How to Let Go of Clothing
(...and shoes, jewelry, accessories, etc.) I've just covered how to let go of books--one of the most difficult categories when it comes to discarding. Clothes are pretty well tied with books when it comes to the level of difficulty of parting with items. If you suffer from an overwhelmed laundry room, piles of dirty clothes left at the side of the bed or outside of the shower, or a closet packed so tightly that it's a struggle to get anything out of it to wear, this post is for you.
Before you commit to discarding anything, be honest with yourself about how you want your wardrobe to reflect you. Whether you want to develop a personal uniform or a timeless capsule wardrobe, it's important to keep those goals and ideals in mind while decluttering your wardrobe. And of course, no matter what your ideals are, they should not have any room for ill-fitting or joyless garments.
Let go of any...
(#1) Clothes, shoes, and accessories that do not make you feel confident.
It's the job of our wardrobe to keep us comfortable and confident in our own skin. Any item in our wardrobe that we can't wear with confidence, or wear to gain confidence, needs to go.
Side note: I found inspiration for this particular approach from Kathleen Tessaro's Elegance: A Novel (which I highly recommend).
(#2) Clothes that do not fit you today.
It's easy to get trapped into keeping clothes thinking "Well, this will fit me again when I gain ten pounds over the winter," or, "This will fit me when I finally lose that last fifteen pounds I've been working on." Most clothing today is designed and constructed in such a way that +/- fifteen pounds won't drastically change the way it looks on you. If something is too small or too big, discard it. If it's too small or too big but you think it's perfect otherwise, consider tailoring it to fit again.
(#3) Shoes that are uncomfortable to wear all day.
Any shoes that are too tight, too loose, or too worn down can seriously hurt our feet. The pain of sore feet stuffed into uncomfortable shoes all day will eventually make its way upward into the ankles, calves, knees, and even thighs. If you have any knee or muscle pain in your legs when you wear a certain pair of shoes, get rid of them. You owe it to yourself to be comfortable, and comfort grows from the ground up.
(#4) Clothes/shoes/accessories that don't go well with anything else.
If there are garments or accessories in your wardrobe that languish in the closet, shoe rack, or jewelry box because they don't go well with anything else you own, discard them. Think of your ideal day-to-day style and discard anything that doesn't meet your own style requirements.
(#5) Single purpose/special occasion outfits.
For whatever reason, people hold on to suits and dresses that are essentially wear-once, convincing themselves to keep it "just in case" it can be worn again. Bridesmaid dresses are notorious for this, as are more somber outfits worn to funerals. If there isn't a good memory attached to the clothes or they're single purpose, let them go.
Basically to sum up all of these tips: if something can't be described as one of your wear-any-time favorites and it doesn't fit, let it go. If you feel like you're left with next to nothing, take a closer look. If you can describe everything you kept as a favorite, then you have everything you need to start slowly rebuilding your closet with only the types of clothes you want to wear. (And please, avoid fast fashion for ethical & ecological reasons if you don't shop secondhand.)
So what next? If you're happy with the size of your closet after purging all of the offending items, great! Revel in that feeling, knowing you'll wear your favorite things every day. If you feel like you don't have enough, think about how your favorite pieces look, feel, and fit, and keep those favorites in mind any time you go shopping for new additions so you don't make the mistake of buying and holding on to something you don't love. There's a lot of margin for error when purging a closet. We each have an amount of any kind of thing that feels "just right," and we can always edit up or down to achieve that feeling.
Go forth, declutter your closet, and let yourself look and feel comfortable and confident every day.