Spring Cleaning and Closet Purging: If You Haven’t Worn That Item of Clothing Within the Past Year, You’re Not Going to Wear It This Year Either, So Get Rid of It!

This black vest I wore at my 10 Year Class Reunion two years ago is now in the give-way bag. (June 2009)

I am in the third week of my new job.  That means I have now worn all my best quality and best matching “outfits” to work.  It’s  during week three that the mediocre stuff comes out of the closet.  Those weird-fitting collared shirts that pooch out in the stomach and make me look 30 pounds heavier.  The sweaters that are a little too short and expose my belt.  The purple shirt.

And for the fact that we are official in Spring now, I’m taking full advantage of my current “Spring Cleaning” mindset: This week as I wear the clothes in my closet that I don’t wear often, at the end of each day I am choosing officially whether to get rid of it (by giving it away) or keeping it.  For example, today I wore my khaki vest to work.  I think I’ve realized I like the idea of vests more than I actually like wearing them.  When I got home today, the khaki vest went into the give-way bag.

Despite the fact I bought this sweater in 2006, it still deserves a place in my closet now in 2011. (April 2011 at my sister's last day of work before leaving on maternity)

For me, I often keep items of clothes too long because of my pride of how long I’m able to keep them around.  But styles change and so do the ways things are supposed to fit.  Jeans from five years ago are going to be lighter and baggier than jeans I buy now.  Some clothes are nearly timeless; most are not.  Feel free to join me in my closet purging campaign:

If You Haven’t Worn That Item of Clothing Within the Past Year, You’re Not Going to Wear It This Year Either, So Get Rid of It!

Goodbye, Black Vest of June 2009. We had a good run.

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70 thoughts on “Spring Cleaning and Closet Purging: If You Haven’t Worn That Item of Clothing Within the Past Year, You’re Not Going to Wear It This Year Either, So Get Rid of It!

  1. i subscribe to the same rule when cleaning out my closet…after i had my son most of my clothes fit differently and I had to purge about half my wardrobe…it was a sad day when that happened, many well-loved/warn items went in the trash, give-away and donate pile.
    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

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  2. I keep everything. Well, mostly everything. I find myself giving away shoes more than anything (which is odd…because they’re the one artical of clothing that never stops fitting). I don’t know. It’s a sickness maybe. Good luck with the spring cleaning!

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  3. You opened my eyes..thanks! 🙂
    Well, I don’t buy new clothes anymore cuz my cupboard is always flooding with clothes..right after I read this post, I went and segregated according to your ‘not-wore-in-a-year’ criteria and about half my closet is empty….and now there’s ‘ample’ space!

    Thanks to you I’m gonna buy new clothes now!! Yippeee! 😀

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  4. I go by the same rule. It’s very odd how we have tons and tons of clothes cluttering up our closets, but we only wear just a few outfits over and over again…

    Congratulations on Freshly Pressed!

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  5. I don’t know about that… Tastes change, the current changes, and sometimes, things from 2, 3 years ago look surprisingly hip again. Like the swimsuit someone gave me 3 years ago. I didn’t wear it for the longest time because it had grey/white prints on a black background, but now it looks so retro and cool again.

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    • Exactly – I lost weight recently, and some of the clothes that would have been thrown away for being too small if I had cleared out my wardrobe now fit perfectly and look fine. Also, some clothes from a few years ago can be worn differently – an old top that used to look good tucked in, now looks better left loose and worn with a waist belt.

      I’m not against de-cluttering, I just worry that ‘if you haven’t worn it for a year’ is a bit too extreme a rule, and is creating waste when items could have a longer life. Maybe as well as ‘have I worn this in the last year?’ you should also ask yourself ‘do I still like this?’ and ‘will I ever wear it again?’.

