I have always had the tendency to collect things; knickknacks, buttons, clothes. If it was interesting, bizarre, slightly cute… I had to keep it. And when it came to clothes, I loved having options. A lot of options. Being an avid thrifter made it easy to accumulate an excessive amount of things.
A couple years ago I picked up a pair of new sandals at a rummage sale for $1. They were cute and fit well, I tossed them in my closet with my ever-growing strappy sandal collection. At the beginning of last summer, I found them amongst the clutter and started wearing them. One day towards the end of the summer, I looked down at my bare feet and saw the outline of the sandal that the sun had etched into my skin. Those were the only sandals I had worn all summer. Every day. Why do I have a pile of sandals in my closet that haven’t been used in the last 12 months. Or the last 3 years…
I started thinking seriously about what I have versus what I actually use. I thought about the pair of black booties that I wore every day last winter (and most of this winter as well) and the black jeans I bought last year that I’ve worn at least 50% of the days since I bought them. Seriously. So why is my closet full of so many things? Things I don’t wear. Things I don’t like.
Every morning I was standing in front of a jam-packed closet every day crying that I didn’t have anything to wear. All to end up wearing one of the same outfits I always wear. So I started, slowly, to clear things out. I would go through everything and get rid of anything I could bear to part with. And then a week or month later, I would do the same. And I’m continuing to. There were times when I would get rid of 15 garbage bags and times when there would only be 1 or 2 bags. And now I walk into my clean, organized closet and I don’t miss the clothes at all. I can breathe. Mornings are easier because, although I don’t have as many options – they’re all options that I love. And I’ve come to terms with wearing the same outfit over and over when that means you get to wear only your favorite clothes. Especially ones you look dang fine in.
A lot of people have been working with capsule wardrobes recently and I think it’s a great model to get you inspired. I’m not sure I could commit to such a small number and I’m sure everyone has a different number that will work perfect for them. So I’m just going to share what has worked for me so far.
A few tips/thoughts to help you through the closet purge:
ONE. Take everything out of your closet and dressers. Everything.
TWO. Go through every single piece and ask yourself these questions:
Is it in good condition?
Have I worn it in the last 12 months?
Does it fit well?
Last, (and probably most important) do I love it? Does it make me feel great whenever I wear it?
THREE. Get some big boxes or bags.
Anything that didn’t have a yes answer to all of the previous questions must be separated into one of these categories…
Trash. Stained shirts, ripped pants, old undies… Just let go of them already, folks.
Donate. This pile should be the largest. Fill it and get them out of the house quickly.
Sell. For items that don’t make the cut when you ask the previous questions but they were expensive or you never got around to wearing it. Feel free to sell them, but make sure you sell them ASAP. And don’t try to sell everything – a lot of things just need to be donated.
Undecided. If you can’t decide on some items, try putting them in a box away in the garage or attic. Anything that you haven’t pulled out to wear in three months, (keeping seasons in mind, of course) donate it!
Save. It’s okay to save a few sentimental things. But only a few. Your kids probably won’t want everything you own. (Or at least I keep trying to convince myself of that.) Is there a good story with the item… is it rare… keep it. Just limit yourself.
FOUR. Repeat. Each time the pile that you actually love should get smaller until you’re left with a collection that you truly love and makes you feel and look great!
Once you’ve gone through a few cycles of this, you’ll realize the things that you really wear a lot and any key items you’re missing from your wardrobe. Now you can start thinking about adding a few pieces but keep these things in mind:
-Only buy things that you LOVE. Don’t buy something you like. Buy things that you love and that love you back (i.e. make you look and feel good.) I go into Salvation Army often now, try on entire cart’s worth of clothing, and leave empty-handed. Whereas before I used to buy things because I knew it would fit me – but rarely did they end up fitting me well.
-Speaking of which, try everything on. Don’t go shopping if you aren’t willing to try things on at the store. It is a hassle, but it will save you time and money in the end.
-Buy items that are versatile. I’m sure you can tell what your major color schemes are at this point – buy things that will work with a few different pieces you already have in your wardrobe.
-Replace items. Yes, at the beginning you might need to keep a few things you don’t love but you do need. Occasionally I need plain white tee and I had one that fit a bit awkwardly so I didn’t wear it too often but I let it stay until I found a perfect white tee a few months later and I ditched the old one. Same with a black and white striped shirt. When you find a version that fits you better, replace your old one. A good way to do this is to limit the number of hangers you have in your closet and then stick with that amount – when something new comes in, something old goes out.
-Invest in quality. I’m slowly learning this because I’m a cheapskate at heart. But I’m realizing that it’s better to buy one pair of amazing fitting jeans for a higher price than to go through 10 pairs of $5 Salvation Army jeans that never fit just right.What are your thoughts on a minimal wardrobe? Does your closet need a serious clean out?