How to Eliminate Closet Clutter with a Simple Wardrobe

My simple summer wardrobe. Jeans are on the shelf above.

I had a lot of clothes. Many of them didn’t fit or seem to go with anything else in my closet.

Can you relate?

I’ve never been a big shopper, but my passion for finding deals tripped me up. Instead of having nice outfits to wear, I had a bunch of budget clothing misfits and a lot of closet clutter.

In most ways, my life is pretty simple, but my closet was packed with items I rarely used. The clothing clutter felt heavy and overwhelming and I knew I needed to make a change.

It all started with some paradigm shifts about my closet clutter

We wear the same clothes over and over again – One of the ways I evaluated my wardrobe was to turn all of the hangers in my closet backwards. When I wore something, I would wash it and hang it with the hanger facing the normal way. Over time it became obvious that I only wore a small group of items regularly and the rest went unused.

Our clothes should match our real life needs – Most of us have items in our closets that are just closet clutter including things that no longer fit or do not really work with our day to day life. Some of us have a lot of them.

Planning outfits instead of focusing on individual pieces makes more sense – Yes, we can mix and match endlessly, but do we really need 30 different options.

We don’t need to keep all of our clothes in our closets – Courtney Carver who created Project 333, a guide to creating a tiny wardrobe, suggests only keeping seasonal items in your closet and boxing everything else up and storing it elsewhere. She suggests re-evaluating your wardrobe every 3 months and limiting the number of clothing, shoes, and accessories to 33 items. My version of this is to change my wardrobe with each season as the weather changes and I don’t limit the total number of clothes as long as I stay within my real life needs.

We don’t need to get rid of anything we don’t want to – Just get them out of our closet. This can be very freeing as often our resistance to getting rid of our closet clutter is about having to let go of things. It is probable though, that after you experience a peaceful wardrobe you will be more ready to free up unused clothing to new homes where they will be used and appreciated.

We can still go shopping if we want – Often, when planning a season of clothes we will find some things wearing out or see gaps in our wardrobe. The goal is to have a wardrobe we love that is in good repair.

Gradually, with these paradigm shifts and my love of simplicity my wardrobe began to evolve. I now enjoy a closet that feels peaceful and spacious and never get bored or feel like I don’t have anything to wear. It feels good when I open my closet and see my favorite outfits waiting to come out and play.

My  guidelines for clearing closet clutter are simple

Keep only one season of clothing in your closet at a time – I started with summer and found I already owned plenty of tops to get me through the season. I did eventually buy a couple new ones, but simply moved others out of the closet so I didn’t end up with more than I needed.

Analyze your true weekly clothing needs – Most of us do laundry at least once a week so we can base our wardrobe on what we wear in that time period. Five outfits for work? A couple weekend casual outfits? Or, do you live in t-shirts and jeans? Plan out the number of outfits you need for workout, casual, dress, and business.
Since I work from home my clothes can be mostly casual. I decided I would be comfortable with:

  • 5 outfits for working from home and lazy days
  • 2 dress outfits for church, meetings, and special events
  • 5 casual tops that could be dressed up or down
  • 4 days of workout clothing

Try everything on and put together your FAVORITE outfits for each need – My goal was to use basic, neutral bottoms and a variety of tops. I was surprised to find that I already owned outfits that I enjoyed and felt good in. My final result was:

  • 5 tees
  • 5 casual tops
  • 2 nicer tops for business meetings or church
  • 2 pair of workout/yoga pants
  • 1 pair of dress pants
  • 1 pair of capris
  • 1 pair of shorts
  • Jeans – a few pair in different sizes since my body is changing
  • A light, summer sweater

Put the rest away – Out of site, out of mind. They will still be there if something is needed, but try to avoid going to them. I put my extras in a storage bin and sent them off to the spare bedroom. I will admit that I have a couple dresses in a back closet, but I’m not much of a dress person and never wore them.

Add new clothes to fill any gaps – I bought a couple new casual tops this summer, but was able to focus only on ones I loved instead of random shopping. When I added one I simply rotated another out into storage. I also recently bought a new fall jacket for my next season as I knew the fleece jacket I had used last years was pilling. Overall though, I find myself saving money by shopping less because I know I already have all I need.

Re-evaluate at the end of the season  Toss out any items not in good repair and store the rest. If you look through the seasonal clothes you chose not to use, you may find they are no longer appealing and feel more ready to let them go. Eventually, your off season clothing storage will be simple and compact too. Fortunately, most of my summer clothes are still in good repair so I won’t need much next year, but I will buy a couple new tops for fun.

Keep an old set of work clothes – When I decided to paint my porch I realized I would need to sacrifice a shirt and pair of jeans. Now I have a set of old clothes for yard work and messy jobs. These don’t need to count as part of your wardrobe or be kept in your closet.

Creating a simple wardrobe will bring more peace into your home and heart. It will also help you save money and eventually feel good about giving away what you don’t use to people who need it more.

I know that I love my simple closet without clothing clutter and am committed to keeping it that way. What about you? Are you ready to join me or have a tip you want to share. If so, please post a comment. I would love to hear what you have to say.

If you would like the support of a professional coach in simplifying your closet, home, or life. I would love to talk to you. You can email me at: or contact me here

Related Posts:

The Gifts of Living a Simple Life

Intentions for Being – Declarations for Life

A Sense of Order Soothes Your Soul

Resources: Project 333

2 thoughts on “How to Eliminate Closet Clutter with a Simple Wardrobe

  1. Shubha says:

    Very nice article. All of us need to manage the closet clutter from time to time.
    The article just reminded me that I have to attend to the clutter not just in my closet but also at my desk.

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