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Keep, Donate, Fix, or Toss? The Ultimate Closet Clean-Out Guide

If your New Year's resolutions list includes organizing, decluttering, and revamping your personal space, there's no better place to start than your closets.

If you’re spending the first days of the new year re-organizing, re-vamping, and re-imagining a new clutter-free life, you’re in good company, and re-evaluating your closet (and what’s in it) is an ideal place to start. When else do you get to discover all the random garments that are lurking in the dark recesses of your life—broken-down shoes, ripped jeans, moth-eaten sweaters, and the occasional impulse purchase that still features the tags hanging off of it? (New Year’s resolution: Don’t do that any more.)
Professional organizers (and the perpetually organized) advise undertaking a closet cleanout by sorting each and every item you own into a few categories. Just remember that you probably won’t be passing your wardrobe down to your daughter, Von Dutch hats won’t come back into style, and grease stains won’t come out of white dresses. Now, get your Tim Gunn on and let the de-cluttering begin!
What to KEEP

  • Your wardrobe all-stars; the things you wear frequently
  • Formalwear that fits, even if it only gets worn once or twice per year
  • Irreplaceable items and things of extreme sentimental value—your wedding dress, the jacket you bought in Paris on your honeymoon, vintage hand-me-downs from Grandma

What to DONATE

  • Any garments in a size you haven’t been—bigger or smaller—in five years
  • Any garments you haven’t worn in the past two years
  • Items of marginal sentimental value—is it really worth holding onto an ugly, ill-fitting top just because you wore it to your first summer music festival? No.
  • Extra winter outerwear like hats, gloves, scarves, and coats—these things are always in demand at homeless shelters
  • Garments that are in generally good condition, although out of style

What to FIX

  • Any pants that are a bit pinchy in the waist—a tailor can let the seam out instead of waiting until you lose those last ten pounds
  • Pants or skirts that need a fresh hem
  • Shoes or sandals that need new heel pads or soles
  • Any garment with a stain
  • Any garment with a rip that falls along a seam or in an inconspicuous place

What to TOSS

  • Sweaters with moth damage
  • Denim with large holes, especially in the inner thigh area
  • Swimsuits that are stretched, faded, or stained
  • Any clothes that are in generally poor condition
  • Any clothes with stains that cannot be removed
  • Any clothes with rips on the fabric itself, or in a conspicuous place
  • Any broken-down fast-fashion items, since the cost of fixing them is often more than they cost to buy new
Allison Ford

Allison is a writer and editor who specializes in beauty, style, entertainment, and pop culture. She was part of the editorial team at DivineCaroline (now for more than three years. She loves makeup, sparkly accessories, giraffes, brunch, Matt Damon, New York City, and ice cream.

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