I am a shopping addict! I love new clothes. Just the thought of new clothes makes me giddy with joy. But while my enthusiasm for shopping has no end, my closet is, indeed, finite – a severe problem I run into almost every day.
I have a lot of clothes, for sure, but, like a lot of people, I have about eleven outfits that I wear on a daily basis. Why is this? Why do I have so many clothes that I don’t wear? Why do I keep buying new ones? The answer, other than the fact that I might be a bit of a packrat, is that I just love clothes…even when I don’t love them anymore.
I’ve tried numerous times to thin out my closet, but I’ve finally discovered a few tips to make it so much easier than before. Here are a few ways which will make decluttering your closet so much easier!
Remember that though it may fit you, it may not fit you.
There are plenty of articles in my closet which I look at and think, wow, I love that, but I would never wear it again. Still, I hold onto it – even if it’s something I haven’t looked at in a couple of years.
At this point, it’s safe to say that I won’t ever wear it again. Although it may still fit me physically, I’ve mentally outgrown it, which means that I can’t really be comfortable in it anymore. A good example here is something I ran into a couple of years ago when I was thinning out my closet the first time:
I am around the same size that I was in the sixth grade (an eon ago) and I had kept a lot of the clothes I used to wear then. I had the same pants, the same tops, some of the same sweaters, and a lot of the dresses I used to wear every day. I used to love them. When I updated my wardrobe, I kept them, because I remembered loving them. However, part of me knew that I would never wear them again.
Let’s be real here: we all have that sweater we wore every day ten years ago that we could probably fit back into. So why don’t we keep wearing it? Because like my sixth-grade closet, we’ve mentally outgrown it.
When going through your clothes, don’t be afraid to say goodbye to things you once loved but no longer wear. This isn’t Toy Story. They’re not going to sing a sad song and lament when you loved them as soon as you toss them into the Goodwill bin.
When deciding when to toss or keep, consider these questions:
Have you worn it in the last year? Every day items deserve this type of scrutiny. T-shirts, sweatshirts, sweaters and blouses take up a lot of space, especially when you no longer wear them. Other items like dress shoes, party dresses and outfits for special occasions can take a little more slack – I have a red ball gown that I wear once about ever five years – so those can fall along the lines of do I have opportunities to wear these in the future? If not, consider tossing it.
How versatile is each piece? This is a tough one. Sometimes we have an article of clothing that only goes with one outfit, which means that we wear it maybe once a month, if we’re creative. And although I don’t think this is an automatic reason to toss something, it’s definitely something to consider when purchasing it. For example, I have a pair of mustard-yellow pants which go with absolutely nothing I own, and for a long time, I merely admired them every time I opened my pants drawer. Only recently, however, did I get up enough mental energy to finally put together several outfits I could wear with them so that they didn’t just sit around taking up space.
Is it damaged? Does it fit? A lot of times I keep articles of clothing because I want to one day fit in them, or because they are damaged and I’ve promised myself that I’m going to one day fix it and everything will be better. While these are good intentions to have, the real question here is this: if it’s so important to me to keep these items, then why do I keep bringing new items home before I fix/fit the ones I already have? Because I know myself, I know that even if I did reach the goals I made regarding these clothes, I would probably never wear them again because they’ve been not-wearable for so long that I can’t picture myself in them. Believe it or not, this is a dilemma I face at least once a week.
These are questions I ask myself all the time when I’m going through my closet. It’s important to me that I’m honest with myself, and let’s face it: if I get rid of something that I want later, there’s bound to be something like it at the store. However, I’ve never remembered something I’ve tossed after it’s left my closet…and there you have it.
In the end, it’s not really about knowing what to give away. It’s about knowing what to keep. Personally, this is the most important guideline I follow when going through things I want to declutter. If I assume that I’m getting rid of everything, then I can freely pick a few things from the pile and put those back on the shelf. The reason that this works so well for me is because it is a positive force – I am gaining something (think about how much I love shopping) rather than losing something.
A lot of times, what I’m gaining isn’t even clothes – it’s a sense of authority over my life and my belongings, something which we can lose pretty easily if we’re not careful. It’s the strength to say, I own these things, but they do not own me.
An example of such ownership comes often with gifts. This happens a lot for me, because I, an extremely empathetic person, feel compelled to keep every little gift that someone gives me until the end of time. A lot of times I find ways to incorporate those things into my life, because it is important to me that I honor that person by using the gift in the way they intended. It adds color and interest, and changes us my ordinary way of doing things. But when the lifetime runs out of an item’s usefulness, I still keep it, because I feel attached to the person who gave it to me, and feel that if I give away the thing, I lose a little bit of them as well.
Recently, a friend of mine helped me through this dilemma in a way I’d never considered before. “If someone gives you a gift,” she said, “they do it because they want to ease your way through life. If that gift is no longer helping you, it’s okay to let it go.”
I think about that every time I hesitate to toss something I don’t use but can’t give away. If it no longer serves it’s intended purpose, than the giver of the gift wouldn’t want me to keep it; and this thought makes it so much easier to sort through my abundance of things I no longer need.
At the end of the day, decluttering helps to organize not just your home but your mind as well. It helps you to take authority over your space and your belongings, and for me, it serves a reminder of all the blessings I’ve received throughout the years. Giving things away to charity or to places like Goodwill also helps people you may never meet, in ways you may never know, so I see it as a win-win situation in all terms.
Like everything else, sorting through what to toss and what to keep takes practice. At first, things may be hard and you may only find one or two items to throw into the Goodwill pile, but things do get easier in time. I hope that you, like me, find joy in decluttering your closet, and I hope that it serves as a stepping stone to decluttering your life.