Make Over Your Closet: “One In, One Out”


You reach for that fitted blazer that no longer buttons, ready to purge it from your closet, and a little voice in your head says, “You might need this someday.”

When you (fill in blank: lose 10 pounds, go back to corporate America, etc.) that blazer might be just what you need. And full of guilt, you cram the blazer back into your overcrowded closet.

Sound familiar? If you’ve got rarely worn or ill-fitting clothing, footwear or handbags taking up precious closet real estate, consider implementing the “one in, one out” wardrobe policy. The rule: In order to buy something, you must get rid of something in your closet. (For more ideas, see Transform Your Wardrobe by Slow Shopping.)

Here are five ways that the “one in, one out” philosophy can help you make over your closet.

1. You’ll see the wisdom of clearing out sentimental items and putting them in their rightful place.

In storage, I have a sealed plastic box of neatly folded items that contains everything from my sons’ baptism outfits to my husband’s baby booties to my Lanz of Salzburg white eyelet prom dress. Did I want to let them go? No! Did they deserve to take up precious space in my closet? No! Now they are safely tucked away and I can look at them any time I want a trip down memory lane. Plus, I get to hang up a few new dresses that fit me now, not back when I was 16.

2. You’ll become ruthless about purging items that are showing wear. 

If you’re forced to free up some hangers before you buy, you’ll be more disciplined about getting rid of knitwear that’s starting to pill, woven button-down shirts that have shrunk with months of laundering, or sweater dresses that have stretched out of shape.

3. Your wardrobe will remain a consistent size. 

Your goal is not to be a clothes collector. Your goal is to have a fully functioning wardrobe of current items that you love. If you have ever stared into your closet and muttered, “I have tons of clothes and nothing to wear,” you already know it’s very hard to get dressed when your closet is bursting at the seams. Trim your wardrobe back as you go along and you’ll be able to see what you have—and if you can see it, you’re more likely to wear it.

4. You’ll realize what wardrobe items are pulling their weight. 

Tough love can be applied not only to wayward teens, but also to clothing. Wearing an item only once when it’s in season might indicate you don’t love it (unless it’s an evening gown or a black skirt suit that you wear for job interviews—those always have a place in your closet). If you’re rarely wearing it, pass it along to someone who will love it. My clothes are there to serve me, not vice versa. By getting rid of just-okay pieces, you can focus on what you love.

5. You’ll feel free to play with your style. 

Fashion is fun! You should set some style goals each season—say, you want to start wearing looser silhouettes, or layering short over long, or incorporating the color green. Letting go of the old means you can experiment with the new. I recently got rid of several pairs of skinny jeans that were worn and stretched in order to try the looser-fit boyfriend jeans, and I am in love!


The Boyfriend Jeans
The Cigarette Leg Jeans
Rag & Bone





laura-tiebert-writers-photoLaura Tiebert writes about how her family went from being homeowners to being renters, and how it changed their lives for the better, at