We’ve all been there, standing in front of our own closet or that of a loved one. There are so many items of clothing that you could open up a small department store. Dresses, coats, windbreakers, suits, work outfits, dress shoes, weekend wear, and more. You probably don’t need half of it, and if you’re looking at a loved one’s closet, you may not need any of it at all.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Tips for Helping You Let Go of Clothes You Don’t Need
- Options for Donating or Giving Away Unwanted Clothes
- Where You Can Sell Unwanted Clothing Online or In-Store
- Tips for Selling Your Unwanted Clothing
If you find yourself in this situation, keep on reading. We’ll help you sort through the arduous task of clearing out your closet or an inherited house full of stuff and getting rid of clothes you no longer need.
Tips for Helping You Let Go of Clothes You Don’t Need
Here are helpful tips for your closet-cleaning party. Whether you want to undertake this task or not, this will help you get going.
Just get started
Sometimes the hardest part of getting organized is getting started. Rather than trying to figure out the first piece that should leave, take the plunge and blindly grab an item from the closet. Make a determination then and there whether you want to keep it or let it go.
Start a pile with that first item―whether it’s the “stay” or the “donate” pile. Once you’ve got the first item figured out, go back for another. You’ll be halfway through the closet before you know it.
Take a picture
If you’re trying to get rid of a slightly sentimental piece from your closet, or while you’re cleaning out your elderly parent's house, take a picture. The picture will help you later as you think back on the memories the item of clothing brings up.
If you’re planning to sell a nicer item of clothing, take a picture so you’ll be ready to post it online.
Pro tip: If you can borrow a mannequin or a clothing form, take pictures of the items on the mannequin. This will help your pictures pop when you want to sell them and help you remember what the full outfit looked like when worn.
Think of the memory
Clothing can be hard to get rid of or sell due to the emotional connection it often has. But just because an item has sentimental value doesn’t mean you should keep it in your closet forever.
When trying to let go of these items, think of the memory or the feelings they produce. Take a picture of the full outfit, then make a note to go along with the picture. Write down the memory or feeling associated with the item of clothing. Make a note of seasonal associations and when you remember wearing the item or remember your loved one wearing it.
Pro tip: If you have numerous items of clothing that produce emotional responses, consider creating a personal “look book” with those items. Take pictures of each outfit, note down how they make you feel/think, and when you’re finished, compile all the pictures and notes into a digital photo album that you can look back at.
Use the Kondo Method
Marie Kondo became famous for her method of helping people declutter and downsize. Though she has a whole book about it, you can boil the basic principle down to one question: does it bring you joy?
Take an article of clothing out of the closet, and ask yourself if it brings you joy. If the answer is yes, set it aside. If the answer is no, put it into the “donate” or “sell” pile. Return to the “yes” pile and repeat the process. In the end, you’ll have several items you love, no items you hate, and a much cleaner closet.
Use piles to organize
When cleaning out a closet, piles are your friend. Create a pile for items you want to donate, sell, or keep. What should be in each pile?
- Donate or sell: Clothing that is up to date and current in fashion trends or fashionably vintage. These items are wearable, show no major wear, and have no rips, tears, or stains.
- Keep: Items you plan on wearing or heirloom clothing pieces from your loved one go in this pile.
Pro tip: Have clothing with rips, tears, or stains? Donate them to Planet Aid, a charity that recycles old, worn-out clothing.
Think of the new recipients
Your clothing sales or donations are going to bring a smile to someone’s face. You never know what your or your loved one’s closet of clothes could mean to someone else. Think of the people who might purchase or receive these items and let that bring you joy as you let them go.
Options for Donating or Giving Away Unwanted Clothes
Don’t have the time or energy to sell a closet worth of clothing? Giving them away might be the answer. Here are several popular places where you can donate and give away unwanted clothes.
Thrift stores take nearly any type of unwanted clothing items. Most thrift stores post helpful “dos and don’ts” on their website to help with the donating procedure, in addition to outlining the types of items they will or will not take.
Thrift stores might be charities but not always. If you have no non-profit, charity-oriented thrift stores in your area, look for local charities, instead. These include well-known places like Salvation Army, Goodwill, the American Red Cross, and Vietnam Veterans of America. Lesser-known charities include Planet Aid, One Warm Coat, and Dress for Success.
