5 Steps to Declutter Your Closet & Build a Customized Minimalist Wardrobe

I have been really open about my minimalist journey and how I even stopped buying clothes for 3 years. Since then I have really learned to hone in on what my own personal style is, and have managed to maintain a minimalist wardrobe as well. If you are working to declutter your closet, but have that looming fear that you’ll get rid of something and then regret it for the rest of your life, I totally get it and I can help you out with that. That’s why I wanted to share the super simple 5 step process I used to not only minimize my wardrobe but also build a minimalist style all my own. (Oh, and subsequently doing all of this helped me break my shopping addiction.) So let’s get to it, shall we?

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Your goal are yours

First thing to know before you ever dive into decluttering or minimalism is that this journey is only for you. If you read some blog post or book about a person who only owned 3 pairs of pants and you currently own 33 pairs of pants, don’t for a single second think that you have to widdle your wardrobe down to their standards.

Minimalism means you get to decide what you value, what gets to stay in your life and what is just taking up space. Period. Here are some other things to keep in mind if you are just starting your minimalism journey.

Ok, I just had to get that off my chest, now let’s dive into all things closet dectluerring, shall we?

Make a “Hamper Pile”

No, I’m not telling you to get all of your dirty clothes together, I’m saying give your wardrobe a good hard look and ask yourself, “Which of these things consistently end up in the hamper?”

In other words, which items do I actually LIKE wearing and wear the most consistently?

Of course, in some cases, these may be items you wear to work. Maybe you don’t particularly love them, if it wasn’t for work you would never wear them, but, if we’re being practical you need to keep them around.

If that’s the case, which of those items do you LIKE wearing the most? Sure, you have to have different clothes in the hamper every day of the week for work, but which outfit or article of clothing do you consistently reach for?

Do this for your comfort clothes too. Which sweats are your favorite? What are you go-to yoga pants? Best pair of jeans? That shirt that you wish you could wear every day!

Compile all of your favorite items together on your bed, give them a good hard look and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are there color consistencies here?
  • What is it about these shirts that I like so much?
  • Is there a reason I reach for these pants?
  • Why do I go for these items first?
  • Do we see any clear patterns/uniforms going on here? (You can read about my minimalist uniform)

It just might blow your mine the realizations that you have when you take the time to isolate your “Hamper Pile” from the rest of your clothing.

So often we try to trick ourselves into buying stuff that is more “trendy” or we tell ourselves that we need to “switch it up.” These are both dirty little lies that will keep you filling your closet with unused clothing and prevent you from feeling your best in what you wear every day.

Speaking of the devil, let’s move on to step 2.

Photo from BuzzFeed’s 15 Minimalist Hacks to Maximize Your Life

The Loiterers

No one wants someone or something that just hangs out and serves no purpose. This is why they put “No Loitering” signs outside of gas stations. Remaining stagnant in one place is annoying and just plain creepy sometimes. That’s why it’s crucial to find the loiterers in your closet and gently give them the boot.

Of course we are talking about the clothes that never make the Hamper Pile.

Maybe they are outdated and don’t fit but you keep hoping they will again someday. (Side note, if you see them and then shame yourself for not fitting into them…they are sucking your soul and must be banished immediately.)

Perhaps its that fun, flowy top that your friend convinced you to buy because it looked so good on you, and maybe it does, but you just never want to put it on. Let it go. It’s cute, we know, you won’t hurt it’s feelings if you toss it in a donate bin.

When it comes to these items, I want you to do the same thing you did with the Hamper Pile except in reverse.

  • Why don’t I reach for these things?
  • What is it about them that turns me off?
  • Are there certain color schemes I’m seeing here?
  • Is there a texture or pattern that pops up over and over again?

From here, use both of these piles as guidelines for what goes and what stays?

Photo from Three Birds Renovation

Side note: keep your funeral pants

I know you want to go minimalist and declutter anything that isn’t serving you, but please remember to also keep a side of practicality while you’re doing this.

What I mean is, there are probably items in your closet that you are obligated to hang onto.

Maybe that means that one pair of shorts that you don’t love wearing but you know you are going to need them at some point during the summer, so they gotta stay.

For me, this is my funeral pants. I’m more of a dress girl but living in Minnesota there were multiple times that I was required to attend a formal event (AKA a funeral) in the dead of winter when it was just too cold for a dress.

Time after time I would panic and freak out and scramble to find something decent to wear.

So, I gave in and bought myself some funeral pants that will forever remain in my closet.

Build off your “Hamper Pile”

Maybe there are items in your closet that don’t get worn as often (maybe you have so much stuff you forgot you even bought some stuff). Before you toss them, review your Hamper Pile and use it as inspiration to keep anything else that might belong in this pile as well.

Perhaps you have similar style of clothes. (Example, I love open-necked shirts and jeans with the stretchy material.) Use the knowledge you’ve gained from evaluating your Hamper Pile to consider other items that might be a similar style to these.

After that be sure to keep an open mind for other things that might go nicely with these favorite items of yours. For example, for your favorite tank top you might want to hang on to 2-3 cardigans or button-up shirts to go along with it for chillier days.

Your must-keep jeans go great with longer tops, so you wan to be sure to keep a few on hand.

This doesn’t mean you always need to keep these items, but have them on hand so that you can stretch your new minimalist wardrobe a little further while you adapt.

Photo from Oak and Melanin

Donate, Sell or Store

Once you have gone through the elimination process there are 3 wise options to help you declutter without guilt.

  • Donate
  • Sell
  • Store

Donate

If you are on a mission to clean house, donation is of course the easiest way to go. Just toss your stuff in a box and bring it to your local drop off.

Sell

If you are looking to bring in a little more money, there is always the selling route. Facebook Marketplace can often be a good location to sell clothing in bulk, otherwise there are apps like Thred Up or even selling through local thrift shops.

While I’m not always a fan of selling clothing online (time-consuming), I am always a fan of combining money and minimalism whenever possible. If you want more ideas on how to increase your income on your minimalist journey, check out my Of Money and Minimalism training.

Store

The storing option is best for those of you out there who are going, “But what if…”

“What if I need this someday” “What if I decide I really do like hot pink zebra stripes?”

If you are worried about regret, nicely fold up your items and put them in a bin. You can even write down each item that is stored.

Keep the box in a separate location and set a 6 month timer on your phone. Literally, go into your phone and set a reminder for yourself 6 months from today. If in 6 months you haven’t even considered looking into that box for anything, simple move the box to your trunk and donate that sucker.

If you’re still not sure, get a trusted friend or partner to have you list off the items in that box. Can’t do it….maybe that will make it a little easier for you to let go of!

Know your style and stick to it

The first two steps alone can now help you the next time you are tempted to buy a new wardrobe item. Remember what you discarded because it wasn’t your color? Think about that looked good but was not your style.

Keep in mind all of the clothing in your Hamper Pile — try to include more things like that.

Is there a pair of shoes that would go awesome with the color you consistently wear?

One of the best ways to declutter an entire home is to stop bringing clutter in! This way you have time to re-evaluate what you like the most and get extra picky about what you allow back in.

Not to mention this can save so much money that you can start putting toward bigger and better things. Get my automatic budget plan to see how we save for things like vacation and travel.

Love what you wear every day

Taking the time to declutter and filter your way through your clothing can make getting dressed int eh morning a much smoother process and will allow you to love what you wear every single day.

No more guilt with clothes that don’t fit or that shirt you spent money on but never want to wear.

Guilt free, fabulous fitting closet.

That’s the dream afterall.

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If you are looking to declutter your closet and build a more minimalist wardrobe, here are the simple 5 steps you need!

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