Decluttering Tips From An Aspiring Hoarder

Decluttering Tips via A Beautiful Mess 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.Decluttering Tips via A Beautiful MessOn 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.Give Things A New Home2. 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. Appreciate4. 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. Group Like Items5. 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! CelebrateNow I'm off to enjoy my new closet space… XO. Elsie

  • Getting decluttered is my absolute top must-do for this Autumn. Your home always seems so beautifully organised in your pictures, I’ll be studying your tips very carefully! And so glad to hear that you donated, I’ve heard lots of people talking of taking bags of clothes to the dump recently, and it’s kind of depressing, donating clothes is awesome. I bet you had some lovely things x

    http://katyclouds.blogspot.com

  • I can completely relate. It’s especially hard when you live in a small apartment. I’m working on clearing things out and planning a garage sale too. Oh, all the hard decisions! πŸ˜‰

  • I just had to do this, since we just moved. My husband was actually worse than me getting rid of clothes! And it totally is a better motivator if you have somebody to give clothes to! my sister just had a baby & needed some new stuff to fit her, so I got to help with that πŸ™‚

  • One thing that helped me stuff-purge (not a rule so much as a little self-calming technique) was to remember this mantra: “Throwing the object away does not mean you’re throwing away the memory. The memory lives with you, not the object.” I was able to get rid of a lot of stuff that way!

  • I can totally relate, my mom has to force me to get rid of things or do it behind my back. I really am always dreading cleaning out my space

  • Thank you so much for these tips! What you mentioned before is exactly what I do… as soon as I start sorting through my things, I find old boxes of memories and spend the rest of the day reminiscing! Love your tips, def need to declutter soon… thanks Elsie!

    http://rivercitysammon.com

  • haha I totally get you! Last week I tried cleaning up my wardrobe and I found things that I haven’t used in ages but for some weird reason I keep storing them! I promise next time I’m gonna give them away, but not today! haha

    x

  • Good for you! I know how hard this can be. I got rid of half of my clothes about two years ago. I’m due for another purge right about now. I’m off work for a few weeks and plan on holding a “Shop my Closet” sale on my blog.

  • Great post! It always feels so good to let go of things…like you can breathe easier. My business is location independent so I have moved 7 times in the last 3 years to Europe and the States. Every time we get ready to travel again, I have to give things up so that I can repack my suitcase. It’s both fun and frustrating.

    I love living all over the world, but I love my shoe collection too. But I decided that for now, I’m going to enjoy my mobile lifestyle and buy less expensive clothes that I don’t mind getting rid of after 6 months since I know I’ll be sick of it by then anyway.

    Good luck with the move!

  • Love this post. My boyfriend is moving in soon, and my townhouse is extremely short on storage space. The things that I have the hardest time parting with are items that were given to me. Even if it’s something I don’t wear, I feel guilty parting with something I know someone took the time to pick out for me.

    This post is such good motivation to get my closets in order.

  • Wow I can’t believe you managed to get rid of that much! Actually, ‘get rid’ is a horrible way to put it, it’s wonderful that you gave so much to friends, and all the clothes you donated will go to new people who will really love and appreciate them! I’m such a hoarder too, I have a pile of clothes that I no longer wear or even fits, but keep it ‘just in case’, or with the hope I’ll be able to use the fabric to make into something else. This has inspired me to donate what can be worn by others, and just chuck what can no longer be saved!! Thank you!

  • It helps knowing you simply must get rid of clothes or else you’re out of room. I live in Brooklyn, so my closet was always only big enough to hold one shoe rack and about 15 dresses, tops. My new apartment has a half bedroom/office, so that is the new closet. It’s about four times bigger than before, but it’s still nothing close to a full room like yours.

    It’s also a good motivator when you can sell the good stuff (and restrain yourself from buying more)…

  • I just recently moved and went through a similar experience. Even though it’s a little upsetting to get rid of clothes that you love (especially if they just don’t fit anymore) but so regarding to look it over after its been all organized!

    xo
    Diana
    http://unusuallylovely.com

  • I can definitely relate! I got rid of at least 20 dresses at the beginning of summer and now that I’m moving back to school I need to get rid of at least 10 more! It feels good to declutter but sometimes it’s so hard to let some things go! Congrats on getting your wardrobe in order!

    xoxo Sarah
    theantiquepearl.blogspot.com

  • I did this when I became a stay at home mom. A few months after {because I mentally couldn’t do it right away} I packed up 90% of my ‘work clothes’ and gave them to a friend who was just starting out in the workforce and couldn’t afford all new things. She still reminds me what an awesome gift I gave her, even 5 years later.

