I am officially one week into my summer clean-out. If you missed my reasoning behind the purge, you will want to read this introduction first. I am working towards establishing order in my home. The goal for me is not to obtain perfection. It is gaining pretty. For me, pretty means both functionality and easy to maintain while keeping and displaying the things I love and cherish. Once I decided to execute this process, I knew that my clothing needed to be the first area attacked.
Here lies the problem. I love clothes, I always have. I attribute this to my sweet Mimi, who also carried an intense adoration of clothing. My dad still tells how she took him shopping for more baby clothes the night before my birth to make sure no Labor Day sales slipped past them.
However, my closet and drawers are overflowing, which causes me to waste time searching for my favorite items, not to mention the time it consumes each laundry day when the time comes to put all of these things away.
The Container Concept
One of the books I gained help and inspiration from is Decluttering at the Speed of Life: Winning Your Never-Ending Battle with Stuff. The author, Dana K. White, writes openly about her struggle with clutter and offers efficient ways to regain space in an overflowing home.
In her book, she introduces the Container Concept, a way of looking at any space as a container with set limitations. She writes, “Accept the limitations of the space you have, and declutter enough that your stuff fits comfortably in that space.”
Once I grasped the idea that any space could function as a container: a shelf, a closet, a garage, and even an entire house, it changed how I attacked an area.
Now, all I needed to do next was get to work. So, setting aside a couple of hours each evening, I grabbed a roll of trash bags and ruthlessly attempted to clear out all of my clothing.
10- Step Checklist
Here is a ten-step checklist I created if you are navigating this task and need a little help:
1. Take the time to try everything on. Yes, I mean, everything. If there is anything you do not love about the garment, toss it in the donate bag. I put off this task for years, assuring myself that everything still fit the same. When I finally allotted the time to the try-on process, I realized that many pre-baby items needed to be weeded out, which freed up even more space.
2. Work within your style parameters. Age gifts you with discovering what works and what does not work on your body. I now know which colors, cuts, and styles are flattering and which ones to avoid.
For example, most trends are not my friend. My style is classic all the way. Armed with this knowledge, I finally decided to part with a boho dress that I desperately wanted to rock but know will hang like a sack on me, along with the pastel yellow sweater that caused me to look jaundiced.
3. Keep your real life in mind. I live in the south, where ten winter coats are too many. I needed to remind myself that the life I live rarely hosts a harsh winter and that I could donate over half of these coats.
4. Stick to the one-year rule. I remind myself of this same rule as I pull out a pair of black combat boots hiding under the skirts of a few maxi dresses. I toss them into the bag, reminding myself that someone may be able to gain benefit from the things I haven’t touched in a year, or two, or ten.
5. Filter out duplicates. When you find identical items, keep your absolute favorite ones. Again, the ones that fit the life you truly live. In my mind, I must think that I reside in the pacific northwest with all the rainboots that I own. Seriously, I owned six pairs! So, I chose the happy, bright yellow pair and gave away the rest.
6. Opt for clear containers. Choose storage bins and containers where you can easily see the contents inside. A few years back, I bought ten floral fabric bins to put on the high shelves in my closet. No matter how lovely they looked or how much I delighted in the fact that they all matched, if I couldn’t see inside, they were not functional.
7. Get rid of uncomfortable shoes. Enough said. Life is too short for shoes that hurt. Set them free.
8. Empty your bags and wallets. Nothing is worse than hurriedly reaching for a bag to discover that it is full of trash, pens, melted crayons, and old crackers smashed into the bottom lining. Have I mentioned that I have kids yet? Clean them all out. Your future self will thank you.
9. If you decide to resell, be prepared to list it that day. Listen, I am all about reselling. I have sold many things through several different avenues, which is how I know the selling process can consume a significant amount of time. I discovered it is easier to donate to a good cause instead. It also removes it from my house quickly. However, if you insist on reselling, list the items the same day.
10. Drop off all your donation bags within two days. If you can take them that day, that is preferred. Don’t be like me. I am notoriously famous for driving trash bags full of clothing around in my trunk for weeks as if I feel the need to offer them a complete tour of our historic downtown before I let them leave.
The entire process took about a week, but I can honestly say that I love this space. I can quickly grab all my favorites, and my closet is full of only the things I enjoy wearing. I gained back a great deal of space, and putting away clothing is no longer a struggle. It is worth the time and effort.
For additional inspiration, check out these books: Dana K. White’s Decluttering at the Speed of Life: Winning Your Never-Ending Battle with Stuff, The Cozy Minimalist Home: More Style, Less Stuff written by Myquillyn Smith, and The Ultimate Book of Outfit Formulas: A Stylish Solution to What Should I Wear? by Alison Lumbatis.
See you next week, when I continue to make space for pretty by cleaning out all my books! Yikes, and I thought the clothes would be the most challenging.