So this is the first post in a new series here on the blog, called “How to Purge” and I’m attacking your closet first. I have great reason for this… my two year old. We’ve recently decided that every member in this house has way too much stuff. Too many clothes, too many toys, too many cables and wires to things… just too much.
I don’t know about you, but while the act of cleaning isn’t my favorite thing in the world, I am more stressed out by the clutter and utter messiness of my home. I know you’re thinking, “Oh, honey relax! You have a child!”
But the truth is, I wasn’t all that organized before I had her. Laundry is my nemesis, papers and piles of mail abound also. However with working a full-time job and trying to take care of my daughter and her father and our home… I need to take action. And I know that when the house is clean (even if it’s only for 10 minutes), my brain feels so much better. I can think clearly, I sleep better because I’m not stressed about all the things I need to do/clean/wash/cook. It’s just so much nicer.
So I’ve done these closet purges before, and even without buying anything new, I feel like I barely made a dent. This time, I’m going to limit myself even further. My goal is to have a small collection of things I can wear without having piles of laundry to do.
My Ideal List of Clothing (For Me) = 40 Pieces + Accessories
- 5 dresses (spanning seasons and occasions)
- 2 skirts (until I get my sewing machine up and running, that is, because I LOVE maxi’s)
- 2 jeans
- 2 black pants
- 1 grey pants
- 3 dressy tops
- 3 casual tops
- 2 hoodies
- 3 sweaters/cardigans
- 3 sweatshirts (hey, I work at home)
- 14 total tees and tanks (sleeve lengths are a big deal here in the northeast)
- pajamas, socks, undergarments
- 1 pair ‘good’ sneakers, 1 pair ‘grubby’ sneakers, 1 pair dress boots, 1 pair warm boots, 1 pair sandals (I keep everything black, it makes life easy – I’ve never been a shoe hoarder because my feet are too big and it’s hard enough to find one set that fits, much less more than that. Your mileage may vary.)
- 2 purses/pocketbooks – 1 small, 1 large. That’s it. (Again, I tend to wear purses out until they fall apart, but that wasn’t always the case. I once had an entire 6 foot wide shelf in my closet dedicated to cute, artsy purses. No more.)
- Scarves, etc. help extend your small wardrobe and add color.
Now, the truth for you is going to be far different from the truth for me. I CAN exist with 40 pieces plus accessories and be completely content. I am a work at home mom, and an artist. I’m perfectly okay going out wearing all black/grey with a pop of color in a scarf or cardigan. You may need a rainbow of t-shirts or shoes or whatever to be happy. That’s fine. 40 is MY number, it doesn’t have to be yours. The real purpose here is to cut back to what you REALLY need and use regularly, and organize it so you don’t have to go shopping to buy your 10th pair of black pants.
How to Purge Your Closet in 5 Simple Steps (and About an Hour of Your Time)
- Make a list like I did. Take into account your work environment, your social life, how you feel about being seen on PeopleOfWalmart.com. I could certainly have allowed myself much more, right? But how much laundry do I want to have pile up? I’m still in the post-partum-who-gives-a-crap-what-I-look-like phase, but no, I would never go shopping in fuzzy pajama pants and slippers. Okay, maybe the slippers.
- Get your sorting tools ready. You’ll need garbage bags. Whew, that’s a tough step. One bag for trash, one for donating, one for selling.
- Take absolutely everything out of your closet and toss it on the bed. Make the bed first, so you can see things laid out, but then just dump it all.
- Piles? Nah, either hang it or bag it. If it’s in good shape, looks great on you, and fits on your list (and yes, you have to have some modicum of willpower on this, as this is truly the toughest step for us clothing hoarders), hang it up with some of these best selling clothes hangers (the thin, flocked ones that take up less space and don’t let your stuff slide off) or fold it (thicker sweaters should not be hung, you know this) and put it on a shelf or in a
storage cube (which are also great for organizing shoes, bags, and so on, so get what you need in terms of number of cubes).
* If it doesn’t fit on your list and you can’t use it to dust the television screen, it goes in a bag. This one’s sometimes hard too, because your brain will always pipe up and say, “But what if you get invited to a really swanky cocktail party and have nothing to wear because you never fixed the sequins on that thing and now it looks like a costume prop for C.A.T.S.?!?” Yeah. Shut that voice up and toss it. Or put it in the sell/donate bag if the sequins really aren’t falling off.
- Stand back and admire the fact that you’ve rid your life of extra work (laundry) and the ability to be lazy by not doing such work (letting said laundry pile up until you have absolutely nothing to wear but aforementioned fuzzy pajama pants). Go donate your bag of clothing to a women’s shelter or the Red Cross. (I prefer this over Goodwill because I’d rather help people who need it rather than give to an entity to sell it to them.) On your way out the door, take the trash bag and put it in the outside bin. No, don’t hold onto stuff “just in case”. Get rid of it.
- BONUS TIP: Whenever you’re out shopping and you find something you think you want to purchase, ask yourself these questions:
- Am I really, absolutely in love with this?
- Am I willing to let it completely replace something else in my closet?
- Am I only tempted because it’s on sale?
If you don’t really look great in it, and are in love with it, and are willing to let it take the place of something else entirely, then you’re probably only tempted because it’s on sale. Guess what? EVERYTHING goes on sale at some point. Absolutely everything. It doesn’t mean you’re getting an amazing bargain – it means you’ve got the chance to grab something without giving the store as much profit (while still giving them a profit, believe me).
Like I said before, the main purpose here is to eliminate clutter, reduce your laundry workload, and not have to stress out about what to wear, if it’s clean, if it fits… The best way to keep this up is to check in on your closet at least twice a year, and don’t let yourself go past whatever your magic number is!
Have you ever tried to purge your closet before? Share your experience with us in the comments!