9 Signs It’s Time To Declutter Your Wardrobe

Is your wardrobe full of things you’ll never wear? How about those gifts that were never your style? The truth is, there are multiple reasons to get rid of clothes. A successful wardrobe should make it easy to put an outfit together. It should reflect who we are and how we want to look.

Rather than a major purge, ala Marie Kondo, I find it simpler to purge as you go. I ignore the rules about tossing things you haven’t worn in a year because we often have timeless pieces that don’t get worn every year… think black tie dress or beach caftan.

Here are nine reasons to get rid of clothes:

1 – It’s too trendywomen wearing trendy clothes

Wearing a touch of trend keeps you looking current and visible but that doesn’t mean buying things that aren’t true to your style and flattering. It means adding things to your wardrobe that you’d wear long after the trend passes. If the garment screams 1980, you should probably donate it unless you put it in your costume box.

2 – It’s not flattering

Our eye color and complexion soften as we age which can make some colors and textures unflattering. Does the color look too harsh on you now? Can you make it work with makeup or accessories? Is your favorite bright sweater washing you out? Do you look better wearing dark brown or navy than black now?

Related –Is Navy The New Black?

3 – Your body has changed permanently

I’m looking at you high heels…They say shoes are the one thing that doesn’t change size when you gain weight. They’re wrong. My feet can go up and down as much as two sizes with my weight or salt intake. If the shoe or garment will never be comfortable again, it’s time to donate it. Keep in mind that turtlenecks and armholes can be as uncomfortable as tight shoes.

4 – It still has tags attached after a year

These are usually imposters. You bought them thinking they would work with what you already own, but they don’t. You shouldn’t have to fight to make a garment work. If it’s still wearing its tags after a year, you’re probably not going to wear it so it’s time to move it out.

5 – It’s uncomfortablestilettos

We’ve all bought something we thought would be fantastic only to find it’s scratchy or pinches. Life’s too short to have clothes that hurt, get rid of them. Your allergy to wool isn’t likely to change so you’re better off donating it. That shoulder bag that never stays put, will continue to fall off your shoulders so donate or sell it to a woman who will love it.

6 – It has bad memories

If a garment reminds you of something unpleasant, get rid of it, no matter what you paid for it. Clothes are supposed to make you happy and they won’t if they have bad memories attached to them. That ugly scarf your ex gave you belongs in the donation pile.

7 – It was a gift

There is no rule that says you have to keep a gift. No matter who gave it to you. You’re also not obligated to wear the item so the person who gave it to you, can see you wearing it. If it doesn’t ring your style bell, donate it to someone who will love it.

8 – You paid too much for it

Paying too much for a garment doesn’t justify it taking up space in your closet. It’s a shame and we’ve all been there. Cut your losses and donate or consign it and recoup some of your investment.

9 – It’s no longer your style

Does this garment still send the message you want your clothes to tell the world about you? Do you still want to be seen as playful, sexy, business-like…insert your old self-image here. If the answer is no, it’s time to get rid of that garment.

What are you holding on to in your wardrobe that needs to go?

Thanks for reading ladies and remember to only wear what makes you feel confident.









  1. I don’t recommend my method, but my house burned down on Halloween (along with others in the wildfires.) I have been forced to start from scratch, and I am now thinking more carefully before I purchase anything. (Thank god for good insurance.) I get to implement all the suggestions I’ve been reading over the past few years here and on other blogs. Funny thing, but I have found myself perversely relieved that some of my former fashion mistakes are no longer a problem.

    1. I’m so sorry Kay! That’s really tough. Starting over at this age must be hard.

  2. Excellent advice Jennifer! I purge every Season (do the same for my husband), however do confess because most of my clothing is classic in styling there are items I may classify as ‘a keeper’ if one size up or down from what I am wearing, particularly if they are high-end ones and/or their style requires minimal tweaking to update them. Also admit, it is not unusual to find a price tag on a piece of clothing hanging in my closet if classified as ‘special occasion’ as seldom wear an article the same year to avoid seeing someone else in it. (Ever been at a function where three women are wearing the identical outfit? Trust me, it makes for an awkward situation as I’ve seen it occur … ☺ ) -Brenda-
    P.S.: For those living in colder climates and/or those with four very distinct seasons; please consider donating your unwanted outerwear (particularly jackets/coats) as there is always someone in need of them. i.e.: Women’s shelters really appreciate them.

  3. Very timely and excellent advice! Like others who have commented, this is a constant struggle for me. I have most of our closets filled with my clothes, but many of the outfits I can’t wear at the moment. How do you know when your body has “permanently” changed? My size goes up and down with the periodic weight gain and subsequent diet periods. Then there are the clothes that I hope “someday” I will finally fit into. There are also the ones that I can’t wear now but don’t want to part with because they don’t sell exactly the same thing now. Case in point: Chico’s elbow tees made in 100% cotton versus their current version of slub fabric (somewhat see-through). Any suggestions to help me grow beyond these 2 issues?

