You only have one neck — How to declutter your scarf collection

How many scarves do you own? Go ahead, count them. Wait, can you find them all first? I know some are in this closet, some in that closet… some in that storage bin…

I grew up in California. I maybe owned one scarf. Then we moved to Iowa, and I suddenly needed new apparel for 6 months out of the year.

I bought a couple scarves, and few mittens, a few hats, and a warm winter coat.

I also learned how to knit. So I knitted myself another scarf, a pair of hand warmers, and a hat. My mother also took up crocheting, and made me a hat and a scarf. The friend who got me into knitting gave me a scarf that year for Christmas.

Within my first few months as a Midwesterner, my scarf collection sextupled.

Some of them were itchy. Some weren’t my color. Some unraveled a bit. But I was 16 and you better believe I kept them all anyway!

As the years went by, more scarves were given. As my knitting improved, more scarves were knitted. And the closet shrank and shrank.

Now allow me to really blow your mind: I only have one neck.

How did I ever manage to wear all those scarves? Well, some only got a couple wears before the season was over. Which is the very definition of excess. Especially considering I would typically just throw on the same one I wore the day before.

When you pair having too many choices with also being lazy, you usually end up with the same choice, over and over again. (tweet that)

I’m glad to say that since then I have narrowed my scarf collection down considerably. I have two uber-warm winter scarves, one light-weight trendy scarf, and one mid-weight scarf.

Here’s how I narrowed it down:

1. Divide your collection into cold-weather scarves and mid-temp scarves

There’s no use decluttering your scarves only to discover that you’re left with all spring/autumn scarves and have nothing left for really cold weather. So make sure you divide them into these two categories before narrowing the, down so you’re sure to have at least one left for each temperature range. Note, I also had a few scarves that I would consider “summer-weight”, but as I currently live in a place that’s super hot and humid during the summers, that just seemed impractical for me, so I didn’t keep any from that category. Depending on where you live, that third category might be appropriate.

2. Pair them with the outfits you wear during those seasons

If your thickest scarf only matches your favorite spring outfit, get rid of it. When the weather is appropriate to finally wear it but it doesn’t match with any of your winter items, then it will sit in your closet unworn all season. Items have to coordinate (to your personal standards) or you wont feel right wearing it. Of course if matching doesn’t matter to you or you have a mostly capsule wardrobe already, then you can skip this one.

3. Try it on

Is it itchy? Does it stay in place or slip around and get in your way? Is it too bulky under your current coat? Does it actually keep you warm? Does it make you too warm?

4. Rank them by favorite

If at this point you still have too many perfect scarves that haven’t fallen short in any area mentioned above, lay them out in order from your absolute favorite to your least favorite. Tell yourself you have to get rid of one more. You’ll probably know right away which one you just can’t part with. Any others can probably go.

5. Make sure they’re in your color season

Remember that since scarves are worn right up by your face, they are a key item to make sure is within your color season. A scarf outside your color season can make you look washed out — which is especially unflattering since we lose our summer glow during the cold months as it is. A beautiful scarf that brings out your features and makes your skin look radiant can effortlessly brighten your whole appearance.

With these checkpoints, you can narrow down your scarves to only those which are comfortable, practical, and look great on you. You deserve to be warm while looking your best!

As a final tip, here’s some ideas of what to do with the scarves you don’t keep.

1. Donate them to your local women’s shelter. Women’s shelters take all sorts of items from clothes, to hygiene items (shampoo, etc), to clothes and toys for the children who often accompany the women in need. Check with your local shelter to see what they take. That scarf that was perfect but just not your favorite could be someone else’s new favorite!

2. And for the knitters who keep a constant supply of scarves coming in, create your new pieces with those women in mind. Or, knit them for hospital residents. They will take blankets, too, if you’re looking to go beyond scarves. Keep in mind that some hospitals only take new items, so donating your used pieces is best for shelters.

Good luck, stay warm, and happy knitting!

Decluttering my life has brought me peace of mind and relief from the world around me. There’s nothing like walking into the space you created and knowing you have nothing more than what you need. I write articles to help others create that same feeling for themselves.

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