This Fashion Distraction May Be Working Against You

Woman staring at cluttered closet

Sure, you love to buy clothes. We get it. But like all good things, shopping is easy to overdo. Even when you’re on a very limited budget, you can still end up with a dreaded case of closet clutter — that’s when your closet is filled with stuff you don’t even wear. It’s like the chicken pox for fashionistas in that it hits all of us at some point. The trouble is, having closet clutter is the fastest way to get stuck in a style rut.

So here’s a pop quiz for you. Are you washing the same garments every week? Do you feel like you’re settling every time you dress? Do the clothes you wear regularly take up less than 10% of your closet space? If you answered yes to any of these questions, closet clutter may be suffocating your style game.

Tackling the clutter will free up your creativity and ramp up your enthusiasm for getting dressed every day. Here are five steps to make it happen.  

5 Ways to Get Rid of Closet Clutter

1. Donate/sell/give away what doesn’t fit straight away

Woman trying to zip up jeans that are too small.

If it doesn’t fit you, keep the memories and discard the dress. Your wedding dress can be the exception, but the LBD you wore on your 21st birthday? Not so much.

Definitely say goodbye to any garment you’re planning to wear when you lose X number of pounds. When you do lose that weight — and you will, if that’s your goal — wouldn’t you rather slip into something new and trendy? Of course you would.

So gather up the old, ill-fitting stuff and make a plan. You can donate it, disperse it among your friends, or try your hand at selling on Poshmark.

2. Hone your toss/sell/keep mindset

Once you get comfortable saying goodbye to clothes that don’t fit, it’s time to take the next step. Go through everything in your closet and decide what you will toss, what you will sell and what you will keep.

Toss the garments that are damaged in some way. If the armpit stains or crotch tear keep you from wearing it, no one else wants to wear it either.

Sell or donate the pieces you haven’t worn in a full year and the pieces that bore you. The only exception is the super-cute piece you forgot you had (because of the clutter!).  

Keep the clothes you still feel great wearing.

3. Invest in the classics

What’s “classic” for you depends on your lifestyle. Think about how you spend most of your time. It’s likely that you work some and you play some. If you have an office job, you may need a collection of button-downs, tailored pants and blazers. If you work at home, you may prefer spending your days in t-shirts, joggers and yoga pants.

And your playtime might be running hills outside or entertaining friends and family. Or both.

You need clothes for all these aspects of your life, but prioritize garments that do double-duty. Take the black blazer, for example. You can wear it with tailored pants to work. Or you can pair it with jeans, t-shirt and heeled sandals for a chic date-night ensemble. Make a list of the pieces that you need and go shopping.

Remember that solid-colored garments tend to be the most versatile. If mixing and matching solids feels too boring, add visual interest with your accessories. A bright scarf, sparkly jewelry or bold handbag can all do wonders for a subtle outfit.  

4. Organize

This is not the time to throw your new pieces in the closet with reckless abandon. Before you start putting things away, consider what type of organization might work for you and your clothes. Here are some options:

Organized closet
  • Sort by lifestyle. Keep your career wear in one section and your workout clothes in a different section.
  • Sort by piece. I keep dresses with other dresses and blazers with other blazers (and cardigans too), for example.
  • Sort by color. This method looks like a rainbow, and that may motivate you to keep up with it.
  • Sort by season. Winter clothes can be bulky, right? Try stashing off-season items away in boxes with clear lids.

See more closet organization ideas here.

5. Stick with it

Organizing is hard, but maintaining your system may be even harder. Be disciplined about putting clothes away in their designated spot until it becomes a habit. And once your closet is full, force yourself to donate an old item every time you buy a new one.


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Tanya is a seasoned journalist based in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. Specializing in fashion, beauty, and travel, she loves to explore new places, read as much as possible, and scour the web for fabulous finds — all in the name of research, of course.

Blog Comments

This is a great post! Too often, you see women walking around looking like they just got off some crazy-themed runway. Leave those looks to the models!

That hairstyle ISN’T distracting? Okay…

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