It’s been a year since I started to tackle decluttering my closet. I gotta admit the thought of going through my wardrobe and seeing all the purchases I had made over the years was a bit daunting. So much so that I had been putting it off for quite a long while. Alas, it had to be done. So I came up with a game of sorts to coerce myself into doing it: the 52-week closet challenge. Now that the year is over, I’m here to share my tips and results of downsizing my closet this way.
If you also have all the signs that you have too many clothes in your closet, this post can offer some encouragement if you’re interested in decluttering your closet, but have been feeling timid about starting.
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How I Started the Closet Challenge
Over the course of a year, I decided to declutter one item from my closet each week. After procrastinating on re-organising my wardrobe for the past few years, this seemed like a simple enough goal that even I could reach every week.
So instead of emptying out the contents of my closet and making a huge Konmari mess of the bedroom, I made a conscious effort to evaluate my clothing choices each day as I got dressed. This meant asking myself if I truly liked the item of clothing I was putting on. I also paid more attention to how I felt in it as the day wore on. If I didn’t like what I was wearing or it left me feeling frumpy and uncomfortable, I let it go.
This daily evaluation process was an important part of the 52-week closet challenge because it made me continually assess my wardrobe each day and identify items that were no longer serving me. It essentially made me more mindful about only keeping items that I truly loved and felt good in.
My plan was to sort every item I decided to let go into one of three categories: re-sale, donate, or recycle.
Tips to Downsize a Closet for a Clearout Challenge
To make the sorting process easier, I used a rolling rack to hang everything dedicated to re-sale. I kept a bag hanging on this rack for items to be donated to the Red Cross. Once a month, I’d walk the bag over to them when it was full.
If I sorted out an item that was neither suitable for resale, nor donation, my plan was to discard it via textile recycling. As it turns out though, nothing I weeded out qualified for this category.
What can you do with all the stuff you declutter? Nowadays, donations often wind up in our landfills because charities are overwhelmed with the amount of stuff we're donating. Check out my in-depth posts on how you can make some pocket money decluttering and all the things you can do with stuff you've sorted out.
At the bottom of the rack, I collected packaging materials from my usual household deliveries. I re-used these to ship out items I sold online. I’m big on sustainability plus it was helpful always having shipping materials on hand whenever that sales gong on eBay went off.
Nice side effect: my buyers loved that I shipped stuff out on the same day. That helped me get five-star reviews everywhere.
That was pretty much it in terms of “equipment” and game plan. Since I already had the hanging rack, I didn’t need to buy anything. The rack is generally a handy thing to have, and it’s one of my best tips to downsize a closet. Plus, when you’re not using it for decluttering, it’s useful on laundry and ironing days. Or for hanging guests’ coats when you’re having a party.
What I Wound Up Purging
Mission over-accomplished! By the end of the 52 weeks, I had sorted out a grand total of 62 items of clothing. This included clothes that no longer fit, were out of style, or were just taking up space in my closet with the tags still on. I also scrupulously decluttered footwear.
I found that it was helpful to be realistic about my likelihood of wearing certain items in the future. If I couldn’t see myself wearing something or if the shoes hurt my feet, it was time to let them go.
Of the 62 items, I donated 27 and sold 35. All in all, I was able to recoup about 75% of what I had originally spent. That’s pretty high for pre-loved items, especially considering the commission and fees I paid at the online marketplaces.
Platforms I Used for Re-Selling
To re-sell some of the items I no longer wanted, I used a few different platforms. If you’re planning on re-selling, one of the best tips to downsize your closet that I found particularly helpful was Vestiaire Collective. It’s a huge marketplace specifically geared to buying and selling designer secondhand clothes. They do take a pretty big cut of your earnings, but because they handle all of the shipping and authentication costs, I don’t mind paying a premium for that level of comfort.
I also used Vinted, Depop and eBay, all of which are well-known online marketplaces for secondhand clothing. These platforms were good for clothing from the high street that was still like new.
Just in case you’re curious where I had the most success unloading my clothes, Vestiaire Collective brought in the most money, followed by Vinted and Depop. I had less success on eBay and have the impression that folks don’t go there much anymore for pre-loved clothing.
Out with the Old… and in with More New?
I’m far from perfect and did do some shopping this past year. It was pretty lean compared to past years though. With the exception of handbags (which I passionately collect), I stuck to the “one it, one out” rule.
Most of what I wound up purchasing this year was in the shoe or handbag department, but I did pick up some items of clothing as well. Everything was on sale or vintage. Because I was still feeling guilty about the shopping though, I decluttered ten additional items as I was hitting the end spurt of my challenge. This is how I arrived at 62 instead of 52 decluttered items at year’s end.
Would I Do It Again?
In short: yes. By consistently evaluating my clothing, I was able to effectively declutter my closet and start building a wardrobe that better reflects my personal style and makes me feel good.
Another great side effect of the 52-week challenge is that it’s made me more intentional about my choices when I buy new clothes. Now when I catch myself eyeballing something new, I’m able to walk (or click) away a lot more quickly. I usually realise that I either don’t have anywhere to wear the item in question too, or that it’s more suited to Harry Styles’ lifestyle than my own.
Overall, the challenge was a success in helping me free up some space (and overcome procrastination). By breaking down what seemed to be a mammoth task into 52 smaller, manageable chunks and focusing on one item, one week at a time, I was able to make progress and eventually accomplish my goal
In such, I’d definitely do this challenge again. In fact, I’m continuing the challenge for another few months or so this year. I still have another whole section of the closet to declutter, after all. 🤦🏻♀️
I hope this experience can serve as a bit of inspiration if you’re thinking about finally downsizing your own closet. With a wee bit of determination and a structured approach, it is indeed possible to make slow, but significant progress on even the most overflowing of closets.