The 80/20 Rule – For Your Closet

posted by Andrea | 05/10/2011


Have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule? If not, it basically implies that there is an imbalance between the amount of resources we use, and the amount we have.

For example:

  • It is often said that 80% of the wealth is held by only 20% of the population {or less}
  • There’s a good chance that 80% of your phone calls, emails, or text messages go to only 20% of your contacts
  • I know I often fall in a rut of making 20% of my recipes 80% of the time
  • You’ll notice that 80% of the time, your kids will gravitate towards the same 20% of their toys
  • If you are a blogger, you’ve probably noticed that 80% of your comments are left by the same 20% of your readers — and we love those readers!

You get the idea, right? So if you apply those statistics to the mass amounts of clothing in your closet, it means that 80% of the time, you wear the SAME 20% of your clothes. This also means that the other 80% of your clothing is simply taking up valuable space in your closet. Does this sound familiar to anyone? If you’re feeling like you wear the same things day after day, this is the perfect time of year to get out of that rut! Set aside a few minutes {or hours} this weekend to pull everything out of your closet, take stock of what you have, purge, declutter, and create a simple, more organized closet space.

Here are a few tips to get started::


1. you didn’t wear it this past winter, because there’s a pretty good chance you’re not going to wear it next winter either.

2. you don’t love how it looks/feels on you

3. you’ve been mistakenly asked if you are pregnant while wearing it

4. you often try it on, but then change before leaving the house

5. you look to old or young in it {age appropriate clothing applies to adults too!}

Now, as you begin to put everything back in your closet, take 2 extra minutes to hang each hanger “the wrong way” {see picture below}.

Then, every time you wear something {not just try it on, but actually wear it} you can turn that hanger around. After a few months, you’ll easily be able to see what clothes you’re wearing and what ones can probably go. You’ll have so much extra space in your closet, and you won’t even have to feel guilty about getting rid of anything because you weren’t wearing it anyway! These tips work for me, but I’d love to know…

What are your best closet decluttering tips?


Filed under: OrganizingClothesPurging

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  4. Lenore


    I pack away clothes that do fit me but I have not worn for a while as I find next season I bring them out and wear again. I guess I recycle clothes, that I like but the weather governs what I wear. Mainly like long skirts but find in winter I wear pants more.


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  7. Mary


    I love it. Once the kids got back to school, I’ve been purging and organizing every closet, drawer, etc. One thing that’s helping do more is using a consignment store to sell some of my clothes and for my better brands, I’ve been selling them on ebay. It takes a bit to figure out (and it’s hard not to buy stuff too.) It’s kind of fun to see how well they’ll do. If I can’t wear it, it’s good to get some money for it.


  8. Demaroge


    Andrea ~ I was just talking to my Mom today and told her it is ridiculous that I have clothes in three closets (one is shared and one is very small.) I have a hard time getting rid of things. I do. I admit it. I always think I will need it or wear it ‘someday.’ A lot of things I really do use ‘someday.’ But not nearly as many as I store.

    I have an entire professional wardrobe that I do not use right now because I am home now (that is the other closet.) The small closet has formal wear clothes and other ‘fancy’ things in it. I don’t know if I will go back to work or not; so for me, that is a tough decision for me to make. If I do get rid of my professional wardrobe I may end up buying another one in the future.

    I am not sure what purpose the closets would have otherwise.

    I will be thinking about this. Thanks.


  9. Patti


    I just happened upon your site and think that it is “wonderful”!
    I give you a lot of credit doing all this with a baby–Keep up the good work,


  10. Beulah


    One of the best posts I’ve ever read! 🙂


  11. Lucy Mae's Mom


    Wow, Andrea, this whole post really spoke to me. So much so that I pinned it on Pinterest. I know it has been up for a while, but it’s great new information for me. It gives me a different perspective from which to look at my clothes. At this point I just see a somewhat organized sea of fabric when I look in my closet. Way too many skirts, way too many pairs of pants, and waaaaay too many shirts and blouses. I really need to go through and purge like you say. If I don’t need it, want it, love it or think I look great in it, it needs to go. And the price I paid should not factor into my decision to keep or toss. Maybe I should be thinking about price more when I purchase something! Is this piece or that piece really worth the price?? Hey! The light bulb just went on! Thanks for your site. I have found lots of valuable tips and I’m learning a whole new way to think about “stuff.” And it’s not really worth spending a lot of time thinking about and worrying about. It’s just not that important. Now, if I could just bring myself to start getting rid of it………. 🙂


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks… Isn’t it crazy how FEW of our clothes we actually wear!
    I just went through my closet again today… It sure feels good to purge!


  12. Becky


    i LOVE this idea..I”m just not sure it’s going to work for me because I have clothes for different occasions because my life is just so varied right now with work and casual going out or casual “I can even go camping in this outfit” type clothes…

    The other part for me is that I just moved to MI from FL and we don’t have a real closet or dresser right now, so all our clothes are kind of everywhere. working on getting all that together but it wont be until after we move out of hubby’s parents’ basement. 🙁 I also don’t have nearly enough sweaters and things that fit (i gained a lot of weight from stress before moving that I’m working on losing now) Maybe when I lose some weight and life becomes a little more settled I can really take advantage of this!


  13. Emily


    Love it!! So simple, yet I’m sure it will make a huge impact. I’m so doing this! 🙂 Thanks!


  14. Natalie@OrganizedHabits


    Part of decluttering my closet has to do with the visual clutter. My closet always seems larger when my shoes are lined up or put in boxes and my clothing is grouped together by type (shorts together, pants, skirts…etc). I also like to store away my out of season clothes so I am only looking through what I can wear in the current weather conditions.


    Andrea Reply:

    Wow Natalie, I couldn’t agree more!
    It’s true, everything always “looks” bigger if it’s not filled with clutter!!

    Thanks for sharing your tips.


  15. Janelle


    I am in the midst of trying to declutter my closet…I am also in the midst of losing the “baby weight” that I did not finish losing yet! So, some clothes do not fit me yet that I may want to wear again. So, I am going through those clothes, and at least trying to decide if they are still my style or not. It has not been easy for me, but after I emptied all of the clothes from my dresser and shelves in my closet, I have ONLY put things back that fit me now and I wear. Unfortunately, there are a couple of piles that I still have to make some decisions about –


    Andrea Reply:

    Janelle, that is the best way to do it. Put back only what you use, need, want, and love — and then let the “maybe” items just hangout for awhile until you know for sure what you want to do. Give it a week or two and if you haven’t felt the need to get something from that pile, then you can probably donate it.

    I know it’s hard, but won’t all that extra space be worth it???


    elizabeth Reply:

    I am right there with you. I really loved my pre- baby clothes and hate to part with them yet. But they are taking up quite alot of space and are a constant reminder staring at me that i have not lost the weight yet!


  16. Suzanne


    I tend to group my clothing by outfits for the week, and as a result, these “outliers” start standing out for me, like the great gray straight skirt I bought myself to wear with tights and boots for the winter, that once I tried on what I thought would be the great outfit, hated…it just sits there, staring at my, telling me it will look better on this friend or that. Sometimes passing some of what we think will be our favorites and don’t end up being, on to our friends, brings them the great joy we thought we would experience with an item, and didn’t.