Spring Cleaning Tip: Would You Wear That Outfit Now?

Photo by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/emilysnuffer/">Emily May</a>/Flickr/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">Creative Commons</a>
Photo by Emily May/Flickr/Creative Commons

When it comes to spring cleaning, probably the hardest task to tackle is purging the closet. At least, for us women it is.

We often tell ourselves that we have at least two (or is it three or five?) years to wear something before we consider it impractical, or we hold on to sentimental items (concert tees, the super soft and threadbare shirt we've had since high school) even though they stay tucked away on a shelf forever.

But let's be real for a moment. Unless you're a minimalist or you just spring cleaned your closet, chances are, there are plenty of things you could be purging but you're still holding on for whatever reason. That is why this one simple rule works well for those of us in denial:

If you were shopping today, would you buy or wear that outfit?

Ask yourself this question about every item you haven't touched in the last year and you might be surprised by your own answer. It's an easy way to tell if you've outgrown that particular item without resorting to the usual excuses like It still fits, My grandma got it for me, or But it was on sale! Score!

If you wouldn't buy that dress/pant/sweater again, your tastes have simply shifted and there's no guilt in getting rid of it. You don't have to hold on to it because it was expensive (that's what eBay is for). You don't have to wait for it to come back in style again (because will you ever be rocking those jelly shoes when you're 40?). Let go of things that just aren't your style anymore, and be honest when you ask yourself the golden question.

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Now, if you're having trouble remembering whether you actually wore something in the last year, try this other tip: Once you wear something, put it back on the hanger with the hook facing toward you (so, opposite from all the other hangers). With folded items, place them back on the shelves facing backward. Within a few months, it'll be easy to see how little (or how much) you wear the items you own, and pick out the ones that seem to sit on the hanger or shelf all year.

For sentimental items, try to incorporate them into your life somehow. If you prize that T-shirt you got at your first-ever concert, or you still have your first pair of baby booties, consider framing it. If you can't bear to part with that extra special vintage couture gown you found at a flea market, hang it on a French mannequin and make it part of your decor. If you're still hanging on to something old, ugly, and ill-fitting because it comes with memories, ask yourself: When was the last time you looked for it? And would you pay to ship it cross-country?

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