I talk a heck-ton about purging my clothes, which is something that I do often, because I like to tidy up my space (i.e. my messy-as-hell closet) and minimize my belongings. It is important when doing this to go through all of those lists that you find online about “closet cleaning tips,” which usually include some variation of this these: get rid of shit that is in perfectly good condition, is brand new, was a gift, cost you a lot of money, etc. if you don’t think you’ll wear it.
That’s excellent advice, because a closet full of shit that you high-key hate but feel too guilty to get rid of does make your life feel physically and emotionally cluttered in an unnecessary way. But, as someone who has done the thing and gotten rid of the brand-new, $60 blouse that just ended up not being my cup of tea, I can attest to the fact that it does sort of feel wasteful. Tossing all of your junk into a trash bag and shipping it off to Goodwill is a nice thing to do, in theory — but I find myself wondering how many people actually give a shit enough about my old tattered t-shirts, and if anyone over there is actually in need of them.
We all know that different donation centers exist, and they are good options. But I’ve come today with a few more creative options of what to do with your old clothes — in the name of reducing, reusing, and recycling your ~fashion mistakes~.
1. Sell or consign.
This is not only a really good side-hustle, but also an excellent way to make sure that your old clothes are actually getting use. The Goodwill donation center is a mysterious zone, and from what I hear, donations are often rejected and thrown away. But if you have something that you spent good money on, or really love but look like a gentle sausage in, making a few bucks off of it feels amazing.
I do most of my selling on Poshmark, because it is so easy and convenient — however, that does mean that I have to keep all of the clothes I’m selling piled up in my closet or under my bed until they’re sold so I can ship them out. If that’s not your scene, try bringing them to a secondhand store like Plato’s Closet or Buffalo Exchange where you’ll be given money on the spot in exchange for your clothes, or consign nicer, pricier items at consignment shops.
2. Clothes swap, and give them to people who will love the hell out of them.
My best friend and I have a “clothing family,” which basically means we consider our clothes to be both of our clothes, and we share everything often. However, if I have something that doesn’t fit me quite right, or looks better on her, I let it live in her closet. Having the I-like-it-but-not-enough-to-wear-it-almost-ever item in my “clothing family,” but not taking up space in my closet is an awesome way for me to cleanse my own collection without detaching entirely from the item I wish I loved. I also regularly pass hand-me-downs to my cousins, and they do the same for me. (We actually all did this a few days ago.) It is a good way for me to get rid of the stuff in my donation pile and know they are going to a good home, because my cousins are awesome. Bonus: find a friend with the same size feet as you so you can also do this with shoes. Every pair of high heels I’ve ever mistakenly bought has been given to my also-size-seven cousin who looks like a friggin’ gazelle in heels, whereas I look like a sick stumbling elephant.
3. Bring them to stores that’ll give you a discount in return.
Stores like H&M offer a 15% discount on your purchase when you bring in a few items to donate, and other programs like Blue Jeans Go Green are currently offering a $20 discount on a pair of jeans in Madewell stores when you recycle old denim. This is a great option if you want to get rid of items that you don’t necessarily like or get use out of, but also want to replenish your closet with things you’ll actually love and wear after you thin it out.
4. DIY them to make them actually work for you.
I often toss clothing items I don’t love or wear into clothes purgatory (i.e. a basket in the back of my closet that I fill to the brim and then eventually bring to donate), only to reach in a few months later and find some sort of way to repurpose it and make it into something I love. Example: I had a really pretty satin slip dress that I loved the style of, but felt a lot more like lingerie than a dress — it was a little too short and slinky for my personal taste. I tossed it in my pile of stuff to donate, but recently, when I saw that silky tanks had become super ~trendy~ and wanted to see how if I could make it work for me, I pulled the dress out of the pile and carefully trimmed a few inches off of the bottom. It looks so cool tucked into a pair of jeans with a cardigan or blazer, and I’m so happy I’ve found a way to finally wear my pretty dress, since I had never found an appropriate occasion to wear it before.
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