Blog Stories Determined to “Tidy Up”? 6 Steps to Help Downsize Your Closet

Determined to “Tidy Up”? 6 Steps to Help Downsize Your Closet

By Julia Robertson, January 17, 2019

Author: Natalie Cavener


About four years ago, I took the plunge and purged a good chunk of my possessions. I fell in love with the minimalist lifestyle, and referred to Marie Kondo’s book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” often. Since then, I have closely followed The Minimalists, and tried to find a medium between their ideals, and Marie Kondos. I have explored different methods of purging, organizing and simplifying. I have read a ridiculous number of books, and I have helped several people go through their belongings as well. I made an appearance on a local news station and shared my methods, and was then deemed the “Portland Minimalist.”

I came up with a process, and list of questions to ask when downsizing your closet that really works for me… and others. After watching the famous “Tidying Up” Netflix special, I felt inspired to write it all down, and share with as many people as possible. I’m sure you know the benefits of living with only essentials and being a tidy person, so I won’t go into detail. I will say, the process and results are ongoing, and so rewarding. The experience is different for everyone, and for me, having only the clothes I love has given me less to worry about has freed up my time and headspace.


Step One

Do as Marie says and put it all out to see.

Take it in. See everything you own relating to clothing. It may be overwhelming at first, just try to take it step by step and celebrate the fact that you have made it here and aspire for a change.


Step Two

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • “Does it spark joy?” She’s onto something.

Why would you keep something that makes you feel unhappy? If you dread looking at it or wearing it, (with the exception of uniforms) why have it?

  • Is it damaged, worn, or stained?

Is it something you could replace, or would want to replace? Make a list of the things you want to replace, and purchase them as you can. This will not only help with more deliberate and intentional spending, but it will allow time for you to consider if you actually need it in your closet.

  • Does it make you feel confident?

Why on earth would you wear something that doesn’t make you feel good about yourself?! If you are trying to gain/lose weight and it might fit you in the future, that is for future you to think about. Only keep what makes you feel amazing now.

  • How often do you actually wear it?

If you haven’t worn it within the past 90 days (with the exception of weather specific clothes) you might not ever wear it. It doesn’t have a place in your closet.

  • Is it a duplicate?

Do you really need 5 white tops? Or do you need one or two versatile, good quality white tops that let you forget about the others? How many pairs of leggings do you really need? Let’s be real.

  • Would you miss it if it were gone?

This question leads me to explain my paper bag method… refer to “Step Three!”

  • Would you buy it now if you saw it in the store?

This question is pretty self-explanatory. If you wouldn’t buy it now, it probably means you don’t love it. Why keep it?

  • Is it a part of the vision of who you want to see yourself becoming?

Ahhh… my favorite question. I love this, because it allows you to dig a little deeper. Who do you want to become? How do you envision yourself in the future? Is this article of clothing a part of that vision? If not, don’t let it hold you back. Celebrate it of course, but free up space to allow for who you want to become.


Step Three:

Have some items you’re not sure you want to purge yet? Use my “Paper Bag Method.”

I swear by this. My mom taught it to me when I was a wee little one, and I have grown to love it and have put my own twist on it. Put out three bags. One for donate/sell, one for trash/unsalvageable, and the last for your maybe’s. Once you’ve gone through everything and you have a maybe bag, hide it. Yes, hide it. Keep it out of sight, and out of mind for 30 days. If after 30 days you didn’t miss anything in there, put them in their new respective bags. I implement this in my day to day life, and it allows me to continually assess what I need and don’t need. I hope you love it as much as I do!


Step Four:

Donate and sell.

Sell the things you can using things like resale shops, Poshmark, Letgo, Offerup, Facebook Marketplace etc. and donate the rest to shelters and nonprofits. If you are curious about places to take things in your area, let me know and I will help you look!


Step Five:


Marie Kondo, you’ve done it again. Make everything visible, and treat it respectfully. Showcase your clothes in a way that makes you feel excited to open your closet doors, and easily find what you need. And if your extra like me, take photos of all your clothes and make a Pinterest board of what you have so you can refer to it and keep track of what you have. This definitely isn’t for everyone but since I’m an organizational freak, I love it.


Step Six:


That’s right. Do this process a few times a year. I do it maybe once every couple of months. It gets easier with time. I promise. Make it a habit to  constantly be aware of your possessions, and practice gratitude with what you have.


I hope this helps! This process won’t work for everyone, but my hope is that you at least pull one tool you can apply to your own closet simplifying. Shout out to The Minimalists and Marie Kondo for being a part of my inspiration and laying the groundwork for my simplifying and downsizing success.

Author: Natalie Cavener

Julia Robertson

Earth Advantage Broker Licensed in OR & WA

Julia Robertson is first and foremost a passionate Oregonian. She moved to Oregon eleven years ago and genuinely loves showing the city to clients who are considering whether to relocate. Julia constantly explores the city so that she can accurately match clients with a part of Portland Metro or Vancouver that is perfect them. She believes that everyone deserves the chance to own a home in an area or neighborhood that they love. Since a real estate purchase is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make, Julia works tirelessly with her clients to build a trusting relationship and help them find not just a house, but a home. She has experience working with a broad range of clients to fulfill their diverse and unique needs. Are you selling your home? Purchasing your first condo downtown? Searching for property outside of the city? Looking to buy an investment property? Julia can help you come up with a plan that meets your timeline, your budget  and your needs.  If you’d like to meet for coffee or lunch to discuss potential real estate opportunities, Julia would love to hear from you. When Julia represents a client in the sale or purchase of a home, Julia treats the agency they have like a friendship, going above and beyond to serve her clients. She considers the client’s budget, bottom line, area preferences, and future plans. While Julia doesn’t consider herself a “sales person,” she does have over twenty years of experience in the field of sales and knows how to conduct herself in negotiations and details. Your business is Julia’s top priority, and she always makes herself available. From an early age, Julia loved everything related to homemaking.  Her childhood spent moving from town to town and always having to be “the new kid” gave her the personal confidence to meet new people and boldly operate in the high stakes world of real estate. Julia is a licensed Realtor in Oregon and Washington as a Seller Representative Specialist(SRS) and Earth Advantage-certified broker. She currently serves on the Living Room Realty broker advisory board and attends the Portland B corporation meetings.
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