The Ultimate Guide to Ruthless Decluttering

‘Take it all out!’, says every single guide to decluttering a wardrobe, and I disagree.

When I was a kid, my room looked like a herd of horses ran over it. My family used to gather my junk in a big pile, then mom would lecture me about the importance of a clean space for clear thinking so that I could welcome the chaos again - but to a tidy room.

At the age of 20 I started living alone: I had less stuff, more understanding of what my mom explained, and an old habit of making a mountain out of the things I needed to organise. Decluttering used to be an unpleasant process, but I changed the approach, and now it brings me joy. I especially favour dealing with my clothes!

There are two keys to decluttering your closet once and for all: be prepared to dedicate time to it and be ruthless.

This guide also contains a simple flowchart that helps determine which clothes are for a maybe pile and which should hear you singing “I’m Movin’ On”.

Let’s get started!

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yes pile

1️⃣ DO NOT take it all out! Start small.

Closet decluttering might be a very overwhelming experience. Taking everything out is ineffective, stressful and tedious. Go section by section, one drawer at a time.

I start by picking out sportswear and formal wear and temporarily placing them in boxes. This way I only have the clothes for everyday use. Later, when informal clothing is sorted out, I bring the boxes back and organise all the joggers, suits and evening dresses I’ve tucked away before.

2️⃣ Pick out the items for a yes pile 

I don’t mean a mountain on the floor, I speak of a nicely built tower on your bed or much better - display the yes pile on a garment rack if you have one. 

Treat your wardrobe as a capsule collection: pick out what you absolutely love, what fits well, what is easy to combine with one another and which will pass 30 wears. I find it useful to visualise a capsule in advance. For example, a Pinterest board helps you quickly identify what garments for the capsule you already own.

Yes pile shouldn’t be difficult to form. There goes everything that boosts your self-esteem and makes you feel fabulous!

3️⃣ Be through with it for today

Seriously, take a break. You don’t want to end up getting rid of something you like, neither keeping clothes you don’t wear. Wipe the dust from the freed space in your closet, put the yes pile back in, and temporarily store the boxes with non-casuals.

maybe and no piles

The most difficult part of decluttering is to decide whether or not to let an item go. I keep this flowchart close for when I enter the “what if I need this in 10 years” mode.

flowchart

If you haven’t worn something in the last year, do you think you need it then? I’m pretty sure you’ve had all sorts of occasions to reach out for that clothes, and if it didn’t happen, find a new owner for pre-loved items.

If you have worn these clothes but didn’t sort them into the yes pile, then you definitely have doubts about them. What is this? Fit? Color or print? Try this on, see how you feel. Does this spark joy in you? If it doesn’t, see what to do with a no pile. If it does - do not neglect tucking things away for a month or two. This trick is especially good for clothes that have sentimental value.

When you’re done sorting out casual wear, move on to what you’ve set aside: sportswear, formal wear, clothes for gardening etc. Now follow the same steps for organising this part of your wardrobe.

Here I share 5 ethical ways to get rid of the no pile.

We put a lot of emotional attachment into objects. But it gets easier with each item you give away. Make decluttering not a chore but a practice of mindfulness. I hope you’ll enjoy it and see how minimising what you own maximises your overall happiness.

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