's been all about the booties for me and I have not worn them even once. So when I moved in August and did another purge, I let them go. Even though they fit and I love them. Guess what I really need right now? Tall boots. UGH. So, be careful. That's all.

Regarding a holding zone - I've had some of the same things in and out of a holding zone for the last couple years without them ever getting worn. I'm not getting rid of anything I can't bear to part with. I'm reassessing how things feel, what I don't want to fuss with when I have it on and the like. I might lose weight, and I do have some things folded up in that event (snug jeans, a couple Blazers that almost work, etc). However, my distribution of weight at this time of my life is different than it's ever been, and acknowledging that means dressing for the body I have going forward. And it also had me asking if I would choose the item in question over what I already put back to keep in my closet. The no votes went away.

Joy and Rachy - I did get up early, but so as not to cause a mutiny and wake up the rest of the family (extra stuff is in DDs closet right now) I am still waiting on the finalizing.

When I said I can find something in the future, I really mean I don't want to take a scarcity approach. There's always the next thing I like, and I can tide myself over with what I have until I find any needed items, because my needs are so much fewer than my wants.

It doesn't sound like the holding zone is much of a body-reshaping motivator for you. In that case, I think you're right to dump everything but the faves, like the snug blazers and jeans you have tucked away. If your body is changing a lot, even some of that may fizzle when you get back into it, so be cautious of relying on it without checking.

I like a holding zone. I got a standing rack to help me out with this - for me it's easier to assess stuff when it's out of the closet since my closet closet door is narrow but the length is wide (love a wacky old house...).

I tend to use the standing rack to hold my active-outfit ingredients, and thus when I do peek into my closet I more easily see what hasn't budged for a while, and I do occasional light culling.

In the process I identify gaps (guess I need a new white blouse, or full length dark trousers etc). It's been really effective for the last 6 months or so.

I do have extra closets so I use a fairly large holding zone and "shop" from it often. Just yesterday I brought back into the main closet a ten year old charcoal jcrew blazer and did a few try ons with some basic tees and realized I could dress it down with a couple of graphic tees and one dressier tee (all shades of charcoal for a tone on tone look) - perfect for my needs. It is lined so will serve as a jacket for me on chilly days. I'm glad I bought things just a little bit big back then as otherwise they may not fit me today. Now they are fitting probably as they should.

I am a finicky dresser - moody to a fault - so it's important for me to hold quality items for quite some time - esp. if they are classic in style, since I almost always end up enjoying them again, often several years later.

I did decide to move my old black London Fog trench out of the closet and into the donate pile. It's been way to many years and I have other non-black options that fill that need at this point.

There comes a time when you body will not return to a former shape no matter what you do. Just saying. You can lose weight but may find that you are an apple or rectangle instead of an hourglass or pear. Then you know it is time to pass some old favorites on.

I find myself having a problem wth rationalizing what to do with the items.
I feel guilty in so much as I "may" just need that item and I'm being wasteful. Most of the items are in great shape and for the most part unworn. I tried to contact a local dress for success via email but never heard back, and I haven't had much luck with consignment. I've sold a few items on eBay but not much.
Note to self : stop buying items that you don't love !

OMG texstyle -- you just made me realize that since my daughter went away to school *I* have an extra closet! This could be bad. Very bad.

I was so busy trying to put house things back from the painting that I didn't get a chance to get back to clothes or the closet. A good night sleep last night and I should actually be able to finish up today. I will be considering what will be useful and may fit over the next several months, where I may be needing different clothes than what I've been wearing the last few years. If it's not something that gives me confidence or something that doesn't make me feel good when I have it on, it's going.

Chiming in with more encouragement.
I have cut down my holding zone but still have one. I improved my criteria to include:
--a few things that fit perfectly but I'm perplexed about why I'm not wearing--save for awhile, and meanwhile I'm trying to wear some of them and sort it out.
--things that are a TAD too small but I love--just a few items that are in fabrics that are hard to replace and "got small" during the year after I had some injury issues and I'm now exercising more. But after awhile if not fitting,poof, begone.
--A couple of items, mostly pants, that are maybe a half size or size too BIG but would be fall-back comfort security items. Classic style/color only.

Unfrumped - the first category is a puzzler, isn't it? I've done the same. I think wearing and analyzing is key.

Yes I agree!
I’m trying to prioritize re: whats the worst that can happen if I toss a “ perplexing” item. Because I do ascribe to the theory that removal makes room for dinthing better at least as often as causing any regrets.

So casual items are easiest. I have a Loft T that I loved but keep trying on and never wearing. Technically it fits in a good casual capsule, but apparently, not so much! I can never toss it right after I’m actually trying it on so will have to just do it some day soon. Surely it is replaceable.
Work things are harder, as I will say, oh, NOW this is the perfect length, or color.

