What Are Your Rules For Purging Clothing?

What Are Your Rules For Purging Clothing?

For most of us, new clothing comes in but not much clothing goes out. I still have T-shirts from high-school band events and stuff even older than that I haven’t worn since the 20th century. Some, more disciplined clutter assassins have rules for purging clothing such as getting rid of one old piece for each new one.

Image: net_efekt.

Personal finance weblog One Frugal Girl started asking about clothes purging rules after discovering she wore very little of her wardrobe. The “turtleneck that would look good skiing” and the “workout pants made from the material you’d want to wear on a rainy day” had to be purged.

I’m a big guy and I’m pretty hard on clothing. Being that I don’t care much for fashion I only buy clothing that is comfortable and usually earth-toned (unless it’s Firefly-themed). I also tend to not throw out shirts that have developed holes until they get to be the size of a five-cent coin. Same thing with socks and underwear. In addition to my coin-sized-hole rule, I should probably incorporate another rule to cull the weaker members of my wardrobe.

So, to get back to the title question, do you have rules for how and when to purge clothes? If so, share them in the comments below.

Do You Have Rules for Purging Clothing? [One Frugal Girl]


  • These things go:
    1. Clothes that no longer have (or perhaps have never had) a flattering fit.
    2. Clothes where the colours don’t really suit me (this is rarely the case nowadays, but everyone makes mistakes or is given gifts that don’t flatter).
    3. Clothes that no longer suit my personal style or lifestyle needs.
    4. Clothes that are shabby or damaged beyond repair. (Yes, I keep a few things for slumming and dirty work around the house and garden, but there’s a limit to how many of these are needed.)
    5. Clothes that have proven to be so inconvenient and time-consuming to launder/maintain that I’ve rarely worn them. (You know the kind of thing: hand wash in sheep’s milk and iron by the light of a full moon.)

  • PS. Oh, and out goes _any_ underwear that is slightly shabby or ‘grey’ or beginning to lose its stretch. Life’s too short to wear daggy undies!

  • I throw out any clothes that I don’t think I look good in – save for shirts I wear to bed, and clothes for house work.

    Not super fashion-conscious, but I have a certain standard to maintain!

  • This rule does not apply to expensive shirts or suits, but every year I put my jeans and tshirts into a pile. If they do not get worn by the end of the year and are still in that pile, I get rid of them.

  • One in, one out. Whenever I get something new something has to go. I usually pick things I have not worn in a long time or things I don’t like.

  • I always think about cut, condition, diet history and climate when purging.

    I give away clothing that was best suited to a particular climate that I don’t think I’ll be living in during the next decade. For example, I don’t need 3 winter coats in north QLD.

    If giving away clothing that is too small or too large, know yourself well enough to know that you REALLY won’t get back to that size. If you have a history of being a yo-yo, maybe you want to keep a few of the more timeless-looking pieces, particularly if they’re expensive. How great did I feel 3 years after giving away several DKNY suits that became too large for me after some weight loss… when I needed good business clothing in that larger size again due to gaining weight? Not only was I annoyed at gaining weight, but I was annoyed at buying more $800 suits when I’d just 3 years before sold 3-4 of them for $100 apiece.

    If you know that a particular style looks good on you, but only tends to show up on the retail racks once a decade, think twice, and then think a third time, before tossing that clothing for any reason. Better to toss a black t-shirt with not quite the right neckline, than a pair of dress pants whose cut flatters your waist and bum, but which you reserve for job interviews because they’re dry clean only. If you toss them, odds are that you won’t find a similarly flattering pair of black pants on the rack in 15 months, when you DO require them. For example, I cannot wear “square skirts”, those things that assume your waist, bum and across-the-thighs measurements are all the same. They may work fine for 15-year-olds and former Olympic swimmers, but they don’t quite work for my Marilyn Monroe-ish proportions. They bag at the waist terribly on me, and bind across the bum and thighs; in general, they look unkempt and many seamstresses have advised me they can’t even alter them to look decent on me. Many years, unfortunately, those account for 95% of what’s available in shops. So every skirt in my wardrobe that fits a waist 2 dress sizes smaller than the hip size it fits is precious to me, because it could be years before I see more in the stores.

    Is it just some random colored shirt that is easily replaced by a less-worn-out-looking or better-cut shirt? To Vinnies it goes.

    Frayed hem on the pants? Either get the hem raised so that the fraying is no longer there, turn them into shorts, relegate them to the “pants to wear while painting” box if there are less than 3 pair of pants in that box now, or out they go. Oh, and NEXT TIME, get your pants hemmed so that they don’t drag on the ground and get caught in your shoes, and you can avoid this problem. (If I could just make myself follow that rule….)

  • If you haven’t used it in 2 years, chuck it in a bag and send it to vinnies!
    also i go thru socks quickly so i use worn out socks as rags for cleaning the car

  • I always put all of my hangars on backwards at the start of the year.
    At the end of the year I see which ones are still in that position and recycle (op shop, eBay etc.) those.

  • Same as Ryan. Put the hanger on backwards, but I’m tougher and say that after 6 months if it hasn’t been worn then it goes. Just throw it all into a garbage bag and send it to St Vinnies or other op shop. The only exception to the rule is dress shirts/jackets/suits.

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