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23 Things You Should Toss from Your Closet Forever

When cleaning out your closet, these are the things to get rid of ASAP.

We've all been there: You open up your closet to pick out something to wear for the day, and immediately feel like it's overflowing with clothes that don't fit, don't suit you, or that you just don't want anymore. The solution seems simple: get rid of them. But giving away clothing can be surprisingly difficult, even when you know you'd be better off without certain items. While some pieces may come with an emotional attachment that makes them difficult to ditch, they're likely better off in that donation bin than weighing you down. Want to know what to get rid of once and for all? Here are all the clothing items you should clean out of your closet—stat!

The "investment piece" you don't love anymore

2018 fashion trends

It may be cliché, but the old adage "money can't buy happiness" is as true in your closet as it is in every other aspect of your life. You may have splurged on a designer piece years ago, but if, years later, it no longer fits, it's gone out of fashion, or it's just not in your style wheelhouse anymore, then there's no point hanging on to it. Just because you spent more money than you should have on it doesn't necessarily mean you should keep it. In fact, it's probably just bringing up feelings of guilt instead of sparking joy.

Your college hoodie

college student studying at a laptop while wearing a hoodie

During college, a hoodie emblazoned with your school's logo or name written in block letters is an unofficial uniform that screams "I belong." Keep wearing it after you graduate and leave campus, however, and it says something more akin to "I can't move on." So, unless you're still in college, it's time to donate the hoodie.

Your high school uniform/letterman jacket

high school varsity jacket

It's always fun to relive the glory days now and then, but if you're still hanging on to any physical vestiges of your high school years, it's high time to give them up. Just as wearing your college hoodie gets a lot less cool after college, hanging on to your old high school uniform or letterman jacket suggests a hesitance to move on. Keep the yearbook; toss the uniform.

Your old "good luck" T-shirt

man wearing a black t shirt and black skinny jeans leaning against a gray brick wall, things you shouldn't say about someone's body
AntGor / Shutterstock

So many of us end up keeping that T-shirt we were wearing when something momentous happened. But just because you happened to be sporting it when your favorite team won the Super Bowl or when you got your dream job offer doesn't mean your "lucky" piece of clothing will last forever. If it's seen better days, ditch it to free up space in your closet and replace it with newer, higher quality, and more stylish items. Then, go out and look for ways to make your own luck!

Those "I'll fit into them again one day" jeans

woman trying to fit into jeans

There may be a select few people who will see an old pair of old jeans in their closet and become determined to get back into shape so they can wear them again. But most of us are far more likely to become aggravated than motivated when we open up our closets and find our "jeans of fitness past." Donate anything in your closet that no longer fits, and replace those items with clothes that make you feel comfortable and confident with the body you have now.

Outdated staples

blazers in closet

Style is cyclical, so sometimes an old piece that you've had forever and was once a staple can fall out of fashion, then come back around. But those cycles tend to take decades, not years, and few of us have the luxury of entire dressing rooms or storage spaces that can hold all of our old items in the hopes that they'll make a comeback. Stick to this rule: If it's been two years since you've worn any given item of clothing, send it to the nearest Goodwill.

Hand-me-downs that never get any love

old suit on coat rack

Items that we inherit from our parents and grandparents tend to have high sentimental value but not always high fashion value. You shouldn't feel obligated to keep your mom's old dress or your dad's old suit in your closet for years if you're never going to wear it. Donate it to your local thrift store so it can find a home with someone who will enjoy wearing it as much as they did.

Anything that's stained 

stained shirt

That shirt may have been perfect before you chomped into that burger, but once the ketchup dripped down onto your chest, it was toast. If you've exhausted all the home stain-removal remedies, and your dry cleaner did their best to no avail, it's time to face facts. Don't bother trying to convince yourself that "it's not that noticeable"—even if you're right, constantly thinking about it will make you self-conscious every time you wear the stained item. You're better off just getting rid of it.

Clothes that are torn or ripped unintentionally

torn sweater

Yes, some clothes come pre-ripped for style reasons. But that doesn't mean any rips or tears are automatically stylish. Sure, if a hole or rip is small enough or on a seam, a tailor may be able to fix it without much of a noticeable difference. But if an expert says that it can't be patched or repaired, get rid of it.

Worn-out sneakers

worn out sneakers

In any given wardrobe, sneakers are among the hardest-working items: They pound the pavement every time you wear them, meaning they tend to have a much shorter lifespan than other shoes. And sneakers can't be repaired once they start to fray or rip. Once they're done, they're done. Want to know what to do with your ratty sneakers that can help someone else? Read about Nike's donation program here.

Shoes that don't fit or are uncomfortable

uncomfortable black heels

It's easy to fall in love with a certain style or pair of shoes online. The pictures look great, the reviews are solid, and you know exactly how you'll work them into your wardrobe. But when they actually show up, they don't fit nearly as well as you envisioned. Whether they're too small, too big, or just uncomfortable, if they don't fit well, you're not going to wear them very often. Don't let them gather dust in your closet. To the donation pile they go!

