How to Downsize Your Wardrobe in 5 Simple Steps

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downsize wardrobe to a small closet with hanging clothes

The carpet was barely visible under the mounds of clothes in the spare room of our condo. I had gathered up containers from all corners of the house and dumped their contents on the floor. Now I just sat in silence as a feeling of doubt washed over me.

When it came to my things, there was an enormous gap between my actual life and the life I wanted to live. So I decided to start the emotional journey of downsizing my wardrobe, right there on our floor, drowning in a pile of clothes.


5 Simple Steps to a Closet You’ll Love

It’s been five years since that day I decided to take control of my wardrobe. Since then, I’ve turned my self-doubt into a passion for small living. Particularly within my closet.

Here are five steps to get a handle on the process and get started with how to downsize your wardrobe.

Read the article or watch the video below.


1. How to Downsize Clothes: Find Your “Why”

First, define your purpose. This is your “why”, and the motivation to begin (and continue) to downsize to a minimalist wardrobe.

What problem is downsizing your wardrobe going to help you solve?

Your “why” could be:

  • To live on a sailboat or in an RV
  • To move to a smaller house to save money for travel, pay off debt, or fulfill another dream
  • To make room for a new baby, or turn your ‘junk’ room into an office to work from home

Whatever the reason to take this journey, it has to be a goal that is a priority.


2. Set Realistic Goals

Whether you own 100 pairs of shoes or 10, the emotional process of discarding parts of your wardrobe is a long one.

shorts folded and organized in basket

Start as soon as you can to limit frustration and allow yourself time to rejoice in the small victories.

Getting Started Downsizing Clothes

I began my journey about a year before we planned to leave our home in Colorado. I had a lot of clutter in my closet.

Our closet (of which I held the majority of storage space) was packed. It was difficult to grab any item without generating a tidal wave of clothing. The dresser was overflowing, and the hall closet was hemorrhaging hats, purses (lord the purses), shoes, and outerwear.

As humans, a change this drastic requires time to process. Things that might seem impossible to part with one day will mean less to you further down the road. Creating a small wardrobe is a journey, but not a short one. So keep at it!


3. Define a Downsizing Strategy

Tidying our lives has become quite the trend lately. From Marie Kondo’s recent Netflix series to the tons of articles on things you ‘must’ buy to organize your life.

Despite whether you buy into Marie’s Konmari method or other approaches to decluttering, you need to define your strategy. Set some rules and live by them throughout your process. A few I followed are below.

  1. Doesn’t fit or is uncomfortable
  2. No longer my style
  3. No longer fits my lifestyle
  4. Damaged or worn beyond repair (allow one month to address or fix any repairable issues)
  5. Don’t love it

I tried to hold myself accountable to this list, but the answers weren’t always black and white. By diving deeper into your emotional attachments, it is easier to be consistent with your decisions.

Setting a Weekly Goal

Weekly goals were a game-changer for me. The nearby consignment shop would take 20 pieces of clothing a week. I held myself accountable for dropping of the max.

I highly recommend a measurable, achievable goal to keep the process moving.

The consignment shop goal also encouraged me to reevaluate my wardrobe every seven days. Things I was attached to a few months ago would start to make less sense if I wasn’t wearing them. Eventually, I would run out of excuses for the things I didn’t need, and off to the consignment store they went.


4. Beginning to Love Your Wardrobe

Now you’re at the peak of the journey (finally!) The more I got rid of, the more I could see what clothes I had and could enjoy opening my closet. Once you get to this stage, it becomes motivating to continue the process. It also becomes less difficult to avoid buying new clothes.

Downsizing Wardrobe Tips

  • Make hangers just one color (this is aesthetically pleasing, allowing you to focus on your clothes)
  • Organize clothing from light to dark
  • Use containers to create sections and keep clothes organized
  • Learn to fold, this seems silly, but it was a game-changer for me

Dive into folding, organizing, and more in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. You can watch the Netflix series for a little motivation, but I highly recommend reading the book.

kindle book of the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo shown on iPhone

Besides being a huge motivator to start your downsizing process, there are some great tips and tricks that I still use years after reading this book. Thanks to Marie for teaching me that even folding your underwear is a necessary and wonderful thing!


5. Maintain Your Minimalist Wardrobe

It’s been a year since we moved out of our condo. Since then, I have lived with my in-laws, in an RV, and on a sailboat. Throughout this time, I have continued to curate my wardrobe. Creating and keeping a minimalist wardrobe is something you have to continue to work at.

See also Want a Minimalist Wardrobe? Here’s What to Get Rid of.

Our lives are constantly shifting. We change jobs, move, build families, change hobbies. Our closet should evolve with our lifestyle.

woman in hammock free of cluttered closet

I’m sure there will be surprises for me after a summer on the boat. Things I thought were necessities I never reach for, or clothes just not practical enough for life on the water.

The goal is to continue learning from this process and always enjoy opening your closet, no matter the size.


Final Thoughts on How to Downsize Your Closet

I hope these tips have been helpful or inspired you in some way to take a step toward downsizing your closet. Remember to define your “why” and set realistic goals to keep yourself motivated to continue curating your closet.

Check out more tips on how to get rid of clothes in our article on How to Be Ruthless When Decluttering Clothes.


Want to learn more about downsizing?

For more on decluttering your stuff and downsizing your life, view our complete guide.


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pin of close up of tanks and long sleeve shirts hanging in closet

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