Adventures in Cleaning Out Your Closet!

My mom always asks for my help to clean out her closet. She’s not good at making the tough decisions when it comes to clothes but cleaning out your closet is a necessary task. It should be part of your seasonal cleaning.

Why?  Clothes get worn out. Styles change. That dress you had to have but have never worn needs to either be moved to the front of the queue OR find a new home with someone who will, I don’t know, ACTUALLY wear it. I like to think of the person who finds my cast offs at Goodwill and falls in love with them, giving them new life!

Don’t be intimidated by the task. Here are some tips to get you through the purge.

1. Use the buddy system.

Cleaning out your closet is MORE fun with someone else and we all need fresh eyes sometimes. My mom gets emotional and I get tough and we work. We were even smiling at the end. You need someone to bounce off ideas with and to help you make the tough calls. You may love that dress but it’s never fit you right and you always pass it by when deciding what to wear.

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(The matching Ts were a bonus!)

2. Clean out your closet SYSTEMATICALLY. 

Start with a category, pull out ALL of them, and look at your tops in the context of all of your tops. Do the same thing with bottoms, dresses, pants, suits, play clothes, jammies, or whatever. Doing it this way let’s you see how many chambray shirts you have or how many black pencil skirts you have (hint you probably only NEED one or two of those).


It helps if a small dog can lay on top of the clothes to keep them safe. Thanks for the help, Oscar.

3. Organization is your BFF. 

I know that should be kind of obvious, but an organized closet helps you see what you have and makes selecting pieces simpler. I like to organize it by item and keep it color coded. I know that sounds super OCD but it really WORKS. And, bonus, it’s pretty. Your clothes should NOT be smushed together. It’s not good for the clothes and the last thing I want to do when getting dressed is to realize I have to iron something if I want to wear it and not look like I slept in my clothes.


4. Be ruthless. 

We all fall into the trap of thinking that we will need this one piece and will regret getting rid of it. But the truth is, if you don’t use it at least ONCE a month, set it FREE! You might think but that’s a barely used Calvin Klein or it’s from JCrew. I know you spent money on them. I get it. But if you are not wearing them and they do not work for you, what practical purpose do they hold? Art? I told my mom I don’t care if it’s Valentino, if it doesn’t work, set it free. Someone else will be so THRILLED to have the clothes. Let them go to a happy, useful home.


Oscar agrees. He says now is the time to put on your big girl panties and get rid of that green flannel tunic once and for all.


Though my mom might disagree, you do not need repeat items. For example, you don’t need 5 black shirts. (We both know at least half of them are faded and one probably has a hole in it.) Also think about it in terms of what purpose they serve. For example, bermuda shorts (you know I already don’t love them) don’t need to be in every color. Think about what you use the item for and keep the nicest, most versatile piece.


In this pic, I was trapped in my mom’s cape cod Bermuda short triangle.

Watch out for empty closet syndrome. Just cause there is suddenly space doesn’t you mean you have to fill it. In fact, that’s the worst thing you could do. Instead, savor the space. Think CAREFULLY about holes in your wardrobe. Do you have classic black pants that you can run to in an emergency like your monthly visitor or a missed alarm? That’s a hole you need to plug.

Also, a couple of other freebie tips:

If you keep your shoes in shoe boxes, take pics and put them on the outside so you can SEE your shoes. Putting together an outfit is a visual thing and if you can see what you’ve got, you just might use it. 

ALSO, if you have some pieces that you need to think about, take the time to write on an index cards some ways to style them. This also helps during those rush mornings. It gives you a blueprint and keeps your fashion game on point. 

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I wrote up some note cards for my mom to help her with some of her difficult to style favorites!

Local peeps, I am always game for a closet purge so feel free to use your phone a friend to call me! 🙂

Go forth and PURGE. I promise you feel better afterwards. 

3 thoughts on “Adventures in Cleaning Out Your Closet!

  1. I am simultaneously humiliated and proud of this post! This really is an impossible task for me alone — I can only take one or 2 items, rather than deal systematically with a whole category of items, which is exactly what should be done. I’m lucky to have Irene’s help to get my closet under control!

  2. Hey girl! I don’t know how I stumbled onto your blog (it was over a year ago when I was still at the SAO – maybe a link off Rita or Nancy’s FB page?) but I have really enjoyed reading it and continue to! Keep the posts coming 🙂 – Beatriz (ex-ASA that used to ride the bus late with you during the dark year of parking lot construction).

    • Thanks for the love! I try to post at least once a week when work doesn’t get in the way! Hope you are doing well!

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