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Weekend Project: Purge Your Closet of Clothes That Don’t Fit

Woman sorting through clothing in her walk in closet.
mariakray/Shutterstock

It’s easy to get trapped in the pattern of keeping things you don’t need or use “just in case” you need them sometime down the road. Clothing is no exception. Here’s how to purge your closet in a weekend.

As a year-end gift to myself and my sanity, I gutted my closet and dresser and let go of (almost) all of the things that didn’t fit me—whether it was too big, too small, or just didn’t look good on my body type.

The end result is a closet filled with items I can just pull off the hanger and wear, no worrying about the fit and no stress about the clutter.

How to Declutter the Clothes That Don’t Fit You

I know it’s easy to convince yourself that something might fit again, but if it depresses you each time you “accidentally” try to wear it, that item of clothing is doing more harm than good. Always remember the fact that we don’t gain or lose weight overnight, and you’re unlikely to gain or lose an entire dress size in a month. Why hold onto stuff for a year only to not meet your goal?

I know some people like to get an outfit in the size they want to be as motivation. If that works for you, then keep one outfit that you’re striving to fit into—and let the rest go.

Here are the steps I took to declutter my ill-fitting wardrobe:

Pull Everything Out of the Closet and Dressers

I followed the advice of Marie Kondo here. I yanked everything out and tossed it on the bed. I didn’t look for items to “spark joy,” though. I just wanted a clean slate to move back in the stuff I wanted to keep.

I dumped drawers and stacked hangers until the bed was a mountain of clothing. Then, it was time for the next step—getting a workout by testing every item of clothing I own.

Try Everything On

Try on every single thing in your closet and dresser. The only exception to this rule is when you come across something you have no intention of wearing again—whether it fits or not.

I matched up some outfits, but not all of them. I put stuff on, and what did fit, I checked myself out in the mirror to make sure each item fit everywhere and was flattering.

If a clothing item doesn’t fit (you can’t get it on, zip it up, or button it), toss it in a pile or a box. If it’s something you’re attached to (like a gift or favorite t-shirt) but doesn’t fit, put it in the box you’re saving and then move on to the next items.

Don’t forget to ditch accessories that no longer work for you, like belts and even shoes. My shoe size changes depending on my weight, so I see no point in holding onto shoes that are uncomfortably tight or loose.

Have a Box on the Side

I allowed myself two small boxes of “keep” items. I restricted this collection of saved clothing to only things I love, and that only require that I drop down one to two sizes. I wrote, “Open when under 200 pounds” on the side of the boxes and put them in storage.

You might want a box for the stuff you’re keeping and a box for the clothing items you’re getting rid of. Be sure to clearly mark which box is which!

What to Do with Your Unwanted Clothes

Don’t hold onto them. I’m a firm believer you should keep boxed storage items only if you’re moving, or if you have seasonal items packed up. Treat the one box of “will fit soon” items as a “seasonal” box, but don’t keep all of those clothes—let them go and open up room in your home for new stuff that fits you right now.

You have a few options to for what to do with the clothing that no longer fits. Consider any of the following:

  • Find a sales outlet: Sell on eBay, to a local consignment store, to friends and strangers on Facebook, or have a yard sale. This is great if you have brand name clothing that people will want. You can use the money you make to buy new clothes that fit correctly.
  • Donate them: Donate gently used and newer items to local families in need, a local shelter, or a local thrift store. If you have ripped and stained clothing, find out where you might donate them for rags (or use them for rags in your own home).
  • Swap with friends: Perhaps you have a friend who could wear the clothing you no longer use. Maybe they have  stuff that would fit you. Make a swap, or host a clothing swap party and invite friends of all shapes and sizes to bring their wardrobe discards for everyone to pick through.
Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow is a professional writer with two decades of experience. She has written and edited for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and more. Yvonne is a published poet and short story writer, and she is a life coach. Read Full Bio »

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