Cleaning Out Your Closet: Avoid Summer-To-Fall Wardrobe Overwhelm

We’re all familiar with those “Easily Transition Your Summer-To-Fall Wardrobe” articles screaming from magazine covers. And, yes, you’re hip to the fact that most of them are basically just photo shoots.

It’s after Labor Day. It’s easy to feel “tired and uninspired” by the time you’re finished reading the article.

I’ve been going into women’s closets for years to transform what they consider “leftovers” into workable outfits. Here’s what I suggest to make cleaning out your closet quite painless and, yes, even possibly fun.

#1 Before you even touch anything, TAKE A DEEP BREATH. Okay, now do what Donna Karan does when she designs each season’s clothing line. She considers what her purchasers’ lives will look like that season. Think about what you have going on this season. What’s your life going to be about for the next several months?

     What about:

1)  Weddings

2)  Special worship services

3)  Outdoors: art festivals, sports events, camping, etc.

4)  Homecoming games and festivities

5)  Gym activities

6)  Just some daily outfits that don’t make you look like the last wilted rose of summer

TIP:  Don’t forget to ask other people in your world about anything else going on that they haven’t told you about yet.

#2 Schedule a time. Make two appointments with yourself, preferably only a few days apart so you won’t lose your momentum. Why you may want to do two sessions: one for trying on and eliminating items you know you don’t need, want or need to be replaced and a second session for putting new outfits together from what you already own (more tips for this below). It allows you to actually enjoy the process, rather than feeling exhausted and discouraged via a marathon approach to cleaning out your closet. Yes, ask a friend to help out, if she won’t want to stop after 30 minutes or discourage you from getting rid of items you don’t need.


1) If you haven’t worn it in the last 18 months, be strong and face it: You’re not ever going to wear it. It DOESN’T MATTER what you paid for it…just do it.

2) There is no getting around trying on…just do it.

3) Make your stack of donation or resale consignment items. Then, actually follow through and take them. Get them out of your closet BEFORE your second session. Just do it.

4) DON’T MESS AROUND: After the try-on’s, take those items to the cleaners, shoe repair, mend them yourself or go to a reasonably-priced alterations place…now! Just do it.

TIP:  Small dry cleaners are great for finding better alterations prices. Don’t just settle on the first one you find: drive around your area, go in, ask prices, turnaround time, ask to see some of their work. is also a big help.

5) Have some pieces that you really believe you’re going to lose the weight to fit in again? Put them in their own “CWY” (Can’t Wear Yet) section in the back of your closet. Maybe, for some concrete, see-every-day inspiration, hang your favorite CWY item somewhere conspicuous in the front of the closet so that you see it each time you go in.


1) Think about what you have that is lightweight and could transition into fall, especially color-wise. Pull out the items (including accessories) that you love, even if you think you have nothing to wear with them.

2) See what you have to work with; fave pieces that you never have considered combining before. In other words, don’t just go into an “overwhelm coma,” thinking that what you are looking at is a mess of “leftovers.”

3) Take the outfits you have put together, lay them out as complete outfits and photo each outfit. Even if you don’t have one “element” you need (right shoes, accessory, top), see what you need to shop for and make a list. Take any key items you already have and will need to match up to the stores with you.

Don’t have anyone in your life to help with cleaning out your closet? Becca has been doing this for 20 years. For the price of one outfit, she can create 6 or more outfits from your current wardrobe in 2 hours.