How To Purge Your Closet and Maintain It
One of the most exciting parts of committing to a minimalist lifestyle is doing a big closet purge. However, knowing where to start can be tricky. When I first tried out a minimalist wardrobe, I had to start out slowly and carefully. While the physical steps to clean my closet weren’t especially difficult, the biggest change I had to make was my mindset towards my clothing.
Here’s My Advice
1| Find Your Style
To start, find what your style is – and that’s no small task. Look around social media for inspiration. Consider whose style you admire amongst your friends. How do you want to look and feel in your clothes? While many minimalists also opt for a minimalist aesthetic with their clothing, that might not be what works best for you. If your staple jacket is vintage and camouflage, you don’t have to swap it out for a trench just because that’s what YouTubers have. Minimalism is about the mindset, not necessarily the aesthetic.
2| Purge Your Wardrobe
After you’ve found your inspiration, which may take days or even weeks, go into your wardrobe and see what doesn’t fit into that vision. I personally sorted my closet by what I loved or gravitated towards. I put pieces I felt no attachment to or didn’t fit my criteria in a laundry bag for several weeks to gauge whether I could completely do without them. It’s best to hold onto unwanted clothes for a little while, because you might be able to save some money later by shopping your closet.
3| Create A Budget
You’d think getting rid of clothes means saving money. But I didn’t realize how much transitioning to minimalism would cost. Once you’ve begun purging your closet, consider key pieces you want, but don’t have a variation of just yet. For example, I found myself having to consolidate items, meaning I’d invest in one pair of white leather sneakers to replace the several dingy pairs I had before. I was in a position to invest in items at the time and it ended up costing me quite a bit. I suggest that you give yourself a budget. When shopping, consider the quality and cost of the items you need. This is one of the first steps of maintaining your wardrobe. You can spend $50 on t-shirts at a fast-fashion hub, but will they get destroyed after two washes? Instead, invest in several tees that are better quality and will last more than a few months (Trust me, I didn’t realize until recently a tee could last years).
4| Maximize Utility
As you get more of a sense of what personal style you’re aspiring to, make space in your closet by donating what you definitely don’t want. If your clothes aren’t serving you, get rid of them. On the point of utility, this is why many minimalists wear neutrals – clothes that all match maximize the utility of each piece. The New Yorker in me prefers grays and blacks anyways, but again; if that camo jacket can match with many of your items, keep it!
5| Do A Final Sweep
If you’ve done all the aforementioned things, now might be the time to do a huge final sweep of your closet. You’ve got your staples, you’ve invested in a couple things, and you’ve donated some clothes you don’t need anymore. What else doesn’t fit into this new closet? Consider whether you’re attached to items because of their sentimental value or because you love wearing them. Again, if it doesn’t serve you, you don’t feel good in it, or you’re keeping it only because you have special memories attached to it, then you can chuck it.
After getting your closet down to what feels right for you, be thoughtful about acquiring new items. If you have an event to go to, ask yourself if you need to buy a new outfit just for that occasion. Or can you wear some older items, plus one new piece that you can mix and match with other things? Notice when you get the urge to shop, and pick up new ways to satisfy that need to spend and acquire.
Minimalism is all about attitude, not objects. While purging your closet and adopting minimalism can feel drastic, it gets easier. In time, you’ll become more thoughtful about acquiring new clothing and what your clothes mean to you. Until then, enjoy the process! Welcome to minimalism.
Allison Alcéna is a writer and educator born and raised in New York, currently residing in North Carolina. Her introduction to minimalism came from YouTube, friends, and social media pages such as Black Minimalists’. You can find her on Twitter @allisonalcena and on her website, allisonalcena.com.