less is more: downsizing and decluttering your wardrobe: the sorting process! (part 2)

so, you’ve prepared your mind, body, and your workspace…now what?

steel yourself, smile, turn up the music, and dive in! it’s time to sort through your duds and make the hard but necessary decisions about what you’ll keep, and what you’ll toss! keep your eyes on the prize: an awesomely clean closet!!

some tips to help you get through the sorting and the purging:


keep your mood board handy, if you think you need the visual reminder. set it up on top of your dresser or somewhere else where it can be in sight while you work.

if you have time, try on EVERYTHING in your closet. it’s important to evaluate absolutely everything in your closet. if you work or go to school, this might be best done on a day off on which you have no other obligations, perhaps on a sunday afternoon, if you have weekends off, for example. otherwise, you can break the task up over a couple days, if need be, but make sure the days are successive and in the same week so you stay motivated. sorting through your things can be intense and sometimes difficult, but trust me, when it’s all over and you’ve dumped the things you don’t LOVE or need, you’ll feel terrific!


be as objective and honest as you possibly can about the objects you are evaluating. look at yourself in the mirror, and ask yourself the following questions:

is this piece truly my style? does it suit the aesthetic i want to express to the world at large? again, refer back to your mood/inspiration board if you need to. i may be harping on these boards, but seriously, THEY HELP. they are used by artists and designers when they need to focus their ideas…but they can just as easily help you, especially with a task like finding yourself and finding the clothes and other accouterments that suit YOU.

do i absolutely, unabashedly LOVE this piece? if you don’t completely adore something, it is best to let it go. follow your gut feeling about something, it never lies. if a piece holds a negative memory for you, you’ll feel even better for letting it go! TRUST ME.

is this piece truly flattering for my body? again, be honest with yourself here. trust your eyes and your gut…you will KNOW when it works. don’t force anything. you might in theory love an item and the way it looks on the hanger or in the stack, but if it’s an off-color for you, ill-fitting or has the wrong proportion for your figure, it may not flatter you. it’s important to wear what suits your body AND your style, so that you are left with what makes you feel and look like a million bucks. remember: just owning something, though you might love it, does not mean it will or does flatter you. for years i used to buy things just *because*, fantasizing that they would look good on my figure, and you know, they just *DID NOT* look good, and the pieces just sat there in my closet, taunting me! what’s the point of having something that doesn’t fit or flatter? THERE IS NO POINT! it’s a waste of money and a delusion. get rid of what doesn’t flatter you…and strongly resolve to get what does when the time to shop comes again. (p.s. more on smart shopping and clean closet maintenance in the next installment!)

try not to think about trends at all as you sort through it all…what you love and what suits your person and personality are FAR more important than the latest trend-du-jour. what you love will and should outlast whatever magazines or stores are currently shilling. think about yourself…you are trying to get rid of the bad and fill your closet (and life, by extension, really!) with the good.

what state is this particular piece of clothing in? is the piece plagued with pills, tears or stains? does it need mending or restyling? will you actually do this mending or restyling? will you actually, honestly take those shoes or that dress to the shoe repair or alterations place? being honest about what you will ACTUALLY do can help you decide whether to keep or discard an item. if something is in really bad shape, though, think about tossing it. just let go… keep what works. toss what doesn’t.

what is the quality of the piece? if something flatters and fits, keep it. even better if it’s made of materials that will last.



place the items you’re evaluating into three separate piles!

pile one consists of items you unequivocally love and want to keep. these items are YOU. they are things you will wear, things that express your personal style perfectly.

pile two is things you are unsure about…things that need more thought and evaluation. set them aside.

pile three is things you are absolutely sure you’d like to get rid of. no regrets.


once you’ve got your clothes and other sundries in said piles, you can tend to them as follows:

items in pile one can be placed back into your closet or drawers. i’ll give you ways to organize them in the next installment! 🙂

as for the items in pile two, give them a little more intense and honest scrutiny. be as realistic as possible with yourself, taking into account your lifestyle, and your skill level. how can you work the items in pile two into your closet? do they work with other pieces you have? what shape are they in? do they flatter you or support your personal style? can they perhaps be restyled in some way? will you actually do that restyling, or are you committed to having it done by an outside contractor? or really, are you better off without them? once you’ve thought carefully about each item in pile two, place them in the appropriate remaining pile: either one or three, and place them back into your closet or drawers, sewing pile, or into the donation bags as necessary.

of course, items in pile three can go straight into the bags you have gathered, without guilt. don’t even look at them again!


do you need further motivation while you sort? is the mere thought banishing clutter and having a kick-ass closet full of clothes you actually love not enough? 🙂

keep these generous, earth-friendly thoughts in mind while you do your sorting:

one person’s trash is often another person’s treasure: what you don’t love could be completely delightful or just perfect for another person. used clothing that’s stylish and in good condition is absolutely not trash! it often has a lot of useful life left in it that can be realized if it’s given a chance to be purchased and loved by another person.

others can truly benefit from your discards! if you give your gently used clothing or other wearables to a thrift store or charity, the proceeds of such can help people in need.