Pro tip: Planet Aid will take all clothing, no matter the condition. If an item of clothing can’t be given away due to wear and tear, they will recycle it and make new clothing!
Think you can only sell items on Facebook Marketplace? Think again! Facebook Marketplace lets you list items for sale, but you can always give them away by marking the listing as “Free” and setting an asking price of $0.
Pro tip: Specify that your clothing is free to anyone willing to pick it up or meet you at a location of your choice.
Local clothing closet
Many churches and other religious organizations operate a clothing closet for people in need. Inquire with organizations in your area to see if this exists around you. Clothing closets are similar to food pantries―people with a need can come and “shop” for goods or items of clothing and will receive them free of charge.
Individual yard sale
If you’re planning to have a yard sale with your loved one’s estate, post advertisements and note that all clothing is free. This tactic works well if you want to draw people to your sale to look at other items while making sure you get rid of unwanted clothing.
Group yard sale
Non-profit organizations will hold group yard sales from time to time. These yard sales are put on by multiple people/families in the community who want to support the organization. If you’re looking for a place to donate unwanted clothing, this is it. Group yard sales often gladly take donations for their sale since all proceeds go directly toward a non-profit initiative.
Where You Can Sell Unwanted Clothing Online or In-Store
If you’ve got the time and would appreciate the extra cash from selling unwanted clothing, check out these popular in-store and online options.
Consignment stores will sell items you bring in for you. They will take a percentage of the sale price and give you the rest. Considering they do all the work of finding a place in their shop and selling the goods, this set-up is a pretty good win-win if you’re short on time or patience.
Facebook Marketplace is an ideal online location to sell unwanted items. Take a few Instagram-worthy pictures, name your price, choose whether or not you’re willing to ship, and wait for people to message you with offers. If you have time to wait and a place to keep unwanted clothing, the Marketplace is a perfect option.
Poshmark functions in a similar manner as Facebook Marketplace. You post pictures of your items, set a price, and wait for people to buy them. As opposed to Facebook Marketplace, sellers automatically pay shipping, and Poshmark will give you a prepaid printable USPS shipping label. Be aware, Poshmark makes a commission of 20% on every sale.
If you want the easiest process to sell your clothing possible, ThredUp might be your answer. Request their famous “clean out kit” and the company will send you a bag to fill with all your unwanted clothing. You send it to the company (for free!) and they’ll do all the work. They’ll take pictures, post them, and keep the items in stock until they sell.
It’s important to note that since they’re doing all the work, you’ll receive a lower commission on any items you send in. Profits range from 5% to 85% depending on the style, brand, and condition.
Tips for Selling Your Unwanted Clothing
Ready to sell your unwanted clothes? Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you get started.
Examine the condition
This is the first step. Always make sure the items are in good to great condition with no rips, holes, stains, or tears of any kind.
Take Instagram-worthy pictures
To sell items online, you’ll need to take pictures of the pieces of clothing. This is a critical step, and it’s important to make the pictures as appealing as possible. Check your pictures before you post to make sure there is good lighting, the garment can be clearly seen, the picture is in focus, and the background doesn’t distract from your photo.
Write eye-catching descriptions
If you’re posting your clothes for sale online, post excellent pictures with great descriptions. Rather than posting a “Vintage Jacket” for sale, post a “1970’s Vintage Dior Jacket in Like-New Condition.” You get the idea.
Wash and iron
Always wash any preloved clothing. If it needs it, iron it as well. Make each item looks its best to attract buyers in-store or online.
Price it properly
Used clothing isn’t going to demand the same prices as new clothing. Check thrift stores and consignment shops for similar items and see what they’re selling for.
Add a price tag
Dangly tags with a written description and the price will always appeal whether you’re selling online or in-store. It’s a small detail, but it will go far in attracting potential buyers.
Pair it with accessories
Whether you’re selling a shirt or an entire outfit, pair it with accessories. This is a great way to create interest in an item or article of clothing. Note on your online ads that each piece is sold separately and mark each item with its own price tag.
Learning to Let it Go
Clothing often has emotional ties that make it hard to say goodbye. Remember that someone else may need the clothes you’re donating or selling much more than you. You’re also doing a good thing by cleaning out that overstuffed closet. Keep these things in mind, and you just might learn that letting go isn’t that hard, after all