  • You posted this at just the right time! In two weeks I’m going to my parents’ house to clean out my childhood bedroom. I moved out a few years ago and somehow that room is still PACKED with clothes, tons of paper products, and odds and ends. I’m really not looking forward to it, since I’m a bit (okay, more than a bit) of a hoarder, too. I think maybe the day of I’ll read this post to get me pumped up : )

    And your yellow and grey metal box, I have a smaller version of that! I use it as my toolbox, it’s one of my favorite things.

  • Oh, I needed this. I’m about to consign and this gave me some motivation to get rid of more than I was planning to. Now, to get in the mood…

  • I have been struggling with our new smaller closet for 6 months- this may be just want I need to get in there and purge/organzie! Thanks Elsie! <3

  • I always get really distracted whenever I try to purge and organize my insane amount of belongings. These are awesome tips. Thank you for the motivation to break it down into smaller tasks over a longer period of time!

  • I cleaned out my closet some months ago and it was easier than expected! There was a lot of stuff I never really liked or wore and just lots of things that didn’t fit anymore because I lost a great deal of weight. It was more of a motivation than depressing!

  • I love these tips! I live in a small apartment, and my closet is really getting out of control. There just isn’t enough space to store everything. I know I’ll feel so much better after clearing out all the stuff I don’t use, but it’s really hard to let go of it all. I always seem to find a reason to keep something even if I know I shouldn’t. This article was just the push I needed to get started on the decluttering. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Have you read the book “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin? She touches on this subject in there. I wish I had a copy of it with me so I could share a few of the pointers. You can visit her Happiness Project blog and look under the category “clutter-busting” for articles she’s written on the topic.

  • This is something that I soooo have to do! Right now it seems like my bed is smack dab in the middle of my closet. There is no way I’m going to fit everything inside what is supposed to be the closet part! eeeek. nightmare. But you say there is hope?!

  • Hoarders completely spurred me on to get rid of some of the stuff I had accumulated. I also have noticed how that the people in each episode have this point where they just get overwhelmed and can’t get past it. I feel so bad for them when they hit that wall.

    Thanks for your tips, I am planning on going through my stuff again in the next couple of weeks…really πŸ™‚

  • Congratulations, Elsie! That’s such a big step in the right direction… I have the same issues… I go to clear out anything–old school papers, my closet, craft supplies… and I just can’t quite let most of it go. But mainly, I get distracted and start reading/remembering everything. Luckily I haven’t had as much time as you to acquire such a collection… yet. I will keep your rules in mind! πŸ™‚

  • Thanks for a wonderful post! As another aspiring hoarder, I really appreciated the helpful tips. I especially relate to getting overwhelmed and freaking out over tossing away stuff that’s broken πŸ˜‰ Our house is in desperate need of purging in so many areas, so this post couldn’t have come at a better time, as I have already decided to tackle it, one space at a time, this autumn. Thanks again!

  • I don’t have much clothing but I do need to clean out clothes from 5 years ago. Thanks for the advice!!

  • You just made it, the perfect post. I did a wardrobe cleaning last week and I realize so many things. In fact, I had so many pretty clothes, all beautiful but… Not fitting right on me. It is then that I taught : hey maybe it I was wearing clothes more my size and more comfy, maybe I would have more confidance in me.
    I’m planning to talk about it this week on my blog (in french) at
    leslistesdolive.blogspot.ca

  • I really need to do a thorough clean-out as well. I actually go through my wardrobe every 2 months or so and sell some stuff on ebay, but I still have so many things I’m having a really hard time to part with. But I really feel my style has changed in the last years, and my closet should reflect that at some point…
    Well, maybe in the autumn, the change of seasons will help me get rid of some more stuff.
    Anyways, thanks for your tips <3

  • I just did the same thing. It’s crazy how good it feels after the whole process is over and so true that it makes you realize what you do and do not have. Totally related to this! πŸ™‚

  • Great tips! I am thinking this year its going to be “end of summer cleaning” vs that traditional “spring cleaning” for our closet spaces and I will be keeping this post in mind.

