The Post-Pandemic Closet Purge –

I keep seeing readers remark that they’re doing a post-pandemic closet purge — especially their work wardrobes — so let’s discuss. What do you get rid of? What do you keep? Are you getting rid of things because things no longer fit (gained or lost weight, changed body shape) or because your lifestyle has changed?

For my $0.02 I remember seeing people in the first 6 months of the pandemic talking about how they got rid of 90% of their work clothes, which seemed extreme to me. But then I tend to be a hoarder – when I look at my closet to clean it out, my question is not “does it trigger joy” but “would it makes me happy if I found this at a thrift store”? Which admittedly is the wrong question if you don’t want a cluttered closet.

(I have a sort of clothes purgatory—a pile where things go that probably need to go out the door but get another go-through before it’s time to make the donation—and that’s helped somehow because it’s less stressful to say it in the pile.)

With the caveat that I’m a terrible declutterer, the things I’d get rid of are:

  • clothes that are way too trendy – look at the shape of the sleeves, lapels and shoulders more than the colors, in my opinion (unless you’ve had your colors done and now you know those colors aren’t good for you!) Denim can unfortunately fit into this category! It’s ok to keep things if you love them, even if they’re trendy
  • clothes that have never fit properlywould only fit properly if you lost the elusive 5 pounds, or needed to squeeze into significant shapewear
  • clothes that are too worn or damaged and was your “backup” outfit for any purpose…

I would seriously question this kind of clothing:

  • clothes you keep for sentimental reasons — especially large items like coats. I recently went through a spare bedroom in my parent’s house and found about 15 coats worn by my mother and grandmother – many were “WOW” moments because I recognized them from pictures or marveled at the design, but many of them had rips or tears in the lining or missing buttons and none fit me or my mom. So I took pictures of many, kept maybe 3 of the coats that seemed particularly well-preserved and cool, and immediately made about 4′ of closet space.
  • large number of clothes for situations that are now limited. Another example: a lot of people go through a phase in their 20s/30s where it seems like you’re going to weddings and showers all the time, and demand fun cocktail dresses all the time… but at some point that fades away these weddings and showers. Are you missing 15 wedding guest dresses? Probably not… so I will strongly reconsider which ones to keep. This is where I want to look at your workwear collection – how many sheath dresses do you need? I would keep 3-4, but if you have many more than that, forcefully ask why.
  • clothes you hang on to because of the brand alone. I admit I do this (again, I stink at cleaning up) — I keep things like the Celine skirt, the Armani pants, the Max Mara blazer… but I haven’t fit into that Celine skirt in 10 year. (Hope springs eternal!)

Things I wanted to keep

  • Basic you can dress it up or down – for example simple t-shirts and sweaters that flatter you
  • Pieces that do large layered piecessuch as colorful blouses
  • underwear like petticoats and camisoles (mostly because they don’t take up much space and you’ll reach for them one day and realize they’re gone…)

These are my best tips for what and how I would clean up. But let’s hear from you – what are you clearing out of your cupboards? Are you doing this because of fitness issues or because your lifestyle has changed? (If you have, how have you changed your shopping habits after a big purge?)

Stock photo via Stencil.

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