give your used clothes to a relative or friend. perhaps the items will suit them better, or give them a lot of delight! you can enjoy them through their eyes, knowing they are getting used and perhaps loved by someone you know.

have a naked lady party! have friends bring their wardrobe discards to a party at a set location (your home, or a friend’s), along with some munchies and other refreshments to share. drink, eat, and merrily sort through the pile together! find a new-to-you item that works for you, or help your friends do the same! when the festivities have commenced, you can take the unclaimed leftovers to the local charity or thrift shop.


if you are really motivated and think you’ll actually do it, and want to recoup some of what you spent on these items, you could do the ebay thing, or perhaps take them to a secondhand retailer in your area that pays or gives store credit for used clothing. you may not get back every cent of what you invested, but you never know! that cash or credit can be re-spent on something that you really love.



when you’re done, when the task is all over: TAKE THAT DISCARDED STUFF AWAY, PRONTO. DO NOT let it sit around for days, taunting you to take a look at it again!

jam your discards into your car, or load up your bike, or fill your arms with the bags, and pedal or walk to the nearest dumping off point, and GET RID OF THAT STUFF.

take a deep breath.

stuff you didn’t love or need anyway!

feels good, right? it’s refreshing! it’s liberating!

YES! woot!

…but, crap, what now? you might be asking yourself, “how do i maintain this marvelously clean and workable closet without succumbing to the clutter monster again??”

“how do i buy only what i NEED, and LOVE…how??”

“HALP me, tricia!!!”


well, lovlies, help is on the way, in the guise of…

PART 3! aka:

maintaining the less is more:
tactics for controlling clothing clutter/buying what you love/need!

stay tuned!


  1. Pingback: bits and bobbins » archives » less is more: downsizing and decluttering your wardrobe: getting ready! (part 1)
  2. alexis

    You should think about selling this to a magazine or newspaper. I bet the right market would eat it up.

  3. Lisa-Gabrielle

    I just have taken a combined total of over 25 garbage bags to the Goodwill(plus small furniture pieces)! I have more to go. I actuallyhave thought of starting an on-line de-clutter support group,but if its okay,I’ll just join yours. Here are some phrases I have been trying to live by,
    “Do you own your stuff,or does it own you!”
    “Is it collectable or is it clutter?”
    “A cluttered closet brings a cluttered mind”.
    I am like your friend M.,I do not understand my need to hang onto things that have outlived there usefulness in my life. Is it pathological? I don’t know,but it feels great to walk in my closet again,and I still have more to go!

  4. S.

    Oh lord! I moved recently and what an un-natural disaster! I’m waiting for a friend to bring over some clothing racks so I can get dressed!

    Each morning I just grab something out of a box marked pants and wade around another box for a top, grab some shoes and hope.

    I swear, once I can hang up my stuff I’m going to edit severly!!!

  5. laura / fraeulein_2eck

    wow, tricia, you are always such an inspiration, it’s amazing! you always motivate me and make me feel so inspired to do something. thank you!
    i think you could absolutely publish a book filled with your tips, although i don’t ever want you to stop blogging. (; but it would be great: starting with inspiration and ways to find one’s own style, going on with looking through the clothes & clever shopping…

    thanks again and keep it coming!

  6. Helen

    Fantastic article! I did just this a couple of months ago and I felt like a weight had been lifted. I could actually see what I had in my wardrobe and didn’t need to sort through the rubbish to build an outfit. I’m looking forward to the next article, shopping is a weakness and clutter builds so easily!

  7. Casey

    Excellent!! I’m really going to need to try your steps/techniques out ’cause my clothes are taking over my space!! I’ve literally got my closet stuffed, two boxes under my bed, and a rolling rack full of more clothes. And that doesn’t include shoes, purses, coats, etc… *sigh* I’m such a pack rat! lol.

    Can’t wait to read your tips about how to maintain this “organized/pruned” state… That is where I really have problems and slide back into my old habits. rofl. 😀

  8. jennifer

    oh i definitely need part 3 in my life, stat. i’ve got to do with with books, too (not just fashion)!

  9. tricia

    jennifer; i figure these tips can be extrapolated to work with anything you’ve got and want to pare down, just fill in the word “books”, or whatever you please! 🙂 i used clothes in this entry since bitsandbobbins.com is all about fashion. 🙂

  10. melissa

    one thing that helps me maintain my closet is that i have vowed to not buy any more hangers, which means, if i do buy something new then i usually try to take something out to make space for it (of course this now means my drawers are stuffed with things, but it helps to some extent!) i think having a smaller space also helps with not accumulating more “stuff”.

  11. Pingback: bits and bobbins » archives » less is more: downsizing and decluttering your wardrobe: maintaining the less is more! (part 3)
  12. candid cool

    I like the pictures that accompany the writing.

    And oh man, I’ve got to bag fulls of stuff that has been sitting by my bedroom door for weeks that I haven’t taken to Goodwill yet. And some stuff I plan on hawking on Ebay that I haven’t gotten to yet…

    I guess that hardest part of the purge is starting and then finishing it off.

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