Questions to Ask Yourself to find the Right Way to Cull Your Closet


Does it spark joy?  This question works for some when sorting a wardrobe but not for everyone. What are some ways to cull or review your closet so that your wardrobe space is optimal for you?   An optimal wardrobe indicates movement of clothes both into the wardrobe and out of it too.  It’s too often the “out” that is the hardest for many of us and we grapple with what we should keep and what should go, as what we own has more value, than what we don’t own (or even the space we would gain from removing some items from our wardrobe).

Some time ago, Jill Chivers wrote a post on 36 ways to cull your closet which has inspired our conversation here. Listen to this podcast episode in which Jill Chivers of 16 Style Types and I discuss some things you can think about with regards to culling your closet, and it’s not the “if you’ve not worn it in X amount of time you have to get rid of it” advice that is so often given.



Time and Condition

How long have you owned the garment?

This can come into play for some garments.  Many clothes have a decent shelf-life – they remain in fashion over 2-7 years quite easily, some even longer, such as those really classic pieces like the trench coat.  But if the garment was a fad piece, one of those ‘of the moment’ fashion trends that come and go within 6 months to a year, then these pieces should be moved on more quickly as wearing dated clothes makes you appear out of touch with what’s going on in the world right now.

Ways to cull your closet - ask yourself these questions - and why I've kept this skirt for a decade!
This top was from last summer, but the skirt is around a decade old and I’ve no intention of letting it go. I wear it year after year, it’s a great neutral, comfortable and doesn’t speak of any particular fashion era.

If it’s over 10 years old it’s also worth reviewing.  Now it may still be great and something that you could easily purchase a replica of today.  Or it may be dated –  I’ve written a few posts on figuring out if something is dated or in fashion which you can read here.   

What condition is the garment in?

Is it still in good condition?  Would a consignment store take it (that’s a great way of figuring out if it is – as they are very fussy about clothes)?  If it’s got pulls and pills and seams that are splitting, stains or faded, then it’s most likely time to say bye-bye to your well-loved garment.

Are you still wearing the garment?

Have you been wearing the garment recently (in the appropriate season for it)?  Or has it not seen the light of day on your back for some time?   If  it’s languishing in your wardrobe, what are you waiting for?  Why have you not been wearing it?  Maybe this is an indicator that you’d prefer to wear something else and it’s time to let it go.

Can you imagine wearing it again in the future?

Just because you haven’t been wearing something for a white doesn’t mean you’ll never wear it again.  Why not pass this by your garment – can you imagine wearing it again in the future

This will bring up a few things for you. You may answer “yes” very easily, as it’s just the wrong season to wear that garment right now.  But if you can’t really imagine wearing it again – you’ve got other things you prefer to wear instead, then this is a good time to remove it from your wardrobe.

Sometimes a garment has been a favourite – you’ve loved it – but it’s no longer who you are anymore – it’s not an expression of the you, you are today.  You change and grow and just like you let go of your children’s clothes as you moved into adulthood, you can also let go of clothes that are from another time or place or a version of you, that doesn’t represent who you are now.

Possibly it was just a mistake and you’ve tried it on and take it off, never wearing it as there is something just not right about it.  That’s fine, we all make mistakes – you’re human after all!

Sometimes though you may like to “rest” your clothes.  They are things you like and you can imagine wearing them again, it’s that right now, you’re a bit sick of them (it’s how I feel about anything I take away on with me when I travel and have to restrict my wardrobe, I get sick of the clothes so when I get home, I just don’t want to wear those clothes for a while).  It’s perfectly acceptable to keep anything you can imagine wearing and feeling good in, in the future!

Emotional Weight of the Clothes

Do I feel lighter or heavier owning this or letting it go?

You may have clothes that you love, but for some reason you’re not wearing them.  Why not?  It can be hard to figure out why. Use this strategy of Jill’s:

Imagine it’s gone – do I feel lighter?  Or does this make me feel a little sad or depressed?  This can let you know what is or isn’t working, even without knowing the reason why.


Does it feel just enough to own this?  Does it feel too much?  Does it feel not enough?  To keep this item?

Does it fit?

There is an emotional toll on your psyche keeping clothes in your wardrobe that don’t fit as they are a constant reminder of a  you that you are not today.  

Bodies change and weight shifts.  If it’s not making you feel good because it’s no longer flattering your figure, this is a great reason to let a garment go.

Current Lifestyle

Do your clothes still fit with your current lifestyle?

Lifestyles change all the time, we move from place to place, job to job and in and out of the workforce.   Are the clothes that you have worn, still working for your current lifestyle?  If not  – why are you holding onto them?  

If it’s going to be some time before you go back to an old lifestyle – are the clothes that suited it, that you are not wearing right now – still going to be in fashion?  Are they still going to fit your body?  Are they still going to work for you?  Or should you let go and move them along?


Ways to Cull Your Closet - what are you keeping and is it speaking to your style recipe?
A colourful leopard print outfit suits Jill’s lifestyle (beachside, relaxed) and style recipe – slinky leopard.

You develop and grow as a human and there are aspects of yourself that never change and others you want to highlight as you mature.  Are your clothes still doing what you want them to do for you?  Are they communicating for you in the way you want?  Are they helping you be perceived correctly for you today?

Your style expression is dynamic and alive – everything changes.  It’s OK 

What Helps You to Cull Your Closet?

We’d love to know what is the thing that helps you know if you should keep something or let it go?  Do share with us in the comments below!

6 Simple Rules for Cleaning Out Your Closet

Is Your Wardrobe Ageing You?

Change of Seasons – Changing Your Wardrobe

How to Love Everything in Your Wardrobe More


Linking Up to: Not Dressed as LambStyle with a SmileThursday Fashion FilesAgeless StyleVisible Monday 


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  • Love this! Especially the part about clothes communicating and the garment is not who you are anymore. This blog has helped me so much. Thank u!

  • How a garment feels on my body is one of my signals, once something is tight or restrictive, scratchy or unpleasant in some way it has to go. Late last year I culled ⅓ of my wardrobe due to weight gain after an injury. I am keeping them in a suitcase in storage. If they don’t fit by Christmas it will be time to let them go so they can be enjoyed by someone else while they are still in fashion. My mood lightened a lot knowing everything in my closet fit. I feel more ready to let them go since they’ve been out of sight. Or it will be lovely to have them back. Either way a winner.

  • I have storage the clothes I Used when I work at an classic enviroment. I keep them just in case I do come back and because at that rtime it cost a lot to buy quality, the thing is they do not fit my lifestyle right now.

    • I also have some good quality work clothes set aside. I couldn’t afford to repurchase them and in today’s uncertain job market I think it’s foolhardy to assume I will never need them again. This is one of the problems I have with that “cull if not worn in the last year” rule.

      Emerging from lurking to say how helpful this blog has been to me. Keep up the good work please!

  • Great tips! Been working on my closet since I am trying to limit my shopping to a minimum and finally getting rid of some things I have had and do not really like.

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