“Help, My Closet Is Out of Control!” Take These 5 Steps to Curate a Wardrobe You Love

Let it spark joy.

By Kelly Krause

Lately, life has looked like a busy blur of travel. And while I’ve loved making memories, connecting with friends, and jumping into new experiences, perhaps the most unexpected result of life on the go has been how it’s motivated me to do a closet clean out. Let me explain. Over the past two months, I’ve been traveling at least every other week and living out of a suitcase. That means I’m rotating between the easiest and most versatile outfits that 1) fit in my carry-on and 2) effortlessly take me from day to night.

Those unicorn pieces include my favorite Freda Salvador slip-on sneakers, this cozy Frank & Eileen travel set for the flight, an old DOEN dress that has easily become my most-worn (and complimented) dress, a leather jacket, a few workout outfits, and anything that might be specific to the occasion whether a wedding or work trip.

Grabbing these staples weekly has illuminated the fact that a small portion of my closet is for my tried-and-true staples, minus a few special pieces. And the rest? Nothing seems to be getting worn—and the items are taking up too much precious closet space. Clearly, a closet clean out is calling my name.

Featured image by Teal Thomsen.

Need more tips for designing your life? Let Camille’s morning routine inspire your own.

Candace Nelson holding colorful sweater vest in closet.
Image by Michelle Nash

5 Tips for an Effective Closet Clean Out

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve Kondo’d my place (yes, Marie Kondo and her KonMari method is now a verb), only to fill it back up with gifted goods from brands, more seasonal items that I thought I’d wear and didn’t, and sadly, the clothes that I mentally can’t get rid of because of how much I spent on them. Every time I walk into my closet, I’m met with overwhelm and sigh to myself: “I have too much!” 

Because I don’t have all the time in the world to tackle my closet and go into full-on spring (now summer) cleaning mode, here’s how I’m approaching Project Closet one step at a time. My best advice before you start? Be patient! Each step will take considerable thought and time, but doing this process thoroughly is the only way to create lasting change. Let’s get started!

Brunette woman wearing robe holding jeans up to body in mirror.
Image by Michelle Nash

Step 1: Start With the Items I Know I’ll Never Wear Again

I have an entire section of my closet filled with cycling kits and gear from my cycling days in 2015-2017. Want to guess the last time I hopped on my road bike? If you guessed 2017, you win. It’s been five years since I’ve “kitted up,” so the likelihood I’ll get on it anytime soon is very low. Thankfully, there’s a huge resale market for high-end cycling gear, so I know I’ll be able to make a little more money back. I’m saving two kits should the temptation to go for a ride ever strike. 

Step 2: Assess and Streamline All Duplicates

I reach for the same one cozy sweatshirt whenever I need to relax. Do I really need a closet full of 18 of them, most of which are stiff or not my style? Same with my multiple trench coats and workout tops. In this instance, more is not more and only takes up valuable real estate. The only thing that will stay are my white tees and tanks. I’m prone to spilling and always need a backup! 

Black jeweled shoes on rug.
Image by Belathée Photography

Step 3: Edit the Items I Rarely Grab

A huge percentage of my closet is filled with clothes that I only grab once or twice a year. Mostly because it doesn’t fit (too big, too small, uncomfortable), but also because the style no longer suits me. For some reason, I have a really hard time with the fact that I don’t have the same style I did even a year ago. It can be difficult for me to let go of these pieces, especially if they were a big investment. If the item can be altered to fit again and I’d wear it, I’ll keep it. If not, it’s out! 

Step 4: Donate, Sell, Gift

ThredUp, Poshmark, eBay, Dress for Success, and pals. All options for me to either make a little money back, give to those in need, or gift to a friend I know would get use out of the products. I’ve been kicking my heels doing this because when I have free time, the last thing I want to do is take pictures for a website and have the product hang in my place. But it’s time. My goal is to take a few hours out of every weekend day and make it happen!

Bright, white closet filled with colorful clothes.
Image by Belathée Photography

Step 5: Set Some Ground Rules for the Future

My sister has a friend who embodies a true minimalist attitude. If she goes shopping, she must remove the same number of items from her closet that she’s bringing into her closet. And she never buys something unless she can use it right now. She has a clear inventory on what she owns, unlike me who forgets about pieces for months at a time.

On another note, my fridge and pantry operate the same way, and I’m often buying the same thing twice because my organization is… non-existent. Sounds like I’ve just unlocked a clear need to hire a professional organizer! (Or take Camille’s kitchen organization advice!)

While the process feels daunting, nothing makes me feel more clear and grounded than a clean and beautiful home. If you’re hesitant to get started, know that I’m right there with you. Doing a full-on closet clean out is a lot, but trust that by removing clutter you’re freeing up space and time that you can devote to the things you love. Happy Kondo’ing!