Our clothes can make us feel all the feels when it comes to our body image. Jeans too tight=guilt and shame. Or maybe they are a bit loose=smug feeling of accomplishment (not proud of that). Perfect fit=they make you feel great and you wear them 6 days in a row. Or maybe you forgo jeans all together in favor of leggings (yes they are real pants!) I actually cried on my bedroom floor once, when I came to the realization that my once-favorite dress didn’t zip up all the way anymore. I even bought my bridesmaid dress for my sister’s wedding a size too small to encourage myself to “fit into it” by the time the big day rolled around. That meant anxiety every time I tried it on, AND difficulty dancing the day-of. In my not-so-distant past, I was known to go on sprees in which I’d try on all my clothes (I’m talking stuff that was 5-10 years old) and base my self-worth for the day on how they looked and felt. You too? K great. Glad I’m not the only one.

If you are like me, you probably know better. Deep down you KNOW that the number in a size tag does not dictate your worthiness or lovability. And yet your closet is probably jam packed full of clothes that make you feel terrible about yourself. The solution? A full on closet clean out! This weekend I did my third one of these since I started learning about body positivity, so I’m starting to feel like an expert on the topic. It was much easier than the first two (no tears!) I also was reminded how much better my body image, and actually my confidence in general is, when I only wear clothes that fit me well, are in good condition, are comfortable, and fit my signature style.

Do you want to know how improve your body image but don’t know where to start? Cleaning out your closet can be a game-changer. Here 10 simple steps to an epic closet clean out that will have you on your way to a better body image in just a few hours.

Step 1:

Make sure that you’re in a decently good mood before you take on this endeavor. Choose a day where you’re feeling somewhat confident, or at the very least feel neutral (aka not terrible) about yourself. If you are having a “bad body day”, wait until you’re in a better mood. Cleaning out your closet can be a landmine of unexpected emotional triggers.

Step 2:

Arm yourself with some tools to help you keep your spirits up. As I mentioned, trying on old clothes can bring up a bunch of old $hit. For me, those tools include my happy juice (aka cold brew coffee, preferably nitro), and a sweet playlist (I like to “put on some gangsta rap and handle it”). An adult beverage and a body positive podcast or two also work nicely. Also, have close friend or two on deck for moral support. Having someone you can call, text, or snapchat in a moment of negative self-talk can be a life saver!

Step 3:

Choose a category of clothes you’d like to tackle first, and take them all out of the closet and/or drawer. I recommend knocking out the hardest part first. I think for a lot of us that means non-stretchy bottoms like jeans, pants, skirts, and shorts. Or maybe swimsuits.

Step 4:

Try each item on and pay attention to how it looks and feels. This is the hardest part. Feel free to take a break here to call your bestie, have a temper tantrum, take a swig of your beverage, or bust out Left Eye’s rap section in TLC’s “Waterfalls.” Then…be honest with yourself. If it doesn’t fit anymore, it goes. Also get rid of it you can still zip it up but it’s uncomfortable. This could be because it’s too tight, too loose, too itchy, has a stain or hole, not warm enough, forces you to wear an uncomfortable bra, or does not make you feel like a rockstar. If you haven’t worn it in forever, there’s probably a good reason why. Say goodbye. Then text your bff and thank her for handling your mini-meltdown.

Step 5:

Sort through all the clothes that still fit and feel good, and decide if they still fit your current style. Or as Marie Kondo would say, “does it spark joy?” Nothing makes you feel good about yourself more than dressing like yourself. What are your favorite colors, patterns, and styles? If it fits your current fashion sense, it gets to stay. If it’s from a stage of your life that you’d rather leave behind you (like my college love affair with matching velour tracksuits), best to let if go.  A few exceptions can be made for nostalgic items obviously–like sorority t-shirts and your wedding purse. Other questions to ask yourself: Will I wear it again this year? Would I rather have this item or $10 (or the amount of money you might make if you sold it)? Is it even in style any more?

Step 6:

Sort your $hit! Of the items you no longer need, sort them into piles of things you’d like to donate/give away, things you’d like to sell, and things that need to be dry-cleaned or repaired.

Step 7:

Repeat steps 3-6 with each category of clothes you have. Pants, shorts, dresses, skirts, shirts, tops, athletic wear, shoes, swimsuits, coats, purses, even underwear, bras, and socks! Soon you’ll be through your whole wardrobe. Snapchat a few friends a quick video of you with your pile of discarded goods. Go refill your beverage and take a victory lap around your bedroom. The hard part is over!

Step 8:

Put all the winners back in the closet. You might find that you have some really cute items that you forgot about because you couldn’t see them before. There is more space for your clothes to hang without smashing and wrinkling each other. Everything in your closet is stuff that looks and feels great on you! Getting dressed in the morning will now be 10x easier.

Step 9:

Sell and/or donate the things you don’t want anymore. I find that eBay is great for higher end items that are in really good condition–like that Lululemon top that looked great in the dressing room but didn’t hold the “girls” in place once you started to jump around. Consignment shops will often give you an immediate yes or no answer about your items and a modest handful of cash or store credit up front. Poshmark is an app that allows you to list your clothing for sale in a matter of seconds. You can leave it on there indefinitely until it sells. If you are more generous than I, and don’t care about earning a few extra bucks towards your new wardrobe (see step 10) you can save time and make one trip to donate your clothes to Salvation Army, Goodwill, or any charity or person who could benefit.

Step 10:

Replenish your wardrobe! Chances are, your closet is probably now looking a little sparse. Make a list of items you feel like you could use more of. Then you can either replenish them all during one weekend shopping spree (if you have the time, money, and patience). Or you could do like I do and replace things here and there when you are out and about and see something you love. Things to keep in mind when you shop: Buy for the body you have NOW, not the one you had 10 years ago, or the one you wish you’ll have in 6 months. Buy things that not only look good on you, but also feel good too.

There you have it, friends! 10 steps to a better body image, with a simple closet clean out. It should take just a few hours to complete, but that feeling that you’ll get from rocking only outfits that fit you well and that you love is something that you get to keep with you forever! You’ve got a closet full of negative feelings that you don’t need in your life. As someone very wise once said, “Drink some coffee, put on some gangsta rap and handle it.” Then comment below and let me know how it went for you! 🙂