I’m about to move cross-country, so in addition to all the holiday craziness, I’ve been giving away my possessions left and right. Because, that’s what you do if you’re paying for square footage in a trailer going over 1800 miles. You give non-essential items away! Including clothing, as sad as that is for someone who hoards clothes as much as I do.

But also, I’m lazy. Spending tons of time thoughtfully analyzing which dresses I should keep and how I can better store my sweaters is just not something I’m interested in when I’m up to my ears in packing paper and cardboard boxes. Enter this, the semi-lazy girl’s guide to cleaning out your closet, whether you’re moving or not. You’ll need an afternoon, a full-length mirror, some good tunes, and enough energy to power through your wardrobe.

My actual closet!

My actual closet!

If you’ve ever read anything before about cleaning out your closet, I’m sure it was along the lines of “Toss everything you haven’t worn in a year! All you need is one pair of black pants, one white shirt and some black flats! Cultivate a uniform!” I’m not saying that’s bad advice. It isn’t. But, you’ve probably heard it all before. I’m not saying my way is going to be anything crazy different or groundbreaking, but it’s definitely not for Type A organizers or serious downsizers.

Before we get into it, let’s talk a little bit about that standard advice to just straight up toss clothes you don’t wear or that don’t fit you. While usually a good rule of thumb, Laurel Kinney, the personal stylist behind Trophy Boutique in Austin, Texas, says it’s also a little bit outdated. She told me:

I don’t ever recommend throwing something away/donating an item that has tons of positive sentimental value, or is a few sizes off (if you’re in the process of weight changes).  I just recommend putting them in a tucked away place so your daily selection is easier to get at.  The best closets are the ones that have only the pieces that look good on you at arm’s reach.

With that in mind, here’s how to makeover your closet without too much effort.

1. Try things on: Kind of a no-brainer, but it makes sense to take a second and actually try your clothes on before you get rid of them. You might see an old piece through new eyes, or you might realize your standard LBD is hopelessly out of date. But don’t get rid of anything without putting it on your body and giving it a glance in the mirror.

2. Purge: This is, again, not new advice. Hell, you know you need to purge your clothing and that’s probably why you clicked on this post. But seriously…purge. Would you buy that peplum top again? If not, purge. Did you get broken up with while wearing that dress? Purge. I have a tendency to hold on to clothing, but it really does feel good get rid of items. Or at least put them in out-of-season storage!

3. Enlist a friend: Ask your bitchiest and most blunt friend to help you organize your closet and watch your pseudo mirror fashion show.  Not only will he or she be brutally honest about the clothes you should be getting rid of, but you can also force them to help you haul stuff to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Repay them with pizza, booze, coffee, or any of the discarded clothing items that might fit them.

4. Don’t forget the small stuff: Go through your jewelry, belts, bags, socks, bras, workout clothes, and even pajamas and see what’s worth weeding out, bringing back into rotation, or donating.

5. Divide and conquer: Divide everything you have into a few piles.

  • Definitely keeping
  • Maybe
  • To sell
  • To give away
  • To get tailored

Then, actually do those things with the piles. But if you are the kind of person who keeps a pile of dresses that need to be professionally hemmed in the corner of her room for two years (ahem, self!), it’s probably in your best interests to just give that ish away. Don’t underestimate your potential for procrastination, if you are, in fact, a procrastinator.

6. Organize: If you’re not moving, it makes sense to spend a little bit of time reorganizing what you are keeping. You know, putting tights in boxes, getting new shoe racks, that kind of deal. If you are moving, get yourself some Space Bags and start packing that stuff down. Trash bags work, too, but I prefer Space Bags because they are thicker, take up less space (hence the name) and can fit easily into suitcases and boxes.

If you are looking for a more involved, more comprehensive, less lazy way to clean out your closet, I think this Gardenista post has some interesting advice, especially if you are looking to seriously edit, rather than just seriously purge.

 Photos: Clueless, Carrie Murphy