I Asked a Fashion Editor to Clean Out My Closet & Here Are 3 Things I Learned

We’ve reached that point in March when most of our New Year’s resolutions have already fallen by the wayside. However, there are a few that I’m especially committed to seeing through in 2021.

One of those is transforming my relationship with my wardrobe. Lately, I’ve felt pretty irresponsible with my shopping choices. I know, it might sound pretty dramatic—but hear me out. As a twenty-something living in a big city (and paying rent in said city), trying to resist the urge to shop fast-fashion and instead invest in more quality pieces—for the sake of sustainability—is a struggle. But I’ve officially reached the point where I take one glance at my closet, grimace and think “Really Angie?” Not only have I been overindulging in super trendy items that cause more damage to the environment than good to my closet, but the lack of quality is kind of embarrassing. I’m looking at you, Forever21 blouse that started unraveling at the seams after the first wear.

So, in the spirit of adulting, I reached out to PureWow Fashion Director, Dena Silver, to get her professional opinion on how to clean out my closet. We hopped on a video call and came up with a game plan for deciding exactly what I should get rid of, and more importantly, the reasons why they needed to go. Together we were able to draft a list of three rules that every woman should refer to when doing a closet cleanse of her own. So, grab some bags, put on your favorite playlist, and get ready to purge!

fashion editor closet cleaning tips quality over trends
Angie Martinez-Tejada

1. Choose Quality Over Trends

It’s really hard for me to get rid of clothing because I know that trends are cyclical. I have a somewhat irrational fear of getting rid of a piece only to see it on Instagram months later and feeling a major pang of regret. However, my current pieces from Zara, H&M and other fast fashion brands aren't really designed to be worn forever. In fact, most of those affordable items are already showing signs of pilling, fading or ripping—and there’s nothing adult about wearing clothing that makes you look sloppy. Silver sternly told me: “if your clothes show any signs of damage, like frayed hemlines or underarm stains, then it’s definitely time to toss them.” See ya, chunky green sweater with moth holes!

fashion editor closet cleaning tips listen to your buttons
Angie Martinez-Tejada

2. Listen To Your Buttons And Zippers

We’ve all got that one piece that we really love, but sadly, it doesn’t love us back. Yes, I’m talking about fit. For me, that’s the utility-style mini skirt that I wore all through 2019. It looked good with every type of top, from edgy T-shirts to cozy sweaters, but nowadays I can’t even close the zipper. And that’s ok, we’re all human and our bodies change over time. But that’s no excuse to let this skirt take up my precious closet space.

For bottoms, Silver suggests tossing anything that hasn’t fit for the past three months. So, if it doesn’t button or zip up, it’s gotta go. If the pants or skirt are a little too big (but no more than two fingers in the waistband big), they could be taken to a tailor for a quick tweak. As for tops? Silver informed me that “if the buttons are straining or the shoulder seams aren’t falling in the right place, it’s too small.”, we should listen to our seams too? Woah, game-changer.

fashion editor closet cleaning tips clothing has a timeline
Angie Martinez-Tejada

3. Clothing Does Have A Timeline

Sometimes, looking into my closet feels like staring at all the fads I’ve loved over the past seven years…which means I still have some teeny sequin dresses and off-the-shoulder tops I haven’t even touched since I was in college. And this is where the one-year rule comes in. It basically encourages us to get rid of anything that we haven’t worn within the past year. But, thanks to stay-at-home orders brought by the pandemic, that pretty much applies to every formal item we might own. So, during these unprecedented times, Silver suggests adding a buffer of six months, to help you decide what truly needs to go. She reassured me that I won’t regret tossing these items, since they’re not even in my regular rotation.

That’s it! Nothing too overwhelming, right? Well, it might be if you have a towering pile of discarded clothes staring back at you. If so, consider donating those gently pre-loved items to a non-profit organization like Dress for Success or Planet Aid, so that you can ensure your former wardrobe staples are headed to a new home—and not a landfill. That way you’re being sustainable and creating room for the new investment pieces you’ll be excited to wear.