3 closet cleanout tips to channel your inner Marie Kondo

Closet organization woes? Sort into these three piles and you'll be done in no time.

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Now that the holiday rush is over, you're probably focused on the new year and a new you. You've made your resolutions and besides making smarter financial decisions and getting in shape, you might have a fashion-related organization resolution as well—especially if you've been binging Tidying Up on Netflix.

Whether you want to follow the latest trends or just want to refresh your wardrobe, who doesn't want a more organized closet? However, cleaning out your closet can feel overwhelming. The thought of taking every single item out, making the tough decisions of what to keep, and then organizing everything in a way that looks aesthetically pleasing? The thought alone is exhausting for everyone but Marie Kondo.

Organizing your closet can feel doable if you categorize everything and resist the urge to do everything all at once. Start small says Gilat Tunit, organizing expert of The Project Neat. “Create a checklist and do a portion each time instead of attacking the entire closet all at once.”

If you tackle your closet one step at a time, starting with what you'll keep and then sorting the rest to be donated, sold, or tossed, you can make quick work of getting things organized and tidied up. Read on to get into the organizing mindset.

Decide what to keep

This pile is self explanatory. These are the clothes you love and wear often. But let's be real. A lot of us have stuff we keep, but don't actually need or wear.

So how do you really determine what's an absolute keeper and what goes into another pile? When making this assessment, Will Noguchi, lead stylist of fashion subscription company Bombfell, says to take into account the "emotion of clothes." It's totally natural to have memories tied to a garment.

If something doesn't illicit great feelings, set it aside for now and we’ll show you what to do with it after you’re done choosing your keepers. Keep in mind as you sort through your things that t's not just about the feelings, but the wearability. "After weighing your emotional ties to an item, take into consideration what you wear the piece with and how much styling versatility you have with it," says Noguchi.

As for the trends to keep, look for anything in vibrant Living Coral, Pantone's color of the year. If you have this in your closet, you're already ahead of the game. Noguchi also say pinks, yellows, and other bold hues are keepers. Finally, some items are just timeless classics like a good leather jacket, trench coat, or an a-line dress that flatters any figure.

Once you've narrowed down the keepers, it’s time to organize.

"The easiest way to make a closet look and feel more organized after a healthy purging session is uniform hangers," says Joanna Brumberger of An Edited Space. It’s a small change, but the NYC-based organizer assures it makes a huge difference.

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Slim hangers like these highly rated velvet hangers ($22.99 on Amazon) create a cohesive look and take up less space compared to the plastic or bulky wooden ones you probably use currently.

Trash it or repurpose it

Now it's time to decide what you’ll trash. But since we’re about that eco-chic life, “trash" doesn't necessarily mean throw it away.

If you come across any clothing or accessory that is stained or damaged beyond repair, it's a goner. However, if you’re a little crafty, you might be able to use any viable scraps to create a fun throw pillow or even a tote bag.



Other items that might fall into the trash category are those that are in perfectly good condition, but you no longer wear them. As a rule of thumb, if you haven't worn something in six months or a year, say farewell.

Charitable organizations like Goodwill, Housing Works, and Lupus Foundation of America accept donations and some will even pick them up from your home. If you’re getting rid of old work clothes, look into organizations like Dress for Success or Career Gear. It’s also worth checking with local schools to see if they accept donations for students who may have a need.

Make some of your money back

Whew, you made it this far. And your reward? Some cold hard cash. During the clean out process, you probably came across a few pieces that are in great shape or maybe even still have the tags attached.

As far as what's sell-worthy, Noguchi says focus on trendier pieces and vintage garments. "Trendy items can sell well because they are current and the right shopper is probably looking for it." Those bright hues, high-waisted jeans, or prints you may not want are sure to be another shopper’s treasure. Also, vintage pieces from the 1970s, ‘80s, and ‘90s are having a major moment, so cash in on those mod-style dresses, monochromatic shoulder-padded suits, and Champion hoodies. Just be sure to take seasonality into account. No one will be buying swimsuits in February.

If your area has a resale store like Beacon's Closet or Buffalo Exchange, head there and an associate will price your items. You can pocket the money right there or use it for store credit for future purchases—the latter option often results in a higher value than taking the cash outright but will have you shopping for more stuff. If you don't feel like leaving the comfort of your home or don’t have any brick-and-mortar options nearby, upload and sell your gear on an app like Poshmark. Another easy option is thredUP, which accepts children's and women’s clothing, including maternity wear.

While the above options are great for trendier clothes, if you have designer items you want to unload, check with a local consignment store. Also, The RealReal, will send you a free kit and you can ship your items to them where they'll be authenticated, priced, professionally photographed, and listed for sale. Or you can visit one of their eights locations, including Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago.

If you’re skeptical about the potential in your closet, see how one of our reviewers made $700 by selling her clothes online.

Storageworks storage bins
Credit: Storageworks

Keep things you're getting ready to get rid of in storage bins to avoid clutter and remind yourself to take care of them.


When you’re done sorting into keep, trash, or cash, don’t just leave the things you aren’t keeping in piles on the floor. Store them in collapsible containers that are fashionable and functional, like these popular ones ($23.99 for three on Amazon), and keep them in a place that's visible. This will serve as your visual reminder that you need to do something with them, whether you want to take on some DIY projects, sell them, or donate them. Take it a step further and add a calendar reminder to drop off your donations or sell your items or repurpose them on a set day and time. And then once they’re empty, these bins can be tucked away or used for other organization projects.

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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