The 2023 Closet Cleanout: A 6-Step Plan
Even the best-intentioned closet cleanouts can end up being less than impactful if you’re winging it. It’s just too easy to take shortcuts (like refolding and shifting stacks around rather than dealing with them), get distracted (Emily in Paris can indeed wait), or give up halfway through. To kick off the new year, we created a six-step strategy for assessing, organizing, and elevating your closet. The end result should leave you with a tight and optimally functional edit, not just newly neat piles of all the same clothes.
DECIDE WHAT STAYS AND WHAT GOES
The goal is to end up with three distinct piles: keep, sell or donate, and repair. Use the obvious things (every damn impulse buy ever) to start your sell-or-donate pile.
To tackle the rest of your wardrobe: “Go through your closet section by section,” says Ali Pew, goop’s creative and editorial fashion director and resident überminimalist (even her name is streamlined). “Look at each item and ask yourself when you wore it last. If I haven’t worn something in 30 days, it goes, but 45 or 60 days would make a good cutoff, too.”
If that approach hits a snag somewhere around the silk-and-sequins section of your closet, don’t get discouraged. “For the categories you don’t wear every day, the question becomes: If I had an event to attend tomorrow, would I be excited to wear this?” Pew says. If the answer is no, let it go.
WHAT TO DO WITH THE SENTIMENTAL STUFF
“If you’re keeping something only out of a feeling of obligation, allow yourself to preserve the memory with a photo instead of carrying it as a burden,” says KonMari consultant and Spark Joy New York founder Amy Chinitz. She is an expert in untangling the emotions that tidying can turn up, and she always returns to the original Kondo creed: It’s about choosing joy.
But what if you can’t tell whether the preppy blazer you haven’t worn since boarding school sparks joy or just nostalgia? “Hold it and pay attention to your physical reaction,” Chinitz says. “Your body’s response and your facial expressions may provide clues and reflect the way you feel about something on a spiritual level.”
DETOX YOUR DRAWERS
Don’t skip this step. Seriously. Take the opportunity to upgrade your undies, trade the baggy tee you’ve been sleeping in for a matching set, and refresh your workout gear if necessary.
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FIND NEW HOMES FOR YOUR OLD STUFF
WHERE TO DONATE
Goodwill is ubiquitous in the US, and the money made off your old stuff helps provide people in your community with education, employment, and training. Women’s centers, LGBTQ centers, and shelters for the unhoused often need donations, too. Before you make a drop-off, make sure everything is clean and folded nicely in bags.
WHERE TO SELL
Vestiaire Collective lets you post your preloved contemporary and vintage designer items from your phone. If that sounds like more work than you’re up for, Re-SEE will handle everything from the photography and the description to shipping and payment for a fee. For nonluxury items, thredUP is your best bet.
REPAIR THE CLASSICS WORTH KEEPING
The handheld steamer-slash-iron is the electric toothbrush of clothing care: Regular use makes everything look better. Watching wrinkles slip out of a silk blouse in a plume of steam can even be, dare we say, meditative. And the fact that it doesn’t require a cumbersome ironing board? Genius.
When your go-to sweaters slip to the bottom of the stack, it’s probably because they’re pilled. Use a sweater stone on delicate knits, cashmere, and even pant legs, and try a fabric shaver on chunky woolen knits—test a tiny area first, since shavers can snag more-delicate pieces.
Might as well spend a few minutes polishing up your everyday rings, necklaces, and bracelets—and make sure your special-occasion jewelry pieces sparkle, while you’re at it. Having somewhere pretty to put everything when you’re done is always nice.
TAP IN AN EXPERT
Your Celine bag has seen better days. Those boots are no longer well-heeled. Your leather pants split a seam. Send them straight to Leather Spa for a sartorial wellness retreat and they’ll come back refreshed and ready to get back to work. For those bags with good bones but dated details, the spa also gives killer face-lifts.
Organizing is an everyday hustle with extraordinary payoff. Here are Chinitz’s top tips for tidying your closet:
If you haven’t tried folding things the KonMari way, give it a go—it’s essentially rolling things up. The purpose is to place items side by side so that everything is visible and easily accessible.
Place boxes into drawers, especially for things that don’t easily stand up on their own when folded.
Anything that would blow in the wind should be hung up.
The choice that makes the easiest and biggest impact when refreshing your closet is to make sure your hangers are uniform.
A few key items—including the vintage modular vanity of our dreams—to help you get organized below.
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STRATEGIZE AND REBUILD
Filling in the blanks is the fun part, but it’s a slippery slope. Taking notes on what you tossed calls out the shades and the shapes you’re drawn to on the hanger but can’t hang with in real life—pay attention, and don’t make the same mistakes again. Need a mantra for responsible repurchasing? Try the Ali Pew MO: “Upgrade your essentials and invest in the classics.” It’s a straightforward approach that works—she’s converted much of the goop staff into thoughtful minimalists able to resist impulse buys in favor of well-made pieces that won’t go out of style.
THE FUN STUFF
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