Closet Cleanout Lessons | On the Daily EXPRESS


Closet Cleanout Lessons

We're officially done with winter weather here in SoCal, and the change of seasons is a good time for me to do a bit of closet decluttering since I can really analyze what I really used/didn't use the previous seasons and decide which pieces I still think I want to wear in the upcoming season.  I have a pretty average size closet that I share with my husband, but we do have an office bedroom with an extra closet that we also share for out-of-season or infrequently used items like suits or special occasion dresses. The process of shifting in/out the seasonal stuff makes me look at everything with new eyes. and I usually end up with a decent donate pile. I always try to look for lessons in that pile so I can shop smarter going forward, so today I'm sharing a few of my takeaways from this round.

First, I thought I'd explain my method a little bit. There are already lots of detailed posts out there with tips on cleaning out your closet so I don't want to go too in depth on that. In short, I stood in my closet and sifted through each hanger one by one (I didn't do the Kondo method...I'm just not a fan of it personally) and if there was something I didn't immediately love, I asked myself a few questions like, "Would I buy this again today?" Most of the items I donated had issues in three key areas, so I'll talk a little about each of those below.


One thing I was sad to donate was the denim skirt pictured above. I ordered one size up in it thinking it would keep it from being too tight and that I could wear it lower on my hips to keep it from looking too short. While I did like that it wasn't too tight, that plan didn't really work out so well overall. As you can see in the photo above, the extra size always made it fold over at the hips instead of having a smooth line. It drove me crazy while wearing it and I was constantly fussing with it trying to get it to lay right. I'm not sure I could have known that from first try-on, so while it's frustrating that it didn't work out, it's a lesson learned. There have been other pieces where I thought, "if I just wear a belt/pin this part, etc. the fit will be just fine!" And I'm always wrong in the end! I just can't compromise on fit. That said,  in general, I loved having a denim skirt! It was a great fit for my lifestyle, a perfect transition weather piece and a fun alternative to shorts. I do want to get another denim skirt to replace it since it was a useful style. I am just going to have to be more picky about how it fits!


For these next two outfits, I kept all of these pieces! I'm sharing them here because they're good examples of the characteristics I evaluated in my clean out. Style and Quality are really two separate aspects, but I found that they were linked in a lot of my choices. Many of the trendy pieces I owned were lower quality (a.k.a. cheap) because I'm reluctant to spend a lot on trends! I talked in this post about how I estimate my wardrobe has an 85/15 split of classic vs. trendy pieces. I think after this clean out I want my goal to be more like 90-95% classic with just a handful of trendy options. The "trendy" pieces that are no longer trending are the first to go every time I clean out my closet. It's hard to predict whether a trend will have lasting power, so at the time I feel like I'm being smart and cautious by not spending a lot on trends. But ultimately, after seeing how frequently I donate those pieces after 1-2 seasons, I think my best strategy is just reducing the amount of trends I try in general and focusing on quality classics over quantity trends. Some people definitely have more trendy style than I do and this will not work for them, and I get that. But after seeing this pattern emerge in my closet clean outs for a few seasons and not feeling great about those choices, I'm trying to just embrace classic style a little more and be mindful of that in future purchases. The outfit above is a good example of the classic vs. trendy ratio. All of the pieces are pretty classic with the exception of the belt! That style is trending now, inspired by the infamous Gucci belt. It was a fun, inexpensive way to add some trend to the outfit without having to go head-to-toe trends. And when I'm ready to retire it, I'll know I got plenty of use out if it since it's easy to wear it in lots of outfits, unlike some of the cheap trendy tops I wore once or twice.


My lifestyle has become more comfort-oriented than ever this past year, and this outfit is a perfect example of my most common outfits lately: leggings, long stretchy top, optional layer and easy-to-throw-on shoes. Of course, this doesn't work for every occasion or event, but even with my "dressier" outfits I am finding that anything too fussy or uncomfortable just does not get used. If I buy a pair of dressy heels because they are so cute and try to convince myself that the ultra-high stiletto heel will be fine every once in awhile...I will be wrong. This was a common theme with shoes in particular for me. Even more "comfortable" styles like espadrille wedges could be problematic. If they had a thick sole (like the pair in the first outfit here) I just felt too clunky walking around in them and sometimes the soles felt heavy and awkward. I tried to get used to them but ultimately found I dreaded wearing them. It's tough to gauge this when making a purchase because sometimes I really can get used to a certain style...other times not. But once I have specifics on what does/doesn't work for me in a certain product, I have to do better at talking myself out of buying those styles again, no matter how cute they look on another blogger or in the store!

