Downsizing 101: How To Downsize Your Wardrobe

Clothes hanging neatly in closet. Photo by Craig Adderley: https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-photo-of-hang-clothes-in-wardrobe-1682699/
Clothes hanging neatly in closet. Photo by Craig Adderley, via Pexels.

As we age, our needs and preferences change, and our wardrobe is no exception. You don’t have to be moving to a smaller home to start downsizing your stuff. 

Downsizing anything can be an emotional and overwhelming experience, but it can also be liberating and rejuvenating to get rid of things you haven’t been using. Focus on the items that you love and that make you feel good, and remember that downsizing your wardrobe is a step towards a more organized, clutter-free life. Decluttering your closet can be an interesting trip down memory lane, depending on how much you’ve kept over the years – this can bring some much-needed fun to the process.

We’ve worked with a number of clients who struggle to effectively purge their closets – Ottawa seniors and young professionals alike! Here are some tips for downsizing your wardrobe, and making the most of your closet space when downsizing:

Start with a plan of action

Set realistic goals about how long you’ll spend sorting and decluttering, and your overall timeline. Will you sort for five minutes a day, or an hour a week? Does this area need to be done by the end of the month, or do you have a year (or more) before your move?

There’s no right or wrong answer to the questions above, by the way. You know what works best for you; if you start to feel overwhelmed, consider taking more frequent breaks, or asking someone to sit with you while you sort.  Having a companion can help a lot, even if they aren’t participating!

Should I stay or should I go?

It’s not just a song by The Clash – you’ll also need to decide on your criteria for keeping and letting go of items. This will help you stay focused and motivated throughout the process.

Struggling to decide on sentimental items? Consider taking a picture and making a memory book.

Consider donating gently used clothing, shoes and accessories that you no longer use or that don’t match your current style to a charity, or selling them online or at a consignment store (always call to ask if they’ll accept the items for sale before you make the trip).

Hangers in closet - two are facing backwards, circled in green. Photo by Alan S., via Dappered.com
Hangers in closet – two are facing backwards, circled in green.

Sort your clothing

The first step is to go through your closet clothing and sort them into piles: Keep, Donate, Sell, and Dispose (for the most well-used clothing).

Then go through the Keep pile. Be honest – ask yourself if you have worn the item in the last year, if it still fits you, and if it suits your current lifestyle. If not, it’s time to let it go.

Pro tip: Arrange all closet clothing on hangers facing backwards in your closet. When you wear the item, turn the hanger the right way around when you hang the freshly-laundered clothing. At the end of a set time period (6 months to 1 year is common), you can clearly see what you aren’t wearing and set it aside for donation.

Choose shoes and outerwear

Shoes can take up a lot of space, so it’s important to organize them efficiently. Sort them by season, style, and occasion; only keep shoes that you regularly wear or that hold sentimental value. Consider using shoe racks or organizers to save space and keep them visible.

For outerwear, it’s important to consider the climate as well as the activities you plan to enjoy.  If you live in Ottawa, you’ll probably need to make sure to keep clothing and outerwear options for both the winter and summer months!

Accessories are A-OK – in moderation

Accessories are the finishing touches that can complete an outfit, but they can also clutter your space. Go through your jewelry, scarves, belts, and hats and decide which ones you want to keep and which ones you can let go.

Maximize your storage space

Once you’ve sorted through your wardrobe, it’s time to maximize your storage space. Consider using space-saving hangers, such as slim velvet hangers or cascading hangers, to maximize your closet space.

You might also consider purchasing a dresser, shelving units,  or other organizational tools for your closet to maximize your storage. Use drawer dividers or organizers to keep your clothing neat and tidy.

If closet and storage space is going to be an issue in your new home, is there a storage area you can use? Often apartments and residences will assign a storage locker space to residents, so it’s worth inquiring!

Rotate your clothing seasonally

If you have space for it, consider purchasing a wardrobe box – they are tall boxes with a bar to hang clothing from, with space on the bottom for shoes.

We suggest putting your Winter gear in the wardrobe box and storing it away until Fall, when you can swap the contents for your Spring/ Summer wardrobe. We’ve found this to be an effective way to rotate clothing seasonally, while avoiding overstuffed closets!

Final thoughts

Downsizing your wardrobe can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. With a plan in place, a positive attitude, and tips to help you stay organized, you can streamline your closet without getting rid of things that matter. Remember to be kind to yourself throughout the downsizing process, and celebrate your accomplishments along the way.

