Spring Cleaning Closet Clear Out

20150412_105028

On Sunday morning, I spent some time going through the contents of my closet and dresser. As I mentioned in my last post, my wardrobe has grown ridiculously over the past year and a half or so, and it seemed like a logical starting point for my life simplification process. After about an hour I had filled two plastic grocery bags to overflowing, and then felt a bit stuck.

My first pass through was easy enough, because all I did was pluck out the things that I don’t like and never wear. For instance, I got rid of a pair of Nike flip-flops that I wore for approximately five days at the beach in Puerto Rico last winter. Not only are they ugly, I hate flip-flops. They are a sensory nightmare for my feet. I hate the way the strap feels between my toes. I hate the way it feels when they slap, slap, slap up and down against my heel when I walk. It makes me shudder just thinking about it. As I tossed them into the donation bag, I vowed to myself that I will never own another pair of flip-flops ever again. Unless of course, I undergo some sort of bizarre personality change where I suddenly love the way flip-flops look and feel. In which case, I reserve the right to change my mind at any time.

The second pass was a bit more time consuming, but still straightforward, with me trying things on and letting go of anything too big, too small, or too awkward looking. This thinned the herd considerably, but still left me with an excessive amount of clothing.

I was feeling sort of disheartened, because I still have way too much stuff to fit it all in my closet, which means I won’t be getting rid of my dresser today. I couldn’t figure out why I was having such a hard time deciding what else I could let go of, because I’m typically not sentimental about material possessions, and I enjoy getting rid of stuff as much as I enjoy shopping. I finally realized it’s because so few of the pieces I own play nicely together, so in order to make a specific shirt work, I have to hold onto a certain pair of pants, and so on. Once I buy a small handful of basics that coordinate, I’ll be able to get rid of a lot more.

Until then, I’ll just celebrate how good it feels to be getting rid of the dead weight of those two bags of clothes. It always amazes me how such a small thing can shift the way an entire room feels. Or maybe it just shifts the way I feel, since all of that stuff was hidden away in the closet, not out in the open where I was looking at it every time I stepped into the room. It feels lighter, less burdened, and I imagine that this feeling will just grow and grow as I get further into these simplification projects and create the environment I want to inhabit in my home.

Advertisements

The Simple Wardrobe Project

wardrobe

In my fantasies, my wardrobe looks like this picture. Well, not with all the pinks, purples, and blues. But swap it out with blacks, greys, and whites and it’s kind of dreamy. It looks so contained and tidy, manageable, like you could grab any combination of pieces from the rack and would look pulled together and polished.

My wardrobe is out of control. It’s insane. I knew that it had reached ridiculous proportions, but I didn’t know just how ridiculous until I conducted an inventory over the weekend. Paring down and bringing some sort of order to the sartorial chaos that reigns over my closet definitely has to be the first order of business in re-embracing minimalism.

I wasn’t sure how to go about setting a goal for a reasonable number of pieces of clothing, so I decided that the first step would simply be to write it all down. I included absolutely everything in order to get brutally honest with myself. None of this soft-soaping, by listing entire categories of things as one item (can ten pairs of socks really count as a single item?), and the final tally was that between tops, bottoms, underwear, socks, outerwear, shoes, hats, and bags, my wardrobe consists of 100 items. Oh. My. Heck.

Maybe even worse than the excessive quantity is the quality of its contents. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ve got some really cute stuff that I love, but there are also a lot of things in my dresser drawers that I’m not in love with. There are also things that I like but never wear, because I have nothing to wear them with. Not much point in having a gorgeous sheer blouse if you don’t own a single cami to wear underneath. I’ve got way too many of some things (do I really need four blazers when I wear them approximately once every couple of months?) and am completely lacking in others (how the heck do I not own something as basic as a beige bra?).

