ABOUT      |     ADVERTISE      |     BUILDING A REMIXABLE WARDROBE      |     WARDROBE FROM SCRATCH      |     STYLE & WARDROBE TIPS      |     ONE PIECE MANY WAYS

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Art of Decluttering - My Latest Closet Clean Out

I've mentioned here and there how, while I'm not a minimalist, Benson has inched his way closer and closer to becoming one over the years.  Not only is he against clutter, but he is simply against storing things you don't need regularly--even things you would need once in a while.  (He would rather just borrow or get it when you actually need it.)

Benson really lives by the phrase "a cluttered house is a cluttered mind."  And while my tolerance for a little clutter is much higher than his, we still both feel emotional and mental weights when we are surrounded by stuff we don't use.

Recently he's been reading a book on the Japanese art of decluttering which compelled him to purge his closet, among other things.  Not like he even had that much to purge!  His closet was already minimal in my mind!  Of course he suggested I do it too.  I've done several closet clean outs since giving birth, so I was down to do another one...until I realized that I had to be a little more cutthroat this time around because we were playing by the book's rules.  Plus, Benson was involved, which automatically meant more scrutiny over things I kept.  Yikes!

Today I'm sharing the process we used as well as describing how the mindset from this book was slightly different than what I normally did, but really helpful.


My Typical Closet Clean Outs
Typically my closet clean outs involved a lot of thinking.  Like, why do I not wear this?  Could I wear this if x, y, and z in the future?  What would help me wear this again?  And all sorts of other questions for analysis.  This time around was really simple, but actually more difficult to do: a) take everything out of your closet, b) only put back things you LOVE, and c) put in another pile things that need to be tailored (that you would LOVE once tailored).

Why was it harder to do?  Because before, when I let myself run through all the questions and analysis, I could talk myself into holding onto a lot more pieces that I honestly was not going to use.

My pile to tailor!

The New Rules
So, I played by new rules this time.  How it went, in more detail:

Take everything out of your closet.  This part is a MUST.  Usually I leave everything in my closet, graze my hand over them one by one, then take out items I'm ready to get rid of.  But, taking everything out of my closet and putting pieces back made it feel like each piece needed to earn its place in my wardrobe.

Put back into the closet things you LOVE.  Like, ones that you just love love love love LOVE wearing.  Put into another pile pieces that need to be tailored (that you would LOVE once tailored).  Like I said, this is simple in theory, but difficult in reality because of all those "what ifs."  What if I might need this later?  What if I could figure out how to style it?  What if I'll actually love this later?  Because I've been practicing remixing for several years now I feel like I can figure out multiple ways to use most pieces.  But the real question is do I love that piece and actually want to wear it?  That's different than being able to figure out how to wear it.  I had plenty of pieces that I could have worn but didn't want to wear.  There's no room for the "what ifs."  Only things you love--and currently love--get put back.  Not things that you once loved or could maybe possibly love in the future either!  (We'll talk about those once-loved things in a minute.)

Since I'm great at talking myself into keeping things, I needed Benson's help.  I ate a bowl of ice cream while Benson held up each piece and asked me if I loved it.  Unless I needed to tailor it, if I hesitated at all (or was less than a 7-8 out of 10 in loving it), Benson chucked it.  EEK!

To ease my pain we created a "closet purgatory."  I already knew I wouldn't miss these pieces, but since I'm inclined to keep things I don't use it helped me remove them knowing I could "maybe" bring them out of purgatory.


How to Let Go of Pieces That Are Still Good

What do you do with pieces that are still good?  How about ones you paid for but hardly wore and that you're still carrying remorse about?  And those items that you were once BFFs with that have a special place in your heart but that you haven't worn in a year?  

This category was the biggest mental shift for me.  A long time ago I wrote about shopping mistakes I've made, and while I've made a lot less over the years, after giving birth I was kind of desperate for more nursing-friendly clothes ASAP and made some regretful purchases again.

