How to downsize your closet and improve your self-confidence

I’ve always been blessed with a big closet. And as long as there was room, why not add to it? Needless to say, this mentality landed me with a lot of clothes, shoes, belts (I don’t even wear belts), and bags. And my closet was the farthest thing from Marie Kondo.

So when I decided to move across the country (by plane, mind you) I had to start the process of narrowing down my closet selection. A little over a year later, I did it again when I downsized my living space, so this isn’t a one week process, and there’s always room for improvement.

What I wasn’t expecting when I downsized my closet was how it would affect my self-esteem. I no longer own clothes that only look good sometimes, and because my selection is small, I bypass the process of putting on three terrible looking outfits before choosing what I had on in the first place. And I definitely don’t own clothes that are uncomfortable and a chore to wear.

I downsized my closet and you can, too. Here’s how I did it (and how I keep up with it):

Rule 1: Only keep items you feel REALLY good wearing.
You are amazing. Feel like it…all the time. There’s a reason Marie Kondo’s final step is to ask yourself if it sparks joy. So many of my clothes used to come with constraints like: can’t wear it when I’m bloated, can only wear it with this one shirt, can’t wear it because etc. I got rid of all these things, and now I only buy things that really wow me and make me feel good. If you don’t feel good in it or it’s not comfortable, give it away.

Rule 2: The exchange system.
Every time you get something, get rid of something in its place. Are you willing to part with something else to make room for it? This rule keeps the closet small so you don’t have to return to rule #1.

Rule 3: Get items that can easily mix and match.
No more strange colored shirts that can only go with black jeans because they look weird even next to blue denim. For this reason, I usually buy my shirts in neutral tones so that they can go with pretty much everything.

You can take all of this a step further and create a capsule wardrobe, a term coined by London boutique owner Susie Faux. The idea behind a capsule wardrobe is that you have some essential basics (usually neutrals) that can be worn no matter the season, and then you augment that with seasonal pieces that show your personal style. These capsule wardrobes typically have less than 40 pieces, with some people going to the extreme with far less.

I’m happy to say that all of my clothes would now fit into two 50 quart bins. I love everything I own, and I feel good in all of it. It takes me about half the time to get ready to go somewhere because I’m spending less time in front of the mirror. Plus, I spend less money overall on clothes. When I do buy clothes, I focus on clothes that will last longer than the season. Finally, a nod to sustainability. Consumerism wants us to buy, buy, buy, but we can all agree that it’s more sustainable to buy (and ultimately toss) less.


Emily Smith

PR and Marketing Specialist of Vegetable and Butcher and a self-proclaimed nutrition nerd and sustainability junkie. Emily called DC home for three years before making her way to California. Emily has her master's in Nutrition Education and is a Certified Nutrition Specialist® (CNS®) candidate. She's passionate about helping people learn to use food to fuel their outdoor activities, and in her free time you can find her rock climbing. . You can connect with her on her website and on Instagram.

more than food


Not sure where to start

take our quiz to find the program
that's right for your lifestyle + goals