The Sustainable Girl's Guide to Cleaning Out Your Closet
This post is sponsored by San Fransisco Goodwill a brand I genuinely love and support. All opinions, tips and tricks are my own! xx
Social Distancing and self-quarantine have become the norm over the past few weeks and I don’t know about you, but after about day five I had binge watched every single episode of The Bachelor and Flea Market Flip, cleaned out my e-mail inbox and practically given myself Smartphone thumb from scrolling social media. That is when I decided to get off my booty and make use of this precious time at home. I have been wanting to clean out my closet for months and decided to take this opportunity to seize the day!
If you are like me and trying your best to live more sustainably there are some easy tips and tricks you can use to help ensure that your discard piles don’t end up in landfills, in fact, they can even help you score those higher-priced eco-friendly items you have been wanting to splurge on! You know what they say one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure so before you just take all of your items and toss them into a garbage bag check out my tried and true methods for creating the ultimate streamlined wardrobe.
Closet Clean-out Tip #1: Set Up for Success
Before your start going through your closet, make sure you have all of the essentials you will need to make this an enjoyable and effective experience. Here is what I like to do:
Find Some Killer Tunes
Crank your music up a la Carrie Bradshaw and get in the mood. Since you’re (hopefully) practicing social distancing, rather than inviting your besties over to help you decide what to keep and throw away you can always have your phone or laptop handy to FaceTime your trusted advisors for a second opinion. Looking for a good playlist? Click here for one of my faves on Spotify.
Set Up Your Discard Stations
Instead of just one big discard pile that I haul to Goodwill, I like to set things up with a few categories. They are:
- A Poshmark Pile – This includes items I will be listing for sale in my Poshmark Closet such as higher ticket items I have worn only a handful of times, items that still have their tags on them, popular name brands etc. I have found that I get a higher resale value with Poshmark than I do with local resellers. The only drawback is the fact that you have to store the inventory until it sells, which is why I am extremely picky about what I list on Poshmark and don’t just overload my closet with all of my discards. I then use these earnings when I need to replace items in my closet and have found this method often allows me to afford higher-priced more sustainable options without having to spend any money out of pocket!
- A Resale Pile – These are items I have worn a bit more and come from more mainstream or fast fashion brands which are popular but not necessarily valuable enough to take the time and effort to list on Poshmark. I will then take these to a local reseller to get cash in hand. I use this money to go thrift shopping to find trends that I have been wanting to try but not pay full price for. A great place to do this from the comfort of your own home is SFGoodwill.org. Any items that the resellers don’t take, I donate.
- A Repurpose/Repair Pile – This is for items that can be repaired or repurposed. I love finding new ways to wear things and the more I am getting into sewing and tie-dye I am finding that the options are pretty endless when you start exploring your creativity. I even have a bin for broken jewelry and have been use the pieces to make crowns or other jewelry for festivals etc.
- A Donation Pile – This is where I put items that I will be donating to Goodwill. They include items that are more worn and not necessarily something I would repair or repurpose but someone else might. Keep in mind Goodwill does NOT accept severely damaged or stained clothing, shoes or jewelry so make sure not to include any of those items in your donation pile.
- A Discard Pile: I try to keep this pile to nothing but sometimes items are too damaged to donate in which case I try to repurpose them into cleaning rags, otherwise I look up where there are textile recycling services that I can drop them off to.
Keep a Pen and Notepad Handy
As I go through my closet, if there are any staple items I need to replace I jot them down or keep a running list in my phone. I also write down any trends I have been wanting to try as of late or pieces that would help me create more outfits. This helps me become a much more intentional shopper, rather than shopping based on emotion or a whim. I find that by shopping intentionally, I have far less times where I waste money on something that isn’t me, and I never end up wearing!
Pick Your Closet Clean-out Outfit:
I know this might sound crazy, but I like to wear a nude strapless bra and nude undies when I clean out my closet. Similar to when I go shopping in a store, I like to be able to envision a look as realistically as possible and imagine where I would wear it. Bra straps and bright colored undies can be super distracting. I also like to wear something that is comfy and easy to layer over like black leggings and a white T or a plain black maxi dress so I can easily try things on over them without having to constantly change. I also limit the amount of jewelry I have on so my clothes aren’t constantly getting caught on things when I change.
Make Sure You Have a Mirror Handy
When you go through your closet, take the time to try each item on that way you know that it fits, how it feels and how it looks. If it doesn’t fit and can’t be altered to fit, get rid of it!
Closet Clean-Out Tip #2: Embrace the 7 R’s
If you are unfamiliar with the 7 R’s they are: Reduce, Reuse, Rethink, Repair, Repurpose, Recycle and Refuse. These are all awesome options to consider not just when cleaning out your closet, but any time you are thinking of buying or discarding something. The truth is, the most sustainable items are already in your closet so don’t just get rid of things so you can buy the sustainable option. If you love it wear it, even if it from a fast fashion brand. When it finally gives out on you, then replace it with a more sustainable brand.