I loved what this book said, which was that you should just thank the item for its service to you, then let it go.  Whereas I would hang onto it, holding out hope that I could redeem it somehow, this book encourages you to simply thank it for whatever it gave to you and then move on.  Whether it was a once beloved piece that you got a lot of use out of or a piece you hardly or never wore with a tag still on it, it gave you something.  The former is easier to see what it gave, but the latter?  Hopefully that thing you hardly wore at least taught you something.  Maybe it taught you that you didn't actually like that style or that you instead prefer tops that are 1 inch longer.  Though it may have been a costly or regretful purchase, learn from it, call it a $30 (or $50!) lesson, and move on.  You don't need that clutter in your closet, or in your mental space!

And, you can sell items on second-hand clothing sites now so the burn isn't as bad! :D



I still have a plenty of room to grow in getting rid of my clutter.  I'm pretty sure I talked Benson into letting me keep some things that I shouldn't.  But ultimately I want to look in my closet and LOVE every single piece there.  I want them all to fit perfectly, work for any aspect of my lifestyle, and be things I cannot wait to wear again.  Benson's philosophy is that it's better to have a smaller wardrobe full of pieces you absolutely love than a large wardrobe with a bunch of pieces that don't give you joy.  

It's hard to face the truth, but the reality is that I kept reaching for the same pieces over and over, and when I passed by the other clothes a sense of dread or dead weight came over me rather than joy.  It's true--a cluttered house is a cluttered mind.

We removed 50+ items from my closet, and this was after I'd already done several closet clean outs this year.  We were just more ruthless this time.  Yet, I still feel like I have a zillion items to wear!  And those pieces that were hard to get rid of?  I have not thought about them once.  And now I don't have to feel their dead weight every time I look in my closet!

49 comments:

  1. Just wanted to say that it is GREAT to hear a fashion blogger talk about this. I've always wondered how some bloggers navigate around their closets with so many choices; it seems completely overwhelming. I haven't finished reading Marie Kondo's book yet, but I've gotten inspiration from blogs like Unfancy, Light by Coco, and Project 333 to really look at my wardrobe/spending habits. I still make some bad purchases, but I've gotten so I catch a lot of them in time to return the item. If not, well, I just take it as a lesson, make mental note, and keep going. Be patient with yourself :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yuuuup, I too am in this stage of life. Decluttering, purging and being more intentional about spending. Great post.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This book is so intriguing to me. And terrifying!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Audrey,


    You mentioned sites to sell used clothes. Could you give me some names?


    Thank you! Great post! I need to work on decluttering too!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Audrey, I too recently read The Lifechanging Magic of Tidying Up and was SO inspired. I had also read the Madame Chic series and am well on my way to the uncluttered closet and uncluttered mind. I also have an overflow closet with off season items but if I am undecided on a few things I let them "hang out" in there awhile too until I am sure of parting with them. Just yesterday I took 4 big bags of clothing to the local charity shop. Whoo hoo!!! How good it feels to let it go! After reading the books, I now understand how much these things are weighing me down (or were) and holding me back from growing. I let go of a lot of nice things that simply were not "me" anymore. Realizing that their purpose had been served even though they are still functional was such and eye opener. No more guilt over getting rid of perfectly good clothes. I am now happy to think of their new owners discovering them with joy. A few other tidbits I learned: multiples are not necessarily my friend, and just because it is popular doesn't mean it is right for me. I am much more intentional about what I purchase now and I love your blog and the beautiful options you always provide. It helps me stay current and happily (hopefully) laid back chic.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I also read the The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. There was a lot of things I really enjoyed about the book. My biggest closet hang up right now is that I AM nursing, so I do have things that haven't been worn in over a year due to pregnancy and nursing. I am planning on a full purge when I am done. Thanks for this post. It has inspired me to at least do what I can now, and then do it again once I am done nursing.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I've had that book on hold at the library for 3 months and still #74 in line! I've done a lot of closet (and household) purging this year, even getting rid of some clothes I've had less than 6 months. That was an eye opener. I'm still working on building my remixable wardrobe and it's tough to know what to buy and what I'll actually wear! I've done A LOT of buying and returning lately, saving me on losing money to just donate in the future. I don't think I've gone through my closet once in the last year without finding SOMETHING to get rid of. Hoping when I finally read that book it'll spark a new round of purging!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I've been KM'ing, too. So fun to see one of my favorite bloggers embrace the method--and explain why this has worked for you vs. other ways in the past.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love your perspective on this book too. I tried cleaning out every closet, drawer, shelf and cabinet in my home after reading the book, And about 1/2 of the way through I was thrilled to see myself letting go of all of the unfinished projects and the "Try to make it work" mentality. It was so freeing and I started getting rid of more and more.