  • “I get distracted. I get VERY distracted. I usually end up switching gears and giving up on my mission. The clutter remains.” Yep this is me.

    This deserves a big CONGRATULATIONS!!!

  • Great advice! I think I may not have had the intended effect on me, since I clicked your link and now want to turn one of the spare bedrooms in my new house into a closet! Well, I have already decluttered quite a bit last year… so I suppose it’s okay.

    Anyway, great work on decluttering! Seems so painful at the time but ends up being so rewarding.

  • I can definitely relate to this, I also have a lot of stuff in my closet that I’ve forgotten about. My favorite is coming home with a new dress, only to find that I already have one almost the same… Drives me crazy! Making your own rules is a great tip, mine are to really, really think through every buy and then I try to purge twice a year, spring and fall.

  • Oh my goodness I need to do this SO badly! My closet actually has bags of clothes in it that I “got rid of” and then never donated. Horrible right??! I don’t even know what’s in them. Also, I’ve got clothes hanging that I have never worn. WHY??? so crazy.

    SUCH an inspiration…. I really need to purge my closet.

    Thanks!

    Trish

    http://www.jellybonesblog.blogspot.com

  • About once a year me and my friends hold a clothes swap party. They are a great way to get rid of items that you are bored of and refresh your wardrobe! We always have a great time and any leftovers get donated.

  • I have to do this myself one day. Another question: I love your peach bag in the pictures! Where is it from?

  • Elsie, you’ve got the most spectacular closet! I love everything about it. It’s super colourful and neat. Thanks for sharing these tips; I know i’ll be needing them soon. x

  • reminds me that i really need too clean out my own wardrobe.
    i struggel with taking it away when i can do the easy way and put it on the attic, where i always can change my mind. after years with that attitude you can only imagine the attic

  • I’m so proud that you accomplished this!

    Every time I buy a new pair of shoes or jeans (I have way too many jeans…) I tell myself that I can get them – as long as I get rid of a pair I don’t use in place of it.

    …then I don’t do it. I make an excuse (“these jeans are too short now, but I could make cool decorated shorts!” “I could use another pair of old flats for gardening”) and I end up with the old pair and the new ‘replacement’ in my closet.

    And then the donation boxes just sit in the garage! That’s another big thing, donating immediately. Kudos for finding the time in your busy busy schedule to run those in right away.

  • I have found it impossible to get rid of several pairs of skinny jeans I bought 14 years ago and hardly or never wore because I fell pregnant- and now they definitely don’t and won’t ever fit! By now I have procrastinated just about long enough for my daughter to grow into them and I am a happy bunny.
    β™₯nic

  • this is such a helpful post, I’m definitely going to need this for my new home I’m moving into in 2 weeks! thank you so much!

    xo
    alysamadisunshine.blogspot.com

  • i’m just the same, but not only with clothes.. i’m going to be a proper hoarder as i have a hard time giving up anything, haha! but i’m really going to try and get rid off stuff, and these are great tips:) x

  • I only wish I lived closer so I could have shopped your wardrobe! I’m leaving the States to move to Korea for the next year and I am having a hard time going through my clothing and packing enough for a year. Before I will put anything in a suitcase, I have to ask myself 1) Is this still my style? 2) Will the quality of this item hold out for the next year? 3) Is this a versatile item? I’ve found I only have about 4 dresses I can bring with me and everything else in my wardrobe needs to be donated or trashed. It’s sad to let it all go, but the upcoming trip is a great motivator and helps me determine exactly what deserves to make the trek to Korea.

  • I’m just like you Elsie – I find it REALLY hard to get rid of clothes and I definitely have too many. Every now and then I ‘shop my wardrobe’ which helps me et rid of some stuff, but I still have a way to go. One of my goals this year is to find my style… I’ve been pinning images in Pinterest and then trying to get rid of items that don’t match the true style I actually love. This has helped me a lot.