Want more personalized help downsizing your closet? We thought you’d never ask – our Ottawa-based team can help you with as much or as little as you need! Click here to contact us today to arrange a free consultation.

What your friends Say


Dave Tod
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We used Darling to move my parents into the Redwoods September 1, 2020. The pre move consultation went smoothly as did the prepacking and on moving day the guys showed up on time and finished on time. I was greeted by name so that was a nice bonus. The team wore uniforms – a nice touch of professionalism.

The team knew where to park and the layout of both buildings – again good research. And although I was not present for the off loading it went smoothly as well. All of the team showed expertise and an understanding of the complexities of dealing with elderly people and their families.

We would definitely recommend them!
Pierre Sabourin
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What a fantastic group of Professionals I have nothing but amazing things to say. They helped keep my parents positive in this huge transition into their new home.

This in my opinion is service the way it’s supposed to be. I love you all thank you so so much
Janet Smith
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I have dealt with Darling Solutions to move my Dad from his home to a retirement residence twice and now as an estate move. All the staff are very helpful and professional. The first move I decided to do the unpacking myself but the second time I had them do the unpacking and placing of everything. They did a phenomenal job at placing the furniture, hanging pictures etc. The last move they delivered furniture donations to Mathew House for me also took things to Value Village and disposed of anything of no value and delivered what was coming to my home. They even moved a piece of furniture from my den to my basement as it was being replaced by a desk from my Dad.

I would definitely recommend Darling Solutions for your moving needs.
G Green
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We are deeply appreciative of the work done by the Darling team, during a stressful time. Prospective clients can have full confidence in their services, from first contact, to final billing. We especially enjoyed working with the packers (who also set up and help to stage at the destination) and the movers. They were fast, friendly, and very good at their jobs. Big thanks to Julie, Kelly H, Dan, and Yan.
John O'Halloran
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After 37 years military service and countless moves my recent move with Darling Solutions was the most professional, efficient, cost effective, caring and competent moving company I encountered. Darling handled my furniture and effects as if it were their own. Paul and Aimee were most efficient and careful packers. The entire team, under Paul as Team Leader, were so proficient, friendly and professional that my son gave them all a tip. I had a fantastic downsizing move. Customer service was top drawer. My move with Darling was painless. Darling looked after all my moving requirements in the most professional and caring manner. I was not disappointed when I selected Darling Solutions as my mover. John F. O'Halloran
Sarah Boyd
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I appreciate the overall care and attention Darling Solutions gave to my mother's move from her house to a retirement home. They provided their services for the initial move to the retirement home, staging when her house went up for sale and removal and dispersement services when her house sold. Communication with staff was always polite and courteous.In addition, Darling Solutions pricing is very reasonable. I am so thankful we had the good fortune of finding them. I can't recommend them more highly!
Ellen Garmaise
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Darling Solutions handled our large move faultlessly, from decluttering to packing to moving to unpacking. Everything that was promised was delivered. Over six days we got to know many of the staff members, and appreciated their support and suggestions. They were always good humoured with us and with each other. The office staff was unfailingly available, reliable and helpful. We were delighted with the service and would recommend them without hesitation to anyone.
Margot Laporte
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We used Darling Solutions to pack up and move my elderly parents from their home of 35 years to live with family 3 hours away. They customized their services to meet our particular needs. Every aspect of the service provided was fantastic. All the involved staff were so professional and efficient. They made what was expected to be a stressful time so much easier. Highly recommend this company.
Flora Knight
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I used Darling Solutions for my move which required downsizing from a house to an apartment. They did a fantastic job and relieved me of all the stress involved in such a move. They also moved and setup my personal belongings and other items into my new apartment. I highly recommend Darling Solutions for your next move.
Shawn Ladd
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Kelly Darling and her crew have moved my aging parents twice now. They are discreet, considerate, careful, and do complete work.
Andre Cousineau
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Best movers we ever had. Ian, Colton, Tim, and Yan, did a great job. Every piece of furniture was carefully wrapped and unwrapped when we reached our destination. First time we move and not a stick of furniture was damaged. Great job guys!
Clarissa Brocklehurst
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We were so, so pleased with the services of the Darling moving team. Liam and Jon were efficient, kind, polite and caring. They were a pleasure to have in the house and quickly put our minds at rest about the move – they got everything done and were unfailingly cheerful and positive.
Kimberly Irwin
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Darling Solutions made a very difficult life transition for our family as smooth as could be hoped for. With 3 siblings, a dad with severe dementia and a mother not wanting to leave the home we grew up in and all the memories that were so hard to let go - it took a special person to navigate this.

