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Organize Your Closet: 9 Genius Rules for Deciding Which Clothes to Keep or Toss

Curate your wardrobe to have the most clothing matches and least amount of clutter.


Prepare for Your Purge

Give yourself at least four hours to dedicate to your closet reorg. Label three heavy-duty garbage bags “donate,” “tailor,” and “consignment.” Pull on nude, seamless undergarments and get ready to try on some clothes. Optional: your best friend and a bottle of wine.

iStock/Eva Katalin Kondoros

Start With a Sweep

Begin on one end of your closet and pull out everything you know with certainty you don’t want. If you have to think about something for more than 10 seconds, move on and deal with it later, advises Cyndy Aldred on her blog the Creativity Exchange.


Aim for the Perfect Tops-to-Bottoms Ratio

The ideal wardrobe has three times as many tops as bottoms—the same ratio they’re sold in at the store, according to Real Simple. Aim for a 60 to 40 ratio of solids and neutrals to statement pieces and prints.


Stay Coordinated

When debating whether to keep or toss a piece, ask yourself if it matches at least three other things you currently own. Better yet, do this type of curation going forward by buying your basics at a maximum of three stores. Most shops have their own preferred style and fabrics. By shopping at only a few, you’ll find that more of your items match.


Consider: ‘Is the Item the Best Version of Itself?’

Don’t let thriftiness win at the expense of looking put together. If a garment has stains, fading, sagginess, uncontrollable pilling, or fits you poorly, take it to the tailor or donate it (and get yourself a new, better-fitting version).


Ask Yourself…

Would I buy this now? Do I have too many of the same item (i.e., three black cardigans)? Does this still fit without bumps, bulges, or hanger marks?

iStock/Dominik Pabis

Part With Your T-Shirt Pile

Cotton T-shirts make great rags, and polyester is recyclable (check with your recycling center first). If one particular shirt holds sentimental value—say, your son’s spirit tee from a state championship—consider putting it in a frame and hanging it as artwork, suggest Erin Doland on Other fun options to consider are quilting the shirts together (Campus Quilt Company will even make the quilt for you!), crafting a tote bag, or making a pillow.


Go to the Tailor (or Toss!)

If you have a pile of clothes waiting to go to the tailor, get a new button, or have some other type of work done, fix them this week, or toss them, suggests on Preciously Paired.


Learn Your Lesson

Flip your perspective by considering that each item you get rid of serves a purpose, advises blogger Ashley Trexler on Each discarded item can teach you not to buy that certain cut, color, fabric or size again.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest