Is your closet and dresser overflowing with clothes? Do you need to freshen things up for spring?
Would you like to know how to declutter your closet easily and efficiently?
Last week I took a couple of hours to declutter my closet for spring and summer. I do this at the beginning of each new season to keep things fresh and organized.
This time around I had a pile-up of maternity clothes (while still losing baby weight from Baby #3) and all my regular fall/winter clothes all smushed together. It had become quite disorganized and cleaning things out was especially refreshing!
I decided to document the process with photos so that I could share it with you!
Today I am going to show you my straightforward process for how to declutter your closet and re-evaluate your wardrobe for gaps each spring/summer and fall/winter.
Whether this is your first time working on your wardrobe since having kids OR you just need to freshen things up again after winter, this guide will help YOU declutter your closet like a boss.
Click below to watch the quick video on how I did this with my tops!
How to Purge Your Tops [Mom Wardrobe Refresh Series]
Do you need a clothing essentials list to help you figure out what to keep?
Download my Stay-at-Home Moms’ Year-Round Plan here!
The process involves 3 phases.
- Phase 1: Purge your clothes down to the best
- Phase 2: Organize the remaining clothes in your closet and drawers
- Phase 3: Use the wardrobe checklist to “shop your closet” and discover what your wardrobe needs
After these three phases are done, you’ll have a MUCH improved dressing experience AND a clear plan for filling in the gaps in your wardrobe.
We’re not spending any money here. We are only organizing and planning to help you SAVE money when/if you do need to shop.
How long does it take? It depends how long it’s been since the last time your decluttered your closet. If it’s been years, then it may take 3-4 hours spread out over a week.
My last purge took about 2.5 hours at a leisurely pace. It was a gorgeous sunny Saturday afternoon and I took my time while the kids napped!
Supplies You Need to Declutter Your Closet
- 4 sticky notes or sheets of paper
- Garbage bags
- Cardboard box (optional for clothes you’ll give away – can just use garbage bags)
- Your favorite playlist
- Something to drink
- The Year-Round Wardrobe Plan
- Pen (I love these erasable pens*)
- Highlighter (These erasable markers are my favorite!)
- Your exploding closet and dresser 😉
my before (maternity, fall, winter, oh my! too much.)
*This post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission on purchases you make using my recommendations at no cost to you!
Phase 1: Declutter Your Closet by Purging the Clothes You Don’t Need
☑ Schedule your declutter project on your planner or calendar
Having a hard time starting or completing your closet clean-out?
The main reason I procrastinate this task is because of the time it takes and knowing that it will involve some emotional decisions (I’m very sentimental and it shows when I have to part with clothes).
So I recommend planning out your closet declutter over a whole week (or two weeks).
TIP: Pick one or two clothing categories to sort through per day of the week. They can be in any order, but I recommend starting with your stored/archived clothes from before (I’ll go into this in a bit). Here’s an example:
- Monday: Stored/archived clothes
- Tuesday: Tops
- Wednesday: Pants
- Thursday: Dresses
- Friday: Maternity Clothes
- Saturday: Shoes, Jewelry & Accessories
This time I added a strip of washi tape to the bottom of my planner and wrote each category I’d tackle into the day slots from Monday to Saturday. Some days I didn’t get to it so I finished most of it on the weekend.
Breaking it down like this somehow made if feel way more doable and I actually got started decluttering. After starting I was reminded that it’s not that hard after all! You just have to get over that initial internal resistance and start somewhere. Which brings me to the next step.
☑ Start going through your clothes.
The first area of clothes you need to sort is your stored clothes. If you’re familiar with my process already, you know I recommend having an “archive” bin or closet where you can put clothes that you want to keep but don’t want in your main closet. This may be due to size difference, the season you’re in, or just wanting to give it a second chance down the road. Start by sorting through these clothes because you’ll be moving a few new pieces in here from your main closet and drawers later. After you’ve gone through your stored/archived clothes, you can move on to any category you choose. Here are all the wardrobe categories to cover:
- Bottoms (Pants, Shorts, Skirts)
- Completer Pieces (Cardigans, Jackets, Coats, Vests)
- Accessories (Jewelry, Bags, Scarves, Belts)
Prep your sorting piles:
Take your four sticky notes or sheets of paper and label them:
- KEEP – USE NOW (Place on one half of the bed)
- KEEP – ARCHIVE (Place on the half of the bed)
- DONATE/CONSIGN (Place by cardboard box or garbage bag on the floor)
- GARBAGE (Place by garbage bag on the floor)
Methods for paring down your clothes:
There are a couple of ways I’ve gone through my clothes to declutter:
- Option 1: Go through and take out only your favorite pieces that you often wear. With those out of the way, go through what’s left hanging and add them to one of your sorting piles. Finally, return your favorite pieces to the closet/drawers.
- Option 2: Take several hangers/piles at a time and place them on the bed. Go through piece by piece and add them to your sorting piles. Return pieces you will keep AND use this season to the closet/drawers.
Either option works great. Just pick a sorting option and pick a clothing category to start sorting.
What questions to ask to sort through clothes quickly:
Ask these questions for each piece and answer them quickly in your mind. When you’re vacillating on a piece, go with your gut feeling about it.
- Would I want to wear this today or in the (assuming appropriate weather.) If yes, place it in your KEEP – USE NOW section.
- If I wouldn’t wear this now, why?
- Wrong size, but I want to fit into it eventually: place it in your KEEP – ARCHIVE section.