Kelly's team displayed the same mindfulness, caring and compassion on the job as she did during the initial consult. We are grateful to your company for helping us through this. Thank you
Chris Jackson
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The best moving company I have ever dealt with, all their crew is very professional, friendly and very hard working.

I highly recommend Darling Solutions to anyone.
Robert Cope
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My wife and I have moved more than a dozen times over the years – this was the very best! Very professional, efficient and capable. Despite some challenges at move-in including a torrential downpour, the crew (Kelly (the boss herself), Ian, Rob, Julie, Susan and David were upbeat, considerate and responsive. Special mention to Susan – a human dynamo – involved from beginning to end including making up our bed! Charges were in line with the estimate
Bill Tomes
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I recently moved my mother to an assisted living facility and was recommended Darling Solutions for the move. Their name should be Guardian Angels. They took care of all needs and made my life so much easier. I live in Toronto and was managing this move in Ottawa. I had to rely on trust and reputation. Boy did they come through for me. Every service I needed they provided. The entire process from start to finish was done with accuracy and professionalism not to mention with heart when dealing with someone with dementia. I will definitely recommend Darling Solutions for any move involving an elderly person if you want a team that gets the job done with compassion!
Brendan Gleeson
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Darling Solutions ensured that our whole move process was completed thoughtfully, professionally and at a very reasonable price. From the assessor to the movers themselves, it was obvious that this whole company believed in excellent customer service. I would refer them to anyone who needed good and reliable moving services.
Marjorie Harvey
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Ten years ago, Kelly, Founder and Director of Darling Solutions, helped us move from our house to a condo with the help of a very small team. We could not have done it without them. We are delighted to see how Kelly’s business and team have grown into a sizable organization. We did not hesitate to ask her to help us with our recent move, from condo to retirement residence.

Again, we could not have done it without them! From decluttering and packing our condo to moving and setting us up in our new home, every member of the team was hardworking, helpful, warm and extremely competent. Their attention to detail in setting up our new place was remarkable. Honourable mention to the whole team: Kelly, Shawn, Ian, Phyllis, Barb M., Barb Y. Jack, Susan, Glen and Paul. Barb M., our team leader, and Ruth, in the office, were particularly good at calming a nervous client.

We recommend Darling Solutions without reservation. We can’t thank them enough.

Marj and Weldon
Susanne Cork
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We recently engaged Darling Movers to move my Mother from one Senior's residence to another. This move also required a secondary stop to pick up some additional items and then move everything into her new home. I cannot say enough about the professionalism of the Darling team. Right from the first phone call, we knew we were in good hands. The team was so gracious handling my Mother's questions and anxiety about making a move at 93! The quotation we received was very reasonable with no surprises or hidden charges along the way, and everything was accomplished with great efficiency and care. I will be recommending Darling Movers without reservation, to my family, friends and colleagues - this was by far the most worry free move we have made, and we will certainly be engaging them again.
Paul Saker
Recommend? Yes
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My in laws were recently given an opprtunity to move into a retirement facility. This was very much smaller than the home they had been living in for the past 40 years.
Adding COVID into the mix it was almost paralysing to think about. After a recommendation to Contact Darling most of that fear went away.
Professional, competent and most importantly Caring.
They made this move so smooth for my wife and her parents.
On moving day they left their old home and at the end of the day arrived in a new home with all their belongings unpacked and arranged. Completely stress and back pain free. The next day Darling took care of removing items targeted for donation and all remaining items for waste.
I cannot recommend this service enough.
Thank you so much.
Jennifer Perry
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I wanted to thank you so much for all of your help with my parents move.

Frankly thank-you does not even cover it. Your team, led by Julie, was absolutely incredible from the first moment we met down to the beautiful new plant for my mom and our goodbyes at the door.

They were so organized, thoughtful, friendly and polite. It was a sincere pleasure to work with all of them. I enjoyed the experience so much I am almost sad that the move is finished but happy that we will meet again when my parents are ready to hang their many pictures.

Again, I am in awe and am telling anyone with ears about Darling Solutions so they will hopefully in turn tell their friends and family.

Very best regards and please send our thanks once again to your team.