Does this sound like you? You’re staring into a closet full of clothes, convinced you have absolutely nothing to wear. Every single morning, you throw on something familiar and trusted that you’ve worn twenty times before today. There are tons of clothes that never get worn, but you can’t figure out why, since they’re not hideous and you spent good money on them. Half the time, you forget that you even own certain clothing items, because they are hard to wear and they fade from your memory, even when they’re in plain sight. You’ve got no idea where to begin tackling this mess; you just know you want to set the whole thing on fire! Girl, let me help you out. Here’s a step-by-step wardrobe makeover plan that will have you loving your closet again! 

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messy closet makeover
decluttering a closet

I need to start with another disclaimer. I’m not very fashionable. I tend to notice trends when they’re already on the way out. I know the Rule of Three and have read about how to dress better, but I’m not great at taking the time to look snappy.

But I love my closet organization and I genuinely like all my clothes. I may suck at fashion, but I’m a self-appointed organization guru, which means you can probably learn a thing or two from my closet! Here is the Wardrobe Makeover Plan and process that works for me.

You’ve got to start by editing your closet so it can breathe a bit. When you love every item in your closet, you can better identify missing basics, and pull together fresh outfits. If you don’t want to get halfway through your Wardrobe Makeover Plan and get totally overwhelmed, make these process-based decisions first. 

Your first decision is whether you will donate everything, start selling clothing, or do a combination of the two. That decision is entirely dependent on several factors: A) how badly you need a side hustle; B) the quality of items in your closet; and C) how committed you are to knocking this task out quickly. 

If you’ve got plenty of space and time, but not enough money, sell online.

Begin by finding a space in your home or garage where you can store tubs of clothing while they wait to be sold. My favorite tubs are clear Rubbermaid, with the latching lids. They are a little more expensive, but they’ll save your sanity. The lids don’t pop off. Be sure to measure your storage spaces and buy boxes that will fit there. If you’re on a tight budget, just use any storage containers that can be tucked out of sight. 

You should consider selling on Poshmark if your clothes are high end or trendy. Check out their selling guidelines here. To be successful with a Poshmark closet, you need to have access to a printer. I’m weirdly obsessed with our printer. I got the printer recommendation from John and Sherry Petersik, whose blog I’ve been following since 2010. They call it “the only printer we’ve ever liked.” Sold. I feel that in my bones. 

However, I don’t have the ideal closet for Poshmark, so my sales have slowed down dramatically. My closet is in good shape, but heavy on Old Navy, Carter’s, and Target. I’ve had better luck moving items in bulk off of Facebook Marketplace and ThredUp.

Facebook Marketplace has lots of inventory, and clothes go for cheap. They can move quickly, however! Just make sure you’re bundling like items and setting the price nice and low. Always search for similar items before pricing them to make sure you’re not being delusional about what they’re worth. I enjoy Facebook Marketplace, but I stick to porch pick up and allow buyers to drop money in my mailbox to avoid dangerous situations.

If you’d like the money but you’re short on time and space, try local consignment.

In my old stomping grounds, we had an amazing children’s consignment shop. I would keep a tub in my kids’ closets. When the tub got full, I’d just make a trip to my local consignment store. I easily made $1000 over the course of 3 years. They were efficient, friendly, and paid up front. It was amazing. 

When I came to my new town, I immediately checked out the kids’ consignment shop. It was a chain store, and I haven’t found other options. IT. IS. TERRIBLE. I want to shout from the rooftops how awful this place is. The employees are rude, the payout is terrible, and it takes forever just to drop off inventory. They won’t even let you leave the store while they sort your items. It’s so not worth it. 

Consignment shop experiences are so different. If you’ve got a mom and pop consignment place in your town, absolutely try there first! When you’ve got a great shop, it’s a dream solution! 

Use ThredUp to do online consignment if you have no patience for brick and mortar consignment stores. 

ThredUp is genius. It’s so easy, you never have to leave your house, you don’t need a printer, and you’ll get paid. The payout isn’t great, but you can sort of calculate how much you’ll make using their nifty guidelines

Another great feature is how they handle items they won’t sell. If you send them a bag full of clothes and they aren’t willing to sell 10% of it, you can tell them what to do with the clothes. They’ll either donate them or return the items to you. 

Because of this lovely pandemic, they’ve hit the pause button like many resell shops. They’ve got some great deals on shopping, though. I requested to be notified when they’re receiving inventory again. 

