Editing Your Closet

Editing Your Closet

Editing, by its basic definition, is modifying and condensing something until it has reached its best form. Most often we think of how it applies to writing, photography, and film. But your closet can greatly benefit from some smart editing, too.

Take Stock

It’s helpful to establish a few set times each year for editing your closet. The change of seasons presents a natural opportunity: the beginning of fall and start of spring are great precedents.

Divide and Conquer

The most daunting aspect is getting started. Simplify this heavy step by establishing three piles. The first pile should be thing things you wear regularly. The second pile is the clothing you haven’t worn in the last year. And the third pile is all the clothing that needs to be repaired or tailored.

Process of Elimination

Everything in that first pile is “safe.” Congratulate it for surviving the first round of the edit, and set it aside.

Now you’ve got to make decisions. Look at that second pile, and determine why that clothing isn’t being worn. Unless you have a very good reason, anything that hasn’t seen wear in a year should go. Exceptions should be made for special occasion items, like the white tuxedo jacket that only comes out for formal weddings.

For the third pile, start with the clothing that has to be repaired. Identify what would need to be fixed and whether it would be worth it. Are you willing to have the knees of those jeans patched up, or would you rather put the cost of repair towards a new pair? There are reasons you haven’t repaired these items yet, and identifying those reasons is key.

For items that have to be tailored, identify what changes would need to be made. Slimming the body of a sportcoat is an easy fix: adjusting the size of the shoulders is undoable. Once you’ve divided the “possibles” and “impossibles,” take a hard look at those possibles and decide if the cost of alterations is worth it. If not, edit them out.


Take all the survivors from your second and third piles, and add them to the first. This is when the second round of editing begins. Look for the doubles, and decide whether there’s a case for keeping each. For instance, you may have two blue sportcoats, but the fact that one has jetted pockets and the other flap pockets make them different enough to keep for stylistic diversity.

Fill the Gaps

Congratulations: you’ve finished the edit. Now take the chance to view all the clothing you’ve decided to keep and see what isn’t there.

Do you have two blue sportcoats, but nothing in grey? Do you have many patterned shirts but just a handful of solids? Taking stock of your complete wardrobe will help you plan your next purchase on need, rather than impulse.

Pay it Forward

The clothing you’ve eliminated doesn’t just disappear through a hole in the floor. It’s all still there, and something has to be done about it.

Throwing away clothing is an undesirable option. It’s also an impediment to editing your closet in the first place: “I don’t want this to go to waste” is a catchphrase that keeps unworn items hanging up season after season.

Cut that excuse out entirely by donating your clothing instead. Aside from classic options like the Goodwill or the Salvation Army, there are also purpose-based charities that donate professional clothing to those in need.

The Guide: Hopsack

The Guide: Hopsack

The Guide: Lapels

The Guide: Lapels