This One Question Helps Me Declutter My Closet (It Works Every Time!)

published May 20, 2024
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lose Up Of Vintage Clothing On A Store Rack
Credit: Stocksy/Natalie Jeffcott

For as long as I can remember, I always planned on working in fashion. It was my earliest creative outlet, and as I grew up, I dedicated my babysitting and allowance money to building out my wardrobe. Though I didn’t have a defined sense of style yet, every acquisition got me one step closer to it.

This continued into adulthood when my internships at apparel, lifestyle, and jewelry brands and my first postgrad job allowed me to dive headfirst into my dream industry. Every day, I was surrounded by new trends and inspiration, and it encouraged me to experiment with my closet even more. This was both a blessing and a curse — I was having so much fun with my revolving door of a wardrobe, but it was also becoming confusing and I needed to get some clarity before spending even more. It was time for a serious decluttering sesh.

There are the obvious questions you ask yourself when cleaning out your closet: Is it my size? Is it damaged? Is it flattering? All of these are important, and my answers helped trim the excess volume of clothes, shoes, and accessories. Still, I was left with more than I needed or even wanted, so I asked another question: Does it speak to me?

There are rules interior designers follow about scale, colors, and patterns that make curating a home a science. Where the art comes in is personal taste and if something speaks to you, then you’ll figure out a way to incorporate it. The same, I reasoned, must be true about fashion. 

This is where the process started picking up speed. Take, for example, a dress from one of my favorite brands I snagged at a sample sale. It was a steal, and all it needed was some minor alterations — but I wasn’t motivated to take it to the tailor. I realized that this was because it no longer speaks to me. The colors weren’t my favorite, the silhouette was different from most of my dresses, and I simply wasn’t excited to put it on or even look at it.

Nowadays, I ask the question of even my basic white T-shirts and pajamas. It might sound extra, but I believe the essentials should speak to me just as much as a pair of statement earrings or a printed blouse. Whatever I put on my body, I want to look forward to wearing it. The process has made getting ready a treat that makes me feel my most confident — as it should!

As I look in my closet right now, I see a few things that can go: A striped oversized button-down that didn’t quite work as a coverup the way I envisioned, a dress in a pattern that once excited me but no longer does, and a pretty cream blouse that I wish I’d reach for more often but just don’t. Years ago, I may have been tempted to squirrel them away, believing in their potential and wondering “what if.”  Now, I know that if it doesn’t speak to me, it’s time to let it go. My wardrobe is better for it, and so am I.