Clothes Check: Yes, No, Not Today? Or Not Gonna Happen?

It’s that time of year again – for the age old back-to-school tradition (that works for everyone, and not just students!) of reviewing your clothes and closet to get ready for the new school year or season.

I know this activity can seem overwhelming, but here are a few suggestions to make it go more smoothly and reap better results!

Enlist Aid.  Phone A Friend.  Ask for Help.

Here is the thing – the minute we touch an item, we are more likely to keep it even if we don’t need it.  Ask for help – your friend / partner / confidant is there to hold up each item for your review.  Then you can make your decision about the item: Yes / Not Today  / Not Gonna Happen (See below).  And YOU are that friend / partner / confidant for your kids, if you’re tackling this project with them.

If you’re flying solo for this project, grab your clothes by the hanger and not the fabric.  It will help you make more objective decisions.

Set a timer.

We all need deadlines.  Many of us work better with external motivation, so set a timer for an hour or two and jump in.  We and our kids also need a “Hard Stop” – an end time – to know that this (occasionally unsavory) task will soon end, and then we can go do something else. Deadlines and hard stops increase motivation and focus.


Ok, not THIS kind of filter…

Set Your Filters:

Come up with your filters.  Get ready to ask yourself the same question over and over again. Make your filters easy and specific and maybe even funny, and ask them for every item of clothing.   For example, hold up (or have someone hold up for you) every item in your closet and ask yourself something like:

  • Every Day?
  • Yes, but Not Right Now (off season or dressy)?
  • Yes, But It’s a Keepsake (keep in a keepsake bin NOT in your closet)?
  • Never Gonna Happen / What Was I Thinking? / Where Did That Even Come From? etc.

Determine your decision-making filters ahead of time, and the process goes more smoothly!

You can set up size filters, too – for example, reviewing your kid’s clothes, and deciding that any item smaller than a size ???? (6T, adult small, insert your child’s current size here) needs to leave the closet and be passed on / sold / donated.  The size filters can be applied by you or a helper or a child to take the emotion out of the process!

I walked a college-bound young man through this process a few weeks ago.  We sorted his clothes into:

  • Yes: the clothes he wears every day that he will pack for college;
  • Yes, but not today: the clothes he will take to school in a few months, when the weather cools off;
  • Yes, but way back in the back of the closet: the clothes that he doesn’t wear but he would still like to keep, like his Grandfather’s hunting jacket; and
  • Not Gonna Happen: the clothes that he will never wear (either too small or doesn’t like) that can be bagged up, passed on or donated.
  • Maybe (this should be a VERY SMALL PILE!): Try it on, get it fixed, or just suck it up and Let It Go.  If you hesitate to keep an item, that should be your first and strongest indicator that it is really a Not Gonna Happen and should go.

With this young college man, each category of clothes hung in a different area of his closet, so packing will be really easy when it comes time to head to school.

So, ask for help, set a timer and use your filters as you spend some quality time with your clothes this week!  And for more info on the subject, here are more articles on this same topic!


Conquer Your (kid’s?) Clothes and Closet: Summer Project #1


Back To School: First Things First – Clothes!

A Better Way to Hang, for National Get Organized Month!

That age-old Ritual: Back To School Clothes Shopping!

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