This is part 1 of the 7- part simplify for an easier life series.
Clothes are one of the biggest problem areas for many people. It’s so easy to end up with a lot of clothes nowadays because we have to fulfill so many roles, each requiring their own appropriate attire. You have to be a sex god in the bedroom, power dressed in the work place, a conservatively dressed child, not-afraid-to-get-messy gardener or DIYer, a posh diner, the cool dressed parents, and finally you might get to relax in your casuals on Sunday afternoons.
The problem with decluttering clothes is that we love our clothes and we won’t be parted from them. To let go of our clothes is to have to emotionally let go of all the roles we act out in our lives and just become ourselves. That is painful! If you are a woman, that’s on par with walking outside without our make up on!
Make it fun
When doing something painful like this, I recommend that you do fun challenges to turn the process in to a game so that the act itself becomes more enjoyable. Luckily there are many clothing challenges out there, each with a huge network of supporters going through the same process as yourself. For example:
- Buy no new fashion items for a year – you don’t buy any new clothes or accessories for a year. You shop from your own wardrobe instead and make the most of what you have. Some people do allow themselves to buy second hand clothes. There are many blogs that document this challenge (here, here and here for example).
- Wardrobe Refashion – This is a great one to do together with the buy no new fashion items. People pledge to not buy new clothes, but instead learn to sew and decorate the clothes they already have and refashion them in to new items of clothes. Sadly, the original blog is no longer active, but you can find other refashionistas here and here.
- Project 333 - is a project created by Courtney Carver. You select 33 items of clothes and accessories, and vow to dress for 3 months with only those items.
- 6 items or less – is a variation of Project 333, you select 6 items of clothes to wear for a month. However in this one you are allowed limitless number of accessories such as jewelry, shoes, bags, belts, etc. Like the others challenges, many have blogged about it and there’s even a facebook page!
- The uniform project – one girl, one black dress, one year and 365 different ways to wear the dress. It’s totally hardcore but very eye opening as to what you can do with just one dress.
The point of these challenges is not to throw out all your clothes, but to go on a clothing diet to reset how you view your clothes and yourself. I have done the first three challenges, and loved the experience. They allowed me to let go of clothes as masks and see them for what they really are, something to keep you warm and decently dressed.
If the challenges sounds too much to you, here are few things you can do to declutter your closet quickly:
- The basic – Get rid of any clothes that are too small, too big, stained, beyond repair, and just plain old. You’re only holding on to these clothes because of some other person you want to become. It’s much more effective to learn to love who you are right now than keep clothes for your future self.
- The three pile declutter – Go through all your clothes, and separate them into keep, maybe, donate/recycle piles. Here is a great video of the process by Kirsten of Faircompanies and tons more on Youtube.
- Gather ‘em up! Gather up everything of a category of clothes such as socks, skirts, jackets, sweaters, etc. Put them all on your bed. Spend a moment to really take in the view of the pile of stuff. Count up how many you have of each thing. Do you really need 50 pairs of socks? Do you really need 15 pairs of jeans? What would be a more realistic number for you? Consider how often you do your laundry, how often you like to change outfits in a day, etc. and arrive at a number that works for you. Then cull the items in that category to that number.
- Does your wardrobe match you? Take a really honest look at who you are and who your wardrobe says you are. Do they match? Are you a business person but secretly want to be an outdoors hero so have a wardrobe full of waterproof clothes that you don’t use? Or perhaps you are a casual, relaxed person but feel the pressure to one day get a cooperate job so you keep several suits in your wardrobe that never gets warn? If you have a style that no longer defines you, get rid of those clothes.
Decluttering your closet is surprisingly time consuming and emotionally draining process, so take it easy, and do a little at a time over several sessions. Gradually, you will learn what styles of clothes you really enjoy wearing. Imagine a wardrobe with all those clothes that made you feel guilty/fat/not you gone and instead filled with just clothes that you absolutely love wearing. Deciding what to wear each morning will be a joy because you can pick anything out of the wardrobe and it’ll be guaranteed to match, and make you feel great.
Now lets start by getting rid of all those old out of shape clothes you’re never going to wear again…