Cleaning Out the Closet
Cleaning out the closet is a cornerstone element of building a workhorse wardrobe. I don’t mean airing your dirty laundry Eminem-style (although feel free to do that too, this is a safe space), I mean literally cleaning. it. out.
I’m sure if this is a topic that even remotely interests you (and I hope it is since you’re here!) you’ve probably looked into streamlining your wardrobe before. There are a ton of blog posts, pins, articles, listicles, books, and other very legitimate recommendations out there – create piles, segment by season, if you haven’t worn it in 3 months it’s gotta go, use the hanger trick (turn all of your clothes so the hanger faces you, and turn them away from you when you wear them. At the end of 3 months, get rid of everything that’s still facing you) – there’s no shortage of advice on how to neat-ify your closet.
BUT…that’s not all we’re doing here, right?
It’s Time to Say Goodbye
This is hard. I’ll be the first to willingly admit. I have connections to my clothes, and I’m willing to bet some of you do too. I’m not (very?) superstitious, but if something good happens in an outfit, I wear it more often and cherish it. I think this is normal, and something most people probably do. But…I’m also weird about clothes that BAD things happen in. I once wore a shirt for the first time and totaled my car while wearing it. I got rid of it (and the bad vibes attached) that day.
It’s not unreasonable to make associations with your clothes, and to become attached to certain pieces. These aren’t just sewn together pieces of fabric that keep us safe from the elements, they’re the pieces we live our lives in! That can be a big deal, so don’t fret. I’m not suggesting you get rid of your wedding dress or the sweater you brought your first child home from the hospital in. Keep whatever you want! It’s the stuff you actually don’t want that we need to have a chat about.
Don’t Worry, We All Do It…
Me especially! I’m talking about holding onto things we don’t need, don’t wear, don’t use, and DON’T. ACTUALLY. WANT. These items are taking up precious real estate and doing literally nothing for us except in a lot of cases making us at least a little sad that we aren’t whatever size they are anymore.
That’s the stuff I want you to say goodbye to. And I’m doing it right there with you. In fact – I’ll go first!
Where to Start
There’s no right way to turn your wardrobe into a magical place that you love. I wish there was, it would make things a lot easier for both of us. But let’s start with an assessment. I’ve also put this all into a printable guide for easier access. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do it all right here.
If you’ve tried your hand at all putting together your own 5 pieces 5 ways (or 3 pieces 3 ways, 9 pieces 9…go crazy), then you probably have an idea of the things in your closet you love. Those are the things you naturally gravitated toward when you were making your choices. If you haven’t, read this post, and go take a look around your closet! But for now, let’s get this party started.
- Pull all of your favorite pieces together. You know which ones they are. The tried and true, the stuff you reach for when you want to feel good. Everything counts – your favorite dress, that blazer you like, those broken in jeans, boots, bras, every pair of black leggings you own, those heirloom pieces I mentioned above- if you love it, it belongs in this category. This stuff stays. Put it aside somewhere. On your bed for now, or in a different section of the closet – scoot it out of the way. BUT, and this is very important, so I need you to be VERY honest with yourself here, don’t let ANYTHING…not one single, solitary thing, sneak into that pile that you don’t love (heirloom/sentimental value), like, and wear often (staples), or must have for some reason (uniforms, etc.). Got it? Awesome! On to the next.
- Now, for stuff that is not useful to you AT ALL. But Kristy – you ask – what about the in-between stuff? The stuff that I don’t hate but don’t love but might work? That’s what we’re unearthing right now! So take a look at what’s left, and unless you are really, REALLY good at purging your closet, chances are there is some stuff you can look at right now and know it no longer deserves a place in your life. Here’s the hardest one – if it’s left in the closet after you’ve pulled out the things you love, and it doesn’t fit you RIGHT NOW. It’s gotta go. This might mean trying on some things and getting real with yourself, and that’s okay. You might not be able to do this in one night – also okay! Move at your pace, but don’t quit. This is going to make all the difference. One major exception to this rule is pregnancy. If you’re expecting a lovely little one, nobody expects you to purge all of your pre-baby clothes. But beyond that? Nope. Get rid of those jeans from 2008 that were too short then and now. That top with the buttons that don’t fasten, that formal dress from college, that sweater that swallows you whole now? ALL GONE. Goodbye. Put them in a bag and the next time you’re out, take them to your local charitable organization that accepts clothing donations. No hanging around in a trash bag in the kitchen so you can go grab that really expensive work blazer that hasn’t fit you in 3 years because you just know you’re gonna start hitting the gym soon. NO. Put it back in the bag. You’ll thank yourself later, I promise!
- Take a look at what’s left. This is where the real work begins. I know it feels like you’ve been doing real work this whole time, and you have! But this group – these pieces you pause and look at on Wednesday mornings when you’re trying to figure out what to wear, but never take off the rack, and can’t figure out why – these are the pieces we’re going to have fun with. If you’re like me, there are a lot of cardigans, sweaters, and t-shirts in this group. Some tops you just have NO clue what to do with, but you bought them for a reason, right? Y’all, there were at least 3 dresses in this group I’ve never even worn. THEY FIT. WHY HAVEN’T I WORN THEM?? Probably because I was working for my wardrobe, and not the other way around.
This is Going to be Fun. (No seriously!)
If you’ve come this far, you’re doing a GREAT job. Those three seemingly small steps above are actually a huge undertaking, and you should feel very proud of yourself. Not just because you’re cleaning out your closet – that’s great and all, but there are so many other benefits to this process. By investing this time in yourself, you’re about to save SO much time in the long run. Imagine sitting on the couch thinking about your day tomorrow, and knowing you have 3 outfits you can wear to work the next morning without stress.
Think of how nice it will feel to walk into your closet and know that everything fits. If you decide not to wear something, it’s because it doesn’t work with your current mood, not because it stretches or pulls or makes you feel less-than in any way. Last but certainly not least (especially in my case) think of all the money you’re going to be saving. I know, it feels like you’re throwing away money when you put a $120 dress in a bag to donate, but you’re NOT. You’ve created space. You know what you have now, and we’re about to have a great time making it work.
Take it With You
I know this is wordy, and can be a lot to sift through, so I’ve put it all together in a worksheet (along with some other handy tips) and you can find it here. Download it, print it, keep it on your phone, share it! There’s no wrong way to use this tool. So take some time, buckle down and do the work. I’ll be back soon for the next phase, and it’s about to get really good.