THINGS I'VE DONE RIGHT: There are some positive lessons I've learned! For one thing, I don't regret the basics! When I find a great basic tee or tank I will put it to good use! Even if I have to replace it when it wears out, I don't regret because I know it fully served its purpose and didn't just get used once or twice before being donated. I also don't regret times I've spent a little more on those great basics! A $30 t-shirt might seem like a lot, but it will probably get more use and serve me better in the long run than two $15 trendy tops.  I've also found that nude and black shoes are my very best bets. When I find a great, comfortable shoe, I should just get it in those colors and be done with it. Colorful shoes are so fun and a great accent to an outfit, but I lack the closet space to own a lot of shoes that only go with one or two outfits. Leopard is my other best bet for an alternate shoe "color" that will work with a lot of outfits since it's fairly neutral.

I love reading about how other people clean out their closets since it motivates me to do better with my own, so if you have any tips, tricks, or a recent post on this topic be sure to let me know in the comments!

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  1. These are great tips! I don't have a big closet changeover until I unpack my winter knits - everything else stays in my wardrobe year-round so it makes the decluttering process trickier, but it's something I'm needing to try harder with to make sure I only keep what I love.

    Thank you for the link up!

    Hope that your week is going well :)

    Away From The Blue

  2. I like your reasoning and method. I gave up on denim skirts - they do not fit my body type and always bunch up - never lay flat - drives me crazy. Asking yourself if you'd buy an item again or even today is a great method. I have a feeling if I did that I'd get rid of lots of things. So true about quality as well. I am finding that to be the case more and more, still trying to find the balance and really be able to discern good quality from just alright. I'm a work in progress!

  3. Love your insight on how you clean out your closet. I did a big Kon Mari style purge in January but it will be a long time before I do that again. It's a lot of work. I usually just evaluate season to season and ask if I still love something. Also, if I wear it and keep noticing that I fuss with a piece due to fit or comfort, it goes straight to the donate pile.

  4. Great post. I like hearing about how other people clean out their closets too. You used a lot of good criteria for deciding to keep or toss things.

  5. Closet clean out lesions learned...I loved this post and I learned from you. Once again showing your smarts beautiful girl! I’m having a big garage sale next week so I’m going to utilize this criteria! xo

  6. These are awesome tips, I think curating shoes is easier. I have black, nude and for accents I have red and leopard. I'm learning to do the same with clothes too but it varies.


  7. Love these tips Gina! Asking yourself if you would buy the piece again is a great method. I don't like to take everything out of my closet either. I find it easier to go through while everything is hanging up. If I'm on the fence I'll turn the hanger around and if I don't wear it again the next season, then it goes in the donate pile.

    Jill - Doused in Pink

  8. I love that you thought through this so the point of how often you keep trends etc. These are great tips and cleaning out my closet is one of my favorites things to do. NOT - fold and put away clothes. But organize it. lol

  9. great tips! I am sooo in need of doing a closet clean out!

  10. I'm getting better at discerning what to buy/not to buy. Learning what makes me happy and fits well. It's a process for sure and I need to go through my closet too. I'm not a big fan of the Marie Kondo method either. #gasp I think I'd stroke out if I saw all of my clothes out of the closet and knew I had to put them back. LOL

  11. I really need to do a closet clean out!! Hoping to before summer begins. GREAT outfits!!! Love them all.

  12. I'm constantly trying to clean out my closet! I used to do the one-in-one-out method, but I'm a little more relaxed with that now that we have a bigger closet. These are great tips though! I try to go by fit and style too!

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  14. These are great lessons. I do a similar thing a few times a year and now that I think about it, I have a few lessons I've learned without intentionally thinking about it. Quality and comfort is big for me too. So often what I cull from the closet is something that just lost its shape or wore too thin. That's my tip that the quality just wasn't worth it. I've gotten better about buying from those stores and sometimes it takes some lecturing to myself (lol) but I've gotten better at realizing if something feels a little off now, I just won't wear it. So, don't buy it, even if it's cute! Thanks for your lessons!

    Virginia | More to Mrs. E

  15. It's so smart to think about these issues. Comfort is something you don't always figure out until you've worn something all day or even a couple of times.

  16. Love this post- and I also love how you try and learn some lessons during a closet clean out; I could do more of that! I clean my closet out every season switch, but making note of what didn't work and why is so smart!

    Le Stylo Rouge

  17. So sad you had to say goodbye to that fabulous denim skirt! I've done the same thing before where I sized up to keep it from being too short, and then it ends up driving me crazy because it just doesn't fit right.

    Green Fashionista


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