If your life doesn't resemble a Swiffer commercial in which a woman dances around her home with her duster, spring cleaning can be a bit of a drag — especially when it comes to the closet. However, a good wardrobe purge clears out ensembles that you'll likely never wear again, and makes room for a crop of fresh, summer-appropriate pieces. If you're willing to put in the effort but don't know where to start, here is the definitive Bustle guide to spring cleaning your closet.
1. DONATE (OR SELL) ANY CLOTHING THAT DOESN'T FIT
There may or may not be a pair of jeans in the back of your closet which you fit into for a brief period, but now somehow can't quite zip all the way. If the last time you were able to slip into them easily was over three years ago, or a significant amount of weight ago, it may be time to let them go. Retaining clothing that doesn't fit anymore can be a bit soul-crushing if you're using a garment to measure the success of a diet or remind you of that one time you looked fabulous. You likely look even more fabulous now, and it's an excuse to find your next favorite dress/pair of jeans/top. If the clothing is in good condition, consider donating it to your charity of choice (or that friend who's been eyeing it for years). That being said, if you have a snug t-shirt from back in high school that your significant other gave you, or cut-offs that take you back to the summer after graduation, you have my permission to pack them away in a safe place for moments when you want to reminisce.
2. CLEAR OUT ITEMS YOU CRINGE TO LOOK AT
If you have the occasion impulse buy shopping spree, chances are there are a few pieces in your closet which make you question your state of mind when they were purchased. Whether they're more ostentatious than you remembered in the store, or so bland you're not sure quite why you bought them, it's time to say goodbye and free up some room in your closet, even if you've never actually worn the piece.
3. ABIDE THE ONE-YEAR RULE
If you haven't worn something for over a year (especially if you forgot you even owned it), it may be time to part with the piece. For those with more expansive closets, clothing which hasn't be worn for a year and a half should be reexamined.
4. IF YOU'RE NOT SURE ABOUT A GARMENT, ASK QUESTIONS
Is the garment your style? Does it flatter your body type? If the piece isn't on-trend anymore, is it special enough to hold onto? Do you have occasions for wearing the piece? If your answer to two or more of these questions is no, it may be destined for donation.
5. KEEP ONLY GARMENTS THAT (MOSTLY) LOOK YOUR AGE
Dressing a few years younger or older than your years is harmless, but when you're wearing a teenager's jeans at 40 or an un-ironic crocheted reindeer sweater at 25, it may be time to weed out a few items. Dressing too young or much too matronly can make you look as if your fashion sense is living in the wrong decade. Do yourself a favor and dress around your age. Continuing to wear your favorite itsy-bitsy high school miniskirt at 29 isn't doing you (or anyone else) any favors. If you're at a loss, always aim to look sophisticated and successful with your clothing; no one will fault you for dressing like a young executive at thirty, but they might question your taste if you still dress like you're in college.
6. COLLECT ITEMS THAT NEEDS WORK INTO ONE LOCATION
Whether several of your dresses have dry clean-worthy stains, there's a rip in your favorite jacket, or your best heels are scuffed, spring is the perfect time to fix clothing and shoes that need a bit of work. Sort the items into piles for dry cleaning, shoe repair, and alterations, and you'll end up with a closet of refreshed clothing and accessories.
7. ORGANIZE YOUR CLOTHING BY OCCASION, COLOR, AND TYPE
When you blearily reach in your closet first thing in the morning, it's less than ideal to find a frayed tee or a cocktail dress hanging where you normally stash your work-appropriate shift dresses. By sorting your clothing by occasion, type, and color, you'll be able to find what you're looking for more easily and subsequently have time to cook yourself an actual breakfast for once. As an added bonus, color-coordinated wardrobes are gorgeous to look at.
8. TAKE NOTE OF THE CLOTHING YOU WEAR AND LOVE THE MOST
As you clean your closet and purge items that don't work for you, take note of which pieces you wear often and love the most. Once you've identified the pieces that are workhorses in your closet, it will be easier to shop for similar pieces in the future and stay away from garments that don't fit into your style.
9. TAKE YOURSELF SHOPPING
Let's be honest: the best part of clearing out your closet is that it opens up space for new purchases. And with spring in the air, it's a great time to experiment with different trends. However, if you're going for an extra-trendy piece that might not last past the season, make it one from a high street brand that won't cost you a fortune. And remember one too many impulse purchases can create a cluttered closet all over again. Your best bet is to reward yourself for your cleaning handiwork with a piece that fits within your style spectrum, works for a number of different occasions, and of course, a piece you absolutely adore.