  • Great job purging your closet! I always tell myself I need to do this too, which is why I’ve started selling some of my clothing through my blog! BTW, I just did a post on my blog with a photoshoot I did in Griffith Park. Lots of vintage and fun dresses, take a look, I hope you like it!

    http://www.prettylittlefawn.blogspot.com

  • Elsie, you can get rid of the white residue on your Hunter wellies (the company calls it “blooming”) with a dab of olive oil. There’s also a product you can buy online, but I’ve read in forums that the oil is just as effective. Cheers!

  • Yikes this is a great post. Ha ha I consider myself a ‘collector’ rather than a hoarder, but sometimes things do get a little out of hand! We recently had to help my father move house and were shocked to realise that he is a true hoarder, I mean he could easily feature on that show. It took months and months to get through everything and you could see how much it pained him to through anything out.
    Anyway will definitely take up your advice for myself πŸ˜‰

  • i have really appreciated your blog, and i know i, too, suffer from a very plentiful closet…not to mention a thrifting hobby…

    …but yes. firstworldproblems to the entire, entire max. everything on here is perfectly cutesy and wonderful in detail, but when you step back from afar, you remember the world is going on and there are larger things in life.

    i’m not necessarily critical of this blog/post, but perhaps the societal systems that have made this post need to exist.

    i feel very conflicted on where artsyness and thrifting can converge with global awareness and simple living:

    it takes a LOT of money to appear “thrifty” or “hipster” in some ways—and a lot of privilege to get to a place where you can blog about it, too. could that money go elsewhere? or maybe that is just what “art” is—making the simple things beautiful, even if it takes money? even if there ARE places that can’t afford to appear “artsy”?

    hope these thoughts make a little sense.

  • In the middle of decluttering my room right now! I started off looking like I belonged on hoarders too but now it’s starting to look more normal. These tips will definitely be of help too πŸ™‚

  • This is awesome. My Mum is a professional organizer, and just seeing these photos to go along with your tips is such a great idea. Seeing a before and after shot of your closet would probably be kind of shocking!!

    –Erin

  • this post was just what i needed. i’ve been meaning to go through my closet for months now and considering that mine is the largest in the house and i STILL have a tough time even opening the door – it’s definitely time. thanks for the inspiration elsie!

  • I’d love to see a tour of your closet now that it’s all cleaned out. Im trying to organize mine right now and it’s so difficult!

  • I am exactly the same. I notice you didn’t get rid of your Hasbeens… I have two pair and love them.

  • Holy crap.. this is SO useful to me, thank you so much for doing this post.

    I’ve been in desperate need to clear out my closet for a few years now. I keep everything and it genuinely upsets me to try and get rid of stuff. All of it holds memories, even if they’re bad ones. And it seems like such a mammoth task.. I love your advice about taking as many breaks as you need.

    Well done you! I hope I can be in the same place in 6 months time :))

    Sophie
    http://onetenzeroseven.com/blog

  • Hehe.. I just threw away the rights I was wearing today because they had a hole in the toe. Victory!

    Sophie

  • I’ve been on the fence about writing a book on this very topic! I also enjoy Hoarders and, sadly, relate to it. I’ve learned that I can definitely control my bad shopping habits (i.e. purchasing bag after bag of .50 clothing items), but getting rid of items I rarely wear is turning out to be another story.

  • Thanks for such an inspirational post! I am trying to declutter my life right now, and I’m thankful I’m not the only one!

  • omg i’m doing exactly that. turning 30 in a couple of weeks, and the amount of clothing i owned was just ridiculous πŸ˜€ i’m also participating in the 6 items challenge in september, i wonder what that will start !!! πŸ™‚

  • I am working on this too, I tend to keep things because someone special have given it to me or because I feel guilty that I haven’t worn it (since I got it from someone) or because I like it but don’t dare to wear it (I’m working on that too).

    I just need to get better at selling them and when applicable donating them.

  • I am moving back home after 7years of studying in a different country, a different continent altogether. It is so hard to pick out what I really wear. To make it easier I get rid of stuff everyday. Thanx for the tips…

  • I did a clean out similar not too long ago, when we moved into our new house. Now I keep my clothes in color order and it looks so good! Good for you, I hear ya about hoarding some things. I had to stop thrifting because I simply had too many things.

  • I get really distracted too! flylady.net is a great site to help get organized. At first it may seem a little strange,(a fly lady?) but it works! Set a timer for 15-30 minutes and donate like wild fire! A timer can be your best friend.

