One easy way to clear your closet and switch up your style

closet clearout

Earlier this week, we spoke about New Year’s resolutions, and how many of them seem to revolve around clearing out of closets and freshening up our style, whether by changing it completely, or simply trying out something new. Well, here’s one way to achieve both of those aims, without the need for a lengthy closet-clearout, which often means you end up with nothing to actually WEAR. We don’t claim to have come up with this idea ourselves – it’s something we’ve read about on various sites over the years – but we CAN claim to have tried it out, and to have found it a really effective way to change the way we look at our closets, and to develop a style that works for us.

So, what do you need to do?

This technique works only for the clothes you can hang up, so…

First, hang up you clothes.

Regardless of whether or not you’re having a clearout, or attempting to break out of a style rut, we recommend hanging as many clothes as you possibly can, even the things you’d normally fold. Obviously this isn’t practical for everyone, but if you do have some hanging space at your disposal, use it (and consider adding extra hanging rails to your closet, if you can). When clothes are hung up, not only do they stay relatively crease-free, you can also see what you have at a glance, without having to rummage through a drawer, or disturb piles of clothing on a shelf.

When clothes are folded in drawers or stacked on shelves, it’s very easy to forget what’s at the bottom of the pile, or at the back of the drawer. We’re sure you’ve all had those weeks, or even months, when you just constantly wear the items that are closest to hand, washing and then replacing them, and never reaching the bottom of the pile, where forgotten treasures lurk.

So, hang up your clothes – or as many of them as you can, anyway.

Next, turn all of the hangers to face the same direction.

If you’re anything like us, you probably do this anyway: it makes your closet look neater and more organised, and we do love an organised closet. Unfortunately, the downside of this technique is that your closet will look a little messier for a while, because the next step in the process involves turning the hangers around to face the opposite direction each time you wear something and return it to the closet.

Each time you wear an item, turn the hanger it lives on to face the opposite direction.

Your goal, should you chose to accept it, is to turn all of the hangers around within the space of a year – or two years, or six months, or however long you feel is appropriate. In other words, the aim is to wear all of the clothes you own: by turning the hangers around, you’ll be able to see at a glance which items you’ve already worn during this “challenge”, and which ones you’re neglecting. Most people we’ve spoken to who’ve tried this have said that being able to instantly see how much of their wardrobe goes unworn at any given time helps inspire them to reach for the hangers which have yet to be “turned” more often, and to try to figure out a way to wear them. If that doesn’t work, then the item gets donated/binned/sold at the end of the specified time period: but by trying to find a way to MAKE it work, you might just find yourself trying out a style or combination you might not have come up with before, or just rediscovering an old favourite.

We like to use this technique every couple of years, and find it really helps to identify what we have too much off (You know you don’t need another black sweater when you’re faced with 15 of them, all hanging in a row…) and also to see where the gaps are in our closets. It’s easy to get stuck in the rut of wearing the same old things day after day, simply because they’re the first things that come to hand, but when faced with the evidence of all of the items you’re neglecting, it can also provide the inspiration needed to get them back into rotation.  Of course, you can simply have a massive clear-out at the start of the year/season, but as well as being fairly time-consuming, we sometimes find it hard to decide which items to keep and which to chuck unless we’re actually attempting to wear them. (Is it just us who decides to donate something during a clearout, only to regret it a couple of weeks later?)

We reckon it would be easy enough to modify this technique for folded items, too – perhaps by designating one drawer/shelf for items that have already been worn, and one for the things that are still untouched – but, as always, if you have any other ideas on how to utilise your closet more effectively, we’d love to hear them!


  • January 9, 2014


    I rotate my clothes seasonally, and do a clean out then. Over a few months of summer or winter, I can remember reasonably well what I have and have not worn. I also get bored with the same old outfits quickly and by the end of the season find myself rummaging/reaching for unworn stuff just to change it up a bit. So I guess I do this more in my head than in my closet, but the visual reminder would be interesting.

    I do keep a small wardrobe of nice clothes that I don’t necessarily wear every season. I work from home, and don’t need a suit/jacket/trousers very often, but I keep some on hand, just in case.

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  • January 9, 2014


    Some of my clothes I have no choice but to fold, as I haven’t got the space to hang everything. But that idea about keeping one drawer for things yet to be worn, & another for clothes that have been worn is a really useful one! I do have some room to try that out, & I will. Thanks.

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  • January 26, 2014

    Annette Tirette

    Hanging everything is not the greatest idea though, especially for knit items… Things like sweaters or knit dresses might stretch due to the weight, or the shoulders might get warped because of the hanger. There’s a reason why knits are supposed to be dried flat!

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  • February 7, 2014


    I make it a rule to put washed and folded garments on the bottom of their pile. That means, I lift the rest out, put the washed in, and what was already in the pile on top. Much like I pull the tin cans in my cupboard to the front when I put in new ones. Like Lizvocal, I rotate my clothes seasonally and try to come up with a new organizing scheme every time: Colors one year, shape next, then according to occasion etc. It feels like having an entirely new wardrobe every time. But obviously I have a rather samll wardrobe compared with the rest of you, or a better memory: I know what I have to the last piece. Maybe I do not remember all socks and knickers, but the rest I could write down by heart.

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