Reorganizing Your Wardrobe Can Be Easy and Profitable

Beth Huber

The end of winter is a great time to reorganize your wardrobe for the coming season. Then again, anytime is the right time to eliminate excess clutter and get rid of unwanted things. And with this simple reorganization process you can also earn some extra cash, which is always welcome!

Set aside a time when you can roll up your sleeves and sort through a significant portion of your clothing and accessories. Your approach will depend partly on your schedule and partly on your personality. Some people would rather set aside an entire day and get it all done at once - the work is more intense but it's done sooner. Others would be overwhelmed by such an all-out effort and will do best by breaking the project into smaller pieces, perhaps tackling one closet each week until the job is done. Choose the strategy that will allow you to follow the project through to completion.

As you go through your closets and bureaus, evaluate all the unusable items and categorize them using the Four R's: Reject, Repair, Resell and Recycle. Set up boxes, large plastic bags and/or a rolling clothing rack to help with the sorting. Here are some guidelines to help you decide where each item should go:

REJECT - Items that are permanently stained or worn beyond repair should be discarded. Intimate apparel such as underwear and bathing suits cannot be sold or given away. The worst stuff - the truly unsalvageable - gets the heave-ho. Most other items should fit into one of the categories below.

REPAIR - Gather the items that would be perfectly fine with some attention - a little mending here, a little stain remover there and these once-cherished items can be returned back into the fold. These are the garments you have been waiting for the "free time" (yeah, right) to take care of. Invest a few hours and do all the repairs at once. Your reward? Feeling like you have a new wardrobe again.

RESELL - This is where you can make "Out with the old, in with the $$$" your motto. Resale options include consignment shops and yard sales. The best stuff should go to the consignment shop, and adult clothing items are ideal. Unlike kids' clothes, adult apparel is notoriously difficult to sell at yard sales. But you can sell clothing that is in very good condition, clean and reasonably in style for $3 to $20 or more at a consignment shop, depending on the item.

Keep in mind that consignment shops generally will not accept used hats, out-of-season items, or shoes that are not like new. Get the guidelines from your local shop, study them, and reap the benefits. Though most consignment shops charge an annual fee, it can be earned back and well surpassed if you have enough good-condition items to sell.

Yard sale items should include those things that are not in good enough condition to consign but are still saleable. Accessories sell well at yard sales. You'll sell things for less than you would at the consignment shop, but you'll still make a small amount of money - and it all adds up. If you don't have enough items to hold your own yard sale, then take part in a flea market sponsored by a church, school or other local organization, where you only need a table's worth of items to sell.

RECYCLE - For items that remain unsold after yard sales or consignment - or for some reason are not appropriate for either of those two options but are still in decent condition - don't just throw them away. Donate them to a charitable community organization like Goodwill or the Salvation Army that will put them to good use for the needy. You get a tax write-off, and others benefit from the things you no longer need.

A side benefit of reorganizing your wardrobe and reselling unwanted items is that your perspective on clothing purchases will change forever. When you get $5.00 for that really cute pair of shorts you got on sale for $14.99 but never lost enough weight to fit into, you'll feel a small sting of regret that will carry over into your thought process when you see the next great on-sale item that isn't 100% right for one reason or another.

Yes, yard sales and consignment shops offer opportunities for income, but you only truly gain if you are selling items that you already got your money's worth from. For a real eye-opener, subtract your consignment and yard sale income from the total (estimated) original purchase price of the items and discover the true cost of those items, some of which may have never even been worn. This quick math exercise is sure to influence your future buying habits, which will benefit your financial bottom line in the long run.

The best thing about the Four R's reorganization process is that it should never be necessary on such a large scale again. Follow up your initial reorganization by finding a place in a closet or in the basement to keep four boxes or bags: label one for repairs, one for consignment, one for yard sales and one for donations. Then, throughout the year, as you encounter items that fit one of those categories, place it in the appropriate box or bag. (For example, you receive a Christmas gift that you won't use but cannot exchange.) When yard sale time rolls around, you'll have your items already gathered. When you can spare the time to deposit a consignment load, it will be ready and waiting. And when you have a sufficient number of items, it will be time to make a drop-off at your charity of choice. Periodically go through the "repairs" bag and take care of those garments. This ongoing process will prevent clutter from piling up and will simplify the job of maintaining your wardrobe.

So remember, there's money hanging in that closet. Now go get it!

Beth Huber is a pianist, piano teacher and freelance writer. Her work has appeared in such national publications as The Dollar Stretcher, Writer's Digest, The Secret Place and Clavier Magazine. She lives in Chester County, PA. She can be reached at