  • Comparatively, I don’t have much clothes. But to my mom, I have an outfit for everyday of the year. Shoes…I have around 15 or so. Which may seem fine ’til I mention I brought most of them in the span of two years. But I love all of them dearly and I think, if I ever had to start downsizing, my shoes will stay somehow, some way even if I have to use them as part-time decor.

    I hoard stationary and stickers and writing utensils. Or and random cute knick knacks.

  • Congratulations on getting it done! I started getting int he habit of purging my closet of unworn clothing when I graduated high school and moved out of my mom’s house. I spent about a week every summer vacation and winter vacation during college just going through my stuff and tossing or donating things I had no use for. It’s a great feeling.
    Me and my boyfriend both just went through our closets recently and filled up a trash bag for the local thrift shop. I knew I had to because I was running out of space in my closet and dresser xD

  • This was SO helpful! I’m moving in about a month and I’ve somehow managed to accumulate waay more clothing than it would make sense to move. Now I’m super motivated to get started!

  • this is a great post. i am currently doing the same thing, but i am pregnant so i am also sorting things into “hopefully this will fit again someday” bins. i feel much better about how long this has been taking me!

  • I know what you mean! I just moved a couple of weeks ago, and got rid of tons of clothes I never wore anymore, and some pieces I’ll probably end up regretting, but it’s so worth it to feel so light and clean with my wardrobe. I mean, it’s still uncontrollable, but that’s just my sloppiness, haha.

    -Lindsey
    http://ettu-tutu.blogspot.com

  • Great tips! I think I have the exact opposite problem as you — I’m a minimalist and enjoy getting rid of stuff I don’t need. However, one of the points I think can help a person that has too much is the sale aspect… because you can use the excuse of using that money to buy NEW stuff to make it possible πŸ˜‰

  • This is the perfect time to be reading this. We just seriously downsized homes, and even though I’ve already gotten rid of bags and bags of clothes to goodwill, there’s still more purging to be done. Keeping clothes for the person that you used to be or the person you hope to be in the future, or worse, who you think you should be now, is really unhelpful both space-wise and mentally. At least for me, getting rid of clutter is directly related to being happy at where I am right now this minute rather than in some other time or place.

  • loved this post! definitely want to get rid of things too, and it’s so tough because everything has a memory…good for you for clearing it out, it looks great!

  • Earlier today when I read this post, I felt like it was written specifically for me! Today I started packing to move out to a small 2 bedroom apartment from home. Over the past several years I have gathered so much clothing from thrifting, hand-me-downs, and shopping I felt as though the task I had before me today was way over-whelming. I was totally dreading starting the clothing purge, until I read this post. It reminded me that getting rid of things is a good exercise for the body and mind. I know you suggested not doing it all at once, but unfortunately I don’t have the luxury to span it out because I am moving so soon! I did a bunch of it tonight in one go… and actually I feel so successful and so great. I have right now donated and kept equal amounts of clothing. I have a bit more to do tomorrow, but I want to keep the numbers as even as possible. Making my wardrobe less crowded will really help me use the pieces I have!

    Thanks for sharing!

  • I always want to keep clothes. When I was younger I loved dressing up in my mothers clothes. Now that Im older I wish I had more of my grandmothers clothing. I want to pass my clothes off to my children, however I dont even want to have kids! I need a better excuse to not be lazy and just get rid of my prom dress that I wore long enough to take pictures and change.

  • I think I’m sad for you losing your bedroom-size closet- it’s amazing! I could probably name all the clothing I have off the top of my head, but as I just moved across the Atlantic I had to downsize as well. πŸ™ Seems sad for a bit, but all the new shopping makes it better! x Best of luck sorting out your new closet- smaller or not I’m sure you’ll make it look beautiful πŸ™‚ x

    Rose Eva
    http://blog.silhouetted.org

  • I so enjoyed this post because I can relate in a huge way!!

    My problem is that I’ll want to wear an outfit and then I’ll be like ‘where’s that yellow shirt’ and the boyfriend will remind me I gave it away and then I get so sad. This means that it’s now so difficult for me to throw things away! I need to keep it… Just in case.

    I would never be able to get rid of half my closet but your post has inspired me to at least think about tackling a smaller version of the project.

