33 Ways to Cull Your Closet

Posted by Jill Chivers in Shop Your Wardrobe Strategies

The inspiration for this week’s post came about from two sources.  Firstly, I was in touch with someone on our Facebook page who shared with me:  I have a quandary…. my wardrobe contains the results of years of steady accumulation, and I am at a loss how to fix it – how do I pull my wardrobe back to a more manageable collection? How do I really pare it down?

An interesting question.  What are the ways a wardrobe can be pared down? What criteria exist? What sorting mechanisms are there?

Then on the weekend, I had a Skype conversation with a colleague in Houston and were talking personality dressing — you know, dressing yourself using a ‘system’ that recognises uniqueness in personalities, and in a way that feels most like YOU.  She was telling me that she has also been culling her wardrobe and using “personality” as the main determinant to decide on what stays and what goes.

It got me thinking about the basis’ on which we decide what should stay and what should be let go of in our closets.

My friend in Houston was saying that the familiar “have you worn it in the last 2 years?” criteria didn’t work for her – she wears clothing collected from her mother’s and grandmother’s closet that often are unworm for a period of years, but she always comes back to them.  That “historical timeline” approach just isn’t helpful to her.

This topic suddenly got a lot more interesting.  I wanted to delve into it.

So, intrigued, I set myself a challenge: I would come up with at least ten (10) different ways that any wardrobe could be assessed against.  If the tried and familiar “have you worn it in 2 years?” didn’t work for Houston, it probably wouldn’t work for a few others as well (which is not to say it isn’t useful – it’s just a question of broadening our thinking and creating sorting categories that work for us).

What other ways could I come up with to help people sort through their closets, to determine what should stay and what should be let go of?

Well, my challenge to come up with ten categories was easily achieved.  I zoomed past ten and found myself getting up to 30 categories.  These categories range from the very practical to the (cough) charmingly esoteric, and my intention in pulling them together is to give you a range of choices.

If you are currently culling the items in your wardrobe, choose 1, 2, 3 …. as many of these categories as appeal to you, to help you decide what you’ll keep, and what you’ll let go of.  You can use all 33 if you like – it may just take you hours to apply it to a handful of clothing items.

The whole idea with this list of 33 ways to cull your closet is that you are in the drivers seat – you get to determine the basis on which you decide what is working, and what isn’t, in your wardrobe.

Don’t just head into your wardrobe and start sorting.  Without some overarching thinking, some strategy, some criteria on which you will assess each item, you’ll end up confused, fatigued and even more frustrated than you were before you started.

Have a look at these 33 ways you can cull your closet:

1. Timeline Past: how long has it been since I have worn it?

2. Timeline Present: am I currently wearing it?

3. Timeline Future: can I imagine wearing this item again in the future (near or unspecified)?

4. Memories: do I have happy/pleasant memories of wearing this (which are either significant in their own right, or mean that I will wear it again in the future)?

5. Practical: do I wear it?

6. Fit: does it fit me?

7. Feeling: how do I feel when I wear it? At the least, does it make me feel good or bad, fabulous or frumpy, when I wear it?

8. Visual: how do I look when wearing it?

9. Touch: how does it feel on my skin and my body?

10. Condition: what condition is it in? Does it need repairing, or revamping and upstyling to make it wearable?

11. Versatility: how many other things can I wear with it?

12. Variety: does this piece add variety and interest to my wardrobe?

13. Personality: does it feel like “me”?  (how do I know?)

14. Sentimental: does it have a connection to something significant or meaningful in my past?

15. Care: what is it like to care for? Does it require special cleaning?

16. Attractiveness: do I feel attractive when I wear it?

17. Energy: what happens to my energy when I wear it? At the least, do I feel energised and ‘up’ when I wear it, or do I feel enervated and ‘down’ when I wear it?

18. Storage: is it easy to store or does it have special storage requirements?

19. Money: did it cost a lot of money and therefore I feel I should keep it, or was it so cheap it feels easy to dispose of?

20. Proportion: does it have the right proportions for my particular body?

21. Line and shape: is the line, shape and construction of this garment right for me?

22. Colour: is it the right colour right for me, or at least is it in the right ‘colour family’ for me?

23. Texture and fabric: do I love/enjoy the feel of the texture and fabric of this garment when I wear it?

24. Pattern: do I enjoy wearing this patterned garment, and does it feel like ‘me’?

25. Access: is it easy to access, is it in plain sight and easy to reach?

26. Logic: does it make sense to keep this?

27. Emotional ‘weight’: does it feel lighter or heavier to keep this item, or to let it go?

28. Magic: I don’t know why I keep it, but I’m happy waiting for something to happen so I can wear it again

29. ‘Enoughness’: does it feel like just enough, not enough, or too much if I keep this?

30. Uniqueness: is this piece unique in some special or meaningful way, that means I should keep it?

31. Lifestyle: does it suit the lifestyle I currently have (not a previous lifestyle, or a potential future one)?

32. Obligation: was it given to me and I feel obligated to keep it? (and is this a good enough reason to keep it)?

33. Gut instinct:  What’s my gut instinct when pondering this item – let it go, or keep it?

Consider: What other criteria do you find useful when sorting and assessing your clothing?


Since writing this blog posting, I have added 3 new categories and categorized them as a Special Report in PDF – easy to print and refer to in the future.

To download your copy of the Special Report – 36 Ways to Cull Your Closet, click here.



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