5 simple steps to pare back your wardrobe

The other week I shared that I’d been brutal with my wardrobe and whittled things down to what is (compared to what I’d started with) a bare minimum. Many of you wanted to know how I did it. Well, at the time I just got absolutely ruthless. Since then I’ve thought about the mental process and have put together these here 5 steps you can use to declutter your own wardrobe, if you so wish:

But before we begin: the idea isn’t to throw stuff away. Decluttering does wonders for clearing your heart and mind but I’d hate to think I was encouraging people to send stuff to landfill. When I pared back, I gave everything to op shops or charity drives (a lot of asylum seeker support centres are running coat and scarf drives right now, for Winter). Give it away or sell it on ebay etc. Cheers.

1. Clear the floor area and grab some big bags or boxes. You’ll need lots of clear space to sort and pile.

2. Sort like with like. Place all your pants together, your t-shirts together, your jumpers together, etc. This’ll make it easier to see exactly how much of each type of clothing you own, so you can minimise later.

3. Sort the junk items into a ‘repurpose pile’. Got holey undies? If they can’t be stitched back together, cut them into strips to use as ties in the vegie patch. Old, out of shape t-shirts? Chop them into squares and use as rags and dusting cloths.

4. Now sort through the remaining clothes in each category quickly. Two piles (or bags, boxes) – Keep, Give Away. The ONLY way to do this is to be ruthlessly and brutally honest with yourself, and to be quick. Your aim is to keep only the things you actually wear often, which for most people is a tiny percentage of their complete wardrobe. If you haven’t worn something in the last 6 months, immediately put it in the Give Away bag. Place the clothes you really love and wear often in the Keep bag. A few tips:
  • Keep a check of the number of items in each category. I stuck to a max of 4 or 5 – I culled until I had only 3 or 4 pairs of pants, for instance.
  • Keep the basics – these are the items that won’t go out of fashion any time soon and can be mixed and matched to create lots of different outfits. Yes, think about outfits. Make sure what you’re keeping works as outfits so that you don't have to go out and buy more clothing in order to make what you kept work.
  • Think about how you might use an item in more than one way, eg, a jumper or cardi you can also use as a scarf.
  • If something is really expensive and that’s the only reason you’re holding onto it, think about selling it.
  • Seriously, be quick. The longer you dwell on something, the more likely you’ll be to relent and keep it.
  • It’s okay to keep those really special items. You don’t have to be too harsh with yourself first time around. But hang those really special items to one side of your wardrobe and reassess in two-months time.

5. Clean the Keep pile and put it back neatly. Send the Give Away pile off either on the same day or the next day.

Now look at your neat and minimal yet schmick wardrobe and relish the space and freedom from clutter. Yay for you. Yay for you.


  1. Tks Maria, I needed a booster to get on and do this!

  2. I have been wanting to do this for a long time.
    I have so many clothes but always nothing to wear.
    Thanks for the tips!

  3. Just cleaned out my wardrobe! Op shop here I come. Thanks for the reminder :-)

  4. The hardest part is always "Send the Give Away pile off either on the same day or the next day" - I tend to have the box/bag sitting around for ages, and things creep back in to my wardrobe, as if by magic...

  5. Ha! Just what i was looking for. Have also been wanting to do this for sometime and you've just given me the motivation to do it.

  6. Glad you've all been inspired. You won't regret it!

  7. I know I need to do this! I feel it down to my soul. I feel weighed down by clutter in all areas of my life, my pantry, bathroom cupboard, even down to how many blogs I follow... But I keep thinking, "I once paid hard-earned $ for that (item of clothing, pair of shoes etc..) - maybe I should keep it, just in case" :)

    1. Ah, yes, that's the trap. I think of the cash as irrelevant (unless it was REALLY expensive, then I try to sell it). If you base your decisions of what you give away on items you don't wear much, then you can think of the money as cash spent long ago that you're not making use of anyway. And think of it as your donation to those less fortunate!

  8. Thanks so much for this Maria! It's the best 'how to declutter' advice I've read yet (& I've read quite a few...) x



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