When you live a life that is contrary to what you truly value…well…that is a heavy weight to bear. And up until now, I had been bearing a heavy weight by hanging onto clothes that I no longer loved or needed. It was time…time for me to tackle my closet once and for all!
I have been downsizing my closet slowly over the past few years, ever since I started embracing a simple life. I love the idea of having a capsule wardrobe. It is something that I really value. But for some reason I was still hanging onto clothes that I rarely wore or that I only wore because I felt guilty for not wearing them, but that I really didn’t like that much.
In fact, just the other day I wore an outfit that I simply felt ugly in. I was self-conscious the entire time. Why was I holding onto something like that? Why was I choosing to wear clothes on a regular basis that made me feel just mediocre?
Our clothes should make us feel great! They should give us confidence. Anything less is not worth keeping, even if this means having a small wardrobe. I now feel it is much better to have a small wardrobe with just a few garments but all things I love and feel amazing in, rather than an overflowing wardrobe full of things that are all “just ok.”
It was time to start living in harmony with what I truly valued.
For the Wardrobe Architect 2015 Challenge, February is focused on clearing out your closet and it couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I tackled my closet and finally said goodbye to the things I was hanging onto that needed to go.
If you are participating in this challenge, or are just interested in downsizing your wardrobe, you may have found that this isn’t the easiest thing to do. So I would like to share with you my experience and some tips I’ve learned to help inspire you.
So are you ready? Lets get started!
Find Your Core Style
The very first thing you should do before you even start going through your clothes is to figure out your core style. If you are doing the Wardrobe Architect Challenge like me, then you know all about this, and if you are not then I highly recommend the resources here for finding your core style.
Finding your core style is a very important first step because, sadly, many of us have been influenced by current trends, thus creating a wardrobe that is kind of all over the place. Before you can start clearing things out, its good to have a clear idea of your core style. It will make the whole process much easier.
I would recommend looking at specific items that you own that you love and wear all the time and evaluating what exactly it is about that item that you love. Write it down and be specific. Is it because it’s comfortable or is it the particular style? Then do the same thing with items that you never wear or that you don’t like when you do wear them. Be specific of what it is that you don’t like about that garment.
You will start to see what you like and what you don’t like and could summarize your style into words. Then I would recommend looking up images that represent your core style. I used Pinterest but you could also cut out images. I also explored the different shapes/styles I liked and made sets in Polyvore. I recommend doing this as having these visuals can come in handy when you finally go through your wardrobe, especially when you find yourself having a hard time letting go of certain pieces for sentimental reasons.
Once you have really explored and defined your core style then you are ready to tackle your closet.
Clearing Out Your Closet
- First, I would recommend taking everything out of your closet. If you have a huge wardrobe then break it up into sections, but take whatever you are working on at that time out of the closet. I threw all of my clothes on the bed.
- Now, pick up each piece and ask yourself, “Is it a piece that I love that is a definite keeper?” If it is, good, then put it back into your closet.
- If you know right away it’s something you do not want to keep then put it into your donate pile.
- If it’s something you are on the fence about and you find yourself hesitating, then put it into your maybe pile.
- Do this with every piece until you have gone through them all. Don’t take a long time evaluating each piece. It’s either a definite keeper, a definite non contender, or a maybe.
You will probably find at this point that you have a very large maybe pile compared to your donate pile or what is in your closet. That is ok. But this is where the hard part comes in. Now it’s time to really evaluate those maybe items. Here are some things you can ask yourself:
- “Why am I wanting to hang on to this?”
- “Does it really fit into my core style?”
- “Do I already own something similar?”
- “Is it in good condition?”
- “Is it a shape/style I like?”
Or I found that the one question that helped me with really knowing if it was something I should keep was:
- “If I were shopping right now, would I buy this?” Often the answer was “no.”
If it doesn’t fit your core style, is in bad condition, is a shape you don’t like or is something that you would not shell out cash for at that very moment, then the answer most likely is that you shouldn’t keep it.
The important thing to remember is to not keep things for sentimental reasons. Remember all the hard work you had put into defining your core style and honor it. If it really isn’t something that fits into that, then just let it go.
If you are having a hard time letting go of some of the things and you still have a large maybe pile, that’s fine, you can put those into a box and put them away somewhere out-of-the-way in the attic, a closet, or the basement. Just get them out of your wardrobe. Then leave them there for 6 months to a year. If you find you are missing a certain piece you can always take it out but if at the end of the year you didn’t find yourself thinking about them then you probably will never use them. Just donate the whole box at that point.
Also, you may find you own something that is really nice that you want to keep but it needs mending, altering, or refashioning. Go ahead and put that into a bag or basket. If you will be taking it somewhere to get it done then leave it by the door or in your car so you will remember. If you do your own mending then put them somewhere where you won’t forget about them.
Also remember if something is in really bad condition that has major holes or stains then don’t donate it, just throw it out. Clothes aren’t meant to last forever.
I ended up with one huge bag of clothes to either sell or donate. Then I had a bag of items I needed to mend or that I wanted to refashion or alter to fit me better. I am going to give myself a time limit to get those done and if I don’t then I will donate those also.
I also had one other bag, and that was a few items that I didn’t want to keep but that I wanted to use the garment as a pattern to make future garments from. It was something that I liked that either was ruined or was a color that I didn’t like. Again, with that I am giving myself a time limit and if I don’t end up doing it I will donate those also.
(The big bag on the left is my donate pile. In the blue bag in the middle are the garments I want to make into patterns. In the bag on the right are all the things that I am wanting to mend or refashion.)
Do Some Inventory
Now that you have your closet cleared out, you are probably going to notice you have some gaps (missing pieces) that you could really use in your wardrobe. Make a list of those items.
If you are hand making your clothes like me, this will help when you start to plan your projects and go fabric shopping. If you are purchasing these items then you will have a list that you can stick to when you go shopping. Either way, this will help you to avoid adding garments again to your wardrobe that are really not apart of your core style.
I did decide to hang onto a few pieces that I am planning on replacing. The reason was that I felt I was lacking a sufficient amount of those items, like tops for instance, and I do not feel like doing laundry all the time (I’m pretty lazy). But I made sure they were pieces that I liked and did fit into my core style. They just aren’t pieces I am completely in love with. I think this works for me for the time being and this is something you can consider doing too if you think it will help. Just make sure to donate that piece once you make or find a replacement for it.
I have realized that I have a lot of gaps and I really own very few clothes that I am completely in love with. But that’s ok. Now I see I have plenty of work ahead of me in creating my handmade capsule wardrobe and I’m super excited to get started!
So that’s it. That’s my experience and tips for clearing out your closet. I hope it has helped inspire some of you. But I would love to hear from you. Are you clearing out your closet? How is going? What has helped you? Let me know.