Closets. We are in them every day.
Dressing is a daily ritual that can either be stress-producing and frustrating or satisfying and creative. We choose.
GET READY, . . .
Tackling your main closet will take time so set aside a chunk to do this. If you are a young mom with little children, be prepared to ask a friend to watch your children for the afternoon and offer the exchange-of-time in return. You want to approach this with a clear-focus and get it done.
Stay with me here. Some of you are going to have an anxiety attack when I tell you how we need to start. There is no other way.
First step is to isolate and remove everything that is not currently being worn this season. In other words, move out all your spring and summer clothes, if you are doing this exercise in the winter. You want ONLY the clothes in your closet that you can wear right now. The exercise I outline for you is something you will need and WANT to do with all of your clothing but for now, let’s focus on this season’s things.
. . . SET . . .
Next, remove EVERYTHING from your closet…absolutely everything. (I’ll wait. Do it.)
Lay your clothes on your bed. Pile shoes and handbags on the floor. Put scarves and other accessories that occupy space in your closet, somewhere close but out of the closet.
Get your vacuum cleaner and clean it. Wipe down the shelves. Clean the mirrors. Do whatever it takes to have the space ready.
Make sure you have great hangers. Treat yourself to some sturdy plastic ones or the kind that have a soft felt-like coating so things don’t slip. Have some pant and skirt hangers at the ready. Get RID of the wire hangers! Most dry-cleaning operations will welcome them back.
Invest in organizing systems: for shoes, scarves belts and hand-bags.
And while I’m on the subject, what is the lighting like in your closet? Can you really SEE things? It made a world of difference when we installed a large oval LED light in our closet. It was amazing! Half the joy of selecting clothing is being able to see it well.
Now you are ready to continue.
. . . GO!
Both Joshua Becker and Marie Kondo, (author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up), recommend you pick up, look at each and every piece and create three distinct piles:
1. One for things that need alteration or cleaning
2. One for things that you will consign or sell
3. One for things you will donate or give away
THE FIRST TURN
As you pick up each piece, ask yourself these questions:
· Does it fit properly?
· When was the last time I wore this?
· Do I feel good in it?
· Do I enjoy wearing this color?
· Does it go with other things in my closet?
Assign each item to one of your three piles or it will go back in your closet. If you haven’t worn something in a while and you need to try it on, do so. The goal is to have only those things in your closet that you enjoy wearing and that work well and hard.
This step takes the most time but it is also the most rewarding. Work through EVERYTHING: clothes, shoes, belts, scarves, etc.
Here is some input. Keep good, classic leather belts and square or oblong silk scarves. They last! Unless the style or colors no longer suit, chances are you can keep using them.
THE LAST TURN
Once you have picked up or tried on everything and you have your three piles, place the ‘piles’ in appropriately labeled opaque garbage bags. Opaque vs clear bags so you do not revisit a decision needlessly: the label on the bag insures you do not giveaway things that just need cleaning or alteration! Take them out to your car so they are dealt with as soon as possible.
On a side note, a good alternations-person is PURE GOLD! They can breathe new life into things simply by hemming, removing excess fullness, or making things FIT. I still wear a fabulous black and white houndstooth shirt that I figure is at LEAST 13 years old! I had the body of the shirt more-fitted with long darts through the back, and extra fullness removed from the sleeves. It is one of the hardest working pieces in my wardrobe.
Now, you have the essence of your closet hanging in the space. There is more.
I personally like to sort things by what they are. For example, I hang all my jeans together, my dress-pants and dressy-skirts together, my shirts and sweaters together, my formal things and my dresses.
I also organize according to COLOR. I start with my white T shirts, hanging them from sleeveless to long sleeve. Next come my grey things, then the black. After that, the colors that I wear.
Your colors may be completely different, but endeavor to sort them first in categories, and then by color. This will create an organized and esthetically pleasing closet.
This process will also highlight where you might have needs in your wardrobe, what purchases you might need to make or you may see how MUCH you actually still have. You may need to do another level of purging so that you have only that which you absolutely LOVE hanging in your closet.
THE FINISH LINE
One more rule that I endeavor to implement: this helps keep on top of a bulging closet. "One new item in: one old item out."
Welcome to YOUR UNCLUTTERED CLOSET!
It wasn’t always this way!
I will never forget the day I stood in my closet and got in touch with this feeling of discontent around my clothes. It troubled me, because just weeks before I had purchased some wonderful pieces, and had paid dearly for them.
I remember thinking “There is something very wrong with this!”
What happened next was a personal choice. In no way would I impose this on anyone else but for me, it was an important decision. It boiled down to obedience to the prompting in my heart.
I decided to go on a FAST; not the kind where you don’t eat food but a spending-fast. I decided that for one year, I would not purchase anything for my home or for my closet. Absolute necessities would be addressed of course but I resolved that I would use and enjoy discovering new ways to use, what I already had.
I thought it was going to be a lot harder than it was. I simply stayed out of the stores. Or, when I did ‘go shopping’, I steeled myself and walked away. I discovered a power-over-purchasing that created this euphoric JOY in me. It felt SO GOOD to say “No” to myself. It was absolutely exhilarating and empowering.
At the end of that year, there were some things I needed, so I addressed those needs; however, I was different and will never be the same again.
ANOTHER CHALLENGE TAKEN
About then, through Joshua Becker’s blog, Becoming Minimalist, I was introduced to Project 333. Whoa! I read what it was all about and wondered to myself, “Could I do it? Thirty three pieces of clothing for 3 months?”
I have a background in Image-Consulting and Color. I am a trained color analyst. I have taught classes on creating a coordinated wardrobe; how to dress your unique shape to advantage and what things you need to be cautious with. I enjoy fashion! The Project 333 journey sounded a bit strident for me.
But, I did decide to try an experiment of my own. I allowed myself only 33 pieces of clothing to hang in my closet. This number did NOT include outerwear, exercise gear, or evening attire. It was my day to day pieces. It did not include scarves, belts or shoes. Thirty three pieces of items like pants, shirts, sweaters, jackets, etc.
I had to work hard to get the number down to 33. I had to evaluate each piece that I was leaving in my closet, and consider whether it was going to do the hard work of mixing and matching to the MAX!
I live in a climate that requires unique things for each season. We have distinct winter months, spring and warm summer days. I embarked on the experiment and decided which pieces would make it through the coming 3 months and give me what I needed.
Here is what I found. Fewer choices meant less stress. Fewer things meant less to maintain. Fewer things meant space for the things I did have in my closet to breath. Fewer things meant that I was wearing the things I REALLY LOVED!!
I don’t think I will ever be the same again. (I currently have 36 items hanging in my closet.)
As a result of this Uncluttered Closet challenge, I went through my closet again, and let a few more pieces go. I have turned all my hangers around, so I will know at the end of a month’s time which pieces I don’t tend to reach for.
I am buying the quality of clothing I love. I still enjoy bargains and am elated when I score Ralph Lauren shirts at WINNERS, or a fabulous Chanel-looking jacket at a consignment shop for $11.99! You bet I do.
I have discovered that I am happiest having fewer choices but really loving those things. I delight in great accessories and love my new grey suede-boots! (Thanks, Jon.)
Joshua is right. Less really can be More!