Definite/Potential/Questionable: Simple Sorting Trick For Closet Cleanouts

Definite/Potential/Questionable: Simple Sorting Trick For Closet Cleanouts

Tess Wilson
Apr 12, 2013

A friend of mine is dealing with the myriad tasks involved in selling a house, packing up, and moving, so I offered to help a bit yesterday. I wouldn't be able to decide what to do with paperwork or childhood memorabilia, but I do have strong opinions about clothes! I sorted his entire closet into three categories: Definite, Potential, and Questionable. Of course, the Questionable section was the most entertaining...

Definite: This section was the easiest: only clothes I'd seen him wear regularly — all things that fit, were in good shape, and that he obviously liked. (This also inspired me to group all my favorite things together in one half of my closet — they all look so nice together!)

Potential: This category consisted of things that had, of course, potential: well-made, reasonably attractive, about the right size, and useful. The "useful" aspect was the trickiest: a shirt might not be the hottest shirt ever, but if you're a gardener and outdoorsman, you need all those less-than-perfect flannels. Everyone also needs a couple of items that look undeniably professional, even if you only break them out once in a while and would never wear them on, say, a date. (For example, I am a baker so my "work clothes" are jeans, a black tank top, and a chef's coat, but I need to keep a presentable dress on hand for the occasional event or meeting.)

Questionable: The last category can be lots of fun, depending on the last time you cleaned out your closet. There may be items four sizes too small or large, things that make you realize how much you've changed over the last six years, and things that you would never wear again but want to hold onto as a memento of a particular time and particular you

Once I'd sorted the closet to the best of my abilities, my friend came in to make the final decisions. He agreed with all of my Definites, easily demoted half the Potentials to the Questionable section, and moved a few Potentials and Questionables to the Definite department, mostly for sentimental reasons. I packed all the Questionables into a box to donate, and he's going to try on all the remaining Potentials and decide whether to keep or donate them. The Definites are going to have so much luxurious closet space to stretch out in! 

For more information on getting rid of your old clothing, please see Rag Sorters + Textile Recycling: How To Recycle Your Unwanted Fabric.

(Image: Bethany Nauert/Amy Pigliacampo's Home Office + Studio)

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