2017: The Year You Purge (Your Closet)

clean your closet

Unlike every other New Year’s Eve of my adult life, this year, I decided to make a New Year’s resolution that I could actually accomplish.

And, on January 2nd, 2017, I succeeded. I purged my closet.

And walked away with two trash bags: one destined for the garbage and the other for a tax deductible donation to Goodwill.

I can’t begin to describe to you the weight that was lifted off of me once all my closet detritus was cleared away. My closet and dresser went from looking like a fabric monster vomited all over everything to a pristine and, dare I say it, organized wardrobe.

And, because I felt so much better about my life (and ability to quickly dress myself in the morning), I decided to take it upon myself to lay out a few guidelines for getting rid of all the old clothes you can no longer wear or no longer need. Now, this isn’t the Marie Kondo method. Frankly, keeping an item of clothing only if it “sparks joy” is straight up bullshit. Plenty of things don’t spark joy for me, but are completely useful and necessary parts of my wardrobe e.g. running tights and socks.

First, when it comes to learning how to clean your closet, it’s important to know that it will take time. This isn’t a ten-minute affair. The whole process requires emptying your closet and drawers, piling everything around you (not all at once, that’s too much even for me) while you sit on the floor and sort items into three piles: keep, donate, destroy. It took me two hours, but again, it was more than worth it.

Second, in order to not be bogged down by the difficulty (or annoyance) of the task, begin with the easiest genre of clothing: undergarments.

holey socks

Don’t be this guy.

Take a look at your sock drawer. Is it full of single socks, socks with holes, or socks that have been worn so often the bottoms are five shades darker than the rest (see below)? If so (and who are we kidding, of course your drawer is like that, you’re reading this!), it’s time to start tossing. Any sock, underwear, or under shirt that has a hole in it is gone. Immediately. Any of those other items that also have sweat stains or other unidentifiable stains? Also gone. Toss them into the trash pile without a second thought.

Undergarments are relatively inexpensive, so it’s not a huge financial loss and besides, you know some of that stuff was at least a decade old anyway. If you’re looking for a new pair of undies to replace the ancient ones you just jettisoned, try out these skivvies, specifically my favorite brand, MyPakage.

Next, move on to t-shirts. This is also pretty simple: dump or donate all the old tees you haven’t worn in the past two months. Some people suggest a year–but that’s too lenient. If you haven’t worn it since Thanksgiving, it’s a no-go. However, I’m not heartless. I understand that certain tees have emotional and nostalgic trappings, such as college football shirts or social event tees. I get it. Keep them, but never in your regular closet or drawers. Place them somewhere out of sight and, if you want to preserve them, put them in something air tight and away from direct sunlight. They’ll still be fresh and stable when you’re feeling nostalgic for your quarterback days once your 60th rolls around.

old t-shirt

After t-shirts, move on to regular shirts. Typically, these should be hanging in your closet. So, before you remove them all, do a quick scan and eliminate any shirts that immediately stand out to you, either because they were a mistake when you bought them or because you’ve simply grown out of the style (or size). Once the first pass has been made, go back and try on every single shirt. If it doesn’t fit properly, donate it. Chances are, you’ll never take it to the tailor like you had intended or you aren’t going to lose the weight to fit back into something from your teenage years. But, hey, if keeping a too-small-shirt is your get-healthy inspiration, by all means, go for it. But just keep the one.

ripped jeans, jeans

Then it’s on to pants. You should have fewer of these than shirts, which should make this purge much easier. Toss out torn, ripped, or worn sweatpants or joggers, along with any ripped types of other sportswear. Pants that are too small also need to go. If you lose weight, reward yourself and buy new. Also, any pants that have holes, are too difficult to iron or dewrinkle, or have frayed cuffs should be culled.

And there you have it–an easy way to clean your closet that will make dressing in the morning a snap. Plus, you have the bonus of freeing up space in your closet for more clothes, which, as a magazine that often covers (and loves) fashion, we applaud.