Questions Answered: Closet Cleaning.

We’ve gotten some great questions on our Ask Keep It Neat! page and via email (  We picked out a few that we felt warranted their own posts.  Today we answer Question #1:


Hi Keep It Neat!

Confession. I have an addiction to shopping, but I also have an addiction to holding on to clothes too long. I admit, I have jeans with tags on them from 3 years ago and clothes I haven’t worn in years. I keep thinking that “one day I’ll wear these” or “one day I’ll have a need for neon leggings”. What’s your advice to clean up your closet? How long do you hold on to your clothes?


Let me first say this: I do not think you will ever have a need for neon leggings.  Unless maybe it’s Halloween, or 80’s theme day at work.  Considering I know where you work, I also know such a theme day will not happen.  Ever.  Now with that behind us, let’s focus on how to keep your closet in order!

I’ve heard before that the general rule of thumb for waiting to donate/toss something you don’t wear is one year.  So if you haven’t worn it in over a year, it goes.  But, I don’t know that I agree with such a strict cut-off.  When you do your next big closet cleanout, take everything you haven’t worn in over a year and put it aside.  Try on each item and think about why you haven’t worn it.  The trick here is to BE BRUTALLY HONEST with yourself, and it might even help to have a friend over while you do this to offer second opinions.  Use the following guidelines to put things into a few different piles:

1. If it’s something you currently love, but you haven’t worn it recently because it doesn’t quite fit, it’s OK to hang on to it for another go-around.  Note – if the piece really doesn’t fit, it needs to go.  Hanging on to things in hopes of “just losing 10 lbs” is just unhealthy.  Wear what fits and makes you feel comfortable now, and stop dwelling on jeans that looked slammin’ when you were 25.  Everything looked slammin’ when you were 25.

2. If it’s something you once loved, but don’t love currently even though it fits like a glove, evaluate further why you don’t like it at the moment.  Too trendy?  It goes.  Too “young” (mini skirt, short shorts, really tight/revealing top)? It goes.  If it’s classic but just not “you” right now, keep it.

3. If it’s something you once loved, but don’t love now, AND it doesn’t fit, it’s time to go.  If it falls in this category but has true sentimental meaning (like, oh I don’t know, an old sweatshirt from when your sorority and your then-boy-interest-and-now-husband’s fraternity did Greek Week together…), put it in a box or bin to store with other important clothes.  But really scrutinize what you put in here – it can’t be a catchall for things you’re being trigger-shy about giving away!

Keep in mind that it may not be enough to do this just once – you may have to go through the process a few times to whittle your piles down even further.  But at the end of the day you should be able to get rid of a decent amount of things and feel good about all that space you just freed up in your closet.  Good enough to go out and fill it back up with expensive jeans and neon leggings probably, but hopefully you will find it within yourself to refrain.  At least take a few minutes to soak in your clutter-free closet and congratulate yourself on a job well done.  And then you may get back to trolling the J.Crew Factory Outlet online…


3 thoughts on “Questions Answered: Closet Cleaning.

  1. Pingback: Halfsies! | keep it neat

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