The Big Closet Cleanout


March 2020
By Sharon Mosley

Now that spring is in the air, it’s the perfect time to let go of all the extra stuff in our closets so we can really enjoy getting dressed for those sunny vacation days ahead.

There are always clothes you need to get out of your closet, drawers and wherever else you stash them—even the laundry bin. So, spend a little time behind closed closet doors ... and start spring cleaning early. But what to toss? Here are a few suggestions to help you get started.

The no-brainers. These are the stained sweatshirts, the holey sweaters, the mismatched socks and the souvenir T-shirts from the summer of 1973. There are just some things you don’t need to hold onto forever. That shrunken crop top and low-slung jeans you looked so cute in five years ago before two kids came into your life have got to go. Donate them to the next generation of Britney Spearses.

The oldies but goodies.
Yes, there are many more flashbacks that take up valuable fashion real estate in our closets. Think old prom dresses and ugly bridesmaids dresses that you may have paid a small fortune for at the time, but now you don’t even want to wear them as Halloween costumes. So, get them out of your closet, or give them to your neighbor’s preschooler who loves to play dress-up.

The “too too’s.”
You’ll be surprised at how many of these closet clutterers you’ve got tucked away. They’re too tight, too baggy, or just don’t fit anymore. Whether you’ve lost weight or gained weight, you still keep these too-too’s, thinking you’ll wear them again... someday. But yes, I’m going to say it: Someday usually never comes. Ditch them.

The troublemakers.
Most of us have a few of these in our closets, too. It’s the silk shirt that’s too much trouble to get dry-cleaned. Or the wrap skirt that won’t stay wrapped. Or the jacket that never stays buttoned. Or the top with the low neckline that just keeps taking more and more of a plunge as the night wears on. Oh, yes, and that ruffled blouse that always gaps in all the wrong places. These are all clothes that are just too much trouble to wear and take care of... so we end up not wearing them. They need to go.

The weak and weary.
Sometimes these clothes will sneak up on us. We just keep wearing them and wearing them, not even realizing that they’ve grown very, very tired-looking and downright worn-out. We’re talking about that shapeless big sweater that has hung on a hanger way too long, the knit leggings that have been stretched to their limits, the skirt with all the sequins dangling by the threads, or the flared jeans that have dragged the floors (and the dirt) for far too long. Time to reassess.

The trendsetters.
It’s great to update your wardrobe with a few fresh items every season. But when you get into the habit of buying only throwaway trends season after season, you end up with a closet full of cheap stuff that doesn’t last (see “weak and weary”). It’s time to take a break and bring some balance into your closet. Instead of always buying fast fashion, invest in more wardrobe classics—an updated trench, a statement jacket, a pair of classic-cut straight-leg trousers, a crisp white shirt, or a midi pencil skirt.

The clutterers.
A closet cleanout is also a good time to declutter all the little extras that pile up in the corners ... the sneakers, the hats, the scarves, etc. Think outside the closet for unique storage solutions: cubbies for your shoes, modular shelving, rolling racks, wicker baskets, under-bed solutions, hooks, etc. You’ll be surprised at how much money you’ll save in the long run—maybe enough to take a real vacation from your closet ... at the beach.

Sharon Mosley is a former fashion editor of the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock and executive director of the Fashion Editors and Reporters Association.

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