    1. If the tees are in good shape and you wear them you should keep them. Most of us have fluctuating weight. Permanent changes would be, menopause has put weight around your middle and your waist will never be that tiny again. You have fallen arches and need supports in our shoes.
      It sounds like your clothes are organized into outfits. It may help to break that apart so you can whittle down duplicates.

  4. Christine says:

    Love this topic. I purge seasonally but also as I find things I never choose to wear. I use a wonderful consignment shop to sell my things and get money to buy what I need. I still make mistakes but it has become rarer…I only have half of a six foot closet and 3 dresser drawers so I consciously edit all the time. Love your approach to fashion!

  5. Thank you for this most helpful blog. I look forward to reading more on this subject as I too have a hard time getting rid of clothes because of “Just in case….”

  6. I do this yearly. It feels good!

    Now my husband has never done this , so next week I will start the task for him.

  7. Please don’t put stained or worn out clothes in the trash OR give to goodwill. Many cities now have clothing and accessories recycling!

  8. I get rid of stuff as I go. I am getting rid of zip up and button jeans this week because of a coordination problem due to an illness. Rats! Pull up styles such as high rise leggings and even pull on jeans are working. I give clothes away when they still have a little life in them (no rags). I worry about landfills which are full of cheap old clothes I hear.

  9. What good advice! I really appreciate your blog Jennifer. I gone through a style transition as I have adjusted to my postmenopausal body. Between 60 and 64 my waist disappeared and I really went the tunic – legging route. I think I am finding my way back to a more classic style which is more true to myself. In this journey I have read much about the environmental impact of our over consumption. I am trying very hard to thrift or buy consignment whenever I can. I only buy new when I can’t find what I am looking for used. I just thought I would throw this idea out there as it was something I hardly considered a few years ago.

  10. Yes indeed, it’s time to purge and declutter. Chuckling at The Imposters! I have a couple of those hanging out in my closet.

  11. We had a particular cold stretch of weather this year on the coast and I found myself buying things I will probably only wear a few times at most. I really need to learn to work with things in my own closet instead of rushing to buy new. I could have layered a few things and been just as warm. Acting on impulse got me in a mess. Goodwill is about to end up with a lot of heavy sweaters and fleece jackets. I love this list and will definely check it before I buy in the future.

  12. I typically wear most everything one time around then look at what is left in my closet. It does make for a big dirty clothes pile though. The items left are usually purged. I enjoy using this method because it helps me to create new outfits and I am able to take photos that I can reference later. It is like shopping, just in your own closet:)

  13. Elizabeth says:

    Jennifer- This is such a pertinent message today. Please continue with this theme, especially during January when there are so many clearance sales that one (like myself) is tempted to buy for the sake of big savings.
    Everyone who has commented today has listed at least one reason why I need to purge my closets. On the other hand, I’m really making a better effort to “shop my closet”. Talk about being pulled in two directions at the same time!

  14. I purge as I go along as well but this is a great reminder as the New Year begins. P.S. I bought a couple of the Victoria Emerson bracelets as suggested in November. I gave 2 of them as presents for my 27 year old daughter. She loved them and was familiar with the brand. I scored big points this Christmas! Thank you.

  15. I try to purge as I go also, mostly because I only have so much closet space! I remember reading that when something new comes in something old should go out. Sounds good in theory! Thanks for all the great ideas.

    1. That’s what I try to practice and tell my daughter. One in, one out.

  16. Great suggestions, Jennifer! I’m going to pin this and refer to it often. I need to let everything go that I don’t feel confident in and that isn’t “me”. A huge purge is too time consuming and tiring, so best to purge as I go. I’m going to start by getting rid of some holiday items I no longer wear. I really want my closet filled with only things I love!

    1. I find huge purges exhausting too. I get complacent because so many things are leaving, I keep things I shouldn’t.

  17. Laura Rutledge says:

    Thanks so much for addressing this issue! I am constantly overwhelmed by the quantity of clothing in my closet, new, older classics and multiple colors of a style. I feel confused about what to wear, and end up wearing things because I feel I should, not because it’s an outfit I love! Then I ask myself why I wore that when it doesn’t feel quite right, and isn’t even right for the occasion! I’m going to print this article, tape it to my closet mirror, and start with outfits I love, pushing everything else to the back. This will help me eliminate all of the confusing options and discover the pieces that I do really like and that work! I’d love to hear more about building a core wardrobe, and also about what is appropriate for the occasion. Do we really wear the yoga pants to lunch afterwards? Or what looks pulled together for a client meeting? What about dirty work on a job site? Or what do I wear when invited to go country dancing? That’s real life stuff!
    Looking forward to learning more, great advice!

    1. You could also try moving what isn’t working to an another closet. If you don’t wear it for several months, revisit the item and if it’s still not ringing your bell, donate it. It’s so easy to keep things because we think we should. I am working on a post for a core wardrobe which should be up next week.

  18. Linda Lennon says:

    I am still transitioning from NY professional to SoCal retiree with 3 closets begging for a purge. I can’t tell you how many times I pull a garment to see if I can make it work only to hang it back up. Thanks for all your advice; now I need to put it into practice.

