It took just over three hours, but we purged through my entire closet and my dressers. We got rid of shirts, pants, shoes, purses and loads of t-shirts. We ended up with five large bags to donate. It was hard, emotional, but very cleansing.

My sister and I spent our Friday night cleaning out my clothes and accessories. She was excited and I was nervous. I haven’t cleaned out my closet in at least eight years. Every now and then, I’d get rid of a shirt here or there, but nothing like a full cleanse. But my sister, who knows me best, was encouraging and I needed a gentle shove to get rid of some clothes. Going through a closet is like going back in time and reliving some old memories, so you think you want to hang on to things. The key word being “think” – there really isn’t a reason to keep clothing as reminders of good (or bad) memories in your life.

"Do you really need these?"

If you want to cleanse your closet, I highly recommend doing it with someone who knows you better than you know yourself, but will provide you with positive criticism in your wardrobe. When I tried something on, she didn’t make me feel horrible about myself, but she did tell me why I shouldn’t keep something. I didn’t feel offended at all.

Here are some of the items we found:

The High School T-Shirt – This treasure from my high school days emerged and I still felt a little attached to it, even though I hadn’t worn it in 15 years. It’s too big, I explained to my sister, as she gave me a look that implied, “Are you seriously holding on to that?” Well, if it’s too big, then get rid of it. My sister had no mercy when it came to going through my clothes. However, if you do have a specific collection of t-shirts, you could create a repurposed quilt. One company I found online that makes custom t-shirt quilts with reasonable pricing was Queen B Quilts.

The Pretty, One Day Skirt – I found a beautiful green skirt years ago. I always hoped to wear it one day, but it needed the perfect shirt, which I never found. So, I held on to it with wishful thinking.

The Goal Pants – My favorite pants, when I was thinner, stayed in my closet for several years. I secretly hoped I could fit back into them and I kept them as a reminder of my weight-loss goal. She told me to let it go and then go on a celebration shopping spree when I do lose weight.

The Bridesmaid/Prom Dresses – I held on to my prom dress, just in case. In case of what – I go to a second-chance prom or fancy dinner? I didn’t even marry the guy I went to prom with, so yes, it’s time to get rid of it. And bridesmaid dresses? Have you ever seen the movie 27 Dresses? If you haven’t, I highly recommend it and you will get my point. The one memory item that I think every woman should keep is her wedding dress. But make sure you preserve it, otherwise it could turn yellow or worse.

Formal dress becomes former dress.

How To Cleanse Your Closet?

First, ask a friend to help you, especially one that will focus on you. A friend will keep you on track with your mission and give you constructive criticism along the way. Don’t be sensitive about this process!

Pick an item, and then ask the following questions.

1)   When was the last time you wore this? Answer – if has been longer than 2 years, toss it.

2)   How did it make you feel the last time you wore it? Be honest. Do you feel comfortable, sexy, and confident? – Answer – if you don’t feel that way, toss it.

3)   When do you plan to wear this? Answer – if it’s not in the next season, toss it.

4)   Are you holding on to it for a reason? Losing weight or a memory? Answer – it doesn’t matter, if you don’t wear it, toss it. If it’s a memory, frame it or make a quilt.

Bottom Line: Make the decision simple. If you have to try and validate reasons to keep clothing without wearing them, then in my sister’s words, “it’s time to let go.”

After our cleansing, we donated all of the clothing, shoes and accessories to the Salvation Army in Loris, SC, one of my favorite thrift stores for shopping.

Also, read my other blog, Wardrobe Essentials.


the author

Originally from Virginia, Jennifer C. Sellers is passionate about sustainability and conservation in South Carolina and throughout the world. She earned her BA in English from Coastal Carolina University and her MAS in Environmental Policy and Management from the University of Denver. She is a university sustainability coordinator that implements programs and teaches people about going green and being sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @MyGreenGlasses

3 Readers Commented

Join discussion
  1. beth roddick on August 15, 2011

    Great article! This is something that I need to do, especially after I discovered the fun of thrift, vintage store shopping.

  2. NC-BFF on August 15, 2011

    Man I wish I had been there so I could take some home with me!!

  3. Britta on December 11, 2011

    Hi Jennifer! Thank you for mentioning my t-shirt quilt company in this article. I appreciate it!! You have a lot of great tips about cleaning out your closet.


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