Things that I've grown out of ( aka gained too much weight for) : I have a small "museum" of these pieces in the spare bedroom. These go back decades and include the 2 dresses I graduated in for my two graduations, the Thai silk outfit I bought in Singapore, etc. They are items I really adored. My wedding dress is there too. I have seen older women lose a substantial amount of weight with illness amongst my patients at times. And while I have room to store these items, you just never know if that could happen and I might wear them in my 70s. Not the wedding dress! All other too-tight items go as after 10 years nearly of this higher weight I feel this is my new set point. Even now a kilo or two can change and I need to clear away say a skirt that is too tight around the waist. I will do that pretty happily. What I find difficult is the stuff that was the most beloved. If not beloved, like you I feel there will be more things to be found. Because my tastes are eclectic I am pretty good at finding sales, outlet stores etc where I can up the numbers at a reasonable cost. I'm not after the very latest tailored blazer. As far as you and Unfrumped go with things you are not wearing even though you feel you like them, that's where I use my lists and tracking to sometimes "make" myself wear them a bit. Then they may come back into rotation or else be found to be wanting in some way. In which case I may manage to get rid of it, often with the help of the forum!

I gained weight during our move and endless renovation. I put the smaller clothes in a holding zone. Hubby then made a deal with me that if they don't fit by this November (two year anniversary of our move), I have to part with them.

Well, once we had a working kitchen (this past January), I did lose weight! Though not quite back down to my previous "ideal" weight. So I got out all the clothes and many fit again, and made it back into my closet. Of the items that didn't fit, I was able to easily declutter about 90%. I held on to just a few cherished items that were still in good condition, and if for no other reason than to be able to test my weight loss progress.

Everything in my holding zone, which is dramatically reduced in size, is now one size smaller (probably would require a 7-10 lb weight loss). I highly doubt I'm ever going to see that size ever again, and I'm okay with that. And if I did see that size again, you can bet I would indulge in a complete wardrobe overhaul and buy all new stuff to reward myself...

But I digress. Back to the items that made it back into my closet:

Thing is, after a few months I realized I wasn't wearing ANY of the items that made it back into my closet!! The reality is that I will nearly always default to something newer, if I have a newer alternative. I just like new things, I guess. And also, my tastes / tolerances and lifestyle have changed. I want comfortable, forgiving and breathable fabrics. And shoes I can walk in. My lifestyle is veering more casual these days too. My color preferences are also changing, as I gravitate more and more to neutrals and subtle/murky colors rather than attention-grabbing ones.

So I put a bag in my closet and for past few months every few days I would put an item or bunch of items in the bag, whenever the fancy hit, and not just while dressing. In the middle of a conference call it would come bubbling up into my mind, "you know you are never ever going to wear that sweater again, the one that's itchy and the color was never quite right?" and once the call was over I'd go grab the offending sweater and toss it in the bag.

I wound up filling three very large bags. Pretty much ALL of the items that had come back out of the holding zone! It was quite the eye opener. And this included a ton of shoes that fit once again, I just don't like them!! I am preparing myself mentally to next massively cull down my handbag collection. In the back of my mind I've been mulling over which ones it's time to part with.

After I got rid of these three donation bags I then sat down and did a version of the Project 333 challenge. I divided my closet into "spring/summer" and "fall winter" and allotted myself only so many hangers for each (more than 33 -- but what would comfortably fit in a section). I organized my clothes within each section according to color as well. This method can help you decide what to cull and what to keep. This allowed me to see "gaps" and gave me some permission to do a little more shopping to fill them in, while also restraining me from adding yet another blue top.

I love everything in my closet at the moment, and it's all getting worn (weather depending -- it hasn't been cold enough for sweaters yet).

Shiny - I like your comment a lot. I also default to new things, and unfortunately I don't think I'd ever reach a point of being "done" because variety and newness are important to me. What I can do is be judicious and mindful of what is really working in my life, and not add things that I can't afford or that add too much clutter or are for my imaginary life. But mostly I wanted to feel in control of what was in my closet because there was too much there, and not all of them were 10s. It was making me unsettled, and I'm very happy with what I've pared down to. It's definitely still not minimal, but a minimalist I am not. This size feels about right, so going forward it may be a matter of one in, one out, although in some categories I can still afford to lose more than I add. I'm working on creating this balance through my entire house. I have more room than some in my house, but less than many, and I don't like to feel overwhelmed with stuff around me. I can say I like everything in my closet, but I'm not at a point of saying I love everything there.