The following is an excerpt from Wear No Evil: How to Change the World With Your Wardrobe (2014, Running Press) by Greta Eagan
Cleaning out your closet is so wonderfully cathartic, and many Feng Shui masters will tell you that creating organized spaces helps to open up the flow of energy and allow for new things to come into your life. William Spear, the author of Feng Shui Made Easy, once said to me, “if your drawers, closets, and shelves are stuffed and overflowing in a disheveled mess, how can you expect the Universe to deliver anything more? There is no space for more!” The goal of this game is to evaluate, store, and purge. (Tip: Choose a day when you have a good amount of free time (at least two or three uninterrupted hours) to dive into this exercise.)
LOOK AND SEE
This is the phase when you look at every single piece of clothing, jewelry, footwear, intimate apparel, and so forth in your closet. Think of this exercise as a closet detox, and after you’ve finished, your closet will be a good five to 10 pounds lighter, with a clean, healthy glow.
You can start section by section. Maybe take a look at all the pieces hanging in your closet first, and then move on to your drawers, and then your shoes. For every piece you pull out to evaluate, you will give it a yes, no, or maybe rating. You can start these corresponding piles on your bed or floor while you move through this sorting
YES: A yes item is something that you don’t hesitate to keep. It is most likely a piece that you wear often or has some sentimental value. It feels great to recognize the pieces you know and love in your wardrobe, but take care to be honest with yourself about how often you actually wear them.
After you’ve finished, your closet will be a good five to 10 pounds lighter, with a clean, healthy glow.
NO: Saying no can be hard at first, and this is why I recommend you have a friend there with you who can give trusted and honest feedback. If you hesitate or are hard-pressed to remember the last time you wore the piece, it might be a no. If the piece still has the hangtag, has never been worn, and has been sitting in your closet for over a year, it is not for you. Let it go. If you pull out pieces that are ripped (unintentionally) and have wear and tear beyond repair, they too are nos.
Nos should be cleared out of your space entirely and can be donated to Goodwill and local thrift stores or placed in a clothing collection bin. If you do feel that some of the pieces in your no pile warrant a price (like quality designer goods), you can sell them through consignment shops, online, or enter them in clothing swaps.
MAYBE: Yes and no can be a little black and white, so sometimes you need a gray area. That is what the maybe pile is for.
The maybe pile is a safe space for a second evaluation. So if you have a piece that was expensive or a gift and you don’t really wear it but you’re not sure you are ready to cut it loose, the maybe pile is a good holding place.
Pretty much anything that is not a for-sure yes but you are unsure about straight-up getting rid of should go into this pile. I even tell my clients to make a maybe pile that they store and will reevaluate in three to six months’ time. If it is still a maybe and you don’t pull it out of the pile to wear it after not seeing it for a few months, you can confidently move it to the no pile.
PURGE, BABY, PURGE
DONATE: Perhaps the easiest way to discard old clothing you no longer want is to take it to a Goodwill store or a Salvation Army shop and donate it. Simply check their drop-off days and times and then make a trip.
In many urban settings independent companies, like Wearable Collections (in the New York area) have set up collection bins within big doorman buildings, so you may not even have to leave home
Across the United States, USAgain offers collection resources and even allows you to host a collection bin for your neighborhood.
Lastly, use The Thrift Shopper to search a nationwide directory of thrift stores to find one near you to donate to.
SELL: If the pieces you are prepared to part with are designer or have some vintage value, try selling them before you donate them—you could make some extra cash in the process!
There are numerous consignment shops in every community, so do a simple Google search or take a peek in the yellow pages.
Additionally, there are quite a few successful online platforms you can list and sell on. I’ll provide a whole list of those options in the following section.
RECYCLE: Sometimes the pieces you are throwing out are no longer suitable for you or anyone else to wear, but that doesn’t mean that they should go to the landfill. More and more textile recycling companies and resources are popping up to offer a more responsible way to discard “end of life” clothing.
CLOSET TO CASH
There are a number of sites you can use to list items to sell and turn your closet into cash. These are my favorites.
Material Wrld: a curated community of influencers selling designer classics and on-trend updaters.
TreadFlip: a wider market place with unlimited access and listings that range from cheap thrills to designer investments.
Copious: started by a guy formerly at Facebook, this secondhand selling site plugs in all the social apps and has been one of the more successful selling platforms that I’ve used.
The Cools: a unique offering and community that celebrates independent designers and more original listings.
The Real Real: one of the best places to shop and sell authentic secondhand designer goods, including clothing, handbags, shoes, and jewelry.
Vaunte.com: an exclusive luxury online closet-sharing site that allows you to list and buy luxury goods . . . if you can score an invite to join!
Wearing no evil is one part ethics and one part style. When you have a clear and strong sense of your style you make fewer fashion mistakes with your purchases, and that leads to a long-lasting, sustainable wardrobe.