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  6. Great post. I’m actually writing a similar post about how I went through this huge spring cleaning purge of my closet. I was keeping many of my clothes to hopefully wear after my daughter was born. Well it’s been three years and no matter how hard I work out, my body will never be the same. So I had to say good bye to the clothes. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

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  7. I have been trying to tell myself this moto for a month, but I still don’t have the balls to get rid of some items that I know I won’t wear!!! ugh!!! This post was extremely appropriate! Springs here! Congrats on being freshly pressed!

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    • Thanks Melissa 🙂 By the way, out of the dozens of comments that today’s “Freshly Pressed” instant fame (which ends tomorrow) has brought me, your comment is absolutely my favorite. The fact that you said “balls” made me literally laugh out loud. Classic.

      Like

  8. I’m going to have to cut down on clothes when I move, but kinda like you, I like to be able to keep around my clothes for as long as they possibly fit me. It’s hard to say goodbye!

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  9. I hate shopping so, so very much that I somehow managed to make it about a year without buying more than earrings. Given that I’d spent the previous year in maternity clothing, that wasn’t necessarily my best thinking. About a month ago, I truly saw the clothes in my wardrobe as individual, horrifying options; I realized my excuse of “I have clothing, so I don’t need to go shopping” was starting to wear a little thin.

    I consequently called a girlfriend and scheduled an “appointment” to go shopping. Together we spent five hours shopping. After our expedition, my friend buckled herself into my car and said, “Phase 1 is done. Now, phase 2: get rid of that shit!” I couldn’t commit to doing it all at once, but I’ve been boxing each item I put on and cringe at, one at a time. Just this morning I looked at my closet and realized it’s full of stuff I like again! Not just stuff I can wear to avoid a shopping trip, but stuff that makes me look cute.

    I am so not waiting another year to buy new clothes. And I’m never gonna wait for the hate-everything-in-my-closet stage before I start tossing clothing again!

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  10. I’m the type of person that hates clutter and keeping things around just to keep them….but that’s not always a good thing. Sometimes I get rid of things that I later wish I had. If only I were rich and could buy a new outfit for each day of the week. That would solve all my problems! 🙂

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  11. I’ve seen kind of a cool trick for this… at the beginning of the year, take all your clothes on their hangers and turn them around backwards. As you wear and wash things and hang them back up, turn the hangers back the direction you usually hang things. At the end of the year, any hangers that are still backwards are things you need to get rid of.

    I have to admit though, I don’t do so much closet-purging anymore… I have clothes from last year that I wore every single day and don’t wear at all anymore, and clothes that I didn’t wear at all last year that are now my favorites. So sometimes when I get rid of something I haven’t worn I regret it later because I suddenly want to wear it. 😀 I have been making a policy of getting rid of things that just plain don’t really fit, but I’ve also become a fitness nut lately so I’m expecting that soon a lot of my stuff won’t fit… but I’ll be able to get back into those skinny-girl jeans I’ve been bringing with me every time I move for YEARS. 😀

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  12. I did this a few months ago, as part of my new year’s resolution. I wanted to minimalize my wardrobe, so I told myself that everyday I had to wear at least one item of clothing that I never wear. If I couldn’t make it out of the house, or felt terrible all day, then I got rid of it. It actually led to some pretty creative outfits that I have since worn again, and also a huge pile of clothes for goodwill.

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  13. I’m totally purging the closets right now. For me it’s a little more emotional because I want to keep all of the clothes that are just a little too small because I am trying to lose enough weight to fit back into them. Oh sigh.

    crystal

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  14. Great post, and I think you made a good call on the vests. I just wrote a post about clothing this week, too, after a failed shopping trip.
    It is important to only wear clothing that makes you feel good.

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  15. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! You’re message is universal, probably why they chose it. 🙂

    I have the same junk that I wear in various combinations over and over, but I never do my laundy (because I have so many clothes) so then I’m down to the last 25 items that are interesting but seemingly un-wearable. I keep them in case of theme parties or if I come across a brilliant pair of leggings.

