Fall re-energizes me.
I start cleaning the baseboards after ignoring them all summer. I organize shelves. I empty kitchen cabinets I’ve been avoiding. But my favorite part to do in the fall (and every season change, actually) is to clean out my closet. I love paring down my wardrobe again and again. The older I get, the less I find myself needing a closet full of clothes. Plus, I don’t have to get dressed for the classroom or office every day so my closet has slowly moved from business casual to verrrry casual the past few years.
But even still, I can find a good amount of clothes to get rid of every season.
(Did you see the funky birds and floral wallpaper in my closet? That’s the original wallpaper my grandma put up in 1970 and even though we updated the closet organization systems, I couldn’t bring myself to take that wallpaper down. Side note: How hardcore is my grandma for wallpapering her closet? That’s some serious wallpaper dedication.)
Nothing brings me more joy than getting rid of things and when it comes to my closet, it’s no exception. I do this a few times a year and have a pretty good system for knowing what to keep and what not to keep. Ready to clean out your closet (or closets? and drawers? and guest bedroom? and coat closet?), let me help:
-Begin by trying everything on. I know, I know. That’s going to take some time. But you need to know right now on this very day what fits and what doesn’t. Be honest with yourself about how you look in each piece and if it really fits you.
-If it doesn’t fit, get rid of it. This won’t be popular advice, but if it doesn’t fit, you should get rid of it. I’m not talking about the jeans you have for “fat” days and the jeans you have for “skinny” days. I’m talking about the wrong-sized clothes. I’m talking about the dream jeans you haven’t worn in five years. I’m talking about the work blazer you love but you can’t button. As someone who lost a significant amount of weight and finally fit into all those clothes I’d been carting around to each place I lived, there’s a good chance you won’t want to wear them when you can fit them. Styles change and when you lose weight, you want to buy new clothes–trust me–just get rid of them now and you’ll feel so much better. (Also, if you’re holding on to some low-rise jeans you wore when you were twenty and child-less, please stop carrying around the emotional baggage of fitting into them again. It’s not healthy and it’s also pretty unreasonable. Be kind to yourself, get rid of them.)
-Fix it immediately or throw it away. As you clean out your closet, you might find a pile of clothes you love but they need work done to them: hemmed, a button sewn back on, a stain scrubbed out, etc. Immediately act on the pile (fix the button or take the pants to the tailor) or get rid of them. Good intentions are great, but if you’re honest with yourself and know they won’t be addressed in the near future, get rid of them.
-Don’t keep it if you don’t love it. Of the clothes you tried on, are there any that fit but don’t actually make you feel amazing? Just because it fits doesn’t mean your body needs to wear it. If you’re making room in your closet for lots of clothes that are just okay, but you don’t really love, please remove them. We’re adults and we deserve to have clothes that fit us well and that we feel great in. Stop wearing something just because you have it if it doesn’t make you feel like your best self.
-Stuff you love but don’t wear? I always have a pile of clothes I still love and they fit so I can’t let them go yet. But I don’t really ever wear them either. To make myself feel better, I take that pile and hang them up in our laundry room closet. I stick a tag to one piece that has the date marked on it and if I can go six months without needing or wearing them, I feel okay getting rid of them. I don’t know if that’s a healthy way to get rid of clothes or not, but sometimes I tell myself I’ll wear something and then I don’t so this is like baby-stepping them out of the house.
-Start a seasonal wardrobe. If you find yourself with piles of clothes you only wear during certain seasons, pack them up and store them when they’re out of season. Then when winter or summer rolls around again, it feels like you just got a whole new wardrobe without the cost. The majority of my clothes transition well to every season so I don’t do this, but I will pack up all my big, bulky sweaters in the summer to make my closet feel lighter.
-Don’t just focus on clothes. Go through your shoes, purses, bags, jewelry–go through it all to find what you don’t need anymore. I carry the same purse for years or until it falls apart so you know what I figured out after ten years of hoarding purses? THAT I NEED TO STOP BUYING PURSES. Hash tag slow learner. Also, I like buying jewelry, especially necklaces, but I hardly ever wear them. Let’s stop doing that, Mary Graham.
-Donate your clothes or share with friends. I have a group of friends who go through my clothes when I’m done with them. The laundry basket full of castoffs makes its rounds, and then when it returns to me, I donate the leftovers to a local thrift store that supports the homeless community in neighborhood.
-Think before you buy again. This isn’t just a post to encourage you to get rid of some things, but to remind you that just because you got rid of something doesn’t mean you need to replace it with something new. You probably had too many clothes to begin with. Begin to get used to a new normal with less stuff and give your closet permission to not be overflowing. After a few seasons of cleaning out my closet, I noticed I was in the habit of buying cheap, trendy shirts I’d wear a few times and then lose interest in. Now I ask myself if I’m buying something because I think it’s cute for the moment or it would be a good long-term purchase for my closet. Normally the answer isn’t what I want it to be so I leave the store empty-handed.
What about you? What’s a trick or suggestion you have for cleaning out our closets? How do you know what to keep and what to get rid of? Do you have any really old jeans you need to confess to?
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