Hey Red! What are the clothing rules?

What are the clothing rules? - A Side of Fabulous Blog

While working with a client the other day, she asks me: "What are your rules in regards to what clothing to keep and what to toss?"

All the clothes my client valiantly tossed out!

All the clothes my client valiantly tossed out!


This is something I think we all have a struggle with at one time or another, myself included. However, we have to be ruthless in our closet. When we aren't, we make it harder on ourselves to get ready in the morning.

And when you're half-awake, why do you want to make getting dressed any harder?

You only wear a small percentage of what's in there anyway. We want to change that to as close to 100% as we can get instead.

To take up valuable real estate in your closet, your clothing should:

Fit your current body.

Obviously we're not talking about the couple of pound fluctuation we get after a carbolicious meal or something like that, but overall the garment fits properly. You don't have to tug at it. Nothing spills out. You're not fidgeting and futzing with it the entire time you have it on. 

Fit your current lifestyle.

You want to dress for who you are now and the person you want to grow into, not the person you used to be. When I was a ballroom dancer, I had a closet devoted to formal wear, competition wear, and costumes. Since I spend my days up to my eyeballs in other people's clutter, that doesn't really fit the bill any more. If the clothing doesn't represent who you are now and the direction you're going, it needs to find a new home. Outside of your own.

Be in good condition.

There is nothing worse than reaching for and putting on your favorite sweater only to find it has a whole in it. Or there's a button missing from a shirt. Or your pants are stained. Checking all of your clothing for condition is a very important step in the closet cleaning process.

If the item isn't in good condition, can it be repaired to bring it back to it's former glory? If not, it's time to let it go. 

Now let's say that the item is in really bad condition, but you really, really love it. Two things to think about:

  • Does this item present the ideal you that you want to present when you wear it? If not, let it go. Seriously. Look, we've all been there. I may or may not have shed a tear or two when I had to give up my very favorite, perfect to my translucence nude, wedge sandals that I'd had for almost a decade when my shoe guy said he couldn't fix them anymore. (#noshame) Know that you gave the item a good home for the time you had it, and let it go.
  • Is the item purely sentimental? Give it a place of honor somewhere else so that it's not taking up space where you're looking for clothes you can actually wear. 

Make you feel fabulous.

When you put on this piece of clothing do you feel good. Do you feel confident? Do you feel like you at your best self? Do you receive compliments? If not, it goes. (Does not apply to a *few* items you can keep for doing grubby work. But that can go in a drawer. Fold lines don't matter when you're grubby.)

Disclaimer on weight management - if you are ACTIVELY doing something about your weight - eating clean and working out CONSISTENTLY - then you may keep a certain amount of clothing for the impending new body. Separate these items out from the rest of the wardrobe and give them a realistic deadline. (1-2lbs per week) Of the items you keep, they must:

  • be in good condition
  • be something you absolutely LOVE. Not kinda ok. LUUUUUUUUURVE. Or it goes.

If you don't fit in them at that deadline, let them go. Remember, if you haven't worn it in years, it may not fit the new body and your current lifestyle. The new body may not be the same composition as the last time you were that size. It may no longer be in style or represent your style.  Plus, many people are so excited about great weight loss that they want to buy new clothes in celebration.

It goes without saying that if you aren't actively doing any sort of weight management then anything that is too small or big goes. (Unless you decide to change that right now. Not *one day* but right. now.)

Pregnant? Same rules as active weight management - give yourself a reasonable, post-baby deadline and then get ruthless.


Pro tip: Don't use the "If you haven't worn it x amount of times" rule. Past usage doesn't properly indicate future usage. I may have worn something yesterday, but was super-uncomfortable so will get rid of it as soon as I take it off. I may have fabulous velvet pants that only have the occassion to wear every year or so. As long as it fits and makes me feel fabulous, it's OK.

Better rule of thumb: ask yourself if you're going to wear a piece again. If no, it goes. If yes, it stays. 


Cleaning out the clothes is a great way to create space for new items, as well as re-discover great items that you forgot you had. When you follow these rules, you'll know that you can easily grab any item in your closet, and it will fit, and make you feel fabulous.

So get in that closet, choose a rod to start clearing out and hit it!

What are your tried and true rules for deciding which clothes to let go of vs. keep?

Melinda Massie -  A Side of Fabulous

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