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Ask a Stylist: Closet Purging

Ask a Stylist: Closet Purging

Question: “How do I purge my closet? Any tips on how to decide what to get rid of?”

Answer: Suffering from Closet-clean-out-itis is a domestiphobia that many women suffer  from, myself included.

Last year I met 2 amazing SoCal gals who pledged to challenge themselves to get their closets down to only 20 pieces and wear only those pieces for a year… they call it The Twenty Pieces Project.

Yeah, I know, 20 pieces…crazy scary!  When I interviewed these ladies  they really hit a nerve with me. They explained to me how every morning as women we beat ourselves up.  We walk into overstuffed unorganized closets full of clothing that is either too big or too small that we hold onto just in the hopes that someday we will fit that size 4 from 10 years ago or in the fear that we may suddenly gain 30 pounds and need our “fat clothes”.  Then we move forward through our day feeling defeated with a self inflicted metaphorical black eye.

Ah-ha! moment. They were totally right. That was me, holding onto everything from a size 4 to a size 14!   It inspired me to do a major closet cleanout and then a revamp.

Although necessary, this process can be difficult and even emotional so I put together some helpful tips to make the project a little less stressful and to help you decide what to toss and what to treasure.

Getting Started

  • Always clean out your closet with a friend.  We tend to be unreasonably emotionally attached to our clothing, shoes and handbags. Another set of eyes looking at pieces in a practical logical manner can be a huge help.  Open a bottle of wine and make an afternoon of it.
  • Take EVERYTHING out of the closet.  Pile it on the bed and sort it into 4 piles.

Keep.  These are items that at a glance you can’t part with. Item you love, were investment pieces or that you look amazing in.

Alter. These are items that you love but are a bit out of style or a tad too big.  You can update a piece with just a few adjustments from a tailor and have shoes resoled or cleaned to look like new.

Sell. Pieces that are too small, out of style or that you simply don’t wear but are in pretty good condition.  There are tons of consignment and resale stores Like Buffalo exchange that you can sell these pieces at and have a little extra money in your pocket.

Donate. This is where everything that didn’t fit in any of the piles goes.

Now that that’s done, let’s narrow the KEEP pile down a bit more:

  • Do not hold onto things because you plan on losing weight.  This is self torture. By the time these fit you they will most likely be out of style and if you do lose weight wouldn’t you rather reward yourself with some new clothing?  Keep items that fit you now!
  • Do not hold onto things that are too big because you might gain weight.  Really?  You plan on gaining weight?  Keeping these in your closet makes it way to easy to excuse extra pounds.
  • Do keep pieces that have legitimate emotional value like your grandmothers dress or your mothers classic clutch.  It is NOT ok to keep the raggedy hole covered concert t-shirt you got the night you first discovered clove cigarettes- that is not of  legitimate emotional value.
  • Do keep pieces that are timeless, classic and will always be in style like Little Black Dresses, classic blazers and shift dresses. They will work any time and any season.
  • Toss pieces that were one-off trends seasons ago (trends we didn’t even like when they WERE in style) like metallic leggings, harem pants and acid washed jeans.
  • Purge yourself of pieces that don’t fit but you keep simply because you spent a lot of money on them.  What good are they doing if you can’t wear them.  Give them to a friend or move them to the “sell” pile.

Now that your closet is as neat and organized as if Gale O’Neill from Mission Organization had paid you a visit,  make sure that moving forward you really consider the purchases you are about to make.  Don’t make the mistake of impulse buying things that fit improperly simply because they are a good “deal”.  Avoid buying “fast fashion”(cheap, addictive and unsustainable these are  pieces from places like Forever 21 that are poorly made and will fall apart after 1 wash) as unhealthy as fast food it will leave you with feelings of regret and in the end after replacing it over and over, cost you more than 1 quality piece would have.

Invest in pieces that are well made and have a classic timeless style.  Of course it’s ok to indulge in trends every now and then but the core of your closet should be pieces that will last for seasons to come.

So what are you finally purging? And more importantly, are you ready to take the challenge?

– Christie

Fashion stylist, Christie Moeller, calls las vegas her home, but the world is her office. It’s safe to say she eats, sleeps and breathes style. Tweet her at @christiemoeller for the chance to be featured in our next ‘Ask A Stylist’ segment.

Disclosure: On occasion, contributors of The Trend Tribe receive products, compensation and/or services gratis or at discounted rates. This practice does not influence the contributor’s point of view or the outcome of the review. All descriptions are factual and accurately reflect the reviewers experience. The opinions are their own. Photos courtesy of Andrew Sea-James.
Christie (5 Posts)

This fashion stylist calls las vegas her home, but the world is her office. It's safe to say she eats, sleeps and breathes style. Have a pressing question about 'What to Wear?' Tweet her at @christiemoeller for the chance to be featured in our next 'Ask A Stylist' segment.


  1. I did a good cleanout when I found out I was pregnant- all of those thigs I was trying to hang on to until I was thinner? Well, it would be another year or two before they fit and then they’d be even more out of style;)
    I could not do a 20 pieces challenge, although I applaud them. I am way to varied in my fashion choices (and cannot resist something cute and yellow).

  2. Thank you for these wonderful tips Christie! This couldn’t have come at a better time. Let’s just say my closet purge keeps getting pushed down to the bottom of my to-do list. The tips you’ve provided are very helpful. I know what I’ll be doing this week! I don’t know I could do the twenty pieces challenge but I’m definitely thinking about it.

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