    ReplyDelete
  10. What a great post! I seriously have been meaning to do this for a while, just need to do it already!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks, Amanda! Glad to hear that you are able to catch a lot of your bad purchases in time to return also. Best of luck to you as you continue building a wardrobe that you love!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Haha! It terrifies me a little, but also not really because Benson regularly gets rid of things that I normally wouldn't. After 6 years of marriage I've gotten used to it. However, when he comes at MY closet...okay yeah that freaked me out a little bit more than usual. :P

    ReplyDelete
  13. About the 50 pieces--haha I FEEL ya. I'm judging myself. I was hesitant to say it because I actually find it embarrassing to have that much stuff. I hoard a lot of things and keep things for much longer than I should. I have some pieces that are years and years and years old. Also, as a style blogger I receive a lot of clothes as gifts, and I finally let go of the ones I wasn't wearing regularly.


    You and Benson would probably get along. Before we did this last closet purge, he only had 6 pairs of pants that were not workout pants. Now he has 3, which was his dream for years (and my nightmare). Haha!

    ReplyDelete
  14. YES! Having less totally makes it easier to get dressed! Benson once read a study about having choices. I'm probably fudging the facts, but if I remember correctly it was basically that having MORE choices actually led to LESS happiness because it's overwhelming!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi Alessandra! I don't personally use those sites to sell my clothes, I just said mentioned that they existed. I sell my clothes through my blog. The sites I was referring to, which my friends use, are ones like https://www.liketwice.com/ and https://www.thredup.com/. I don't personally have experience with them, though. I think https://poshmark.com/ is another one.

    ReplyDelete
  16. What stood out to me the most about what you said was that holding onto those pieces were holding you back from growing. That's a great way to articulate how I felt/feel, especially about the pieces I once loved. Even now it's hard for me to accept the fact that I will let them go, even though I haven't thought about them. (I was reminded of them as I got ready to sell them.) I keep thinking, "But I could use it in all these ways!" and I keep having to remind myself that though they are good items, they really just don't fit myself. I've outgrown those styles. I love how you said that!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I was totally in the same boat, up until a couple of weeks ago when Addie quit nursing altogether. I'm still pumping, but I don't have to be nearly as mindful about nursing-friendly clothes since I mostly work from home.


    I'd say doing what you can do right now is great. You've gotta start somewhere, right?

    ReplyDelete
  18. 74! Sheesh.


    I agree that it's tough to know what to buy and what you'll actually wear. I feel like I personally learn by trial and error, and there are many things I thought I'd wear but ended up not for one reason or another. And there were many I didn't think I'd wear much and bought on a "chance" but ended up being some of my most worn pieces. I only feel like I now have a better handle on things--and even then, my style is constantly evolving! Kind of not helpful haha!

    ReplyDelete
  19. It gets kind of addicting to get rid of things, doesn't it? Before Addie was born, Benson did one of his biggest purges of our whole house because 1) a kid was coming and we didn't have time to think about unnecessary things, and 2) we were moving and moving lots of stuff sucks. Once we get on a roll with getting rid of stuff we get in this groove and are like, "Let's get rid of ALL THE THINGS!" hehe

    ReplyDelete
  20. Yes! Enlist a friend to help! It'll feel freeing once you get into it!

    ReplyDelete
  21. My 14 year old son is a packrat. Getting him to purge items was impossible. One step of the method that seems to help him is thanking the item for its service. Sound silly, but it is very freeing.
    "Thank you, hiking boots. We have walked many miles together. You no longer fit me. Please serve another person."
    Learning how to let go is a valuable life skill. Glad it is working for you.

