Clothes Hoarding Help: It’s Time to Come Out of the Closet


How much clothing is too much? Need hoarding help? What’s a healthy balance?

There’s a saying that how you do anything is how you do everything. And when it comes to clothing, hoarding is a lot more common than you might think. While the rest of our homes may be spotless, the closet? Well, that’s another story. It’s easy, of course. We live in a world where fashion is as accessible as fast food. Often, as inexpensive, too.

It’s hard to pass up a great deal on something, and it’s even harder to pass up buying something that makes you look great. Besides, we have image issues in this country that make us feel the need to refresh our wardrobes rather constantly. So, typically, one of two things happen: we either wear something into bits and trash or donate it; or after its rotation has ended, it winds up sitting in deep storage in the closet. It’s in that in between state: something too cool to throw away, but not perfect enough to wear right now. If this happened to just one or two items every once in a while, that’s not really a bad thing. But, of course, for many of us, it’s a routine.

Even the eco-friendly hipster swap culture does little to provide hoarding help; in fact it can make it even worse.  You bring a bag (or several) for swapping, and typically leave with just as much as you brought, inevitably relegating some other article into the hoard pile at the back of the closet. Still, there’s comfort in keeping great clothes. We want to wear one-of-a-kind items again someday. We want to give them to our children. But how many black t-shirts does anyone really need?

You can go the route of adopting the wear-it-in-a-year-or-toss-it philosophy. But that can mean parting with really special items that don’t necessarily deserve to be tossed. You can swap items, which, while it doesn’t always mean less clothing, it does mean spending less money on clothes. You can also try to repurpose or upcycle clothing into something else. And most importantly, you can put the kibosh on new clothing purchases for an extended period of time.

Then, it’s time to reorganize the closet.

Sorting clothing by season, by wearing frequency, and by category, will greatly diminish your clothes hoarding. Hanging on to all those concert t-shirts isn’t necessarily a bad idea. But if you’re not wearing them regularly, why not store them away in the garage? When it’s time to wear them, they’ll be there, just not taking up all that space.

And remember the most important reason you bought the items in the first place: to wear them! Make it a habit at least once a week to wear something not in the regular rotation. Pull out an old skirt, that funky belt, or those amazing shoes and wear them, even if it’s just out to dinner one night. Let the closet be an extension of you–not something you’re hiding in shame.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Image: katykash

Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites and, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better.