How would you feel if someone looked inside your closet right now? Does just the thought give you sweaty palms? If so, decluttering your closet might be a good place to start your minimalism journey!

In fact, just the other evening I decluttered my own closet. It wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be! I want to share the five things I learned through the process, plus my system for decluttering.

Closet decluttering provides a surprising amount of insight!

Truly, I only spent maybe an hour and a half (tops!) on this project, and I was impressed by all that I learned about myself and my clothes.

1. Lower-quality stuff really does fade faster.

I am the sort of person who likes simple, comfortable tops for everyday wear. I’ll get a v-neck or crewneck shirt in several different colors. If I want to get away with a casual top at work, I’ll throw a scarf or cardigan over it.

Part of why I like tops like this is just that I’m a low-key person, but if I’m being honest I’m also sort of frugal. I can get several of these tops for $7 each, and I like that!

The problem is, they wear pretty quickly. Either they lose their shape, or they fade. I’m not able to keep them more than a few years.

I think I need to bite the bullet and use the minimalist tip I see everywhere: buy quality pieces (yes, even just my tees) that will last.

2. I definitely gravitate towards just a few colors in my wardrobe.

I got a better sense of the colors I wear when I organized my closet. Wow, I have a lot of grey, black, and red/burgundy! I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but I was surprised just how much I tend to get the same colored items, over and over.

3. I’m surprised how much room I have!

I don’t have a walk-in closet. I have one rod for all my hanging clothes.

Even so, I have a lot of room in my closet! Once I thinned things out, I was able to actually have space between clothing articles. It’s much easier to see what I have now!

4. Seeing a clean closet makes me feel so much better.

My closet has been a mess literally for years. There was stuff laying at the bottom from where my kids were playing in there and wearing my heels (somebody has to!).

It’s one of those things that I didn’t realize added stress and pressure until it was gone. It’s so much nicer to no longer feel defeated by something I look at first thing every morning.

5. Keeping the closet maintained isn’t as hard as I thought it would be.

After I cleaned my closet out, I also reorganized it (one advantage: it’s easier to organize when there’s less stuff!). Part of what’s held me back from organizing before has been the fear that it’ll be too much pressure to keep up. But it turns out, it hasn’t been so bad! I just take literally an extra minute as I’m putting my clothes in the closet to put them in the “right” place, and the beautiful, soothing order is maintained.

How I decluttered my closet

This was a surprisingly quick process for me, so I want to share with you exactly what I did!

minimalist closet

The first consideration: Do you still enjoy this piece?

First, I did things the easy way and just dug through my closet and pulled out the pieces that immediately grabbed my attention as things I don’t wear and don’t need.

I don’t know that I used the phrase “Does it spark joy,” but I definitely thought about how each article of clothing made me feel when I checked it. If it didn’t make me feel good about myself, I got rid of it.

I also let go of a lot of t-shirts. That’s hard for me, because I know no one really wants these old t-shirts (that I was given for free), and I really just wear them as pajamas. But at the same time, many of them came from volunteer projects that either 1. I’m no longer a part of because I no longer live in the region or 2. No longer align with my values. In a way, it was really freeing to let those t-shirts go!

The second consideration: Does it still flatter?

As someone who has three children in the past six years, I’ve changed sizes frequently for a while now. For that reason, I’ve kept maternity pieces in my wardrobe, largely because they fit and are comfortable.

But I’ve started noticing that even though these clothes “fit,” they drape in a way that accentuates anything about my belly which is less than flat. After all, they’re designed to show off a baby bump! Since I don’t want to look pregnant when I am not, I finally removed these last few maternity tops from my wardrobe (But I’ve still got one or two pairs of pants that work. No regrets!).

On the other end of the spectrum, I had several cute, strapless little summer dresses from my pre-kids days. I’ve held on to them because they have good memories associated with them, but it finally has occurred to me that 1. I will never be that same shape again (and that’s okay!), and 2. even if I was, little dresses will never be a good option for bending down to talk to small children who like to tug on your hemline! So I let those go.

And there were a few t-shirts that I really like, but that if I’m being honest with myself are a bit too small (surely I’m not the only one?) I’ve been in the middle of a new exercise/nutrition routine, and I’ve seen some progress! So I really think I’ll be able to wear my dinocorn shirt again soon (yep, a dinocorn. It’s glorious.). I put it and a few similar articles to the side for storage.

This was my pile after my first round through my closet. I probably removed about half this much again after my second step.

The third consideration: Nostalgic pieces

Yes, I still have my high school letterman jacket (I lettered in academics. Nerds represent!). I have several dresses my grandmother sewed for me. They were also before children, so they don’t fit, but there’s no way I’m losing them!

At the same time, these pieces were taking up space in my closet that I didn’t want to lose. So I got a storage tub out and put them away. This actually cleared out a lot of room!

The last step: Cleaning up

After I had gone through all these clothes, I finally decided to deal with all the random crap (for lack of a better phrase) in the bottom of my closet. There was a roll of Christmas wrapping paper that had been in there since December 2017 (no lie) that I finally removed! There were toys and all sorts of weird odds and ends that my children had carried in there. After I removed those things, some sandals that I never wear, and a pair of broken boots that I had promised myself to get resoled for like two years, I could see the floor of my closet! So I vacuumed and it looked really nice.

Finally, organizing my closet!

Now that I had my clothing winnowed down, I wanted to make my closet look nice and organized too.

I’d heard before about organizing your closet by color and length, but I’ve always thought, “Who has time for that?!”

Well, I tried it, and I actually like the results! It allows me to have a better idea of exactly what I have in my wardrobe, and it’s really pleasing to the eye.

decluttered closet

As before, I have short-sleeves on the left of my pants and skirts and long-sleeves on the right, but now I also have everything sorted by hue.

In addition to just looking nice, sorting my closet by color helped me be more thorough with my decluttering. Since I had to handle every single piece, I found a lot more articles to get rid of than I did the first time around. This organization process allowed me to really evaluate whether I wanted to keep something I grabbed.

The big question for me, though, was whether I could maintain this color coding once the first load of laundry came out of the wash. I’m pleased to tell you that it’s been a few weeks and my closet still looks nice! It hasn’t been too much of a burden to keep the sorting up, just an extra few seconds to put away my shirts and pants.

Decluttering conclusions

I’ve been very pleased by the results I’ve seen from decluttering my closet. It feels a lot better to look at every morning, and having this start makes me encouraged to keep it up!