    I think that “in case” mindset is genetic. My mother has everything from a vintage denim button press to a puppet theatre in our basement. At least I’ll have some novelty exchanges if I survive the apocalypse.

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  16. A couple of years ago my husband went through his clothes and we got rid of seventeen items. If it didn’t pass the “does your hairy belly show when you raise your hands over your head” test, it was donated.

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  17. Isn’t it amazing that we think we have to wear something different to work every day for a month?? I’ve never looked at a colleague and thought, “Oh dear God, didn’t she wear that last week?” But I assume that’s what people will think about me if I fail to dazzle them daily with new combinations. I don’t think people pay as much attention to us as we think they do. Someday I will accept this fact and get dressed every morning thinking, “What outfit would make me the happiest to wear today?” Someday. Maybe.

    Great post!!

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  18. Congrats on the FP…I love your blog today! I wish I could get my boyfriend to read it, I swear he has more clothes than a department store. Some that haven’t seen the light of day in ages…The fact that you can purge and let go gives me hope that one day he might. Thanks!

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  19. yes, absolutely great advice! I need to go ahead and take care of that soon. I just gave away some clothes and shoes I didn’t wear the entire 2 seasons last year to goodwill (that was actually work pending from over 2 months now!) So now I need to go through my ‘actual real’ closet and give away my winter clothes which I didn’t wear the whole last winter!

    congrats on freshly pressed!

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  20. Since we are artsy types, we had to come up with creative and arbitrary rules that are entertaining to us, or we won’t follow up. Such as:
    Nothing comes in the house, unless something of equal or greater size goes out. NO EXCEPTIONS.

    You can’t keep more than three of anything (The 3-strikes Clutter Rule).

    Nothing gets to live in the shed except the recyclables, and stuff headed for the dump. They are transients.

    I write about this subject often, but I’m always happy to see someone else do it. I’m about to write about getting rid of my ghastly, horrifying vortex of unused audio/video cables and doo-dads.

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  21. Great idea… as I just boxed up my whole closet… I am moving this weekend, I should have gone through everything then, but my thought is that I will go through things as I unpack and get rid of what I don’t need or wear. My plan, once I am settled in my new house is to have a garage sale and not only get rid of excess, but make some money doing it. Wish me luck. 🙂

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  22. I watched the tv show horders and those people keep everything forever all over their house. It made me want to clean so I went into my closet and thew away things I never wear. You are right, get rid of it if you don’t use it. I also change my thinking about buying stuff. Do I really need it or is it just a spur of the moment purchase.

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  23. We’re doing a similar thing this year in my household! If we don’t use it, we don’t need it! It mostly applies to all those christmas gifts you’ll never use (like bubble bath – I don’t have a bath in my flat!), but the other half has made sure to use his telescope so it doesn’t get thrown out! Computer games are running on a one out/one in policy!!!

    It’s a great way to live when you have limited space!!

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  24. Maybe this post will inspire me to do exactly the same thing. Because I really need to go through my closet and drawers and do some major spring cleaning. I just need to remember that I can always purchase newer, modern clothing. I just hate to give up clothes. But, I must!

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  25. Great idea on deciding at the end of the day after wearing the item. This allows you to know if you enjoyed wearing it, got compliments on it, or felt uncomfortable all day. I’m going to use that tip.

    Congrats on being FP!

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  26. B’c of the size of our closets I totally agree with you. I can’t stand to hold onto any clothes – unless they’re dress clothes – but if they are casual – they are given away if I didn’t get around to wearing them. 🙂

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  27. AH. I am so bad at getting rid of stuff in my closet. I have been the same size for about five years so everything still fits… but like your khaki vest, it doesn’t mean it is still in style. I think I will be doing a spring cleaning once spring hits ALBERTA lol! Love the post!

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  28. I wish Grandma would go through her closet. Instead, she has two closets full of clothes, but wears the same few all of the time, spills her wardrobe into my daughters room, and brings home shirts from the op-shop (thrift store) pretty much every day. “But someday I’ll need it…” Sigh.