When you are considering wether or not to put something in your repair or repurpose pile try to think outside of the box. One of my favorite examples of this is my statement T from the Sincerely Jules collection. I spilled coffee on the bottom one day which broke my heart, but rather than throwing it away, I decided to make it a crop top and simply cut above where the stain was. Then somehow I managed to get another stain on it higher up where simply cutting the bottom off wouldn’t suffice…so I tie-dyed it! It is still one of my favorite shirts and I love the evolution it has gone through! Other ideas include adding embroidery over stains, using patches to repair holes and using the fabrics to sew your own patchwork designs.
I have found Pinterest to be my BFF when it comes to sourcing new ways to upcycle my wardrobe. Here is my DIY board to get you started with some ideas!
Closet Clean-Out Tip #3: Pull Your Favorites
Before you start going through your closet one item at a time, sift through your closet and pull your most worn items. These are the items that you live in 99% of the time. You know you love and wear them, you feel good in them and they fit your lifestyle not to mention fit in general. By doing this, you can use these items as your base line capsule collection to build outfits around as you start to go through your closet. This will help you see what items might be missing in your wardrobe and will help you get a good feel for what your style really is.
Closet Clean-Out Tip #4: Ask Yourself the Right Questions
I can’t tell you how many times I have gone to clean out my closet and then when the time comes I barely get rid of anything because I have a hard time letting go of things. That in part is because I wasn’t asking myself the right questions. We have all heard the saying: a closet full of clothes but nothing to wear. Many times this is because you aren’t asking yourself the right questions when you are discarding items. Well, not this time! Now is the time to be ruthless, now is the time to define and refine your personal style. Trust me, your future self will thank you next time you are trying to get dressed! Here are some of the questions to consider when you are trying to make the cut:
When was the last time I wore this?
If it has been more than a year, get rid of it*! Chances are you bought it because you liked how it looked on someone else, or because it was on sale. Use this opportunity to sell it and save towards something you will actually wear. *The only time I would say this rule doesn’t apply is if you have been pregnant in the past year. When I got pregnant I packed away all of my favorite clothes in a storage bin and am giving myself 12 months postpartum to wear them again.
Does this piece of clothing match my lifestyle?
I can’t tell you how many times I have personally bought or observed friends buying items that are fabulous, but don’t really match their lifestyle…like AT ALL! I don’t care how beautiful a black-tie dress is, if you are a stay-at-home mom whose weekends consist of Costco runs and yoga classes it would be a hell of a lot smarter to splurge on a few pairs of AH-mazing leggings instead of some beaded ball gown just because it looked amazing on you and the salesperson told you that you would be insane not to buy it. So if you are like me and have, for example, transitioned from working a corporate job into a job that requires way less pencil skirts and pantsuits, then now is the time to let go of those pieces and create a wardrobe that is truly you! Besides, I don’t know about you but a flexible dress code is one of my favorite parts of living my new life as an entrepreneur!
What does this go with that I already own?
One piece does not an outfit make, so when I am weeding out items in my closet I like to consider wether or not I can mentally piece together a few outfits using other items already in my closet. Items that are genuinely my style will be really easy to do that with because I will have plenty of ways to mix and match that item depending upon the look and occasion. If I can’t think of ways to style the piece I set it aside, at the end I go through this pile and see if there is a pattern. If I have several items that would look amazing but to pull them off I need to invest in something to make the look work (a belt, different colored shoe, a black turtle neck etc.) I decide if it is truly my style and worth the investment. I find this happens a lot with trend based items I have purchased. Trends can be tricky and if you are trying something that is outside of your typical style, you might not have a lot of things that will go with it yet! A great way to complete the look without breaking the bank is thrifting, that way you aren’t spending a ton of money or buying new.
Does this item make me feel like my best self?
This is one of the most important questions to ask yourself! It doesn’t matter how much you spent on something, if you don’t feel comfortable wearing it, get rid of it! Comfort is key to style because if you put something on that doesn’t make you feel confident, you will wear that discomfort all over your face. If you put something on and immediately say things like ‘ this will look good when…’ its gotta go. What you put on should make you feel like your most fabulous self right now. One of my favorite quotes out there is ‘imagine your best self, and start showing up as her’ this includes your wardrobe.
Closet Clean-Out Tip #5: Keep your Closet Clean Going Forward
Once you have cleaned out your closet, keep it that way! The goal isn’t to make a ton of room to fill it with more stuff, the goal is to get rid of all of those clothes you don’t wear, so you can see the clothes you actually do! This time around I splurged on a closet system from IKEA which helped me maximize my space for under $200. When I moved into our house in Springville, I am not even kidding when I tell you my closet space shrunk by 2/3, so this upgrade helped a TON!
When hanging things back up, personally I like to organize things by style of item, then color. I have also found it extremely helpful to put a shopping bag in the back corner of my closet, I use this bag to keep an active sorting system going. Any time I wear something and find it doesn’t make me feel like my best self, gets a hole in it, etc. I toss it in the bag. Then once a month I go through that bag and repeat this same process but on a much smaller and more manageable scale, that way my closet is consistently up to date and I don’t have to waste a ton of time with another major closet clean out.
An active list of shopping needs/wants will save you SO MUCH MONEY. When the time comes to spend your hard earned money, rather than buying things on a whim because they are in sale, you will then be able to take the time to search for sustainable brand alternatives. You can also price shop, and save money during sales or by shopping second hand which will make your clothing budget go a lot father, not to mention keep your closet clean and cohesive.
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