We'll help you declutter—and make room for new items you actually need.

By Laura Delarato
Updated January 21, 2020
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Why are we so insistent on hanging on to those pieces of clothing that just don't work for us anymore? You know what we're talking about—that dress you wore once (a decade ago!) and all of those scarves you've been keeping just in case. It's time to take the plunge and declutter the closet, a chore you've been meaning to tackle for years now. But how, exactly, should you get started?

Courtesy of California Closet

Before you start hunting for storage solutions, focus your efforts on eliminating as much clutter as you can; this includes items that you may not even consider clutter in the first place. After you do so, rather than leave empty hangers on the racks, remove them until it's time to add a new piece to your wardrobe. And those nostalgic items that you'll fondly look at every few weeks? They're taking up valuable real estate, so it's time to move those out of the way, too. Ahead, we've zeroed in on 10 items that are hogging space in your closet right now. Start by focusing on these pieces, then work your way through the rest with our organizing tips and tricks later in the New Year.

Old Denim

If you're swimming in a sea of denim, it's time to reevaluate—identify the pairs that don't fit well (or the ones you simply don't love) and toss them.

Concert T-Shirts

You'll always have the memories of your first teenage concert, but that doesn't mean you have to keep the t-shirt. It's time to let go of the shirt memorabilia, especially since they're keepsakes only (they don't get any wear time).

Ill-Fitting Clothes

Banish unreasonable body expectations and give yourself permission to give the dream dress that doesn't quite fit away. After all, it's just that: a dream. These items are also taking up physical space where a garment that actually fits you should live. A new motto to stick to in the new year? Buy clothes for your present self.

Too-High Heel Shoes

We all have a pair of high heels that we thought we might be brave enough to wear out one day, but if you can't walk in them in your hallway, you won't be able to feel comfortable out at dinner. Go ahead and part ways—you won't miss them (and your feet will thank you).

Relationship Mementos

The relationship ended, and now all the old sweatshirts or matching hats need to go, too. These items aren't just taking up physical space in your walk-in, but also emotional space.

Bridesmaids' Dresses

Even the one your bride friend promised you would be able to wear again. Years have passed and you haven't gotten the opportunity, which is why it's time to let it go.

Ill-Fitting Bras

A bra that pokes, prods, or slips is one that should already be in a donation pile—or in the trash if the underwire is broken.

Anything with Shoulder Pads

Sure, shoulder pads have made a comeback, but your old, ultra-structural party dresses or blazers don't quite match the updated interpretations of modernity. You know what that means: Add it to the donate pile.

Empty Hangers

Collections of paper and metal dry cleaning hangers add up fast—if you have several poking throughout your regular clothes, pull them out and scrap them. Move hangers you're saving—as in, the velvet-covered or wooden ones you've invested in—to the back of the rack, so they're easy access once you need them again.

Really Expensive Item You Never Wear

Your original thoughts on how you were going to wear this next-level piece were probably extraordinary. But if it's not already part of your party rotation, then it never will be. Do your best to find it a good home—consider a consignment service, for example—and then reinvest that money in a staple piece you'll turn to time and again.

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