Clothing Conundrum

So.  I have a lot of clothes. 

I don’t consider myself to be a fashionista and I’m not a shopaholic.  Yet somehow I’ve ended up with tons and tons of clothes.  I have so many clothes that when I do all the laundry there’s not enough room for all the clean clothes.  Some of my clothes have to be dirty at all times.  Isn’t that ridiculous?  I spend so much time on my clothes.  Washing, drying, folding, putting away, deciding what to wear, trying on, taking off, refolding, rehanging, re-trying on, and the list goes on and on!

I would love to get to a point where all my clothes (even off season items) fit in my own bedroom, either in my closet or in my drawers.  No extra clothes in the spare bedroom, no off-season clothing in tubs in the basement.  I would like a more manageable wardrobe so that I don’t have to spend so much time managing it.  But in order to solve my issue, I need to figure out the root of the problem.

The real reason for my clothing conundrum?  I have a hard time letting go.

Over Labor Day weekend I actually did a big purge of clothing.  Before I did my last purge, this is what my closet looked like:

Granted it’s not the biggest closet, but it is full.  I had to put a closet pole extension to make more room.  The other side:

There are upper shelves in this closet with more clothes and accessories that are not pictured.  The majority of the clothes in the closet are mine.

Not just in the closet but also in the drawers.  I have drawers and drawers that are packed to the gills.  Benzo reminds me frequently that I have 11 drawers and he only has 5.  I have even more off-season clothes in the closet and the dresser in the spare bedroom. 

Clothing Purge – Round One

Over Labor Day I decided I’d had it with the clothes.  I spend many hours over the course of the weekend going through clothes to decide what I was willing to part with.  Here are some steps I took.

Pre-Purge Day:  Do all your laundry

I actually didn’t do this, but as I was going through the process I thought this would’ve been a good idea.  It’s hard to see what you have when you have many items in the hamper.  Next time I plan a purge day, I will do all the laundry the day before.

Step One: Designate an area to organize your toss piles

Make a spot to organize the items that will be leaving your home.  I suggest a spot in a room other than your bedroom.  Once I decide an item is leaving my house, it leaves my bedroom.  I had a pile for donation, a pile for consignment and a pile that will be turned into rags.  Anything that couldn’t be placed in those categories (which was only 1-2 items) went straight into the kitchen trash.

Step Two: Strip down to your skivvies

I do the entire purge process in my underwear.  That way if I come across something I’m unsure whether to keep to toss I can immediately try it on to help my decision.  Trying on can backfire though.  A few times I tried something on that I thought I would donate and I thought “oh I like this” and then wanted to keep it.  So try on at your own risk!

Step Three: Go for the low-hanging fruit first

This is a phrase I hear in the business world a lot.  It means “go for the easy stuff” first.  These are items that are easy to get rid of like items you just don’t like anymore.  If you don’t like it, get it out!  Also items that are stained, ripped or torn beyond repair or simply just worn out.

Hopefully your closet and drawers will have a bit more breathing room, once the low-hanging fruit is out.  At this point you could stop and do another round another day.  I kept on going and here are some more actions I took.

Step Four: Look at categories of clothes all together

The next step I took was to look at certain categories of clothes all together.  One example for me was pajamas.  I took all my pajamas out of their drawers and put them all out on the bed, including clothes that aren’t really pajamas but have been relegated to the pajama drawer.  Then I sorted them into summer pajamas and winter pajamas.  Then I took a hard look at these pajamas and said to myself “there is no way one person needs all these pajamas, or could reasonably wear all these pajamas”. 

First I set aside my favorite pajamas.  The ones I love to wear and reach for all the time.  Then I set aside in a different pile the pajamas I don’t like as much and are usually at the bottom of the drawer.  The rest of I was indifferent about so I limited myself to the amount of pajamas that would fit in the pajama drawer.  Once the drawer was full, I had to get rid of something else.  There are only so many pajama pants and t-shirts one person really needs.

The category sorting can be done with anything – t-shirts, jeans, sweaters, dress pants, jackets, etc.

Step Five: Go with your gut

This is an ongoing step or tip to use throughout the process.  When you pull out an item of clothing, go with your first instinct.  If your first thought is “ew” then immediately put it in one of the toss piles.  If your first thought is “yeah!” then keep it.  If you’re indifferent about it, then try it on and see what your reaction is.  Although I could make the argument that if you are indifferent about something, why keep it? 

At the end of the weekend, Benzo and I had gotten together 5 bags of clothing for donation and 2 bags of clothing for consignment.  We also had another pile of clothing to be used for rags.  That’s 7+ bags of clothing that was just sitting in our closet and drawers taking up precious space!  I cannot tell you how unbelieveably great it felt to get rid of that stuff.

But this is not the end.  I’m nowhere near my goal of having all my clothes in my own bedroom.  I think purging is an ongoing process.  I know I will need several more rounds to reach my goal.  But I haven’t been shopping at all lately so more clothes should be leaving my closet than coming into my closet.  The next few purging rounds will take a hard look at what do I actually need?  Yeah I have a lot of clothes and like them all, but is the sheer amount of clothes I have really necessary?  Would I be happier with less?

There are a few more things I’ve implemented to help whittle down my wardrobe:

1. One in, two out policy.  If I want to buy something new, I have to get rid of two items.  Just the other day I bought some new black flats.  So I got rid of my old black flats and my old black loafers that I haven’t worn in awhile.

2. Reverse hanger trick.  I turned all my hangers around so they are hanging backwards.  Then when I wear an item I hang it back the right way.  After a month the majority of my clothes are still hanging the wrong way.  What does that tell me?

3.  And finally, I’ll be participating in:

Project 333!

Project 333 is a challenge put together by Courtney at Be More With Less.  I mentioned it before in my August blog round-up.  To participate you agree to wear only 33 items for 3 months.  It starts tomorrow, October 1st, and runs till December 31st.  Click on this link to read more about it.  My hope is that by wearing only 33 items for 3 months, I’ll be able to see that I’m much happier with less clothing and it will help me let go of clothes easier.

Anything that doesn’t make my list will be leaving my bedroom, with the exception of workout items, lounge wear and pajamas which don’t count.  I’ll store the items in the spare room until the end of the year.  I’ll post pictures of my empty closet and my list hopefully this weekend.  There’s still time to join in if you want to!  Just leave a comment on Courtney’s page and get your list together.

Does anyone else have a problem with clothes?  Any tips to help me let go?


2 thoughts on “Clothing Conundrum

  1. After 2 kids and sized ranging from 6 to 16 I have a huge problem with this. One idea I have been wanting to try (and just might after this) is to place the items I wear at the begining of closet each time I hang then (rather than some organization category like color say. I keep doing this for a few weeks (lets say 4) and everything at the other end of hte closet is stuff I haven’t worn in a month and uless it is off season I could probably live without it (repeat again in another season). Unfortunatly – we have 4 real seasons here in OR and well, I keep telling myself I’m going to want this stuff when I loose that baby weight 🙂

  2. Love it! I totally purged my closet of at LEAST fifty percent of it’s contents and it felt SO good. I kept key pieces that can be super multi-purpose. It takes so much less time to find something to wear because I know exactly what I have and I never have to look through drawers, hangers and laundry baskets.

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