Monday Musings: Jeans and Clutter

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Happy Monday, ladies. What’s on my mind this week is clutter. No drawer is safe from me at this time of year. In early January, I declutter with more gusto than at any other time of year. Anything I pick up gets analyzed and either placed in its proper spot or put into a donation pile. I move through the house without a schedule and edit as I go. What does take a little more planning is my clothes, so today, I’m sharing how I declutter my wardrobe.

After helping my husband get started on his, I realized my closet needed cleaning out too. A change of season is the most popular time to edit your wardrobe, but I like to also declutter throughout the year because I live in a 2-3 season climate, so many of my things get worn year-round.

Hardest clothing to declutter

Some categories are easier to declutter than others. The pieces you struggle with the most will likely be your favorite type of garment. We often own the biggest quantity of them, and because we love them, it’s easy to justify keeping them. For me, that’s jeans, so that’s where I started.

woman wearing jeans, cashmere sweater and scarf

Jeans are a wardrobe essential for me, but how many pairs of jeans can one woman own? Apparently far too many. The more important question is, how many pairs do I need?

Here’s how I decluttered my jeans collection last weekend.

Since I hang my jeans on wooden clip hangers (similar), it was easy to transfer them all to a portable rolling rack. Getting them out into the light, away from everything else, allowed me to be more objective. From there, I grouped them by category, and no surprise, I found that the largest group are all in a similar style. Slim, ankle-length jeans are my downfall. I made myself try on every pair.

Questions to ask while decluttering your wardrobe

  • does it fit you properly?
  • does it send the message you want to send with your wardrobe?
  • is it still in good shape?
  • does it still flatter your current body?
  • do you feel fabulous wearing it?
  • is it still in style?
  • does it work for your lifestyle?

Next, I wean them down by color. I don’t need four pairs of straight-leg black jeans, yet that’s what I owned, so two pairs got folded and put into a donation bag. Then I moved on to blue jeans. I need a few more of these (justification happening here) because of the variety of washes. I was able to remove four pairs that had gotten too snug. Then I separated them by leg shape. Since skinny jeans have never been my favorite and are not on trend these days, I packed them all up in a bag to donate. Minimalism is not my end goal but an organized wardrobe made up of things I feel great in is my goal.

I put the keepers back into my wardrobe in categories ranging from light to dark. Now I can actually see what jeans I own, and it feels less claustrophobic when I walk into my closet.


Tips to help declutter your wardrobe

What you paid for an item can affect how hard it is to remove from your wardrobe, so consider consigning pricier items to earn a small commission.

Before you declutter, be sure you just don’t need to reorganize what you own. If your closet is messy, it’s hard to find the pieces you need to put a look together.

Before you start eliminating things from your wardrobe, organize things into categories. Hang all shirts on a rod, all facing in the same direction. Group all jeans together and all pants together. The same with skirts, jackets, sweaters, and knit tops. You can further categorize them by color (light to dark) or formality level (casual to dressy).

Have bags or boxes at the ready for:

  1. definitely donate
  2. too worn to donate, need to dispose
  3. needs repair or cleaning
  4. not sure if I want to keep this

The not-sure box is super important! You can bravely place things in this box because you know it’s not leaving your house. The decision is temporary and allows you to revisit the pieces later, but they aren’t hanging in your closet to see each day. Tape the box closed and store it in a guest room closet or the garage to examine in 6+ months.

Mistakes to avoid when you declutter wardrobe

Many people like to attack their wardrobe, ala Marie Kondo, but that’s never appealed to me because it’s too easy to make mistakes. If the job is overwhelming, decision fatigue can set in. You end up feeling burned out and start making poor decisions. Here are some mistakes to avoid:

Don’t rush the process

Listen to your intuition. If you’re unsure about an item, remember that it can go into your not-sure box #4 above.

Not having a plan

Do you want to have an edited wardrobe that makes it easier to get dressed? Are you hoping to change the clothes you automatically reach for? Have an end goal in mind.

Being overly emotional about an item

Is this the scarf your aunt gave you, but you dislike how it looks on you and never wear it? Is this the suit you wore when you got that fabulous promotion but have retired and live a casual lifestyle?

Decluttering essentials without a plan to replace them

Your basic black pants are shabby looking because you wear them so often. Be sure to make a concrete date to replace them before you donate your worn-out ones.

Not bothering to try things on

You may assume something doesn’t look right, but trying things on and looking in the mirror is the only way you will know for sure. Taking the extra time to try things on can help prevent second-guessing yourself.

Allowing what you paid for an item determine its value in your wardrobe

This is a slippery slope. Just because you paid a lot for something doesn’t mean you should keep it. And if you got a smokin’ hot deal on something that doesn’t look great on you, it’s not serving you well either.

Relying solely on whether a garment gives you joy

A functional wardrobe needs items that serve a purpose, and they don’t all have to spark joy…sorry Marie Kondo. Wardrobes need functional basics that we may feel neutral about but complete some outfits. That said, do not keep anything you don’t like!

You keep too many duplicates.

My hand is raised on this one. It’s so easy to justify another great pair of black pants because I like and wear them so often. Keep a few best of the best, and release the rest.

You declutter before you know your style

We talk about finding your personal style often on AWSL. Our style evolves as we learn and grow, so getting rid of large portions of your wardrobe before you’ve at least narrowed down your style words can lead to remorse. This is when I recommend copious use of not-sure boxes.

I’d rather have three not-sure boxes than regret donating a piece prematurely. Packing things up and removing them from your daily wardrobe often helps clear your mind so you can get a better idea of how you want to look going forward.

The one category I seldom declutter from my wardrobe is accessories. They take up very little space, and I often change my mind about them. You can also create a not-sure box for accessories.

I now need to repeat this process with tops, pajamas, sweaters, shirts, etc., but none will be as challenging as my jeans were.

What item of clothing do you struggle with the most when decluttering clothes?



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