Like anything, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do something. And de-cluttering your closet is no exception.
I did massive purges of my closet twice. The first time was right before my family moved (so convenient, right?) which meant I got rid of A LOT of stuff. I was in such a purge mode that I didn't even bother trying to sell anything. I was just trying to move fast before the kids woke up from their naps. As I went through my closet, I would grab an item and either toss it into a donation bag or a bag to give to someone else, like maternity clothes to my sister-in-law. I probably donated 20 grocery bags full of clothing before we moved. But, several of the items I evaluated during this first purge were "maybes" pieces that I had enjoyed wearing once or twice before. So I didn't make an immediate decision and left it for later.
The second time I purged my closet was after I unpacked the rest of the house. When we moved, I got so lucky with my own closet with built-ins, I left the chaotic mess last because I knew that I needed to take time to focus and put everything else in its place. During this chaos (I can't even imagine how out-of-hand it might have been if I didn't purge before we moved) I was keeping track of things in my closet that were not bringing me any happiness. In fact, hardly any pieces were bringing me any joy. As I put on pieces that I considered my "go-to" items, I realized that I wanted to love that item, but I didn't feel that great in it. So why was I willing to wear it? I was at this point where I knew it was time to completely unpack, sort and put everything that I loved in its new home.
So this time, I did it right. Instead of just going through everything while it was IN my closet, I literally took took everything back out of my closet and went through it all. Every. Single. One.
From there, I made five piles: Keep (I love it!), Not Sure, Donate, Sell and Throw Away.
Can you guess what my smallest pile was?
Yes, the KEEP pile! Can you believe it? I had more clothing in my closet that brought me zero happiness than clothing that I actually loved. For example, I wore a vest over a dress that I thought looked really cute, but after coming home and taking the vest off, I realized that the dress was not flattering AT ALL. So why was I keeping it? How absurd is that!?! So with my remaining piles scattered around my bedroom, here’s what I decided to do with them.
I am an environmentalist at heart, so I have a hard time throwing anything away. The thought of it sitting in a landfill because of me is haunting. However, sometimes, it’s truly unavoidable. Part of the reason I created de-cluttered is to keep as much out of the landfill as possible.
The items I did throw away are simply things that I didn’t have much of a choice. For example, I had been holding onto a very simple navy blue sweater that I loved. But it had a gaping hole in it. I kept it for years thinking I’ll get it fixed. Did I ever get it fixed? Never. But I certainly can’t donate a piece of clothing with a hole in it, and no one would buy it either. So I sadly decided the time had come; it had to go. But not before holding it for a moment and remembering all the joy it brought me. Then, I placed it in my Throw Away pile.
Sell (On My Own)
The Sell pile can be so exciting! It holds so much promise; it’s like a pile of money just waiting for you. If you want to sell your clothing – this is your decision and you have to decide if you want to sell it online or hold a garage sale:
- Garage Sale. You won’t fetch the best or highest prices for your items, but selling your clothing at a garage sale doesn’t involve a lot of preparation. You don’t even have to price your items ahead of time; just set up a clothing rack the day of and you’re good to go!
- Online. Sites like LetGo, eBay and Poshmark, or Facebook groups will get you the most bang for your buck. However, it’s also the most time consuming. You have take photos, write descriptions, offer excellent customer service and figure out how to ship an item to the buyer. That can be quite a commitment.
Since I had a good amount of clothing still in great condition, I thought I’d give it a try. I mean, why not? Then I could use the money I made to purchase things I truly loved or needed. My sales would give me a budget to make new purchases. Plus, I wouldn’t have to dip into my household budget. So I decided to post my clothing on Facebook. I took tons of pictures, wrote posts and messaged potential buyers. I was able to sell quite a few pieces and made a couple hundred dollars. I could have sold more, but I got to the point where I just wanted these things out of my house. I didn't want to look at them anymore, and the sight of them cluttering up my home felt incomplete.
Now, I have a friend who has a lot of success on eBay selling her unwanted stuff, and she's made a few thousand dollars. But she puts in a lot of time taking photos, writing clever descriptions and providing customer service, plus, every corner of her dining room is completely filled with boxes, shipping materials and piles of stuff to sell. So you have to figure out what you can reasonably do, how much time you have and what your limits are.
I took the remainder of my never-worn and gently-used clothing to a local consignment store. There are SO MANY in Charleston (check out a list of my favorites here!), and I am sure that is how it is in every city.
If you are going to consign, make sure your items are in the best shape possible. They need to be clean and wrinkle free. Most consignment shops will not wash, iron or steam clean your clothing. If they can't put your clothing on the sale rack right away, it isn't worth it to them to sell your items. They also typically accept clothing that is in season, so if you bring a sweater in the middle of summer, while it can be a great label in excellent condition, they don't have anywhere to store it. So for me, for example, I put the out-of-season items I knew I could sell in the fall into a storage container in a safe area of my garage.
You only get paid if your item sells, and you only receive a percentage of the sale price, so you'll make less selling your clothing at consignment. I probably sold 20 items for a total of $200. Now, $10/item is certainly nowhere near what I paid for them, but it was $200 more dollars than I started with, so I call that a major win! Plus, I saved some time because I didn't have to do any selling myself.
There are so many places you can donate your old clothing, whether large organizations like Goodwill, or smaller, local organizations that could really use the attention, like Lowcountry Orphan Relief. You can find a list of great organizations doing great things in the Charleston area here. Personally, I prefer to support the smaller organizations in my area because they don't get the attention or funding that some of the larger, well-known organizations get. Plus, this is my community, it's where my kids are growing up, and I want to do my part to help it however I can.
It's important to remember that just because you are donating your old clothing doesn't mean these pieces shouldn't be in good condition. They don't need to be perfect, but they should be clean and wearable because someone out there deserves the same respect we give ourselves.
The entire purge/sell/donate process was a bit overwhelming at times, but honestly it was SO worth it. After I purged my entire closet, I returned to a closet that was only full of things that I loved. Things that made me feel good. That's what clothing is supposed to do! Now, getting dressed takes less time and is much easier. Less clothing means less laundry and less stuff to keep track of. And I made a nice little profit!
Now it's your turn! So go make a difference, make some cash and go green!