Behind the closed door of my closet lies a world of possibility. Give me a few hours to clean it out, and perhaps I’ll finally become a person with a wardrobe of chic, coordinating neutrals instead of someone with four different black turtlenecks that I hate for four different reasons.
I know there can be real value in purging. Having better and fewer choices makes it easier to get dressed, and being able to see what you already own means you’re less likely to overbuy. Research also suggests that uncluttered living spaces may decrease stress.
And yet there are shoes I love despite the pain they inflict, office clothes I’ve hung onto even though I’ve worked from home for four years, and an expensive, impractical dress that I can only assume I bought while in some sort of hypnotic trance.
Cleaning out your closet can feel emotionally charged, said KC Davis, a licensed therapist and the author of “How to Keep House While Drowning: A Gentle Approach to Cleaning and Organizing.” A person who grew up with scarcity might feel anxious about getting rid of something in case they need it later. Someone whose body has changed may find it tough to purge sizes they may never wear again. But regardless of the guilt or pressure you feel about an item, she said, “there’s no reason to store it in your closet if you really aren’t wearing it.”
I asked Ms. Davis, along with several other professional organizers and stylists, how to get past the overwhelming feelings and make the clean-out process more rewarding.