A thorough closet cleanout is a vital part of my process with personal styling clients as we clear out the old to make room for their new look.
But even if you’re not working with a professional stylist, cleaning out your closet is an essential step towards creating great style.
Here are five closet cleanout style mantras to repeat to yourself as you’re cleaning out your wardrobe.
#1 “I have to let go of the past to have true style transformation.”
In my work as a stylist I’ve seen inside a ton of closets, and time after time, my most successful clients are the ones that are completely open to letting go of all the old clothes they don’t love.
Whether you realize it or not, having a closet crammed full of stuff is draining.
Staring at all those things you never wear — some of them still with tags on — day in and day out will wear you down, make you feel guilty and full of regret.
I find that my clients often have fears of letting go of the “wrong” thing — what if they miss it and can never find a piece like that again?
Shifting from that scarcity mindset to one of abundance is an important reframe: There are plenty of clothes out there that will work even better for you!
Logically, if you think about it– you have a long life ahead of you, it’s actually IMPOSSIBLE for you to never find an item you’ll love just as much ever again.
Another great mantra to say to yourself is: “As I empty my closet, I’m physically making space for new.”
#2 “This piece has had a good life with me — now someone else will enjoy it.”
I once worked with a client who had a hard time letting go of clothes during her closet edit.
Even though she was transitioning from the corporate world to being a new business owner, her wardrobe didn’t reflect it.
She was resistant to letting go of pieces she thought “maybe” would work in the future:
“Maybe I’ll have an event in the future”
“Maybe I’ll be able to wear it again when it’s colder outside”
“Maybe I can fit comfortably in it if I lose weight”
Maybe, maybe, maybe!
So I encouraged her to try out a new mindset when it came to donating clothing.
Instead of seeing it as a loss, view it as a moment of gratitude and say to yourself: “This piece of clothing had a good run with me, and now I’m sending it off so someone else can appreciate it.”
This is also a powerful reframe for anyone who feels guilt over getting rid of clothing because it was expensive or they feel like they “should” wear it.
#3 “I’ve learned from my mistakes and won’t make them again.”
I see so many closets filled with clothes that still have the tags on.
You probably have bought things that you imagined for some other version of yourself (that didn’t work out).
You probably have been distracted by sales and did an impulse buy.
You probably were so certain about a style in store when you tried it on but then got home and realized it just wasn’t you.
This is incredibly common, and while it can be guilt-inducing, there’s no need to beat yourself up over it.
Instead, I invite my clients to shift their perspective by repeating, “I’ve learned from this mistake and I won’t be making it again.”
A great way to avoid making that mistake going forward is to build your new closet using a simple capsule wardrobe framework and ultimately having a plan.
Check out my three-step system to help you create a wardrobe full of only things you love.
#4 “I want to love every piece in my closet.”
This is possible for you — it’s possible for everyone! — but it can feel overwhelming when you’re facing a closet full of unworn items and pieces that don’t work for you.
I invite you to think about it this way: The clothes in your closet are living there rent-free! That’s right, your clothes are squatters.
So if you’re allowing them to take up space in your home, you need to get something out of the relationship — and that is that you should love it, it should fit you properly, and you should be able to create multiple outfits with it.
If not, time to kick it to the curb.
#5 “Style is a skill that I can get better at.”
The closet cleanout process can feel overwhelming at times, and that’s completely normal.
When you’re forced to confront all those items you never wear and/or regret buying, it’s easy to feel like you’re “bad” at style.
But one thing I want you to remind yourself of during your closet edit is that style is a skill that you can hone — it simply takes intention, practice and patience.
Keeping these closet cleanout style mantras in mind will help you stay motivated, excited and feeling the momentum of your style transformation.
Remember: Great style is totally possible for you!
Cassandra Sethi is a NYC Personal Stylist and Image Consultant. After working over 15 years in the Fashion Industry, most recently as a Senior Buyer for Equinox, she created her business, Next Level Wardrobe – a luxury personal shopping service for successful professionals. Cassandra’s been featured in Greatist, Livestrong and NY Mag.