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  29. Love your post. Hate to throw anything out. I have tried in the past to adhere to the rule you mention, if I haven’t worn it in a year, get rid of it. I usually give away tons of stuff, but there’s tons I hold onto, thinking, “but I know I will need this again one day.” S-i-g-h. I dream of the day I can own 7 white sarongs and a really good pair of sandals!

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  30. I purge my closets every year. We only tend to wear the things we like over and over, leaving that stuff we don’t like so much hanging around taking up room. Why? I do keep old t-shirts to work in the garden or clean the house, but they get “retired” to the old t-shirt area, and the newer ones go in the wearable (in public) area. The “old old” t-shirts get tossed, or kept as rags, like that. Really, if you don’t love it or don’t wear it often, it should go, either donated if in good shape, or thrown away. Most of us have way too much clothing! I tend to go through winter/fall clothing right about now and discard, and spring/summer clothes in the late fall to donate/discard. It’s a nice way to feel lighter and ready for a new season, imo.

    I agree that the idea of wearing a vest is nice, but the actual ability to wear one and look good is less easy to pull off. Good that you got rid of the black vest. In my opinion you look a bit like a waiter in it, so it’s best gone.

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  31. I tend to donate my clothes i dont wear. Some shops actually “buy” newer clothes and designer stuff. There was a pawn shop T.V. show that had a guy pawning ten or so pairs of Levi’s worth 200 a piece…who knew? Just an idea to chew on…might get some gas money at least. Oh, and save the 70’s shirt with the huge winged collars!!!

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  32. I go with the same ethos for everything. If you forgot it was there, you’re not going to use it. If you knew it was there and you haven’t used it for a year or more – lose it!

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  33. Yep, in the great step, the remarkable time to make a valuable progress has been taken well. It should go on positively without a bad thing, of course. Like me here, in comment and even then, as a newbie I should be known well by you as a reputable person and all beloved readers as good comers. Thanks for the very nice sharing.

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  34. What a strange attitude (and lots of people espouse something like it)–getting rid of anything not worn within the past year (or two). Seems so American to me, so wasteful.

    Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a clutter bug. But I do hold on to certain pieces of clothing–things well-made, things that I really like, pieces that have strong personal associations with, and so on.

    And interestingly, in the last year I started wearing a number of items that I thought I wouldn’t wear again. My shape had changed somewhat (more muscle), I’d lost a few pounds…And, voila!, suddenly that sweater, that knit top, those slacks I hadn’t worn in, yes, considerably more than two years, fit nicely.

    Buy less, buy better, and use longer.

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  35. I love the changing of the seasons, with Spring & Autumn both heralding a change and review of what’s in my wardrobe. I love clothes but these days I operate a one-in, one-out policy, in an effort to ensure I can actually house everything I own in the space available! I hate cramming clothes together; they deserve space to breathe, and that space also makes the selection process of what to wear on any day easier, too. 🙂

    Older items that I’ve since “upgraded” are either sold or donated, depending on condition/residual value.

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  36. This is a great challenge, and part of the reason that I am currently avoiding my closet, so I don’t have to purge it. On the other hand I loved the clothing I inherited from my mother, and plan on passing some on to my kids. Would that I had a third hand though, because most of the things I want to keep are actually rags and scraps of clothing full of sentiments and nostalgia.

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  37. i subscribe to the same rule when cleaning out my closet…after i had my son most of my clothes fit differently and I had to purge about half my wardrobe…it was a sad day when that happened, many well-loved/warn items went in the trash, give-away and donate pile.
    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

    Like

  38. Great advice! It’s hard to believe how much excess stuff you can accumulate. I started dropping of my clothes/shoes at a consignment shop, and I was surprised to find that most of it sold quickly at good prices! I try to take designer clothes and newer items to the consignment store and donate the rest.

    Like

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