My Minimal Wardrobe - Step 1: The Clean Out

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This journey to a minimal wardrobe has been a long time coming. I have moved 7 times in the last 8 years and every time I move I am both disgusted and overwhelmed by how much clothing I have. When I moved from Atlanta to Philly I was struck by the same disgust and overwhelm and decided I would attempt a Project 333. No offense to this challenge, but it was WAY too hard for me and backfired big time. If you aren’t familiar, its a minimalism challenge where you wear only 33 items for 3 months straight. I totally failed at this challenge and went back to my same old life of pretty much buying clothes whenever I “needed” them.


Now I am moving once again and am having the same wardrobe dilemma except it seems that things have gotten worse. I am finding items that have been worn only once or twice and many with the tags still on them!! I know I need to make a change, but I also know that it cannot be as drastic as owning only 33 items. When I was on the plane the other day I made a list of my “ideal” minimal wardrobe with a goal of keeping the list under 100 items. I say ideal because it might take some time for me to get there. Then I went through my closet and got rid of anything that didn’t fit on my ideal list. Some things went into a donate pile, some were sold to ThredUp and honestly a few were thrown away because they were that gross. Below you will see my “ideal” minimal wardrobe list. This list is specific to me because it accounts for the job I do, the social life I have and the climate that I live in. You will notice that I have chosen not to include bras, underwear, socks, jewelry and other accessories. I will discuss why in my followup blog.

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Steps to Follow for the Clean Out

  1. Make your Ideal Wardrobe List - Take a look at your life and decide what you would ideally need for each area of your life. Don’t be too generous here. You need far less than you actually think you do. It helps to spilt your life into scenarios. For me my life segments into work, workout, casual and special occasion. I also live in a 4 season climate so I need to make sure I am prepared for all 4 seasons. You’re ideal list will probably look different than mine, but you can use the one above as a template.'

  2. Set Aside a Few Hours to Do the Clean Out - This will be better if you do it all at once. Getting rid of one thing will motivate you to keep going. If you feel like you can’t do this alone, invite a friend over and offer them a bottle of wine or a home cooked meal in exchange for the help.

  3. Grab a consignment bag, a donate bag (or two) and a trash bag - Things that you think you can sell and make a little money on go in the consignment bag. I sent two bags of stuff to ThredUp during my own clean out. Many of them with tags. It was painful to think of the money I wasted on those items, but it felt freeing to get them out of my life. Put most things in the donate bag and only throw away the really gross, ratty things that you think no one can wear.

  4. Use your Ideal Wardrobe List as a guide - Only hold on to things that are on the list. Try not to alter the list to fit the wardrobe you have!! Make the list for the wardrobe that you want, which is likely smaller than your current wardrobe. It’s okay to buy new things after the clean out, but its all about the intention behind it. For example, I have white jeans on my ideal list and I already owned them, BUT they were gross and old and I never even wanted to wear them. I decided to give them away and buy a new pair from a company with ethical, sustainable practices. It’s not about depriving yourself, but about being mindful about purchases.

  5. If you don’t love it, it has to go - Everything you hold on to should be something you feel absolutely amazing in! Everytime you wear it you should feel confident and comfortable. Don’t hold on to anything too small that you hope you will fit into “someday”. These items hold mental space

  6. Make a 1 Year Box - I didn’t do this, but if you are REALLY on the fence about an item that you don’t need right now, but you think you will someday need, place it in a cardboard box and write the date on it. If an item remains in the box for a full year, then someday is never coming and you can get rid of the box.

  7. Practice the 20 for 20 rule - if you are unsure of an item, but can replace an item for less than $20 in less than 20 minutes then you can get rid of it. Any time I have used this rule I have never had to replace the item. Usually insignificant and inexpensive items like that take up more space than they are worth.

  8. Prepare for conscious consumption in the future - As I went through my own clean out I acknowledged (many times) the amount of money, time and resources that were wasted bringing those clothes into my life only to be worn once or twice. Going through this exercise has encouraged me to be very intentional about all of my clothing purchases from here on out.

My Closet Post Clean Out


Above you can see my closet post clean out! Might look pretty empty. That’s because I was very intentional and a little cutthroat. Good luck with your own clean out! I am sure it will free up mental space for all of you as it has for me. Please share your clean outs with me on Instagram and stay tuned for the next step: intentionally replacing the items to build your ideal wardrobe!