Got the urge to purge? The desire to declutter? If you don’t use it, it’s really time to lose it. This time of the (new) year is when a lot of us feel like shedding the old and starting the year with a clean slate … uh, closet.
In her new Netflix show Tidying Up, Marie Kondo may be all about keeping only what sparks joy and getting rid of the rest for her KonMari clean outs, but I like to be a little more flexible and more realistic. Here in the latest episode of “Talk’n Closet,” I outline nine ways to cleanse that closet for good. Take our Closet Cleansuary Challenge, and let it go, baby!
1) A Swapping Soiree
Make it a party! Having one at your house or going to one at a friend’s makes the deadline real. Add in some wine and nibbles, and it becomes truly fun. You never know what you’ll find. NextTribe editor Jeannie Ralston scored a black cashmere hoodie at a clothing swap in New York in early January. Other friends picked up goodies like cool rain booties and geometric-print leggings. For free!! For more ideas, check out Suzanne Agasi, who makes clothing swaps her business.
2) Cold, Warm-ish, Hot
After taking everything out of your closet, go through each piece one by one and sort them into categories: The keeper pile, the can’t-remember-the-last-time-I-wore-that pile, and the maybe-just-maybe pile.
3) Be a Pal
When you’re making piles, you might want a few mini ones—for your friends. Maybe there’s a piece you’re letting go of that your bestie has always coveted. Or know where certain items would get more wear. For instance, when I was cleaning out my closet, I came across a blue and white striped sweater and knew that it would look perfect on my stripe-loving friend Sacha.
4) Last Chance
I believe in giving every item in your maybe pile another shot. Wear it out for the day again or see if you can combine it with something you’ve purchased since you last wore the piece in question. If it still doesn’t work for you for whatever reason, into the out pile it goes.
Make a statement. You could go monochromatic this coming season, which really helps clarify what to keep and what to slough. You might want to hang on to some bits of color to add bright pops to neutrals, or you could commit to only flat shoes or low heels, and say Buh-Bye to the stilettos that clog up your closet floor.
6) Update Basics
It’s often hard to let go of basics like layerable black or white t-shirts: They never go out of style so you tend to hang on too long. But they do get worn out. I can’t even look at a white T-shirt without it getting yellow spots. Just move these seen-better-days basics to the laundry room—to use as rags—or to the garage—to use in the garden or car washing.
7) Compost Clothing
Yes, you can actually compost natural fibers, which can make you feel less guilty about saying so long. Natural fibers decompose; synthetics, no. And don’t compost clothing with non-compostable stains like paint or engine oil.
8) Beyond Donating
Of course you can always box up clothes for the Salvation Army and earn a halo for your trouble. There are other options too. In my building, we have a give-away corner, and for many years I’ve given what I’m not using and taken from it what looks interesting. (In New York and maybe other cities, you can order a textile recycling bin for your apartment building.) But if you have some gently worn stylish pieces, consign them at a store like Buffalo Exchange for some extra change, instead. Make sure clothes are clean and fit what the vibe of the store. It’ll be a win-win.
9) Rethink Sustainability.
Think outside the Goodwill bin. Many farmers markets have clothing collection services–and pieces will be distributed either to second-hand markets or be used for wiping rags or shredded for low-grade fiber products such as insulation. Or you could find an artist like Derick Melander, who creates gorgeous sculptures using second-hand clothing for sustainably oriented designers like Eileen Fisher and Donna Karan/DKNY Urban Zen.
NextTribe’s fashion editor Kimberly Cihlar is a fashion brand content editor, fashion writer/style blogger and jewelry designer based in New York City, sharing her style stories on Fashionwhirled.com and her jewelry creations on Collection13.com. Early in her career, she served as the Fashion Director to Fairchild’s men’s wear trade daily, DNR, and has since been published in ShowBoats Int’l., Cigar Aficionado, The New York Times’ Style Section, Wantful, GQ, British Esquire, British GQ, The International Herald Tribune and Dutch Magazine.