Throw Out, Donate, Or Keep? Here's How To Evaluate Your Wardrobe

Use these guidelines during your next closet cleanout.

Is your closet so crowded that it’s hard to find things? Are you constantly looking for that blazer or those jeans and have no clue where they are? It might be time to declutter. But choosing what to declutter can be a challenge. It’s hard to let go of things we paid good money for or were once wardrobe staples. Here’s how to decide which items you should throw out, donate, or keep.

Related: How to Organize Your Closet in 30 Minutes Flat

<p>The Good Brigade / Getty Images</p>

The Good Brigade / Getty Images

Items With Holes

There are very few minor disappointments that feel as major as getting a hole in your clothing. Whether it’s a snag from a nail, a hungry moth, or just a hole that seemingly came from nowhere—it’s upsetting. If there are multiple holes in something, it’s probably best to just throw it out. Many clothing donation centers won't want something with holes in it, so it'd probably end up being discarded anyways. However, if you want to avoid waste, there are textile recycling companies and organizations that will accept your worn-out clothing and repurpose the fabric.

Ripped Items

The same advice applies to clothing items that are ripped. If the rip makes a clothing item unwearable, and you aren't able to fix it yourself, it's probably best to just get rid of it. But there’s an exception to this rule. If an item is ripped on the seam, a good tailor may be able to fix it. While it may not be worthwhile for something like a T-shirt—it’s a great way to save pricier items, like slacks or blazers.

Clothing That's Too Big

If your body has undergone a major change, you may have some clothing items that are too large. If something is a size or two up, that’s one thing, but if a pair of pants literally falls down when you put them on—those need to go to a new home. And if a clothing item is too big in a way that you no longer like how it fits or looks, then you'll probably never wear it, so it's best to donate it.

Clothing That's Too Small

Bodies change and what fits at some point in your life may not fit right now. Seeing these items in your closet may even trigger unpleasant feelings. But instead of holding on to a bunch of clothing in case it may fit again someday, go ahead and give it a second life and put it in the donation pile.

Old Shoes

Really worn-out shoes may not only be uncomfortable, but they probably aren’t supportive, which could lead to foot pain or other issues. So go ahead and throw them out.

If your shoes are still in good condition but the heels or soles are worn, it may be worth it to have new ones put on by your local cobbler. Keep in mind that this can be pricy. So, it’s probably best for your more expensive or favorite pairs.

On the other hand, if you have a pair of shoes you only wore a few times and found them uncomfortable or not your style—donating is always better than letting them collect dust in your closet.

Items You Rarely Wear

We all have those items in our closets that we almost never wear, like that Fisherman sweater you only take out in sub-zero weather. However, if you have a use for it year after year, then it's good to keep on hand. Even if it's only useful for one week out of the year, it's better to have it than to need to buy something new everything the weather gets frigid or every time you go on a ski trip.

On the other hand, if you have five thick wool sweaters and you live in a hot climate, donate four and keep one.

Formal Wear

If you don’t go to a lot of formal affairs or events—do you really more than one or two black tie dresses? The same rule applies to all of those bridesmaid dresses. Are you ever going to wear a long purple gown again? Probably not. It’s best to donate these excess items.

Items That Are No Longer Your Style

Since fashion trends cycle so quickly, this one can go either way. For example, we've probably all gotten rid of an item that went out of style, only to regret it later when it started trending again. Holding on to a few of these things—like a pair of jeans you love that just aren't quite in vogue—doesn't hurt and can even save you money in the long run.

This is also true for items that were more of a splurge or investment. Maybe you wore something so much that you grew tired of it, but after a little while, you may be especially glad to pull it back out of your closet.

On the other side of things, it's probably better to donate fast fashion items or items you bought based on a micro-trend that's long gone. If the items don't have timeless appeal, you probably won't miss them.

If your style has simply changed and you don't see yourself wearing something ever again in the future, then go ahead and put that in the donation pile, too.

Related: How to Earn Cash-Back Rewards by Recycling Your Old Clothing and Electronics

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