10 Tips to Declutter Your Clothes

1. Know where to donate your clothes.

If you know that the nearest place is pretty nearby, you’d be more motivated to clear your wardrobe and bring the clothes there…rather than tossing them into the trash or the bulk bin for trash. This step has always been pretty tough for me. The nearest charity shop was a little way down the street from where I lived, but it always seemed extraordinarily far once I had a full bag of stuff. Now I live two bus stops away from H&M and Uniqlo and I try to make a concerted effort to bring the clothes there–usually on Saturdays.

2. Ignore sales.

I tend to buy more when there’s a sale–surely I’ll wear that $5 pencil skirt in a too-tight size right? No. I didn’t, and it got donated within a month of its purchase. I have other offenders, usually dresses since I’m in a t-shirt and jeans most days, and they’re sitting there, reminding me of how much I spent on them and I should really wear them again. To which I silently counter that I will soon… to the next wedding I attend.

3. Stop adding to your closet.

I consider myself to be fairly thrifty, but I can’t pass up the lure of free. So if a friend says she’s giving away her clothes, I will automatically take some from her–only to realise that I’ll probably never wear the item again. I’ve also consistently refused my sister’s admittedly lightly used clothes for the same reason, and mainly because I didn’t want to undo the work I’d already accomplished.

4. Consider the purchase.

Ever since I was a teen or young adult, I’ve wanted a few very specific items–a leather jacket, a trench coat, Timberland or Dr Martens boots and Converse shoes–things that are mostly impractical for the tropical climate I live in. The wants persisted though and I ended up buying the Timberland this year, on sale, and the converse wedges a couple years ago. The leather jacket I had variants of but none of them were really what I wanted.

I scoured Carousell (not sponsored, just an app I use really often) and asked a number of sellers if the leather was real. I nearly bought one from Asos, but my husband convinced me it was too much to spend. Eventually I found this one from Bershka. Real sheep leather and priced quite affordably, but I still took weeks to decide before buying. Now I wear it every day in office. The purchase wasn’t super necessary but it was something I’d wanted for a long time. Fumio Sasaki in Goodbye, Things says you can’t predict your happiness about the item in the long run–with all respect, I think if you buy an item you’ve always wanted, the item can give you happiness for a pretty long time, maybe even years.

5. It’s okay to be imperfect.

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have hang ups about the items we don’t wear but can’t bear to give up. I still have my prom dress from junior college (high school) sitting in my closet. I wore it twice, once for prom and for a cousin’s wedding. I don’t even love it that much but it’s the prom where I attended with my now-husband, so there’s some emotional attachment there.

I apply a waiting game to my clothes. Every time I cull my wardrobe I might take the same few items out to give away. If I can’t bear to, it goes back for the next round. It takes a while but it works for me since I eventually run out of excuses to keep the item.

6. Discard multiples.

Take out all your clothes and see what you have multiple items of–maybe it’s five black t-shirts or six pairs of leggings. I have three pairs of thin leggings that I supposedly need when I travel overseas. I think I discarded a few.

It would be best to do all the discarding at one go, so you have an idea of how many items you have–not to best some record, but to effectively bring across the notion that we have too much stuff. While I can safely say I know what I have in the house I’m staying in, I can’t say the same for the bedroom I lived in–mainly because I haven’t cleared that one out since I got married. Marie Kondo advocates having all your clothes in one place to sort, and I can see her point. If you sort everything at one time it takes less time then going over it again and again and again. (Note to self: project for Sunday.)

7. Box stuff up and take out what you really need.

Some minimalists really boxed up everything they own and then take out one item at a time to see how much they can live with. I did something of the sort too–I boxed up a few boxes and put them in my sister in law’s place and the rest of the stuff is at home and in my old bedroom. I have discovered that I really only need what I have in my current home, and even then it might be too much.

8. Rent out your clothes.

Rather than having them sit in your closet the whole year round, you can rent out your items, saving you space in your closet and helping you earn a bit more. Rent a Dress has such a scheme and I’ll probably look into it once the weddings this year are over.

I’m thinking of taking it one step further and renting out seasonal clothes like the travel jacket I got from Baubax but can really only wear when I go overseas. I don’t think there is such a service in Singapore yet but I’ll update this space if there is.

9. Move to a smaller space, and get minimal storage.

I’ve read many travel blogs on the topic of packing light (which also carried over to my interest in minimalism and then zero waste) and they all recommend bringing a smaller bag, because we tend to fill up the bag we have to the brim, even if we don’t need all the stuff.

In the same vein, if you have a walk-in wardrobe you’d be more tempted to buy more stuff to fill it. Or you’d think, “okay I have so much space in that wardrobe, I can keep all my clothes”. But if you’re sharing a wardrobe with your spouse, you’re likely to have to pare down a bit.

10. One in, two out.

If you really need some motivation to clear your closet, you might want to consider the above. Generally it’s “one in, one out” but you could modify the number so you really start decluttering.

If you have any other tips, share with me in the comments below.

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