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Riley Heruska
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Not too long ago, we talked about the overabundance of clothing that's clogging America. Landfills, resale shops, and our own closets are often bursting at the seams with cheap, out-of-date fashion accessories. Not only does this accumulation of clothing pose a problem for the environment, but it also takes a toll on our mental wellbeing when it gets out of hand. Many different psychological studies have indicated that clutter and disorganization can lead to depression, dissatisfaction, and fatigue.

Chances are, it's high time you braved the darkest corners of your closet and ruthlessly eliminated some of your own unused clothing. No, you don't need those balled up sweatpants in the back or six versions of the same black top. Believe me, if you follow these organizational steps, you'll find yourself with a calmer mind and a far, far neater closet. 

Step One: Designate Your Boxes 

You'll need three separate, clearly labeled boxes: one for trash, one for donations, and one for selling/giving away. Although you can use trash bags for this step, that can often be (a) more confusing to keep track of and (b) a little more depressing. I mean, who wants to chuck their well-loved (but all too ratty) hot pink sweater into a garbage bag? Not I. By neatly folding it and placing it in a box, you'll be able to keep track of what you're getting rid of and feel less like a heartless monster when tackling your sentimental fashion items. 

Step Two: Decide on Your Plan of Attack 

Despite what various organizational gurus say, I believe there are multiple different ways to clean out a closet. You can employ Marie Kondo's extremely popular motto and get rid of anything that doesn't bring you joy, but that isn't always the best for everyone. You can also decide how much space you have for a certain type of item and base your decisions on that. For instance, if your shoe racks only hold twenty pairs of shoes, then you might want to eliminate the extra six pairs that don't fit on the rack. Do some research and figure out the strategy that will work for you and your closet setup. 

Step Three: Weed Out the Throw Aways 

In step one, you designated one box as "trash." Now is the time to fill this box. Start going through your clothes and tossing anything that has holes, has shrunk to an unwearable size, is stained beyond repair, or is extremely faded. Sure, you can reason that some people might still want these items if you were to donate them, but the reality is that even people in need don't want your white t-shirt with the gross pit stains. It helps to be a little ruthless in this step so that you aren't stuck with as many items to decide on in the next steps. 

Step Four: This Is the Hard Part 

Honestly, this step is going to take the longest, but you have to tackle it. Employ whatever strategy you decided on in step two and start picking through the items that are left after your trash haul. It won't always be easy to decide if something is worth keeping, and how strict you are about tossing things depends on the method you're utilizing. The most important thing is to evaluate every single item. Take everything out of your closet and hang items back up one by one. The choice to keep something needs to be deliberate, not just a lazy "sure whatever, I'll just hang it back up." Trust me, you'll thank yourself for being meticulous later. 

Step Five: Use Your Other Two Boxes 

So you've finally decided what you're keeping. Now it's time to deal with the leftovers. If you and your friends/family have no use for an item, place it in the "donation" box so that someone else can benefit from it. If you have a daughter who might want the skirt that is too small for you now, place it in the "sell/give away" bin. You might also want to consider the value of the items while sorting. For instance, I'd recommend selling any expensive handbags, designer items, or other quality purchases that have only been gently loved. Cheap clothing really won't make you any money, so you should probably throw all of those Forever 21 dresses in the donate pile. 

Step Six: Follow Through 

This is the step that so many people skip. If you decided to sell some items, sell them as soon as you can. If you're donating a box, take it to the donation center ASAP. Don't leave your boxes lying around for too long or you might never deal with them, which will effectively make your closet even messier than it was before. 


Cleaning out your closet is never easy, but for those of us who love shopping and keeping up with trends, it's a necessary task. It'll take a few hours, and it won't be fun, but hopefully these steps will transform a tear-your-hair-out situation into a less taxing (and more fulfilling) experience. 

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