  19. I usually edit as I go, but this fall I had my colours done and did a major toss to thrift. I had quite a selection of styles and colours that were just ‘off’ and kept getting put back in the closet. Now I am trying to ask myself if it really is me when I go shopping and I may come home with less, but it works. I don’t tend to follow the trendy items of the season, but work in what will make me feel great and still look stylish. I love the little clip of your daughter singing…made me smile. Glad she made it and you are together.

    1. Colors are so important to me I do the same if things feel “off”

  20. This is such good advice but it is hard for me. I have not only changed my lifestyle but also the climate I live in. My daughter gave me the book “The Home Edit” by Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin for Christmas. It is inspiring me to edit and organize clothes but also the rest of my house.

    1. Climate plays such a big part in what we need. I just started that book. It’s great.

  21. Deborah Broughton says:

    I do clean out often as I get dressed..try something on then not wear it it often goes in the box.. Just yesterday I did a several hour purge.

    I have changed sizes and am still finding out what works for me. Now clothes are a great interest of mine . I probably spend way too much time and money money on them but since I am still working and an often worn out feeling caretaker ..clothes are my fun!

    1. No need to feel guilty about loving clothes! They should be fun so enjoy Deborah

  22. Frances Gibbs says:

    People should consider consignment shops when getting rid of better, more expensive clothes, shoes, handbags and accessories. I know your business is in moving new things, but consigning and shopping consignment stores is a great way to get a little back as well as try something that you might not have paid dearly for. Win/win in my opinion.

    1. My business is helping women to dress with confidence. If new clothes are involved, it doesn’t matter where they come from, so long as she loves them.

    2. Or just take the item to a thrift store and let some lucky woman who can’t afford to even go to a consignment shop make the find of the year! Most of us donate money to charity — or if we don’t, we should be — and I just consider giving away my expensive “mistakes” as a form of charitable giving. I don’t expect or want a receipt or a tax write-off because it’s not about ME. If I was able to afford to buy the item in the first place, I can afford to be generous enough to give it away. I love consignment stores, don’t get me wrong — I’ve found some terrific buys in them — but sometimes you just need to make the purging process as simple as possible to make it happen at all, & that often means taking your items to a thrift store & releasing them into the wild with no conditions. It helps avoid the “paralysis through over-analysis” syndrome 🙂

  23. Greta strategies Jennifer.
    I always used to purge seasonally when I switched out my fall/winter wardrobe to spring/summer or vice versa. Now that my lifestyle is so much more casual and requires fewer clothes, I keep a basket in my closet and toss in anything I don’t think I want anymore, and then when it’s full, I take it for donation. I also have a shelf designated for clothes that are downgraded to just wearing around the house.

  24. I need to go into my closet right now and begin purging! Thanks for the push. You are correct on so many levels – wear what makes you feel confident and comfortable.

  25. This is awesome! I have such a hard time getting rid of things for MANY of these reasons! I would feel sooooo much better if I only had clothes I love!

  26. Great thoughts! I try to purge as I go but don’t always accomplish that. I enjoy your articles daily. Thanks!

  27. I purge as I go. I’ve done the major clean out and it wasn’t an enjoyable experience, stressful and tiring, but it helped me get rid of the obvious things and organize my closet. Now, if I put something on to wear and take it off again, or if I wear something and don’t enjoy it, I try that item 1 or 2 more times in a different way, if it doesn’t work again, I get rid of it no matter how much I think I like it. I really want a small wardrobe with just the things I love. I would rather have a few fabulous outfits than many options of things that are just so so, and too much choice is stressful for me.

  28. I have done this religiously over the years. I have gotten rid of things that I have never worn, you know, just as you said, it never really fit correctly, or I bought in on sale, or I bought it because it was “in style” but it the item did not suit me. All gone! I will put items in a bag for donate and then look at them again right before I drop them off. That way, I can make any last minute changes if I decide to keep one item.

    1. I keep a bag at the bottom of my closet and when it’s full, I donate it. Good idea to have one last peek at them:)

  29. I purge at every season change before clothes go into storage. That way I start fresh and can fill the gaps in my wardrobe . I retired a year ago and am still discovering my new style. Even though I need fewer clothes, I still want to feel current and enjoy newer styles.

    1. It does take time to transition your wardrobe with life changes. Your plan sounds great.

      1. Agreed !! practical, very helpful set of guidelines to keep posted to the inside of my closet! I think sometimes I can’t let go of something but don’t exactly know why. Having a specific reason helps.

        Someone’s comment in her post raises a question in my mind : Is having one’s colors done still ‘a thing?’ I found it so useful years ago – I’m sure my skin has changed in the last 35
        years (ha! – the body certainly has!) . If yes – where should one look for such assistance?

      2. People do still get their colors done. Your colors aren’t likely to go from cool to warm or vice versa but they will get softer. You could look for an AICI certified Image Consultant who specializes in color.

  30. Paulette Levy says:

    I need to read this and re-read this post. Such great strategies to purge the closets….I need to listen! (I’m fine with ridding myself if old shoes/handbags etc. and purge often enough, but NOT my clothes. I need to heed your advice……

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *