How to Do a Closet Inventory (And Why You Should)

updated Jul 16, 2020
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(Image credit: Arthur Garcia-Clemente)

Do you know what’s in your closet? Like, way in there? Do you ever find two or three of the (nearly or exactly) same clothing items because you didn’t realize you had already bought one? Do you not buy items you really like because you know you already have something — even though you don’t really love it? A closet inventory is more than just a cleverly disguised way to declutter your closet (though it is that, too). It’s a way to get a handle on your wardrobe so that future shopping and dressing is easier.

It’s also the best thing to do each time the seasons switch and the temperature begins to change. Here’s how to do one in an afternoon this weekend:

What you’ll need:

  • A few hours
  • A full-length mirror, a friend or a camera
  • Two boxes: one labeled “maybe” and another labeled “donate”
  • A list of clothing basics that resonates with you. (Here’s a good example).
  • A list of items you want to have in your closet (dream items or need items!)

Step 1: Take out everything in your closet and pile it on the bed. (Or, depending on closet size or volume, tackle this step in chunks.)

Step 2: Begin trying clothes on in front of a mirror, taking a picture of it to look at or showing outfit items to a trusted friend. You’re going to want to rate everything on a scale of 1 – 10 in your mind.

→ 5 Basic Tips for Decluttering Your Closet

Step 3. Items that rate an “8” or above — say those articles that are in good shape, fit you well and make you feel good, get to stay. 5 to 8 ratings go in the maybe box. Anything lower (damaged items, items you haven’t worn in years or things that just don’t make you feel confident), goes directly into the donate box. Consider putting high rating clothes back by the “hanger trick.”

→ Clothes Closet Cleanout: Tips for Paring Down

Step 4: While you’re trying things on, consider making a quick tally list of types of clothing you have. That way at the end you’ll have a good idea of whether or not you have 20 pants and 1 skirt or your tank top to long sleeve shirt ratio is way off. With cooler temperatures on the way, make sure you have what you consider to be enough warm weather clothing items.

Step 5: Along with tallying what you own, as you find items that are on the clothing basics or dream items list, check them off. When you’re finished, you’ll have two lists: One of the amounts of types of items you have, and a list of things you’d like in your closet but don’t have. You’ll have a good idea of what you’re lacking in your closet and, combined with the informal tally you took while trying everything on earlier, what you’ve got way too much of.

→ 10 Wardrobe Staples You Won’t Regret Splurging On (a Little)

Step 6: After you go through all your clothes, reevaluate your maybe box with the help of a friend or based off of your new knowledge with the tally list or basics list. Donate, sell or put aside to reuse the stuff from your donate box.

Step 7: Keep your lists close at hand so the next time you’re shopping you know what to look out for and what to not splurge on because you’ve already got too much of!

Step 8: Repeat every few months as necessary so you don’t waste money on unneeded items!

Do you regularly tackle a clothing inventory? If so, tell us how you make it successful in the comments below!