Operation Organize: Charitable Closet Clearing


If you have read my book Style then you know what I think when it comes to cleaning out your closet: If you can’t see it, you won’t wear it. The solution? Overhaul your closet and get organized. (Check out Chapter 4 of Style for helpful tips on editing and arranging your closet.) So what do you do with all of the pieces you want to ditch? Pay it forward. And no, I don’t mean watch the movie.

Think of it this way: As your unused homecoming dress sits in the deep dark depths of your closet, there is someone out there who is looking for, or needing, that very dress. They don’t say, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” for nothing. Instead of tossing or selling closet rejects, donate them–but do it wisely. Certain organizations specialize in distributing specific clothing items. To inspire you to make smarter donation decisions, I have put together a list of helpful suggestions on disposing your closet castoffs:

Shoes. If you are tossing a pair of shoes, give them to someone who really needs them. I recently learned about Soles4Souls, which is an organization that collects shoes and gets them to those in need. In many countries, children cannot attend school or church unless they have a pair of shoes and Soles4Shoes makes this possible.

Prom Dresses (and special occasion dresses). Let’s get real. Most of us probably won’t wear our prom dresses again. Instead of leaving the destiny of your dress in the hands of moths and dust, give it a second life by donating it to someone who will really appreciate it. There are plenty of organizations that help facilitate the distribution of special occasion dresses to those in need such as Donate My Dress and Project Princess. (If you’re afraid to take the financial hit that may come with donating an expensive dress, you can also sell it on eBay or Smashion.)

Professional Clothing. If my Dress Coding series has inspired you to clear out the old and bring in the new, then this is just the tip for you: Donate your old work wear to someone in need. There are countless shelters full of women who are ready to get back into the workforce, but do not have the appropriate attire (or funds to purchase work clothing) to do so. By giving your old professional clothing to a local women’s shelter or to an organization such as Dress for Success, you are providing someone with the tools for change and opportunity.

The next time you decide to put your chaotic closet in check, keep these donation ideas in mind and let your clothes spread some kindness. After all, sometimes all it takes is one act of kindness to change someone else’s world. So pay it forward…

Do you support a clothing-related cause? Share links to you favorite local charities and shelters in the comments below.

XO Lauren

P.S. If you don’t have it already, pick up your copy of Style here!

Categories: Operation Organize, Wear
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  • Anna Gorbacheva

    I love the idea of giving away clothes and I am doing it myself!:)

  • Lauren Hoffman

    I always donate my clothing to Goodwill or a local store that provides clothing to battered women. Great post today!


  • fungirl21

    i’m usually big into donating clothing, always have been but recently me and my roommates have been doing this new thing called “”clothing swap”” and it is amazing! you get a bunch of people who need to clear out there closets of unwanted clothes and you go around the circle showing each peice of clothing you have and its basically up for grabs, who ever wants it gets it, but if two or more people are going for the same peice then you role dice or draw cards for it. its super fun and a great way to replenish your closet for free. your friends clothes are the new black, is what we like to say.

  • Alexx Bukovac

    I love this idea. I go through my closet every 6 months with all of my girlfriends. We swap what we don’t wear and then donate the rest to goodwill.

  • Elina Peyda

    Don’t forget to mention that it’s also good to Mother Earth to recycle! ^^

  • Melissa Panici

    I love giving my clothes to Plato’s Closet! It gives me a little cash while helping others as well:)

  • Cherie LaFlamme

    Hi Lauren! I follow this rule religiously and donate up to three items a month from my closet. When I buy something new, I try to donate a piece that I haven’t worn in over a year. Helps others and helps my closet be less cluttered!

    – Cher


  • Rachel Moltz

    The church I work for has a ‘Caring and Sharing Center’. It’s like a free Goodwill! I donate all my clothes there so that less fortunate families can in turn get all of their clothes for free. I love the idea that they don’t have to pay. It’s a great system!

  • Rachael Ferenc

    I go through my closet every year and donate huge bags filled with clothes! It’s a great way to clean out your closet and helping others in need while doing it! :)

  • Maureen Feltz

    My husband and I just cleaned out our closests to make room for “”new”” winter clothes… Off to Goodwill today! :)

  • Fatima Carrasco

    Once I read that if you don’t get rid of old clothes, you won’t get new. so let

  • Emilie Jordan

    Just thought I’d mention that the organization you’re referring to in the “”Shoes”” paragraph is called “”Soles4Souls””. They are a great group, working toward a great cause. We take things like shoes for granted. We don’t usually think about people needing shoes, but they are so important.

