Tips for offloading those clothes you never wear:

Is it Time to Purge your Wardrobe? Go ahead, throw the doors of your closet open and let in some light. We dare you. While you’re at it, pull out your dresser drawers and see what’s lurking in the bottom of the sock pile. 

If you discover any of the following, it’s time to purge:

    • Jeans you wore in college.
    • That little black dress in a size you haven’t been able to wear in years.
    • The business suit you haven’t worn since you retired or started working at home.
    • Heels that hurt your feet.
    • Wool sweaters that make you itch.

Chances are good you will find some surprises that you forgot you even own. But it’s well worth the effort to spend an afternoon—or two—to purge your wardrobe by sorting and finding a new home for unused items.

For starters, it’s good for the psyche.

“Clutter is stressful,” says Morgan Luke, a professional organizer who owns Sorting for Serenity, LLC, based in Latham. “Think of it as things taking up too much space in your life.”

Luke recommends the rule of “one in, one out” in which you re-home one item for every item you add to your wardrobe. 

While you’re knee-deep in sorting, keep in mind that making a palette wardrobe can go a long way to simplifying. “Mix and match neutrals like black and beige,” Luke says. “When you accessorize with jewelry or a belt, you will look and feel great. If you work outside the home, create a work uniform with these staple items.”

In today’s world of living simply, it’s time to embrace minimalism. “Yes, we do need clothes, but not in excess,” says Debreen Oliva of Saratoga Springs, who runs a business called Do Organize. “People have rationalizations about why they keep something, but you have to break the cycle.”

Oliva, who says she likes fashion as much as anyone, encourages people to try things on and look in the mirror. “Keep only what makes you feel fabulous,” Oliva says. “That includes items you’re saving for special occasions. If you’re not wearing it, donate it to someone who will.”

If you’re vacillating between keeping or donating, Brandon Dewyea, an apparel stylist and owner of Moxie in Saratoga Springs, suggests considering offloading these specific items that aren’t on the fashion must-have list any longer. They include bell sleeve tops, anything cropped and the “cold shoulder” look that was popular a few summers ago.

Women aren’t the only ones who can benefit from a wardrobe purge. Men should weed out tattered polo Ts, pleated pants, wool sweaters with pilling, and shoes that have seen better days. “Of course, anything that’s ill-fitting has to go,” says Dewyea.

Another category of clothing to recycle is wardrobe pieces you purchased impulsively that seemed right at the time but haven’t been off the hanger since. “If it’s something you truly love and value, it’s worth keeping,” says Dewyea. “But trends come and go, so it’s best not to buy into them.”

There are options for recycling the items that are gently used. Some people will put in the time to list everything from jackets to purses on sites like Poshmark, where clothing with designer labels sell like hotcakes. It can be time-consuming to post your items, respond to buyers and mail out the items, and the profits can be less than $20, but some people enjoy it as a fun hobby. 

If you choose to donate, your church may have a thrift shop. Area Salvation Army and City Mission stores are always looking for clothes in season. Some thrift stores have limited hours during which they take donations, so it’s best to call ahead and arrange a time. Also, consider domestic violence or homeless shelters that need everything from outerwear to shoes. Another idea is to turn the chore into something fun by organizing a clothing swap with your friends.

Ultimately, minimizing is about coming to grips with who you are today, and whether your wardrobe reflects this. “You need to know when to let go,” Luke says. “When you minimize, you simplify your life.”

Classics You Should Keep in the Closet

For Women:

  • A crisp white button-down blouse.
  • Any style jean jacket.
  • Palazzo pants in a good-quality fabric. These elongate your legs.
  • A duster. This is a longer cardigan that falls to mid-calf.

For Men:

  • Polo shirts that aren’t faded or frayed at the seams.
  • Pleated pants. Make sure they aren’t too long! This is a common mistake. They should graze your shoes, not cover them.
  • Leather or suede belts.
  • Light sweaters in neutrals like navy or gray that work in multiple seasons.
  • A rich wool, textured sports jacket.