Minimalist wardrobe: How to declutter

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Article estimated reading time 5 min. read
Article date Feb 12th, 2019
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Introduction

This article is the second of a three-part series about a minimalist wardrobe. This article will talk about how to clean your existing wardrobe to become more minimalist. I am going to share a few tips and tricks to help you declutter your closet. I have mixed my own personal experience with the KonMarie method to help you as best as I can.

Please note that these tips should be applied regularly, it is quite easy to fall back to its default mode, buy a lot of new clothes and end up with a closet as full as before. I personally check my wardrobe every six months to see if my style, body or needs have made some of the items I bought not as enjoyable as they once were.

Remove everything from your wardrobe

Start the process by removing every item from your wardrobe and put them on your bed or another large (and clean) surface.

Chances are you ended up with a huge pile of clothes in front of you and just looking at them might discourage you from continuing. Truth is, it is going to be a pain to organise everything back to your closet, might as well do some cleaning up.

If you have too many clothes, consider splitting them into categories (shirts, trousers, t-shirts, suits…) to make things easier. If possible I would recommend facing the truth head on and check your entire wardrobe at once, you will make better decisions if you see that you want to keep 12 shirts then want to keep 10 t-shirts, because that might be too much or too little for your needs, instead of checking just the shirts then just the t-shirts.

Though I like the outfit in general, I ended up giving away the shirt that was becoming too tight for me as well as the socks which were simply not my style anymore.

Ask yourself if you enjoy each item, one by one

Take the very first item the pile, hold it in front of you and simply listen to what your body says. Chances are you will know instantly if you like wearing that piece of clothing or not.
If you do, create a « yes » pile and throw your item on it and if you don’t, do the opposite.

If you don’t have a clear answer popping out then it is time to rationalize your need. Did you wear that item in the last year, or if it isn’t a seasonable item, during the last six months? If not, you won’t regret not keeping it.
If you did wear it, was it often or not? Unless you truly hate that item but have no choice but to wear it because you don’t have something better I would suggest throwing it away and finding a better replacement.

After going through with this process you should end up three piles, the more you repeat this process the smallest your « no » pile should be. If not then you should reconsider a more thoughtful buying process to reduce your impact on the planet and on your life.

The « no » and the « yes » pile should not move anymore, though I would recommend looking one last time at the items you are sure to keep to see if you didn’t make a bad decision or two. It might happen when you go throw your items a bit too quickly.

Do not keep clothes in bad shape

This is especially true to socks, boxers and t-shirts. If some of your clothes have a stain that won’t come out, unwanted and unrepairable tear or are simply worn out then do not keep them. They do not have value so please do not donate them as they will be thrashed. Save everyone some time and do the dirty job yourself.

Would you need that many suits if you weren't wearing one daily?

Do not keep duplicates

There is no need to keep five pairs of jeans or three navy suits. Unless you need to wear a suit to work every day and therefore need to wear them in turns to extend their lifetime you shouldn’t keep duplicates. Another exception I make is for underwear (t-shirts, boxers and socks) as there is no point (and is sometimes not even possible) to find truly different white t-shirts.
If you have a winter and a summer navy suits I wouldn’t count them as duplicates either.

This is especially true for items that do not need to be washed after each wear, like a pair of jeans or a suit for example. You will have less time where your item is inside a basket waiting to be washed and won’t feel the frustration that creeps in when you want to wear a white t-shirt but can’t because you wore the only one you kept two days ago and you are not planning to do the laundry the same morning.

Keep enough for your needs

If you wear a dress shirt every day to work and do the laundry every two weeks you should at least keep enough of them to be able to do so. Decluttering your wardrobe too much will simply result in frustration because you will not be able to meet your needs. If you are short of a few dress shirts but do not want to keep any of the ones you decided to throw away then it might be time to do some conscious shopping. Analyze what you already have a make good decisions accordingly.

Learn from what you decide not to keep

We all make mistakes. There is always a time where there was a great sale on an item, you decide to buy it and realize too late that it wasn’t fitting you well, going with the rest of your wardrobe or you simply did not like it as much as you thought. It’s ok, really. What you need to do now is learn from those mistakes, the ones you have in front of you right now, in that big « no » pile.

Check each item as see what went wrong. Did you buy it without thinking? Do you not enjoy wearing jeans in the end? Is it too prone to wrinkle and therefore a pain to iron?
All of these answers will help you make better purchases in the future and keep your wardrobe as minimalist as possible.

Florian Husquinet

I am a web developer currently living in Liege, Belgium. My big resolution for 2018 was to have a more ethical wardrobe.

I will explore different options throughout my posts ranging from regular brands to second hand going into the details of what makes a garment ethical or not.

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