You may have heard that most people use only 20% of the items in their closets 80% of the time. While there are certainly some items that you do wear during that additional 20% of the time that you need, most of what’s in your closet probably isn’t being worn very often, if at all. Purging the closet is often seen as an overwhelming task, so we tend to put it off. The good news is that if we do it as often as it needs to be done, it will be less overwhelming! So how often should a closet be gone through and purged? The answer is really, “it depends.” Here are some ways to know that your closet needs to be purged:
- You have gained or lost a significant amount of weight
Our bodies change throughout our lives, both temporarily and permanently. If you are pregnant or have recently given birth, for example, your body shape will change a lot over the next year or so. In this case, it wouldn’t make sense to get rid of all of your pre-pregnancy clothing, as you might need it again once you give birth and lose the baby weight. On the other hand, if your baby is five years old and you still don’t fit in your pre-pregnancy clothes, it’s probably safe to give them away. The truth is that most of the time, pregnancy aside, if our clothing is getting too tight to wear comfortably, the chances are fairly small that they will fit again. So while you may want to keep your clothing around even if it doesn’t fit you anymore, it’s taking up valuable real estate in your closet that would be better used holding clothing that does fit! If you’re finding that half of your clothes don’t fit you anymore, it’s time to purge.
- The seasons, they are a-changing!
For many of us, our climate presents at least two times each year that a full wardrobe change is necessary. You simply don’t wear the same clothing when it’s 30 degrees and snowing as you do when it’s 80 degrees and sunny. Now, if you live in an area with very mild winters (or summers), then this might not be the case for you. However, if you’re switching your clothes for the season anyway, then you might as well do a purge while you’re at it. Instead of packing everything away without looking at it, consider each item and the probability that you’ll wear it again. If it’s low, then donate it before putting it away for the season.
- Much of your clothing is out of style or ugly
Fashions change, so your closet should, too. Some pieces are classic, of course, and can last you through the changing tides of clothing styles. If you are routinely pushing your clothing aside because you don’t feel like it’s up to current fashion standards, then it’s time to donate it and go shopping. Try to avoid holding onto everything “just in case” it comes back into style; this rarely happens, and even when it does, there are changes in the current fashion, whether it’s in color, length or the way a piece is worn.
A good rule of thumb is to go through your closet every six months or so. If you do this a couple of times and find that you don’t have much to purge, then you could go a year in between total closet cleanings. The question of how often to purge a closet can really be answered with, “as often as it needs to be done,” which will vary from household to household.