As James Taylor sang of the changing seasons: “The frost is on the pumpkin / and the hay is in the barn / pumpkin spice is in the latte / so it’s time to pack away your Aloha shirts.” In the seasonal churn of summer to autumn/winter clothing, I usually just get rid of a lot of stuff, both warm-weather wear that isn’t worth putting away and cold weather stuff that I no longer have a place for, i.e., it doesn’t fit me and never will. Some strategies for making the process smoother:
First, Choose What Has to Go
- Assess your storage space vs what you need to put away. Some people have room for expansive wardrobes, some need to pare down by necessity.
- Take everything out of your dresser and decide whether it’s worth putting back. Clothing without a clear season can be forgotten at the bottom of a drawer.
- Make firm decisions (use the OHIO rule: only handle it once. Don’t put stuff in another pile to consider later).
- Eliminate redundant clothing. A closetful of blue shirts? Acceptable. A half dozen MA-1s? Probably overkill.
- If you haven’t worn something for more than a year, it can likely go. If you intended to tailor/repair something, and instead it’s sat for a year, it can definitely go.
- If you took a risk on an ebay item or a no-returns sale that didn’t work out, now’s the time to throw that dead end merch in the to-go pile.
Second, Get It Gone
I’m a lazy, lazy man, so I need to make choices about what I expect to recoup from this stuff versus how badly I want it gone. In order from max profit/high effort to no effort/no profit whatsoever to anyone:
- Sell It Yourself: If there’s a market for it and you have some time on your hands, you can hawk your wares online. There’s eBay, of course, and smaller, more focused sites like Grailed and Styleforum’s marketplace. This method works best for interesting items from widely known brands in average sizes. If you want your stuff to sell faster, take decent photos (clearly show the garment in even, natural light; any phone camera made since 2010 will likely do fine) and offer basic measurements: shoulder to shoulder, chest, length for tops; waist, inseam, and hem width for pants. The downside of selling things yourself is sitting on unsold “inventory.”
- Consign It: Plus, who has the time and patience for photographing and measuring all their stuff, only to field lowball offers and ridiculous requests for more measurements and photos (often from me)? Consignment stores like Buffalo Exchange take your clothes and hand you money, which is nice. They often sell more women’s clothes than men’s, though, and may be pickier than you might expect, don’t expect to sell everything or to sell high.
Alternatively, if you’re selling the kind of things you often see in PTO’s ebay roundups, you can consign online with an outfit like Luxeswap. They do the work for you (and do it well), but like brick and mortar consignment shops they take only what they expect they can sell.
- Give It to Charity: With stores and donation bins all over the country, Goodwill is probably the most visible thrift chain in the country, and an easy way to get rid of usable clothing. Goodwill is a charitable organization, so they can give you a receipt for the value of your donation and you can deduct that amount from your income for tax purposes at the end of the year. According to Goodwill, most of what you donate ends up for sale in Goodwill stores (and/or on Macklemore, presumably), and the proceeds from sales go to job training programs and employment opportunities for people with disabilities. (Some clothing donation bins look like they belong to charities but instead belong to for-profit companies that sell clothing in bulk.) There’s a chance your Hilditch shirt could end up as part of an industrial rag, though. It’s the ciiiiircle of life.
The Purple Heart Foundation helps U.S. military veterans by collecting donations, selling them, and funding training programs, assistance with applying for benefits, and direct donations. Like the rag and bone man (pictured), they pick castoffs up directly from your home (well, not everywhere). It’s good for people like me who are too lazy even to drag our stuff to Goodwill.
- Trash It: To you, that 5K fun-run tshirt may be a pleasant reminder of mild athletic activity. To the rest of us, it’s garbage. Likewise the used boxers and mustard-stained shirts. Just chuck em. Or use them to polish your shoes.