Recently, I decided that my wardrobe needed a makeover, mostly to match the overall simplification and streamlining I was trying to achieve in every area of my life. I wanted to focus on neutral colors, versatile cuts, and things that wouldn't immediately disgust me every time I opened up my closet (aka the impulse dresses I have a tendency to buy, as if they were a pack of gum, at Forever 21).
To that end, I made a list of all the things that I (and eventually you) can get rid of without remorse, to either bring to a thrift store or donate. Trust me when I say that all of these items, once gone, will make your overall wardrobe feel lighter, more refined, easier to manage, and just generally nice. Opening your closet in the morning will go from a stressful obstacle to something almost relaxing, that you can look forward to.
1. That one Hollister shirt you've managed to keep since you were 15 years old, probably because it hasn't literally fallen apart in the washing machine, but which in no way looks appropriate to be worn on someone who does not have a sophomore homecoming that weekend.
2. Every dress you ever owned from a fast fashion store that always looked like a sad polyester windsock, and looks even more like one now that you are well past the dorm party era of your life.
3. Weird old artifacts that you have kept from relationships long past, such as the sweater/hoodie you stole from the ex boyfriend and never gave back, even though he was an asshole and you broke up three years ago. Like, even if it's comfortable, it's just bad juju to have in your home.
4. Things that are incredibly awkward colors that aren't now, and have never been, flattering on you. (Think fluorescent yellow, super-bold red, burnt orange, or teal. Those kind of colors generally fall in the "you will soon regret this" category.)
5. Things you bought while convincing yourself that you would "eventually slim down into it," because it was either on sale, or something so adorable you had to have it. You will never slim down into it, and it will only serve to torture you every time you open your closet.
6. Dresses that were bought with the express purpose of wearing to a club, which still look very much "I should be shivering in a line in front of a nightclub right now with a guy's coat draped over me," even though you do not live that lifestyle.
7. Jeans that are too tight, which you still attempt to squeeze into even though they cut into your stomach and make this weird puff of tummy above the belt.
8. Skirts that are ill-fitting, and leave you pulling at the hemline every time you put them on, the entire day you wear them.
9. Anything made in a material so crappy that it alternates between pilling and awkwardly clinging to the wrong parts of your body when you wear it. Generally anything that looks really cheap when you wear it should go, but particularly when the material itself just looks like it is made out of burnt plastic.
10. Sweaters that itch so much that you always immediately regret putting them on.
11. Anything you haven't worn in a year. It doesn't matter how much you love it, if you haven't worn it in a year, you should give it to someone who will love it AND put it to good use.
12. Jewelry that has never looked good, and was bought in a fugue state in the checkout of a fast fashion store. Generally, if you own a statement necklace that is made out of nickel and aluminum and whatever other metals turn your chest green, and it's covered in red jewels and weird studs, there is no good reason for you to have it – not even for a costume party. You may have bought it thinking, "This is weird and cute and four dollars – why not?" But that is not a reason to own something, certainly not for an extended period of time.
13. Anything that a friend left over at your house years ago and has never reclaimed, but which you also never wear or use.
14. "Party" dresses that look floofy and prom-y and have absolutely no use in polite society beyond the days of high school dances.
15. Leggings that cling to your vagina. I don't know how else to phrase this, but nothing that can give you visible camel toe (even when made of black material) should ever be worn.
16. Anything that has visible wear and tear, but which you love so much you've resisted getting rid of over the past few years. I know that you are attached to that one blue cardigan that goes with everything, but it is stretched out and pilled and wonky and it looks every bit of its five years when you wear it now.
17. Shoes that hurt your feet when you walk in them (no matter how cute they are).
18. Cotton underwear you have owned for literal years, that are basically a sad collection of threads and elastic at this point.
19. Bras that have never fit you, and aren't even that cute.
20. That one gross hoodie you wear to bed and occasionally out into polite society, despite the fact that the sleeves are ratted up within an inch of their lives and there are tons of mystery stains all over the logo on the chest.
21. That one really expensive item you bought and are too proud to admit was a mistake, so you've kept it for years even though it is kind of ugly and has never actually looked good on you. Take that thing to a consignment store and let it find a good home, and use the money to buy something you will actually wear. Sadly, just because something was expensive – and purchased with much fanfare and excitement – does not mean that it's worth saving.