    ReplyDelete
  22. My closet could really use a clean-out. I just had my baby two months ago and while I was pregnant I attempted to get rid of some stuff, but it was tough because I missed wearing normal clothes. Now that I'm mostly back to my original size, I should dive back in. I like the tips you shared, although taking everything out seems pretty daunting!

    http://ashtonwright.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  23. This is such a good read! I found after my wardrobe detox session (I enlisted the help of a professional stylist) I felt much lighter and happier, having gotten rid of a lot of clutter. But lately I'm feeling my wardrobe is just getting too much to manage again. While I want to have a wardrobe full of pieces I love and that bring me joy, like you I can't help but think 'but I could wear this this way'...or 'I like this too much to give up'. I've been good with de-cluttering the rest of the house, but the wardrobe is a sticking point always! Maybe I need to do what you did and rope in a more ruthless hubby to help! I'm worried he'd throw away more than I'd be able to bear though, ha!


    Away From The Blue

    ReplyDelete
  24. I do this every fall and summer. For fall I get rid of anything i didn't use over summer. If i didnt wear it this year most likely i wont wear it the next, this really helps me.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Great post! I went thru this process at the start of the year and although it was really hard I loved it! I'm curious how many pieces you ended up with, and what breakdown of items (tops, pants, skirts etc)? You might not want to say!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  26. I just ordered another Thredup bag in anticipation of another closet clean-out. I was planning to do only a half-hearted attempt but your post is beginning to convince me that I should be a bit more cutthroat. I think I will be happier in the long run if I do this a bit more seriously.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I'm constantly doing purges in my closet too! The hardest pieces to get rid of are definitely the ones I once loved! I love the tip on thanking it and moving on! Hope this helps with my next purge!
    www.mysweetobessions.

    ReplyDelete
  28. HappinessatmidlifeSaturday, June 13, 2015

    I've heard about this method of decluttering but not sure I can commit to this. Great job! I bet it's great to have a closet full of things that you love.

    Alice

    www.happpinessatmidlife.com



    Would love to see you Thursday for TBT Fashion link up.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I have a question for you - do you do the same with your accessories? I'm thinking scarves, belts, shoes, etc? I have a much harder time letting go of these items because I feel like I'm surely going to have a need for them again in the future! If you do, how do you decide what to toss?

    ReplyDelete
  30. I haven't done it with my accessories yet, though I need to. In terms of what I'm worried about "needing" in the future...I know that for myself if I don't love the piece I won't wear it, even if I "need" it in the future. I'd rather just get a replacement that I love instead.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Try doing a closet purgatory type of thing if you're not totally sure about some pieces. It really does help ease the transition and helps you get rid of more things that you know you're supposed to let go of but just can't bring yourself to do!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Wow. The timing of this post is amazing because I have been hearing about the book and reading bits and pieces about it and feeling convicted because I know it's time for a serious closet session. I am actually going through and purging my whole house, including toys, books, etc. but haven't touched the closet yet. I plan to do it soon and post about it, too. I am far from being a minimalist, but I am starting to feel that too much stuff is just draining! Thanks for the inspiration and motivation!

    ReplyDelete
  33. I'm in major decluttering mode and I have some clothes that I like, or really loved at the time I purchased them (and wore them a lot then) but now I'm kind of eh on them or I just never wear them...but I tell myself, "oh you'll wear them when the weather cools down" or whatever other excuse...I think this pushed me over the edge to just say goodbye to them! Especially since I'll try to sell them and I can buy clothes I will actually wear with my earnings!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Way to go! I've found that clearing the clutter and unloved items from my closet actually make it easier to get ready in the morning!

    ReplyDelete
  35. Elisabeth KlassenSunday, June 14, 2015

    I love this post. Very similar to a post I did.

    Diary of Elegance
    http://diaryofelegance.blogspot.ca/

    ReplyDelete
  36. Thank you! I had a few items in my closet that were gifts from my husband that I have had for years. I have never worn them b/c he thinks I'm a size 0 when reality is I'm a 14! I said "thank you" to those items and cherished the love my husband showed me with his good intentions. I did NOT purge the items in front of him; however, I know he will never notice the items gone from my closet.

    Will you please do a post on what To look for in a tailor? Perhaps your experience as you get the items you pulled tailored...before and after?

    ReplyDelete
  37. I have been applying similar "rules" to my closet for the past two seasons-- it has made getting ready a lot easier, even though I'm not exactly a champ at paring down my items into an authentic capsule wardrobe. I wrote several posts on my blog about my efforts, and I also created what I called "wardrobe purgatory"-- the closet of a spare bedroom and a few dresser drawers where my items wait until I decide their fate. Please check out my thoughts and experiences at http://buttonsbees.blogspot.com/2015/03/springing-forward-my-first-thoughts-on.html!

