Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Catherine Gordon.
One of the best places to start on the journey toward clutterfree living is in your closet.
Think of it as ‘a room with a room.’ Decluttering this clearly-defined, tiny space will build your confidence and set you on the path to lighter, freer, and better living.
There are other benefits too. A minimalist wardrobe edit will:
- Save you money and time. As you wear more of what you already own, you will spend less time feeling frustrated and exclaiming: “I have nothing to wear!!”
- Give you more confidence in your day-to-day choices as you will mix and match more successfully.
- Create the basis of a ‘capsule wardrobe.’ This is merely an outcome, not a rigid, prescribed goal. A wardrobe edit will help you create your own, unique collection.
Seize the opportunity with this 4-Step Wardrobe Edit.
Stage 1: Ready.
To prepare, ask yourself some key questions:
—What do I own too much of? Keep in mind that most of us wear only 20% of what we have 80% of the time.
—Why have I been holding onto things I no longer wear? Because I think it will come in handy one day… Or I can’t decide what to do with it… Or because of the nostalgic value… Or simply because I spent good money on it… Acknowledge these feelings, then let them go.
—Will I still enjoy fashion after my wardrobe edit? Absolutely! Fashion and beauty writer, Rae Ritchie says you can: “It’s a misconception to think that minimalism and fashion are incompatible. It’s still possible to remain up to date with major trends and have a small capsule wardrobe. You just have to be judicious in your choices. Treat how you dress as a fun creative hobby, a chance to play. With a foundation of versatile basics, you can easily drop in a few items that catch your eye.”
—So, am I ready? If the answer is ‘yes’, move to Stage 2.
Stage 2: Get set.
—Set aside some time, so you can really focus. Bring those old clothes down from the loft and pull out any stowed-away garments from under the bed.
—Have a good collection of hangers ready. Wooden ones enable your clothes to hang well, but you can also buy lovely felt-covered ones. When I decluttered my own wardrobe, I was astonished to discover over 20 yellow plastic dry cleaners’ hangers! Happily, they could be returned for re-cycling.
—Also, prepare some garbage bags.
—Finally, make sure you have access to a good full length mirror for trying on clothes.
Stage 3: Go!
—Review your clothes. Consider your clothes as though they were new items that you were going to buy (and spend a lot of money on). Evaluate each garment and consider the following questions:
- Does this suit me? Compliment my shape? Fit (now – not when you’ve lost 10lbs!)? Work with my current lifestyle?
- Is it in good condition? A color that suits me? Comfortable?
- Am I happy wearing this?
- Have I worn it in the last 12 months?
—Divide and conquer. Make a pile for each of the following 3 categories:
1. Items to keep
Identify, then return these to the closet, arranging by garment type, length or by colour. Hang trousers long to avoid creating a crease at the knee.
Try rolling items to be stored in drawers, KonMari style. Use shoe or gift boxes to store smaller items. As you look into the box, you’ll be able to see everything clearly.
Place hooks on the back of the wardrobe door for accessories such as necklaces.
2. ‘Maybe’ items
Would any of these things work with your ‘to keep’ clothes? Could they be cleaned, altered or mended? If not, relegate to ‘Items to let go’ pile.
3. Items to let go
To relinquish what no longer serves you, give them away, swish them (clothes swap), sell them (eBay/dress agency), donate them, or recycle them.
Stage 4: Maintain.
Now that you have created an edited wardrobe and clearly see what you own (and love), you’ll be surprised how easily you can imagine different combinations and identify any gaps.
To further maintain this edited wardrobe:
Store by season. Divide what you have into seasons. I have a summer/winter wardrobe, so I hang my summer clothes in small closet until I gradually swap them with my winter items when warmer weather returns. Take this a step further and try Courtney Carver’s Project 333, wearing just 33 things over a period of 3 months.
Adopt a ‘one in, one out’ approach. When you need something new, adopt the ‘one in, one out’ approach. As Gretchen Rubin writes in The Happiness Project, “It’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that if you have something you love, or there’s something you want, you’ll be happier with more.” Take the essentialist approach and keep one lovely item rather than several mediocre ones.
Change your mindset. Avoid shopping for specific occasions. Later this month, I will attend a friend’s 50th birthday party. With ‘cocktail wear’ specified, I will wear a favourite dress but certainly won’t buy anything new for the occasion. You know what? No-one actually notices what you’re wearing anyway and your bank balance will thank you for it.
Congratulate yourself on a job well done. So, now you’ve taken that first step. You’ve found confidence in your ability to declutter this little ‘room within a room’. Your journey towards clutterfree living has begun!
Most of all, enjoy seeing—and wearing—your favorite items every day.
Maybe you’ll even start thinking about which space to tackle next?
Less is truly more. I actually wear everything now. Anything in the “maybe” pile must be worn once in the next month and a decision must be made whether to keep it or donate it after it is washed.
Nancy Rutman says
I’ve eliminated about 6 large trash bags full of clothing and about 10 pairs of shoes from my space in the past year. I can now fit my entire active four-season wardrobe (minus winter coats) in a small closet and small chest of drawers, with room to spare. I keep my off-season clothes in bags on the top shelf of my closet, so when I switch out my clothes twice a year, all I have to do is grab a bag off the shelf instead of schlepping several heavy plastic bins down from my attic. This is a huge time-saver!
I am inspired but truly nervous about shoes. I’ve purged so many times but there is still just too much. I am most afraid of shoes, I love shoes. I don’t want to part with them. But know that I have to, it’s a ridiculous amount of shoes.
Rarely do I read the comments sections because inevitably there’s negative people or angry people, but I must say that this has been the most pleasant and encouraging comments section that I think I’ve ever read. LOL minimalism is new to me and after reading all of this I’m going to go purge my closet. Looking forward to a brand new year with less stuff. :)
I’ve adopted a uniform in order to get my closet under control. I have four pair of pants: two pair tan khakis; two pair gray khakis. I have four sweaters: two black crew necks; two black V-necks. I have four shirts: two white button downs; one black button down; and, one gray button down. It doesn’t matter which pair of pants, which shirt or which sweater I grab. Everything matches. People that know me know my minimalist tendencies and my wardrobe doesn’t strike anyone as unusual. I concede my wardrobe is austere but I think the idea of a uniform is a fantastic way to avoid clothing creep. Vera Wang, Steve Jobs and former President Obama are just a few personal uniform devotees.
Most wealthy people (business) adopt the uniform idea as it frees up their mind and time for other, more important things to think about.