Streamlining and simplifying. These words hold such promise. They offer a confident ease, an assurance that what is in my daily routines is refined and functional, and requires no additional attention. So, in an ongoing effort to maintain a refined and functional wardrobe, a thorough clean out was in order–a topic I covered in my post on New Year’s reflections. Didn’t make the Spring deadline I set, but the end of Summer was actually a really good time to do it.
There’s so much research that has been done confirming that clutter adds significant stress to our lives. It’s been proven that a cluttered desk (or closet) can make it harder for your brain to process information. So streamlining and simplifying your wardrobe will eliminate the amount of decisions you will have to make and that can add up to extra will power for all those other daily decisions coming your way.
Get This Mindset
We should all work on developing the habit of consciously determining exactly what we choose to add to our closet. It’s human nature to feel an emotional attachment to the clothes we buy. The secret is to make sure the pieces we add to our closet evoke positive emotions.
That’s the goal, but in the meantime, we all have items in our closet that evoke guilt, shame, reproach or just indifference. It’s my belief that we all deal with these negative emotions and they build over time until they reach a tipping point. The clutter. The clothes falling off hangers. The dress with the tags still on that you know will never be worn. You’re ready to start the closet cleanup and you need to have an authoritative and empowered mindset. You need to give yourself permission to make the hard choices. You are going to bring any shame or guilt over past purchases into the light, acknowledge them, and learn from this cleanup. And that will be the only time you’re going to feel guilt or reproach. You are moving on, and you have a job to do. No looking back. No regrets. You are your own Sensei in the bloodsport of purging. But how do you know what to keep and what to get rid of?
What to Keep What to Toss
The very first thing to do is carve out plenty of time to try on and sort your items. You need to carve out 5-6 uninterrupted hours without distractions to focus on decision making. If you need encouragement and a second opinion; then by all means ask a friend who’s opinion you trust. I asked one of my best friends, my 22 year old daughter, to help. We also added loud music and alcohol. Get in the zone and stay in the zone!
To start, you can either take everything out of your closet, pile it on the bed, and then go through it one item at a time or you can leave the items on their hanger and go one by one (this is my preferred method). The key here is to go item by item. No shortcuts and no cheating!
The One Question to Ask Yourself
With each item you take out, ask yourself: Do you feel like the authentic version of you when you wear it? You should feel a sense of confident power, a settled pleasure with your reflection. If you don’t, then get rid of it. Don’t over think this. Your first thought is always your best thought. Trust it and move on whether you bought it 5 years ago or 5 months ago. It really isn’t about whether ruffles are still in or tie neck blouses are all over the runways. If you feel GOOD in it, then it’s your style, and that is always attractive. It is simple, just not easy! I know that some people recommend putting items that you’re unsure of aside for a month or so to see if you will miss them in your wardrobe. However, I’m an all or nothing kinda girl. I say all this does is prolong a decision that needs to be made. Just go ahead and make the hard choice now, so you don’t end up with that box sitting in your closet for another year because you just couldn’t decide.
During my purge, I tossed sweaters that I really liked, but they made me itch. I do not feel confident pleasure when I am itchy all day long, even if I look cute. That was hard. Same with some designer pieces that I enjoyed several years ago, but they just don’t feel authentically me anymore. These went to a local consignment store. The other 12 garbage bags went to a non-profit that works with underprivileged young adults here in Dallas. Now that you’ve gone item by item and you’re left with what makes you confident and happy, where do you go from here?
What I Learned
- I was able to identify the true holes in my closet. Now I know what I really have and won’t duplicate items. It turns out that the sweaters the give me joy are all turtlenecks. So, I need to add a crewneck to round out my options.
- I am much more thoughtful before I purchase something. I am buying things I really love because I am asking how it will fill a need in my wardrobe or how I will incorporate it with the other items I already have. The goal is to have very few items the next purge where I ask myself “Why on earth did I buy this?”
- I’ve rediscovered items that were jammed in an overstuffed closet. I realized I have really nice clothes that I am excited to wear. It is easy to see and choose what to wear and that has lead to some really creative new ways to pair different items. Take away: fewer things but more options.
I would love to hear your thoughts on closet cleanups and what you learned along the way.
Photos from Cultoftomorrow.tumblr and One Kings Lane