Getting clothes into the “toss” pile

Generally I don’t have a hard time getting rid of things. I used to, but living in small apartments and moving frequently somehow cured me of my previous problem of clinging to everything from ticket stubs, socks with holes, and magazine that I’d read three times. However, one of my biggest hurdles is still getting rid of clothes.
What makes it even harder is that practically all advice I see on sorting and purging wardrobes sounds something like this:
Fix & Toss

I think we have a problem...

  1. try everything on
  2. make piles of keep, toss/donate and fix
  3. fix the “fix” pile, toss the “toss” pile
In reality, is it ever this easy?

My problem is, I never get things fixed, and nothing ever ends up in the toss pile. I always have an excuse, “one day it will fit”, “someday I’ll have a place to wear this”, “eventually I’ll want to be Daphne from Scooby Doo for Halloween again”. I think some of you probably share this line of excuses (well maybe except for the Scooby Doo part). So how do we get the clothes we really won’t wear again into the “toss” pile?

First, you have to be in the right mindset to tackle the problem. For me, I really have to be in the mood to try my clothes on (read: I’m feeling confident & attractive that day). If not, everything will feel horrible, I will get frustrated and give up. Usually I find myself in the mood really late at night when I should be sleeping!

Ok, now lets go through the piles one-by-one…

The “keep” pile

This pile is pretty easy to make. Some things you’ll know right away that you want to keep – I have about 8 tops that are in constant rotation that I would automatically put in the keep pile without trying on. But for those frequently worn things, look at the armpits, seams, etc. to make sure you SHOULD still be wearing them. If you look closely and it’s in fact… gross, then put it in the toss pile no matter how much it hurts. This is also a time to look at why you wear certain things over others, and use it to be more mindful when shopping. That way you’ll have less to toss in the future. I’m all about minimizing the pain here!

The “fix” pile

The first thing is to determine whether you can fix it, if you are willing to pay for someone else to fix it, or if it’s really hopeless. I’ll have upcoming posts on how to fix minor things like buttons, small holes and hems, but anything more major than that I leave to the professionals. Most dry cleaners can make repairs, so I would suggest bringing your fix pile with you the next time you drop off your dry cleaning and ask how much each repair would be, then go from there. If you really don’t think you’ll ever take something in to be fixed then it goes in the “toss” pile. Be realistic! 

The “toss” pile… the slow way


Turn shirts right-side-out after you wear them

My way of getting clothes into the “toss” pile is very simple. Just turn around all of your hangers and fold your clothes inside-out. Add a note to your calendar 1 month, 6 months and/or 1 year from now to go thorough your clothes (I didn’t say this was a quick process). As you wear clothes, when you put them back into your closet turn the hanger around, or fold right-side-out. When your reminder comes up on your calendar evaluate everything that is still backwards. See? Way easier to get rid of stuff.
For me, somehow seeing proof that I did not in fact wear something for 6 months (during its season, of course) gives me the push to actually get rid of it. Usually after a few weeks I’ve really got a good idea of what I don’t wear and can start the purging process.
The stripe's a gonner

The stripe's a gonner!

To further help me mentally process getting rid of clothes I also let my toss pile sit in a garbage bag in the garage for a month or so before donating it, just in case I want to fish something back out. I’ve almost never done this, but it lets me adjust to losing those things and further realize that in fact I DON’T WEAR THEM.

Wardrobe Size Maintenance – One in One Out

To prevent having to struggle through this purging process, I also I try to keep control of the size of my wardrobe. To do this I attempt to get rid of one clothing item for every one I purchase. While I’m still working on executing this method, even if I do it most of the time, it should keep things in control. Ideally, I get rid of the same type of item, e.g. a cardigan for a cardigan. This allows me to update my wardrobe, but also makes me think about what I would have to lose. Is that sparkly cardigan worth getting rid of one of my other ones? Well, I guess that depends on how sparkly it is!


What are your methods for keeping your closet under control and getting rid of things? I’d love to hear about it!

6 thoughts on “Getting clothes into the “toss” pile

  1. Reading this post brought back a lot of memories- thanks for helping me purge my closet time and time again! Hopefully I can start using these tips on my own now…

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