    I've gotten so many outfit ideas from your blog-- I really look forward to reading your posts!

    Allie from Buttons and Bees Beauty :)

    ReplyDelete
  38. I agree--having less makes it way easier to get dressed!

    ReplyDelete
  39. I have the book, but haven't started reading it yet. I'm looking forward to cleaning my closet though!

    ReplyDelete
  40. 50+ is pretty good ! I do my closet edits on a monthly basis. Some months I give away 3 garments while others its up to 20.. and it seems like its a never ending story.

    ReplyDelete
  41. This post was exactly what I needed to get my closet back in shape! Even though I've done multiple closet clean-outs over the past year and a half, the idea of taking everything out and only putting back in what I love did wonders for my closet. I had cleaned out my closet a few months ago and had a bag of items sitting my front closet waiting to be donated - sort of like an unintentional purgatory - and realized I never once thought about any of those items. So this time when I found myself going back and forth on an item, I just threw it in the donate pile. I was always afraid to get rid of too much stuff because I wanted options, but now that my closet is down to just the items I really love, I do feel like I have more options every morning because I'm not flipping through items that I'll never actually wear again. I did keep a few "sentimental" pieces (i.e., the shirt I was wearing when my husband proposed, etc.) even though I'll probably never wear them again - I just stuck them in the back of my closet so their not cluttering up the clothes I work with on a daily basis.

    Also, in addition to this awesome closet clean-out advice, thank you so much for putting this blog together and for all the wonderful advice broken down in an easy to understand way. Finding this blog truly changed my life - now that I have a wardrobe I love and feel good about, I feel better in other aspects of my life as well. And I've also been able to use this advice to help my family out when they're unsure about how to build up their wardrobe. So I just wanted to say thank you so much for all of the time you put into this blog - it is greatly appreciated!

    ReplyDelete
  42. This was such a wonderful comment to receive, Lisa Marie. Thank you so, so, so much for taking the time to write that! That was so encouraging!
    I'm glad to hear you liked this post too. I still haven't thought about my items that are in "purgatory" either, and like you, I think whenever my next close clean out is, I probably won't need one!

    ReplyDelete
  43. Do you still sell your clothes?

    ReplyDelete
  44. I'm about to list a whole bunch of them soon right here on the blog!

    ReplyDelete
  45. I am SO doing this! I feel like I have cleaned my closet out a zillion times this year and I come up with only a few pieces I can part ways with.... clearly my strategy isn't really working! I cannot wait to pull every single item out and try this method! I may even do a post on it too :) If I do, I will link back to you so you can see how it went... and if I am the emotional wreck I seem to think I will be if I get rid of all of those "what-if" items! haha

    Thanks so much for sharing this! Have a wonderful weekend!

    xoxo

    Danielle

    http://stylecrushdiaries.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  46. this is such a great post about de-cluttering. My issue at this stage in life is that between nursing friendly clothes for now, still needing to lose 10 lbs of baby weight and thinking ahead to 1-2 more kids in the future, I sort of feel like I need to keep three wardrobes (normal weight/lifestyle, maternity, and heavier/nursing-friendly) So tailoring doesn't make sense since my size will fluctuate so much! How have you or will you handle the nursing and/or maternity wardrobe issues?

    ReplyDelete
  47. Totally great points! My maternity wardrobe was pretty small. I tried to create a capsule wardrobe. I figure I'll get rid of things next time I'm pregnant and decide I don't want them. Currently they all fit in one box in another closet. Nursing stuff...I got rid of a lot actually. I bought a bunch of stuff at first thinking I needed it but now that I have a better handle on nursing I realized I didn't need some of those things. So I ditched what I didn't love. The rest are just button ups or loose tops that I still wear even though we're done nursing. I think you should declutter those kinds of things when it feels appropriate. If next time you're pregnant you're like "I never want to wear this" you can get rid of hat and other pieces you feel similarly about. Or, nursing right now, if there are pieces you don't want to wear ever then toss those

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Blogging tips