- Your clothes fit you now, or is one size up or down, and a realistic fit for the near future. Sizes outside of that range should either be donated (top choice) or bagged/boxed up and put somewhere else, so they are not getting in the way of you having a fully functioning wardrobe and choices each day.
- They are not stained, ripped, damaged or faded (unless they’re clothes you set aside for things like painting days or lawn mowing)
- The clothes are YOURS to decide what to do with. (You don’t get to just go through your spouses clothes without permission, for instance, but maybe you’ve got full authority to go through your 10 year old daughter’s stuff without her even being in the room).
1. Do you love it?
- You love how you look when you wear it
- You feel good when you wear it
- When you think of something you want to wear on any given day, it’s high in the rotation.
- When you put it on, you tend to keep it on, rather than change your mind for something else
2. Does it love you back?
- It flatters your current shape.
- The color works with your complexion.
- It doesn’t itch or have scratchy seams.
- It feels comfortable when you sit, stand or walk while wearing it.
- You feel comfortable with the neckline / waist height / sleeve length, etc.
- You don’t get distracted by it during the day when you’re wearing it, wondering if it’s still fitting the right way.
3. Does it fit your current and foreseeable life style?
- It fits into your normal current lifestyle (work clothing appropriate for your current job, casual clothing, or special occasions that are likely to occur). Some questions to figure that out:
- Special occasion clothing – if it is a “I can wear this to a wedding” item, is it one you WILL wear, or COULD wear? Do you tend to wear repeats, or shop for something new each time?
- Special occasion clothing – “This is good for a holiday party” — how often do you normally attend these types of parties, and is it likely you’ll wear this item at that time?
- Work clothing — especially suits — do you wear suits now? Is it highly likely you’ll wear them in the future? If yes, are THESE the suits you’ll wear at that time?
- Casual clothing — do you have a lifestyle that you have enough opportunity to wear the casual clothing you have collected? (example: 8 great skiing sweaters, but you only go skiing one or two times a year?)
- You have the right amount of what you need for core items (example: jeans, black pants, white or blue dress shirts, etc.). If you wear black pants every day, what is the realistic amount to have on hand, and how does that compare to the size of your collection? If your collection is greater, how do you prioritize on any given day what you choose to wear? That’s how you should prioritize to choose to keep the necessary amount.
- Is the care required more than your lifestyle can handle? It’s dry clean only, or hand wash, or some other such craziness that just isn’t part of your life right now. All the hand-wash-only and dry-clean-only items end up in a pile, worn once, wrinkled, left to die a lonely death of cashmere and sequins and linen.
4. If you went shopping today, would you pick it out and buy it?
- If you wouldn’t pick it out to buy today, why do you think you’d actually wear this tomorrow? Sure, we all have clothes that we bought when we were shopping for something (or nothing) in particular, some time ago. It may just as well have served its purpose in our life, and if it’s not something you’d make the same choice to take home today, why are you KEEPING it in your home?
5. Could someone else get more use out of it in the future than you really will?
- Sure, it’s a good piece, and it looks good on you, and you like it enough, and you might have occasion to wear it. But, is it really being valued in your closet? Could someone else use it and love it so much that it is the top of their list?
- Winter coats come to mind on this one, for instance. You have several perfectly great coats. You don’t need them all. Someone else really, really, really needs one, and would be grateful for yours. Or business suits for people who don’t have good clothing to wear to job interviews. Or shoes. And so on, and so on, and so on.
So, I promised my confession on which question I fail at, a lot.
It’s number 3. You see, I started Clever Girl Organizing in early 2013, and left the corporate world behind me. And, while I do occasionally require clothes for a more business professional setting, I have WAY MORE professional clothing than I need or can use in my current world. Maybe I’ve held onto it because I thought that Clever Girl might not “take” (oh, but it really, really has). Or maybe I’ve just been forced to make tough decisions because my closet is large enough and organized enough that the presence of those items are not creating a problem for me. But I think it’s time I dove in, using the lens of my current and foreseeable future, and weeded down in the areas that just aren’t going to be touched again, at least not if I can help it. I’m going to start with suits, move into dresses and skirts, and on to blouses. Again, I can absolutely wear some of those things at some point in time, but the sheer volume of items I have in each category just don’t match my current and desired life.