Written by Zach Grossfeld
Hoarding clothes in your closet increases the stress of adding to your wardrobe and decreases buying power. I've been the person that has clothes hanging in the closet that hasn't been touched in years. How can you downsize your closet effectively and get more bang for your buck? Here are some tips and tricks that have helped me trim the fashionable fat:
For the first 24 years of my life, I hoarded clothes.
Anything from a t-shirt that I hadn't touched in five years to my 9th grade Air Force Ones laid rotting in my closet.
Then, I moved out.
With a downsized closet inside a new apartment, my wardrobe needed to shrink dramatically. No longer did I have room for the nineteen t-shirts and twelve pairs of slacks that acted as dust collectors. So, how did I decide which items to toss? What mindset inspired the wardrobe evolution?
Here are a few things as I kept in mind as I trimmed the fashionable fat.
Put a cap on the items in your closet.
Not including workout apparel, my closet currently houses eight t-shirts, three pairs of jeans, two pairs of chinos, three polos, three button-downs, three long sleeve shirts, two jackets, and three suits. I am envisioning these items while sitting at a coffee shop two miles from my apartment.
A hard cap on the number of items does two things:
Your closet becomes easier to visualize
Each piece serves a purpose
When I shop, I purchase clothes in terms of outfits, not individual pieces.
I visualize my closet to get a feel for how an item will fit in with the rest of my wardrobe. A small closet allows you to recall the colors, textures, and fabrics of your apparel amid a shopping spree. Ask yourself:
How will this t-shirt go with the whitewash jeans I already have?
What will this army green jacket look like with off-white button-down?
Good luck trying to visualizing your closet with 35 t-shirts and nine pairs of jeans.
Keep the selection small.
Be a sniper when you shop.
Pick gems off the shelf and avoid overstuffing the bag. A more massive wardrobe invites paralysis by analysis because you can't remember what occupies your closet. And, you may end up purchasing a similar item to something you already own.
Don't waste dollars.
With a small closet, every item serves a purpose.
When I buy a new shirt, it's because I want that damn shirt.
It fits a space in my closet that doesn't yet exist. And when that new t-shirt enters my closet, that means an old one has to go. A new item must bring a new fit, color, or pattern to an outfit that I have in mind. Then, the piece I like the least out of that clothing group goes to either my brother or Goodwill.
The purpose-driven mindset prevents the "on the fence" purchases that many people, including myself, have succumbed to.
You know the purchases I'm talking about. The times where itt looks good, not great in the changing room mirror, but you think:
Oh yeah, I'll probably rock this jacket in the spring.
Then, it sits in closet purgatory until you find it buried with the tag two years later. When you cap the number of items in your closet, you have to need that jacket.
You can't kind of want it.
While we're on the topic of changing room, the lighting in the changing room will be the best lighting you ever see yourself in that piece of clothing. The aura of the place is designed to suck you in. If you don't 140% love that fucking jacket in the changing room, don't pull the trigger.
A smaller closet lets you buy more expensive clothing.
Envision your jeans.
Let's say you have eight pairs: 2 pairs you wear and six that haven't seen the light of day since 2017. For the sake of the exercise, let's give the jeans a price tag of $80 each for a total of $640.
In reality, you're only taking advantage of $160 worth of jeans, two pairs, because you never wear the other six. Even if you do occasionally pull the other pair out, you don’t wear them frequently enough to justify the purchase.
Now take that same $640 total and spread it out between 3 pairs of jeans: one light blue, one black, and one-midnight blue.
Each jean serves a purpose, and you can spend about $213 per pair at the same total price point.
Not only will each pair of jeans feel and look better, but they will last longer than the $80 choices. If taken care of properly, you now have three high-quality pairs of jeans in rotation that can last 5-6 years.
The cheaper jeans may look nice off the rack, but the material will not fit as comfortably, and the lifespan will be significantly shorter than the higher quality pairs.
With three pairs of jeans, you've now spent the same amount of total money, trimmed some fat from your closet, and enhanced the quality of your wardrobe.
Spend more money on the clothes you wear most often.
As a rule, my most expensive items are the clothes I wear most often. Why buy $300 jeans $400 sneakers or a $500 jacket that you'll never wear? Most people are too protective of their higher-quality pieces. The more you wear clothing, the more value you get out of each item.
Rock $500 boots one thousand times, and you've paid 50 cents per wear.
On the other side of the spectrum, buy cheaper versions of the items you rarely wear. For example, I purchased three suits from Macy's for $500 on Cyber Monday (about $160 each). Super cheap, but I only wear suits when someone gets married, or someone dies.
Don't overpay for the attire that never sees the sunlight.
Cap the number of items in your closet
Make sure each piece serves a purpose
A smaller closet makes each piece more valuable
Spend more $$ on the clothes worn the most
What’s in your closet (Capital One, Sam Jackson voice…)?