A Pain-Free Guide to Cleaning Out Your Closet

Sex and the City 2

(Original story published on Monday April 13th, 2015 on

At the first hint of spring-like temperatures, we can’t help but feel a rush of eagerness to fill our wardrobes with the season’s coolest trends. White linen dresses, wide-legged jeans, minimalist tanks, and edgy gladiator sandals are all on our must-have lists but there’s one tiny problem: our closet space is at a minimum.

The reality may be hard to stomach. But there are far too many pieces we aren’t wearing, forget we have, and haven’t even cut the tags off of (we’re looking at you, culottes). The time has come for the inevitable spring wardrobe purge.

Before the purge: Make it fun
Turn on a great playlist, pour yourself a glass of vino, get yourself feeling good and you should be just about ready for the purge. Go through your wardrobe piece by piece, removing anything you hate, are sick of, doesn’t suit you anymore, isn’t flattering, or you aren’t even sure belongs to you. Warning: This process may ignite feelings of self-doubt as you question your past tastes, actions and life choices.

The purge: Workwear
Do you still insist on wearing that full-piece suit you got when you were just starting out in your career? We hate to break it to you, but it’s not cool or flattering, and to be honest, it probably never was. But that’s OK! We’ve all been there. Just accept it and move on. Our suggestion? Go for cool separate work essentials, and definitely mix and match ’em. Try Aritzia’s Babaton Oscar Pants ($125).

The purge: Fast fashion ‘going-out’ tops
There was a time in the not-so-distant past where we had a serious obsession with “going out tops.” You know the ones: they were shiny, sparkly, glitzy, revealing, and cut in any way that made them appropriate for late-night cocktails and lots of dancing. On top of their tackiness, they were typically found at inexpensive fast-fashionretailers, meaning they weren’t exactly the highest quality. Toss ‘em out, and instead, invest in sleek, classic pieces. Our suggestion? A simple silk camisole, like Equipment’s Cara Washed-Silk Camisole ($90).


The purge: Too-young denim
Do you own any pairs of jeans that have a super-low rise, are a little too tight, or boast rips that are a little too revealing? Opt for more chic denim options and definitely make sure you own a simple pair of boyfriend jeans. Our pick? Levi’s’ 501 CT – Old Favourite ($118, Available at Levi’s stores across Canada).

The purge: Bridesmaid dresses
We know, we know, the bride totally convinced you that of course you’ll be able to wear that gorgeous aqua-green mermaid-inspired gown again, but guess what? It’s been two years and you’ve been avoiding it like the plague. Toss it, and replace it with a classic sheath dress that’s more you. We love Ted Baker’s Quaro Rose en Canvas Dress (£139).

The purge: Anything too short
Mini skirts, shorts and bodycon dresses can be super cute when done right, or seriously–dare we say?–trashy if hemmed a little too high. Give them the boot, and opt for more classy (we mean, classic) styles. Try A.L.C.’sParker Leather Shorts ($275).

The purge: Over-worn and stretched-out basics
Basics should help you pull outfits together, not downgrade your look due to signs of wear. Invest in new versions of your go-to essentials like plain tees, button-down shirts and classic black separates. Try J.Crew’sRegent Blazer ($230).

The purge: Old undergarments
You’re a lady! There’s no excuse to have hole-y, stretched-out or faded bras and panties. Toss them out, and buy yourself some pretty new options. We promise you won’t regret it. Try Anthropologie’s Lonely Bonnie Soft Cup Bra (US $94).

The purge: Sloppy gym clothes
Sleek, properly fitting gym clothes will make you feel better about working out. Get rid of the sloppy tanks and holey leggings, and replace them with new, feel-good options. For an affordable option, try Fabletics. We love their classic Anand two-piece set that’s only $35 with the member discount.

The purge: Green-turning jewellery
Still have those cost-effective gems that turn your fingers green? You know what you gotta do. Replace them with other cool, inexpensive options like Gorjana’s Carina midi ring set ($44).

The purge: Old footwear
Old, tattered sneakers, overly-scuffed leather heels and young-looking styles (flat Mary-Janes anyone?) should be kicked to the curb. Opt for more mature, classic styles like Nine West’s Callen heels ($was $120, now $96).

The purge: Hole-y hosiery
Why, we repeat, why are you keeping all those pairs of snagged tights and hole-y socks? Don’t let these embarrassing pieces be part of your daily look, they’ll totally downgrade any outfit you try to pull off. Treat yourself to some new pairs, stat.

Post-purge: Create a seasonless wardrobe
Remember when your mom used to pack away your sweaters and heavy dresses, and bring out your airy tops and printed shorts when summer came around? No, we don’t need to do that anymore. There’s this thing called seasonless dressing where it’s totally chic (and appropriate) to mix some of your chunkiest knits with your most light and airy pieces. Some nights in Canada can be chilly, and for that a chunky knit with your flowy skirts sound like the perfect combo. Try Madewell’s Shaker Sweater ($78).

Post-purge: Double up on staples
Maybe you’re always wearing a chambray button-down shirt or a plain white tee. Invest in an extra one so you have a fresh version to wear on its own, and an older version to layer under other pieces. Try Club Monaco Sunny Tee ($40).

Post-purge: Go shopping
It’s through the process of analyzing what remains that you’ll realize what key pieces you’re missing, like a fitted black skirt or an oversized cardigan. Figure out what you’re lacking and make yourself a shopping list. May we suggest J.Crew’s Zip-Pocket Canvas Mini Skirt ($92)?

Post-purge: Figure out when to spend and save
Learn what to spend money on, and what to save on. Invest in staples and go with fast fashion stores for the novelties. Like those gladiator sandals you’re after this season? You probably won’t wear them that much, so the real Chloe versions may not be a wise investment. Opt for Zara’s Buckled Leather Gladiator ($180).

Post-purge: Sort your ‘toss’ pile
The best way to deal with the mess of unwanted garments all over your floor? Divide and conquer. Create piles for things you can sell, trade and donate (these shouldn’t look too over-worn and should still be trendy) and a pile for things that simply deserve to be thrown away.

Post-purge: Edit what’s left
Now that you’ve gotten rid of the pieces you’re not wearing anymore, it’s time to edit all that remains in your closet, removing any pieces that aren’t “in” anymore, aren’t age appropriate anymore, and simply don’t look good on you anymore.

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Post-purge: Invest in the proper equipment
No matter how many times you put your spaghetti strap tanks on those plastic hangers, you know they’re going to slip right off again. Invest in some velvet hangers. Not only will they make flipping through your closet a breeze, they are so thin you’ll find yourself with more space. Try Boutique’s The Glamour Set: Velvet Hangers ($17/set of 10). Also, consider proper shoe racks and storage bins for accessories.

Post-purge: Refresh the keepers
The goal is to make yourwardrobe full of nothing but your best pieces. Ensure they are ready to wear by washing, dry cleaning, altering, steaming and ironing. Make these pieces look brand-spanking-new again and you’ll actually look forward to wearing them again.

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