If you’ve got enough money, but not enough time or motivation, just donate it!

This is where it helps to just be real with yourself. If you’re not absolutely broke, and your motivation levels are iffy, just donate it already. Call it good! Not everyone has the energy to individually price things, take photos, and go through all that jazz. If you really want to get this job done in a snap, toss it all in a bag or basket and take it to the Salvation Army, or another local donation site. You can also donate to a friend, but be sure the items are high quality and truly wanted. That goes for all donation sites. 

Wardrobe Makeover Plan Step 2: Decide what needs to go.

Before we begin, realize that most people have a hard time parting with clothing items on which they spent a lot of money, even though they do not wear them. There’s guilt involved because we don’t enjoy being confronted by our own waste.

What most people don’t consider is the fleeting burden you’re feeling each morning when you bypass that same outfits every single day. You can feel guilty once by parting with the item for good, or you can feel that yucky, guilty feeling every single morning when you stare into an over-full, under-utilized wardrobe. Either way, you’ve already spent the money and you’re not wearing the items.

It’s much better to sell or donate so that you can either bless someone else with the item or regain some fraction of the money you spent on it. Part of a wardrobe makeover plan is coming to terms with your excessive buying and deciding to be at peace with your old mistakes. How else can you start fresh?

Start a trash pile.

If it’s got stains that won’t come out or holes of any size, just toss it. Set aside no more than two or three outfits that are for things like yard work and painting projects. Do not simply relocate these items to your pajama drawer, either. Even your pajamas can be decent quality, and no one with access to a washing machine needs more than 10 pairs of pajamas.

I once ran a church-wide garage sale, in which the proceeds ranged from $2000-$6000 each year. Lots of the items were in great shape. We got tons of clothes, and we were in a neighborhood where cheap clothing was badly needed. We would give customers a plastic grocery sack and let them fill it for $1 per bag. Even still, I had a community member once donate a bag of children’s underwear that was stained. That’s not cool, folks. Just toss it! 

Learn about seasonal color analysis, and use it to your advantage.

Another good place to start part 2 of your wardrobe makeover plan is by choosing a color palette and sticking with it. You can do this in one of two ways.

1) There’s something called Seasonal Color Analysis and it can really help you simplify your life. Here is a fantastic Youtube video that will help you begin. Discover what your colors are and stick with them. I’m a soft autumn with light skin, and my closet is almost entirely shades of plum, shades or orange and coral, and shades of soft green. 

2) If the good Lord created you to not fit neatly into one of those 12 seasons described in the Youtube video, that’s cool. It’s just a made-up construct, anyway. Celebrate your uniqueness! Instead, start looking at tops in your closet and cardigans. Hold them up next to your face in the mirror and study how the color looks against your skin. If it doesn’t make you want to do a happy dance, put it in the donate or sell pile.

It will be hard if you’ve not been very disciplined about buying the right colors, and you might be freaked out by how much is leaving your closet. Nevertheless, it can help you feel so much better about yourself when you look in the mirror. Most people look at their pile of wrong-color stuff and realize they rarely wore it anyway. As an example, soft autumns like myself look pretty bad in black and grey. Those are difficult colors to keep out of your wardrobe, but I feel kind of gross when I wear them. I’m trying to be intentional about not buying those anymore. 

Everything hanging in your closet needs to fit RIGHT NOW.

If it’s more than one size too big or too small, get it out of your home. A size 10 can justify hanging onto a size 8 or 12, but not the 6s and 14s. When clothes are way too small, you make yourself feel bad by having it in the closet. If you’re a bigger gal who just worked hard to lose two dress sizes, you should treat yourself to new stuff anyway. Also, are you hanging onto bigger clothes because you’re afraid you’ll regain the weight? Cut it out. You don’t need that negativity in your life. 

If an item is only one size off, you don’t have to get rid of it forever, but it’s better to store it out of sight. Making a million decisions each day is exhausting; you don’t want to make it harder by having hanging clothes that take up visual and mental space. It’s better to have a sparse closet of items you love rather than an over-full closet that frustrates or overwhelms you.

Put off-season items into a tub, or (if your closet is huge) hang them in a separate part of your wardrobe. 

There is no need to have all your scarves on display in July. Having them exposed to your eye is only creating more visual clutter and decision fatigue. 

