7 Wardrobe tips that curb closet clutter

Oct 1, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. ET

Summer has been great. The espadrilles, high-waist denim and, let’s just confess, even rompers have been pretty fun to rock.

But now it’s time for the very best fashion season of all — fall.

Not so fast. Before you slide into even one over-the-knee boot sock, it’s time to tame your closet and edit it down to a carefully curated collection of blazers, skirts and hoodies just ready for a crisp run to Starbucks for a PSL.

No one can tell you how many of each article of clothing you need. That’s just an individual thing. The hard part is getting rid of the clutter and getting down to the nitty-gritty so you can avoid the morning trauma of a closet bursting with a bunch of bad outfits.

Here are seven simple rules for taming that unruly summer closet to make way for your fiercest fall looks.

1. Take the emotion out of it

It’s easy to get emotionally attached to clothes for all sorts of reasons. That time you wore that flowy muumuu in Kauai or the magical dress you wore on your first date with your husband. But, honey, muumuus are only cute in Hawaii and that first date was in 1998, so it’s time to get over it already. Make room for new clothes and the new memories that come along with them. It will be fine.

2. Get rid of summer’s casualties

Sun, sweat, salt and chlorine are just a few of summer’s hazards for your clothes. Summer is also a time to pick up those $4 flip-flops that perfectly match your new mani, the coolest $10 pair of shades at the beach or even a drugstore bikini. But now that summer’s over, it’s probably not worth dedicating precious storage space for trendy, disposable summer finds, so ditch what’s finished and donate the rest. The beach bag could probably go, too.

3. If it doesn’t fit, ditch it already

I’m sorry, but if that dress doesn’t fit in the bust today, it probably never will. We’ve all been there. But there’s not enough Classy Closet magic in the world to make room for your fall wardrobe and your dreams. If it’s too tight, too big, fits weird, gapes at the buttons or cuts into your armpits, it’s time to give it away to someone who will actually wear it. We'll pause for a moment of silence here out of respect for dreams dashed.

4. Dresses get three strikes

Now, a lot of wardrobe minimalists have a strict rule that if you haven’t worn something in the last six months, you should donate it. But fancy dresses and occasion pieces are a different matter. Here’s the best way to approach occasion wear and dresses in general: If you can remember trying it on at least three times and not wearing it, get rid of it, because if it was gonna happen, it would have by now.

5. Quality control

Anything that has holes, tears, missing buttons, frayed cuffs or stains goes. You’re not going to fix it, so just accept it and move on. And don't say you'll just make a pile for the tailor, because you're not going to do that either. Just get rid of it and save yourself the guilt and clutter.

6. Jeans by the numbers

One thing just about everyone can agree on is that jeans are a wardrobe staple. But exactly how many pairs of jeans do you really need? This “denim expert” says you only need three pairs of jeans even though the average woman has about 10 pairs in her closet. If only three pairs of jeans sounds ridiculous, compromise and edit your jeans down to one of each style you wear — skinny, boyfriend, boot cut — and don’t forget to hold back one pair for grubby jobs like painting.

7. There are no rules about shoes — well, except No. 5

If you’re a complete minimalist when it comes to shoes, first, please share with the rest of the class how to do that. And, second, compare your collection with this pretty sweet and simple list of only five basic shoes you’ll ever really need. If you fall into the category of having more shoes than a centipede could ever wear — *raises hand* — your best bet is to become a shoe organization ninja with tips like this idea to turn a door into extra storage space or these ideas for DIY shoe racks for your closet.

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