15 Things in Your Closet You Can Throw Out Today


Be honest — if your closet were a TV show, would it be Project Runway or Hoarders? If it's time to call in a backup team equipped with shovels and Hefty bags, maybe you just need a little help separating wearable clothes from the unbearable clutter. (See also: 15 Things in Your Kitchen You Should Throw Out Today)

Here's a list of 15 things in your closet that you can throw out today.

1. Clothes With the Tags Still Attached

Let's face it, if you've purchased a piece of clothing but never removed the tags and worn it, there's probably a reason. Cut your losses. Return the item if you can or donate it to your favorite charity.

2. Old Bridesmaid Dresses

Sure, the bride may have promised you'd get years of versatile wear out of that fuschia and black dress, but it's just hasn't worked out that way. Donate it so that some young woman can pull a Pretty in Pink and harvest it to create an original prom dress.

3. Mismatched Socks

We may never fully understand how pairs of perfectly good socks lose their mates. Stop wondering and don't try to force a mismatched marriage. Move the loners to your rag drawer; they make great dust rags. Or, explore other creative uses for old socks.

4. Free Promotional Clothing

Do you have an upcoming event where a t-shirt advertising a low rate at Bill's Discount Autos is de rigueur? I didn't think so. Consider donating most of your promotional clothing.

5. Sentimental Clothes

It's a natural impulse to keep clothing that means something to us. Your first college sweatshirt, a t-shirt from a marathon you spent months training for, a scarf from your favorite aunt. But if you're not still using any of these items, maybe it's time to store the memories and let the items go.

6. College Tees

It's perfectly acceptable to wear a college t-shirt — if you actually attended college there, if you're forking over crazy tuition for a kid who attends, or if you're employed there. Otherwise, toss those tees or explore ways to creatively recycle them. Wearing random college swag might have been hip for about five minutes in the late 80s, but the moment has passed.

7. Anything With Blown Elastic

Socks, bras, and underwear all require elastic to be comfortable and fulfill their important wardrobe functions. Remember that and live by this this mantra: When the elastic blows, the item goes.

8. Clothes Saved From Old Relationships

We've all collected a few clothing pieces from previous relationships. But wearing them regularly is the wardrobe equivalent walking around in a scrapbook. Whether we consciously realize it or not, these items can make us melancholy and keep us literally wrapped up the past.

9. Damaged or Stained Clothes

Damaged clothes present a special challenge for many people. If we love the item, we tell ourselves we'll repair that rip, replace that zipper, or research how to remove a stubborn stain. But we seldom find the time. That's why damaged and stained clothing can languish in the back of our closets for years. Be honest and realistic with yourself. If you can't — or won't — repair it, toss it.

10. Clothes That Don't Fit

If it's too tight, too short, too long, or too big, why keep it around? If a piece of clothing can't be tailored, clear it out and make room for something that fits just right.

11. Clothes That Aren't Comfortable

That wool sweater that makes you itch just looking at it, those pointy shoes that turn every step into exquisite torture, those jeans that hug all the wrong places — scrap 'em all. Life is too short (and our closets are too small) for clothes that aren't comfortable.

12. Clothes With Pilling

It's not always easy to keep clothes looking new. Depending on the fabric and the weave, pilling is just a fact of life. Though there are pill-removing devices, relying on them is often an exercise in futility — you really shouldn't have to shave you sweater before you wear it. Toss what's pill-prone and shelve your shaver.

13. Unflattering Clothes

I can't wear low-rise jeans; I know it and I accept it. But every time I shop for jeans I'm tempted to buy a pair because finding an alternative is nearly impossible. Facing a high tide of low-rise jeans, I completely understand how folks end up buying a piece of clothing that's just not right for their body type. If something unflattering has wound up in your closet, embrace the fact that you wouldn't — and shouldn't — wear it. Pass the item on to someone who can really pull it off.

14. Clothing That's Out of Style

1982 called, and it wants those parachute pants back. Holding out until items come back in style is a misguided strategy; either the cuts have slightly changed or our waistlines have "evolved." Delight a hipster and sell these retro fashions for a premium on eBay.

15. Faded Black Clothing

Black can't handle even the slightest fading. If that little black dress, black shirt, or black cotton sweater is obviously going gray, give up the ghost. Chuck it and look for a replacement.

Just imagine it: a closet purged of every single thing that isn't flattering and wearable. It's not an urban myth and it's entirely doable with a bit of discipline and diligence. Oh, and once you declutter your messy closet, explore new ways to organize it. You just may love the results so much that you finally tackle what's under the bed.

What's in your closet that you can toss, recycle, or donate today? What have you been holding onto for years?

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Guest's picture

Have to disagree on the last one. A box of Rit can work wonders.

Guest's picture

I just read "the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" and I definitely JUST did this to my wardrobe this weekend. My closet and drawers are now flawless! I kept a few things that I don't love, because they're either quite warm or work staples that I haven't replaced yet (two thin, slightly-pilled cardigans). I had more than a few items that still had tags on them. My new rules for buying clothes are it MUST fit, and I must LOVE IT.
I also kept one holey, old t-shirt because it reminds me of a beloved pet :3

Guest's picture

I'm totally guilty of numbers 2 and 5. Convicted, thanks. Now to get out of the internet black hole and off to the closet...

Guest's picture

I have a rugby shirt of my dad's (he died in 1990) and even though I don't wear it, I will never get rid of it. I have so few things of his.

Guest's picture

As a knitter, I have to disagree with #12. Cheap clothes that are pill-prone do need to go, but some fine wools will have an initial period of pilling which slows over time, and all knits will pill some. (Having said that, I had a cheap merino sweater that pilled when I looked at it, and that I got rid of - better quality sweaters won't pill as much).

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