As you discovered in my last article where I asked you the question if you could have a minimal wardrobe,

I came to the conclusion that I probably could not.

What I can do, however, is to make my wardrobe a lot more manageable and only keep pieces that I absolutely love and wear in daily life. But how to edit your wardrobe successfully so that you have one that excites you and that gives you plenty of options for all kinds of occasions?

Starting the editing process

Although I very much doubt that I will become a minimalist when it comes to clothes (I like variety too much!), I absolutely believe that a clear uncluttered wardrobe filled with items you love and are truly you, is essential to good dressing.

Here is what Tim Gunn says in his guide to quality taste and style:

“Who has not suffered that particular depression brought on by a closet full of clothes when one feels that she has nothing to wear? It is our theory that this feeling arises from the discrepancy between your perception of the image your clothing projects and the idealized image you’d like to project in a given situation. The goal is to maximize the correspondence between what you feel conveys the proper image and the items you actually own. This task can only be accomplished when your closet is rid of those items that do not truly make you feel happy and confident when wearing them. …. The eternal task of discovering what makes one happy is closely linked to the idea of discovering one’s “authentic self”.

This is why it’s important to truly understand your style and personality, topics I have discussed several times here at 40+Style and which can be found in the finding your style section.

So to feel happy about your wardrobe, editing is absolutely essential. I have now decided that I have enough clothes, need to edit more and shop my own wardrobe until I drop. Of course I picked the time to do this strategically, as I have just done my major shopping for the year in the  summer 2012 sales!

Which clothes to keep?

My rules for clothes that absolutely must go still apply. Only keep clothes that:

  1. Fit you
  2. Make you feel great
  3. Suit your body type
  4. Are in good condition
  5. You wear regularly (tricky one)

So which clothes should go?

The general rule is that you discard clothes that you have not worn for 1 year. I have never applied this rule before, because I would simply lose too many clothes! But it’s a solid rule and I think that clothes you have not worn for a year should leave your main closet.

Another trick you can use is that you put items that you still like, but never wear, in a very visible place in your wardrobe. If you still have not worn these items after a few weeks, then perhaps it’s time for them to go.

When you start doing your sorting, divide your clothes in piles:

  • Clothes that must go (make a note of clothes that need to be replaced, like good basic black pants for example)
  • Clothes that can be (temporarily) stored
  • Clothes that still deserve to be altered
  • Clothes that definitely stay!
  • Clothes that you want to keep for sentimental reasons. (be ruthless here and just store them away; you don’t have to SEE them every day)

Easier said than done, right? If you find it hard to donate clothes straight away, store them in a secondary cupboard first. When items still never get looked at after a few months, then they are up for donation.

Please make sure that you take action straight away for clothes that need to be altered. If you don’t then they are up for donation as well.

You may want to arrange the clothes that stay by colour in your closet (which is what I do). That way you can easily find your clothes and mix and match.

Evaluate after editing

After you are done with your editing, have a look at your closet again.

It should now only contain the items you love and feel confident in. Can you see a pattern? Do you get a clearer sense of your style? Is there a colour pattern or a particular silhouette that keeps coming back?

Good closet editing may give you lots of clues about your personal style!

Next week I will have a look at storing solutions for your clothes, so that you can have the most fun in shopping your own closet.

Have you done any wardrobe editing yet and if yes, how did you find it?

This article is part of my wardrobe editing series. Also in this series:


Sylvia is 40+style’s editor-in-chief and has been helping women find their unique style since 2011. An alumni of the School of Color and Design, she is devoted to empowering women of any age to look and feel their best. Read more about Sylvia and 40+style on this page.

Want to get more articles from 40+style in your inbox, subscribe here.

You can also connect with 40+style on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.

Support 40+style by using the links in our articles to shop. As an associate for Amazon and many other brands, we receive a small commission (at no cost to you) on qualifying purchases which enables us to keep creating amazing free content for you. Thanks!