  • Leonore Jurado

    Thanks Lauren for this heaven sent post! I recently was forced to make changes. I had a lot of things in boxes and I thought “”oh I’ll get to it”” I never do even when I have lots of downtime…I get lazy. So this actually motivated me to get rid of clothes I dont wear, anymore. Now that I can appreciate where to take my more nicely or almost new, worn once (to try on) type of clothes…I am stumped as to wear to donate items like Jewelry…most of it is costume but bought from Macy’s and was expensive…I dont want to try and sell because I prefer giving it up…something about sacrificing that is important.

  • Lynne Kress

    Great ideas. I always donate my stuff to goodwill but this is more specific and awesome.

  • Kelly

    I try to clean out my closet and go through my wardrobe at least once or twice a year (depending on how much shopping I did lol!) and since I was younger my family and I always donated to the Goodwill in our area or to clothing drives through the local schools and churches. I love that there are many known ways to go about this now and I sure will be joining in on them! Thanks!

  • baylie crank

    Thanks for the places to where to donate them. I didn’t really know about some of them. Now I need to go oragnized my close more. Its getting to a point where I have like no room.

  • Cassidy Short

    I would recommend donating to Goodwill stores; I work for Goodwill Columbus in Ohio and I work with older adults with developmental disabilities who process the donated clothes to be sold in the Goodwill stores. Every time you donate clothes to Goodwill you are helping create jobs for individuals who have suffered barriers to employment – pay it forward! :)

  • tinamarie

    i’ve read your book! i tried to organize my closet, but it always seem to be a mess. ): when i get my a break, i’m going to have to clean it out (:

  • Kayla Mixell

    I work at American Eagle Outfitters and right now when you donate your old jeans you get 20% off of your purchase. The donated jeans get made into insulation! It’s really cool being able to encourage people to donate their jeans for a good cause and also to get a discount on the things they buy!!

  • Jessica LIOU

    I donate my clothes to Purple Heart Association. They give you credit for tax deducations since it’s for a charity. :)

  • Helen Gash

    What a timely post Lauren. I’ve just spent two days clearing out my closet and reorganising my room. Finally done! x

  • Rebecca Kelsey Sampson

    I really need to purchase your Style book! I can only imagine how helpful it must be, you are constantly glam. Thank you for the recommendations!

    Kindness is the best accessory,

  • Kimmy S

    Love your tips! They’re so helpful- now I know where to send all of my discarded clothes!

  • Eliette Molina P.

    Oh geez, i’m waiting to get your Style book so badly!

  • Janine B.


    Your style book inspired me to really redo my entire wardrobe and closet..I was so unorganized for so many years. I have THE BEST closet now because of you with very interchangeable garments…Thank you again. And the donating tips are great!

    Janine :)


  • Masha Tomc

    i check with the people i personally know first, i give clothes to people i know will appreciate them. if there is anything left, i donate them to charity or give them to people in our community that are less fortunate than myself. it feels good to help a stranger and it also feels good to help a friend. 😉

  • ClosetsnBeyond

    Indeed, when it comes to cleaning and organizing the closet, charity can be a good recepient of pieces of clothing that we don’t use anymore. Another thing, as a closets Bergen service provider, organizing the closet is one way of checking if there is really a need for more storage or clearing the room with unused items is the primary solution. This way, those in need will benefit greatly from us.

  • Christina Zoll

    A charitable closet cleaning can be just as simple as literally taking decent clothing that does not fit or maybye you dont want anymore and driving to a clothing drop box. Many places have them, gas stations, grocery stores, etc. I know the drop box I put my clothes in the clothing goes to St. Judes. Just as simple as that. Dont throw something away because it simply doesnt fit.

  • Edith Scheie

    There’s also http://www.vvapickup.org, the Vietnam Veterans of America. They will come right to your door and pick up your donations. Not only do they take clothing, but they take shoes, books, tapes, LP records, CD’s, DVD’s, china, househole items and toys. They appreciate men’s clothing and large size clothing, too.

  • Alisa B

    It helps the volunteers if you only give things in good condition. If it’s not then just throw it out please.

  • Christina

    If you live in Orange County and looking for a place to donate your gently used professional and casual clothing, donate to WHW-Women Helping Women/Men2Work. WHW is a nonprofit based in Santa Ana that assist people with getting back into the workforce, offering a wide array of services including providing professional apparel to clients referred by over 270 local nonprofit partnered agencies! The clothing will go to these clients at no cost or obligation! WHW is an amazing organization, small but mighty and could certainly use your donations. Check WHW out at whw.org.


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