Edit Your Wardrobe

by Leo Babauta

Leo Babauta, the writer of this piece, is a former newspaper editor. "Cut out everything that’s not necessary," he writes, "and you’ve got a more meaningful story." Do you have any articles of clothing that are not necessary? I know I do. For that reason, I hope you'll enjoy this informative article, which may help you edit your wardrobe.

Take a look at your closet. Is it stuffed full of clothes you don’t wear? Do you have trouble picking out what to wear in the morning? Are there clothes you don’t fit, don’t like, or can’t wear because they are stained or torn? How about your clothes drawers? Overstuffed?

If so, your wardrobe may be in need of editing. Let’s be honest: most of us are in this category. And even though I’ve greatly simplified my clothing needs, every six months or so, I need to go through my closet to see if there’s stuff in here I no longer wear. I pull out a bunch of things and put them in a bag for donation. My closet is simpler, and my mind is more at ease.

To edit your wardrobe, here are some simple steps:

Pull out all the clothes from your closet. Put them on your bed. Now go through this pile, one item at a time, deciding what stays and what goes. Follow these rules:

1. If you haven’t worn an item in months, put it in the donate pile. There’s a reason you don’t wear that item––you’re probably not going to wear it again for a long while, if ever.

2. If you no longer fit an item, donate it. Yes, you plan to lose 10 pounds to fit into that outfit. Well, when you do, go to the thrift shop and get some better-fitting items. Until then, they’re taking up space in your closet.

3. If an item is stained or torn beyond repair, donate it. If you can repair it, put it in a bag and take it to be sewn tomorrow (or do it yourself). If that bag sits in your house or car for more than a week, you’ll probably never do it, so donate it or toss it. For myself, I often keep stained or torn clothing, if I really love an item, but I only wear it around the house. I save the good clothes for company. :)

4. If an item is out of style or doesn’t match anything else you own, consider donating it. OK, if you really love it and still wear it, go ahead and keep it. Butterfly bell-bottoms? You’re still cool.

5. When in doubt, put it in a storage container, label it with today’s date, and put it out of sight for a few months. If you ever really want to wear it, it’s still there. But if you open it in a few months, and you never needed it, donate it.

6. For seasonal clothes, such as winter or summer clothing, put it in a container and label it. When the season comes, break out that container. No use keeping it in your closet the whole year round. Where I live, there’s always tropical goodness year round, so this isn’t an issue.

Still at a loss? Here are some further tips:

1. Keep clothes that are of the same color scheme, and toss the rest. This way, everything matches.

2. Keep clothes that are simple in design, and can be paired with anything.

3. Make comfort a priority. Looks are important, but comfort is more important.

Repeat this process with your clothes drawers. Throw out the torn underwear and stained socks. Once you weed out a lot of the stuff, fold them neatly and put them back in your drawers nicely. Again, fewer clothes look much nicer in your drawers.

Personally, I simplified my wardrobe years ago. In fact, new employers know that I dress very simply, usually wearing jeans or slacks with a T-shirt or polo shirt and sandals or Docs. I’m a simple guy, and if my employer doesn’t like it, they don’t have to hire me. I feel my talents are more than worth any casualness. And when I need to dress up, I do have some button-down shirts and ties for emergencies, but I’m not comfortable in them on a daily basis.

I still need to edit my wardrobe, though, on a regular basis. I know when it’s time when it’s hard to find stuff, and when I look through my closet and find lots of stuff I rarely wear.

Simplify your wardrobe, and your life will be much simpler and stress-free. It’s wonderful. Give it a try!

Related Reading:

25 Ways to Clean Out Your Closet

Learned Ugliness

Style and Personality

The Looks Book

Men's Style


This essay originally appeared as "Edit Your Life Part 5: Edit Your Wardrobe" on zenhabits.net.

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