Is your closet bursting at the seams, packed to the gills, bloated beyond belief, and yet you still feel like you have nothing to wear? You’re not alone. It’s a paradox that many of us live with. In virtually all of the closets I step into, I see the Pareto Principle in action: we were 80% of our closet 20% of the time. And as a result of this, I often see the clothes that are in high rotation and worn most often piled up on the floor, while the clothes that are worn the least are hanging up in the closet--sometimes nicely, but most times not so nicely with hangers jutting out at all sorts of crazy angles.
When a closet is packed SO tightly, it is hard to both visually and physically access your clothing. This leads to people forgetting what they already own, and buying more. Moreover, when your closet is too full, you are not incentivized to hang your clothing because it takes too much work to try and squeeze your clothes onto the rack and so begins a cycle of: thinking your clothes are uninspiring (not because they’re ugly, but because they don’t look that attractive when they’re lumped on the floor) → feeling drained just thinking about the amount of work it takes to care for your clothes → shopping for more clothes (that hold more appeal and/or so you can avoid doing laundry as often) → exasperating the problem of the packed closet.
If you can relate to this, don’t despair. There is hope. Breaking the cycle begins with clarity.
Rather than resisting the 80/20 rule, I encourage my clients to embrace it. I ask them: “What are your go-to outfits? What do you wear the most? What do you feel amazing in?” And then I make sure to prioritize those clothes by placing them in the most reachable area of the closet, nicely hung or folded so the clothes are shown in their best light and look enticing to wear.
Then, I ask clients, "What is that 80% of the stuff you don’t wear?" These are the common subcategories:
Clothing that no longer fits
Clothing that is too worn to wear out so it’s been converted to “loungewear” that also never gets worn
Clothing that was once trendy but that fad has passed
Clothing that still has tags on it but you can’t let go of because you feel guilty that you spent money on it
Clothing for special occasions (e.g. formal wear, vacation/resort wear, Burning Man costumes, snowboarding gear, etc.)
This is when you have to get real with yourself and start letting go of deadweight. I understand the tendency to think it’s “such a waste” to let go of clothing, especially if it’s never been worn before, but I encourage you to consider that it may be equally a waste to hang onto something that you will never use again. It is a waste of time to sift through your clothes and trying to find an article of clothing that's gone missing for who knows how long. It is a waste of energy to feel overwhelmed by or guilty about or ashamed of your closet. And it is a waste of money, and I’m not talking about the money you or someone else spent on purchasing the clothes. For most people, space costs money in the form of rent or mortgage, so to let clothes you don’t wear take up space is costing you dollars on a monthly basis, and that’s not even factoring the amount of money that you would spend on mending/altering the clothes or hiring a professional organizer to tidy up your closet. So when facing that 80% of your closet, ask yourself if you can afford to let unused items take up precious physical space and headspace.
If you’d like help thinking through what to do with that 80% of your wardrobe, that’s my specialty. As a Professional Organizer and Clutter Coach, I empower clients to make decisions about their belongings and advise them on how to responsibly let go, so that they can make room for what matters most to them. Contact me for a free consultation and let’s get your organized!