Purge can be a frightening word; just the thought and trailer of the movies give me extreme anxiety. Depending on memories, education, and circumstances, people will have a different immediate thought when you mention this word. Luckily, when mentioned in conjunction with closet organizing, everyone gets the picture. They may not like it, but people view purging (especially our closets) as a New Year, New You type of vibe. Out with the old and in with the new! Only purging once a year, though? That’s going to take your purge to a huge level. Instead, try purging twice a year, or when every season changes.
Myself? I go for the fall/winter and spring/summer purge. My reasoning behind this has more to do with getting new items than getting rid of the old. I usually end up buying a few new items every season, some things I need because others have worn out, and some things I don’t need and I’m just a materialistic asshole, no matter how hard I try. So, I purge. I go through my closet and figure out whether or not I actually need the item. I don’t bring in any fancy reasonings, like if it ‘sparks joy’. You don’t need to be stressing yourself out, and most likely getting rid of more than you intend to, by thinking that way. Go through your closet and start with those that don’t fit (and won’t), those that don’t fit well, and those you haven’t worn in over a year. Dresses that are meant for fancier affairs get a pass on the worn in over a year bit, as they were expensive and classic and will still be in style 5 years from now when I need a fancy schmancy dress, again.
You don’t have to do a keep, toss, and donate pile, either. If your closet isn’t moving, just go through your items, taking out all of the ones you want to donate or toss. There’s no reason to rip apart your closet just to make piles. Chances are you’ll get overwhelmed and tired and not finish.
If you’ve never been to a clothing swap before, I strongly suggest you start one. At least, once the pandemic is over. You can try hosting a virtual clothing swap, though! There, you can get rid of all of the stuff you haven’t worn in years (be honest with yourself; are you really going to fit that dress from high school?), things that scream what-were-you-thinking, and all the rest in between. You can also pick up some great finds that your friends (maybe even total strangers) deem not worthy of their closet. If you play your cards right, you can end up with never-been-worn items, high-end items, and accessories to boot. Sometimes, you just need an extra black t-shirt and your friend owns 50 that she’s trying to get rid of.
Take your time with your purge. You can either do this purge in a day (if you’re that sort of person), or you can continuously add to an ever-growing pile, doing a huge sweep at the season change. Keep a bag for items that you’re willing to part with and go through it before it’s time to haul it all away. If you’re already hemming and hawing about an item in your closet, but it’s not time for your purge, why keep it? Throw it into the bag and go through the items before you’re ready to donate; if you missed it while it was in hiding, put it back into your closet for another cycle and see if you wear it. If you don’t – again – it’s time to toss.
Anything that’s ripped or broken? Just throw away. Unless it has some sort of sentimental value to it and you can’t part with it yet – or ever, then it’s made for the bin.
You can use the same system with the rest of your home. When my husband and I moved in together, we had both owned our own homes and had two of everything in the beginning of our cohabitation. It comes in handy, but we don’t need two of everything. What do you actually use in the kitchen? Have you used that deep fryer you desperately wanted years ago? Will you actually use it in the future? Are there broken utensils that really need to be replaced, or do you have five spaghetti claw spoons and really only need one? Somehow, I end up with far too many mugs. Perhaps because I love mugs and just keep buying them. Every few years a box of mugs gets taken to the thrift store.
You don’t have to be ruthless in your purge, but you have to make decisions. Starting small, like at every season change when you bring out decorations or summer sandals can make the decisions easier for you. You don’t need to throw everything out (and shouldn’t! Donate as much as you can!) to live a happy life, and contrary to trends, having stuff in your home can still make you happy. When that closet is bursting so full you can’t even hang anything up? Yeah, it’s time to look at what you really need, what you can donate, and if you should keep buying more items.