I’ve seen a lot of eye-catching headlines for articles and videos about ten item wardrobes and the like, but after reading them, I quickly determined that one of two things were going on… either the author was a young, single, and quite likely unemployed vagabond, or once I started to read, I’d realize that ten items of clothing was actually pretty far from their reality. They’d go on to elaborate that the ten pieces only accounted for core staples like dresses, skirts, pants, and blouses, and did not include socks, underwear, shoes, jackets and coats, layering pieces like tank tops and camis, pajamas, or accessories. It’s amazing how large a ten piece wardrobe suddenly appears when all of those things are added into the mix.

I was trying to imagine what it would even look like for me to own a ten item wardrobe, and it was so ridiculous that I had to laugh. I live in Massachusetts, where we not only have seasons, we have schizophrenic seasons. Winter outerwear alone is at least five items: coat, scarf, hat, gloves, boots. I have no clue what a reasonable number would be, I just know that when I look in my closet and dresser, what I have right now is far from reasonable.

I’ve decided that I’m not setting a number goal. I’m setting functional goals. I want to get rid of everything I don’t love, doesn’t fit, is ratty and worn out, or that I own in excessive quantity. I’d like to get rid of enough stuff that what remains can be comfortably homed in my closet, so I can get rid of the dresser I hate, making room for a tiny wall desk, because I work from home and currently have to sit on my bed all day long, which isn’t the most comfortable or productive way to write for hours on end.

I also have a bit of shopping to do, because I have a chronic illness that caused excessive weight loss, and while I’m slowly gaining it back, I still weigh about twenty-five pounds less than I weighed at this time last year, so I don’t have much of anything for spring/summer that fits. I don’t want to buy anything I don’t love, and I don’t want to buy anything low quality just because it’s cheap. I’d rather save up to get something nicer that will last ten times as long.

But first things first, today I’m going to start sifting through what I’ve got, weeding out what doesn’t work, and dropping it off at the thrift store. What does a minimalist wardrobe mean to you? Do you have set numbers and rules that you work with, or do you decide what stays and what goes according to some other standard? I’d love to hear what’s working for you.

A Kinder, Gentler Minimalism

HeartLight

I’m not new to minimalism. On the contrary, roughly fifteen years ago, I spent a year of my life practicing what would be considered by most people to be extreme minimalism. I’m glad that I had the experience, but it isn’t one that I care to repeat.

I love simplicity. I love clean lines and clutter-free environments. I like to leave lots of wide open spaces in my life for new thoughts, ideas, and yes, even stuff. The less I own, the more I tend to enjoy what I have. That being said, I’m not 22 anymore, and I really have no desire to pare down to the point of feeling like owning more than one pair of shoes is a sign of moral shortcoming. My relationship with minimalism has evolved, and I would hope, matured.

While my love of minimalism has evolved, it has never left me, although it did seem to go into hiding for a period of time. After living alone with my three teenage daughters for several years, on October 27th, 2013, I moved across the country to live with the love of my life. I brought very little with me in the way of personal belongings, but since it was being merged into an already very full home, it was too much. That was a year and a half ago, and in that time we’ve moved a lot of things out of our home and acquired more.

We have too much stuff. And what’s worse, we don’t even particularly like a great deal of that stuff! Thankfully, my wife and I are in agreement about this, so there won’t be any conflict about revamping our home to create a sweeter, simpler, and less cluttered space. It’s time for less stuff and more living in our living space.

I’ve started this blog to document the process as we set about getting rid of what no longer serves us, acquiring only carefully selected items that we find beautiful, useful, or both of the highest quality we can afford, and simplifying our schedules and obligations so we have more time for each other and our hobbies. I’d also love to connect with other people who are embracing a moderately minimalist lifestyle, however you define that for yourself.

Because I love challenges, I’ve decided to set up a series of them for myself, and if you’d like to play along, I’d love to have you join me. My next post will be the first challenge in the series, and it’s going to focus on wardrobe since this is currently one of the areas I’m struggling with the most. If you have ideas for future challenges you’d like me to feature, leave a comment and tell me about it, and if it isn’t one I’ve already thought of, I’ll be happy to consider adding it to the list.