I have a confession to make. I like the tv show Hoarders. And not only do I like this show… I relate with it. If you watch you know that in every episode the hoarder agrees to help a huge team of people clean out their space. They usually do well for an hour, agreeing to throw away clutter that they didn't even know they had. After a little while there is always a breakdown. The hoarder usually refuses to throw away a broken, expired, or damaged item and their organizer tries to explain to them why they really shouldn't keep it. Next comes yelling, sometimes crying and often they storm out the front door.
You see, this is the part I relate with. So many weekends I've pulled out a trash bag and told myself "I'm going to donate everything I don't wear". I always do well for a little while, but then I find that old purse that still has photos and memories in it or a stack of notebooks full of ideas that I jotted down two years ago. I get distracted. I get VERY distracted. I usually end up switching gears and giving up on my mission. The clutter remains. This is how I operate. It's bad, I know… but this article is written for people who relate with these struggles.On my birthday goal list for the year I ambitiously wrote down "Get rid of half the clothing I own". Wow. Lofty goal, right? Well, here's the deal… I really really needed this. After years of thrifting, collecting and owning a vintage store my closet was packed. I had items I wore often, some items I hadn't worn yet, items I couldn't wear even if I wanted to and (the best part) items I didn't even know I had. We knew we would probably be moving this year and that my bedroom size closet would need to be downsized to a regular walk-in size closet. This is a scary task for someone who loves clothes like I do. I enjoy organizing. The thing that freaks me out is getting rid of pretty things.
This next part might surprise you…. I did it! I got rid of half my closet. It wasn't easy and it didn't happen in a weekend, but here are my tried-and-true tips for de-cluttering…
1. Make Goals. Make Rules.
As I mentioned above I made a goal this year to give away half my closet. I knew this would be the most difficult goal on my whole list. When you make your goal it can be good to make a list of reasons. My reasons were an upcoming move, a desire for a more simple closet and my changing style. Anytime your style changes (even a little bit) it's a great time to de-clutter. Maybe the prints on your wall from three years ago don't inspire you anymore or a bunch of clothing in your closet doesn't make you feel pretty. Use these reasons as motivation for your goals!
Making rules is easy, but you have to make them yourself. Every time I instagrammed a photo of my closet progress people would throw out rules to follow like, "throw out everything you haven't worn in a year" or "donate everything that isn't a perfect fit right now". These rules can freak a girl out, making you feel out of control. Take the time to make your own rules based on your own goals. I chose to donate or give away all of the clothing that I wasn't excited to wear this year (for any reason) except for my collectible pieces. For the collectibles I worked hard to thin them down to about ten pieces that could fit into a suitcase. I was more strict when it came to vintage clothing (like dresses and tops) and more forgiving when it came to my vices, shoes and coats. Rules can be helpful, but they aren't magic.2. Give Yourself Time.
Since it took me years to accumulate all of these things I couldn't expect to clean them out in a weekend. Instead, I spent about one weekend a month on donations for the past six months. I did the job in stages. First, I made a mountain of donations in our spare bedroom. It was all of the obvious stuff that didn't fit, didn't look flattering or was no longer my style. I let a local friend of mine, who had just graduated high school, come over and pick out everything she wanted. She left my house with four trash bags full of clothing for herself and her sister… this made me happy and motivated to move on to the next stage.
3. Take Breaks.
Anytime I started to feel stressed or depressed about my clean out I took a break. It's impossible to do a good job of purging when anxiety is high. I had to be in the mood. If purging stresses you out, be gentle with yourself. Take as many breaks as you need and re-read your list of goals, rules and reasons. 4. Find Creative Ways To Motivate Yourself To Purge.
Here are some things that worked for me…
-Giving to friends. I know it sounds silly, but it really helped me to give my clothing a new home rather than just dump it in a donation bin. When I would come across nicer items that I didn't wear for some reason I would try to think of a friend to pass them along to. Rachel and I have gifted each other dozens of boxes of random stuff throughout our friendship. It's fun to give and receive!
-Donate. For less sentimental items, like thrift finds that I never wore or unflattering basic clothing donating is usually best. Try filling one trash bag (or large box) a day and dropping it off immediately. The faster I got things out of my space, the less likely I was to regret it.
-Hold a sale. Many of my pals have had success (and made extra pennies) with a "Shop My Closet" sale. This is a good way to purge items you don't wear, that are valuable. I couldn't do this because I don't have time to do the shipping right now (sorry!) but as long as you have some free time it's a great option!
-Reward Yourself. I'm a huge believer in rewards for a larger task! For purging half my closet I will most definitely reward myself with a nice little Autumn clothing shopping day. It's a double bonus because next time I go shopping I will have SUCH a better mental picture of what my current wardrobe looks like. If there is something you've been on the fence about buying, make it your reward for a job well done. 5. Organize and Appreciate.
Like I said earlier, organizing is the fun part! Once you have cleared out all of the clothing that you don't wear, you get to spend time storing the pieces that you chose to keep! This is a reward in itself. After spending all of this time clearing out my closet it was super exciting to see two full racks of clothing that I LOVE.
Appreciation is key. This entire article can really be filed under #firstworldproblems. The fact that I even needed to donate half of my clothing shows how lucky (and spoiled) I really am. When you finish your purge, take time to appreciate all of the pieces that you own and love. I think that having a cleaned out and organized closet can be a great way to fight over-shopping too. When you know what you have you are less likely to buy duplicates just because they are on sale (or cute). I can honestly say that after finishing this task I appreciate my wardrobe more than ever!
This entire process took me six months, about 10 trash bags of donations, plus four boxes for friends and three bags of clothing heading straight (back) over to my local vintage shop. If you would have asked me in the beginning if I thought I could honestly let go of 1/2 my wardrobe I would have said no. But it was one of the best things I've done for my home in a while and it was SO worth the effort! Now I'm off to enjoy my new closet space… XO. Elsie