Underwear you've had for more than a year 

underwear drawer

If your underwear shows any sign of wear and tear, you should definitely ditch it. But don't wait until it becomes so obvious that it can't be ignored. You should switch out your underwear after a year at most to keep your closet (not to mention your most sensitive body parts) fresh.

Socks that have seen better days

socks with holes husband mistakes

Socks can usually last a little longer than underwear, but not by much. Don't wait for holes to emerge. If the color of your socks starts to fade—or they start losing their elasticity and don't stay up like they used to—it's time for them to go.

Accessories that don't match anything else in your wardrobe

leopard print handbag

If you find that you're constantly looking for opportunities to wear that one belt that you bought on a whim, or to carry that one bag that you love but can never seem to work into your outfit, then you have two options: You can spend hundreds of dollars buying new clothing that matches that one accessory, or you can admit that it just doesn't work with the rest of your look, and donate it. (Just in case it's not clear, we highly recommend the latter.)

Graphic tees that aren't relevant or funny anymore

Pile of graphic t-shirts
Joyce Grace / iStock

When Napoleon Dynamite came out, everyone wanted one of those "Vote for Pedro" T-shirts. When you bumped into someone else wearing one, you'd give each other a knowing nod, signaling your mutual respect for a cultured taste in indie comedies. But that was (brace yourself) 15 years ago. Instead of insisting that your punny graphic tees are still in, or that you're now wearing them "ironically," it's better to donate them in favor of T-shirts in plain colors or neutral patterns. They'll never go out of style.

Anything that shrank or got stretched in the wash

A man in 1980's style does his laundry at an old school laundromat. He holds up his jacket which has shrunken to a ridiculously small size while drying in the dryer, his head hanging down in sadness and disappointment.
RyanJLane / iStock

There are few things more heartbreaking than pulling one of your favorite or best-fitting clothing items out of the laundry, only to find that the machine has significantly altered its size. While it's tempting to insist that you can return the piece to its proper proportions through some sort of magic, in most cases, it's usually a better idea to accept that the item you knew is gone and make a clean break.

Discolored swimwear 

blue stripped ombre swim trunks

Chlorine may be great for keeping public pools as clean as possible, but it doesn't do your bathing suit any favors. If your favorite swimsuit started out black and now could best be described as a grayish brown, it's time to get rid of it.

Anything that's obviously out of fashion

pile of clothes

We've all been there: You walk into a store and see something that looks perfect on a mannequin. Sure, it's a little out-there for you and you're not quite sure if you can pull it off, but you have to have it. You take it home and put it in your closet, vowing to buy a couple of supplemental pieces that you can wear it with, and then… weeks go by. And then months. And then the whole season. And before you know it, years. (You know what to do.)

Sports or concert paraphernalia you bought on a whim

sports fans celebrating team victory, relationship white lies
Shutterstock/William Perugini

When the Chicago Cubs overcame a 108-year deficit to win the World Series in 2016, it was huge—for a few weeks there, it felt like everyone was a Cubs fan, and everyone had a blue hat or T-shirt emblazoned with that iconic red "C" logo. But unless you're actually from the north side of Chicago, chances are that, by Thanksgiving of that year, the magic had faded, as had your affinity for the Cubs and their gear. If you don't have an emotional connection to the team or event it represents, get rid of any merch from a time whose moment has passed.

Clothes you'd be ashamed to wear outside of the house

middle aged woman smiles in pink robe and blue bunny eye mask

We all have those old, super comfy clothes that we throw on when the only thing on our agenda for the weekend is to stay home and binge-watch that new Netflix crime thriller everyone's talking about. But if you're ashamed to wear your favorite comfort clothing outside the house, you probably shouldn't wear it inside the house either. Instead, get rid of it and treat yourself to a new piece that's just as comfy, but makes you feel like you're worth more than a fraying sweatshirt.

Event-specific clothes

man in suit with cufflinks, craziest things brides and grooms have ever done

Look, no one's saying that the wedding you were in five years ago wasn't amazing. But if you haven't worn the outfit you had on at that wedding—or in that big meeting, or at that conference, or at any other event you remember fondly—there's probably a reason for that. Donate the old outfit to make space for a new, more wearable one, and then plan to sport it at an event where you can make new memories.

Colors that don't complement your complexion or the rest of your wardrobe

sifting through clothes

Sometimes a certain clothing item can meet almost all of your criteria: It fits great, it's made well, it's comfy, and somehow also luxurious. But if it's in a color that just doesn't work with the rest of your wardrobe (or your skin tone or complexion), then you'll almost certainly never wear it.

Anything that reminds you of an ex

woman holding shirt

Sometimes a shirt or dress still looks great, but carries a negative association. Maybe you wore it that night you and your ex got into a huge fight, or they bought it as a gift for you not long before you broke up. Whatever the reason, if a piece carries any negativity with it, just donate it. No matter how stylish it may be, it's not worth feeling sad every time you see it in your closet. And to help you fill the empty space in your closet with clothes that make you smile, steal these 30 Genius Tricks for Never Paying Full Price on Clothes.

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