If your closet can accommodate four seasons of clothes and still have breathing room between hangers, you will want to sort them by season. Then, put them in separate parts of your closet so that you’re not being overwhelmed by clothing that’s not really an option right now.

Next, look for duplicates.

Maybe you have two burnt orange cardigans that are within your color palette. You still don’t need two of them, and you’re probably wearing one of them way more often than the other. Ditch the lesser used duplicate unless you truly wear both of them very regularly. 

Jeans are an interesting thing to consider. Perhaps you’ve got a bunch of different styles and different washes. If you love them all equally and you’re a huge fan of denim, perhaps keep them.

But if you’re like me, I had the exact same pair of jeans in three different washes. I love those jeans. I also had several other types from different stores that didn’t fit me as well. Time to leave the house, pants! You’re not needed here. There’s no day of the week that I’m pulling on those other pants when my favorite jeans are hanging right next to them. 

Shoe Storage

I can appreciate a love of shoes; after all, the size never changes. That’s amazing. I have this shoe organizer, which has slots for 16 pairs. All of my shoes for the entire year fit in these 16 spaces. If I buy a new pair of shoes, another pair goes out. It forces me to be diligent about not overbuying, because I like every pair of shoes in my closet. I don’t want to part with any of them right now! I also don’t want shoes spilling out of the organizer. 

But you know what? I love that all of my shoes are easy to find in the morning. I’m not having to dig through some bucket, or pull out storage from under the bed, or any of that nonsense. I’ve made a decision that 16 pairs for the whole year is enough for me. Give it a shot. Maybe paring down shoes and accessories as part of your wardrobe makeover plan will give your closet some serious breathing room. 

Wardrobe Makeover Plan Step 3: Identify Wardrobe Gaps

Now that all the fluff is out of your wardrobe, you should be absolutely in love with every item you own. But you might also notice some big gaps that you didn’t realize were there before. You’re looking for staple wardrobe items that are just conspicuously absent. 

Perhaps this process has helped you discover that you’ve got four gorgeous work blouses that are begging for a black pencil skirt. If you’re like me, you’re thinking, “Um, how did I never notice that I don’t own a basic, black pencil skirt? Oops!” Similarly, you might find that you have 3 beautiful shirt dresses that would all get worn regularly if you just had a cute belt. That’s a cheap fix! 

Here’s where you’ll spend a bit of that $100 budget to fill in some gaps. Just make sure you’re spending wisely on game-changer wardrobe essentials! Let’s don’t repeat that ugly old pattern, right? This isn’t the time to splurge on a floral 1970s super fun top that matches nothing in your closet. I’m not great at buying clothes to be honest. I have decided that I’m not buying another dad-gum item without Facetiming my sister! She knows how to buy cute, on-trend clothes on a budget. Make use of the women in your life who are fashionable. They can help you find stuff that works on your budget, whatever it may be. 

Wardrobe Makeover Plan Step 4: Redecorate Your Freshly Minimized Closet

When all your clothes are spread out on your bed or the floor in piles, it’s a great time to paint. Treat yourself to a gallon of paint and stick some bright white on the walls. Mine are still yellowy cream, because I’m in an older home. We repainted every room of the house but left my closet alone for some reason. I’m convinced it’s making my clothes look dingy! 

Double check the lightbulb(s) in your closet. You want bright white, not anything yellowy. I’ve got weirdly strong opinions about lightbulbs, and these CREE bulbs are AMAZING LED bulbs. Your closet is a great spot to try them out! 

Another low-budget idea is to purchase enough hangers to re-hang your entire closet. I like these velvet hangers because clothes don’t slip as easily onto the floor. Stick to one color, preferably a neutral. You’d be amazed how much happier your eyeballs are with matching hangers!

Finally, don’t be afraid to decorate your closet a little bit. I once had a laundry room that was Dolly Parton themed. Closets are another great place to go a little nutty. If you have a style icon, blow up a picture of her and put it in a cheap frame on the wall! Or perhaps you’ve got a weird affinity for armadillos. What better place in your home for an armadillo print than in your closet? It can be our little secret. 

Revitalizing your wardrobe through this process does take quite a while. But the end result will be a wardrobe that eliminates stress, reduces decision fatigue, and makes you feel like the best version of yourself. And the best part is that you won’t spend much money doing so!

reorganize your closet