- I like it and would wear but it’s the wrong season for it: also place it in your KEEP – ARCHIVE section.
- It’s too old, dated, or worn out: place it in your GARBAGE section.
- It’s not my style, I don’t like it, I never wear it, it doesn’t fit: place it in your DONATE/CONSIGN section.
After you’ve finished making these decisions for everything, give yourself a high five! What an accomplishment! Now to finish up… Take the KEEP – ARCHIVE pile and place in bins or hang in a spare closet (not your daily closet). Take the GARBAGE pile out to the trash. Take your DONATE/CONSIGN bags right to the car or go online to schedule a pickup by your local donation center.
Phase 2: Easily Organize Your Decluttered Closet
After you’ve gone through the sorting each piece in each clothing category, you can organize what you have to make it look pretty!
What to hang up and what to fold and place in drawers:
- Hang items that wrinkle easily: Most of your tops, some cardigans, your dresses, and your skirts.
- Fold items that don’t wrinkle easily: Pants, shorts, some shirts.
- Fold items that would get stretched at the shoulders by a hanger: Heavy knit sweaters and stretchy dresses.
The best way to easily organize your closet:
I’ve tried a few different ways of organizing my hanging clothes. The most user-friendly way has definitely been by clothing type. This is especially true when you use the outfit guide because you’ll be able to locate the different pieces in the outfit formulas much faster. I usually line my clothes up in this order from left to right:
- Other completer pieces like vests and kimono
- Solid tops
- Solid tanks
- Patterned tops
- Dressy Tops
- Scarves on hanging organizer
This organizing system is effective but also easy to maintain.
Arrange the categories in a way that makes sense to you so that it’s easy to put items back in their correct places without much brain power.
How to organize clothes in drawers:
When I fold my clothes the normal way and place them one on top of another, they always end up like a disheveled mess within a couple of weeks.
Your organization efforts are more long lasting AND user-friendly if you fold them using the KonMari method. That way ALL your shirts and pants are visible when you open the drawer and no digging is required.
How to organize shoes:
Keep a pair or two of your go-to shoes by your door. I have shelves in our garage by the door where I keep my family’s go-to shoes.
For the rest of the shoes, you can use an over-the-door organizer like the one here or add shelving to the bottom of your closet (we got our closet hardware at Home Depot). I actually have both, shelves and an over-the-door hanger. But the hanger just holds rarely-used shoes, slippers, and flip-flops.
How to organize jewelry:
My jewelry always used to be a mess until my husband built me this hanging jewelry organizer.
The key is having a structure that accommodates the following:
- Hooks for hanging necklaces
- Wire mesh or hooks for hanging dangle earrings
- Shelf area for bracelets
- Cork-board area (or shelf area) for stud earrings.
If you like DIY, you’ll find it easy to put these things together into something that works for you. If you’d rather just buy something, I added a couple of similar options to my list on Amazon here.
Phase 3: Use the wardrobe checklist to “shop your closet” and discover what your wardrobe needs
This is the rewarding, fun part!
Now that you’ve decluttered your closet and only kept the very best, you can easily “shop your closet” for the pieces you already have from my wardrobe essentials checklist for moms. You’ll instantly discover the gaps in your wardrobe and know what you might want to add.
So grab your coffee and playlist and let’s get started!
Steps to Discovering What Your Wardrobe Still Needs (After You Declutter Your Closet)
- Print a copy of the Stay-at-Home Mom’s Year-Round Wardrobe Plan and grab your pen and highlighter. (If you’ve used this plan before, just print a fresh copy of the shopping checklist portion.)
- Read the first portion of the wardrobe plan you printed. It explains how to use the plan and the color palette. For additional support planning your color palette, grab my mini course about how to customize your wardrobe plan OR purchase the full outfit guide which includes that mini course.
- Go through each category on the checklist and look for the items in your wardrobe. Use the visual list with examples and details about what to look for to determine whether you have something that works for that item. (As long as it meets the main descriptors I use, it will work in the outfits from the outfit guide! You don’t have to have the exact pieces!)
- What’s left unchecked becomes your shopping list! Now go through the items you still need and write down some of the details you’re looking for. (i.e. Black, long & fitted, v-neck)
- If you want to add more pieces to your list use the “Other” page.
- Now go back through your list and star or highlight the items you want to add first. (Tip: Add essentials first. They are marked with an asterisk * on the list.)
How to Shop for Wardrobe Gaps on a Budget
I recommend planning a day to go shopping by yourself. Find a friend that wants to do the same and swap babysitting. She takes your kids for an afternoon and you take hers the next week.
Hit your local consignment and thrift shops first. Then choose one or two other retail stores that you enjoy. (I recommend Old Navy and Target for on-trend and affordable pieces!)
The reason for sticking with just one or two stores is you aren’t running around like crazy and if you shop online you can benefit from free shipping and easy returns by ordering lots of sizes and items at once. I just placed a large order on Old Navy + GAP (same checkout) knowing I will only keep a few items but that allowed me to save tons by shopping their currents sales and get free shipping.
Don’t be overwhelmed, decluttering your closet doesn’t have to be hard! If visuals help you, click on my link to watch my short video on how I did this with my tops!
Additional blog posts on the topic of shopping on a budget:
- Why You Need A Clothing Budget (& How To Calculate Yours)
- How To Save Money On Clothes Shopping Online (+ Printable Checklist)
I hope this guide on how to declutter your closet was helpful!
Are you feeling the decluttering bug? Please share below.