  • Good job! I’m the opposite of a hoarder. I like open, clean spaces and organized clothes I can easily sort through. I got rid of over half of my wardrobe when I moved last spring. It’s nice to remember that there are people who need clothes and would really love gently worn, rarely used clothing.

    Our culture is so acquisitive. Americans get so attached to inanimate objects, it’s kind of embarrassing. This post is a great reminder that things are just that – objects. That’s it. Sentimentality should never take up more than a corner of one room.

  • I have to admit that I am a bit of a clean freak, but right now I am in the middle of the mess of moving and so this article is coming in handy! I can also agree about the giving away to friends bit, so much easier that way. Cheers and welldone!

  • “When you finish your purge, take time to appreciate all of the pieces that you own and love.” So true. That’s my favorite thing about living with less stuff. I truly appreciate and can care for everything I own.

  • Holy moley, your closet is filled to the brim with beautiful, unique pieces. It must have been difficult to harvest, but I’m sure you will give more love to the pieces you do have now.

    I really need to stop buying cheap and trendy pieces. The articles of clothing I spent a little more on have lasted me years. Ugh, what places like Forever 21 can do to a girl! (:

    -Cara
    http://everydayintrigue.blogspot.com/

  • Today, after getting back from a weekend at my mom’s, I always have two armloads of thrift finds from her. We both obsess over good deals. With the new stuff, I reorganized my closet (give-away pile and all) then sat down for a show of Hoarders while I hopped on my computer. Seeing this post was way too strange and spot on it’s almost creepy. It must be in the universe to organize and rediscover your treasures. Sweet!

  • Incredible! I saw the pics you posted on instagram & was mighty impressed by your decluttering skills!
    i’ve gone from the most basic form of a wardrobe to an unbelievably huge wardrobe in the past year. i’ve spent the past few months organising, only to find i now have 3 clothing racks full of clothing (instead of the one that has only ever been 3/4 full! week!)
    inspiring to see that a massive wardrobe cull can be done…now i think that will go on my goal list & i might try & break it down into little goals rather then trying to do it all in one day!
    thanks so much for sharing your tips & well done <3
    Cheray x

  • Wow u have deffinetly motivated me to clean out my wardrobe, not that I have that many clothes it’s just all my stuff from when I was younger. I’ll pass a lot onto my younger cousins and maybe try some refashioning yay! πŸ˜€

  • Great post! I really relate with this…
    When it’s non vintage clothes it’s easier cause since the quality isn’t great, after a few years they tend to get ruined (the fabric starts pilling, the color starts fading the shape of the item starts changing) and giving them away is easy, but with vintage clothes that last forever and ever I get this weird feeling that I shouldn’t give anything away, even if I hardly ever wear it or I don’t like the style anymore…

  • I recently decluttered to 8 outfits. A week’s worth that I feel the very prettiest in! It’s strange how I can look at my 8 perfectly fitting, amazing outfits and feel richer than when I had 20 okay outfits.

    Granted, not everyone could pull it off, but as a stay at home mom, most folks only see me one or two days a week. If I rotate through 8 outfits, and we meet up every Tuesday for coffee, you won’t see me in the same clothes for two whole months! I love minimalism.

  • Oh, I also almost never sell anything unless I know I could get a lot of cash for it. My mantra is, “bless someone else with it.” And, to me, donating to a thrift store counts! It benefits a savvy (or economically struggling) shopper, AND a worthy charity! Double win!

  • This was an inspiring post and I know I need to do what you’ ve just done. It does feel good to have space in the closet. I am weeding out in spurts, but I always seem to find even more new finds. I loved your tips and plan to follow some of them too!

  • I’m trying super hard not to be too envious of your shoe collection!

    When my family started to grow, my closet space started to shrink. At first I resentful about it but now I actually cherish it. In the half of the small closet I share with my husband, I can only hold things I love the most, so getting dressed everyday is easier since everything fits and is current. Of course that means I wear the same outfits all the time (i’d have a really boring fashion blog) but I always feel confident in what I’m wearing.

    I donate all my old stuff but then I have to watch out when thrifting. I see something kinda cute, take a look at it and think: i know why I like this: it used to be mine!

  • I am nodding my head in agreement to every single thing you say above! I am such a magpie when it comes to clothes (and shoes, books, the list goes on….) and purging my wardrobe has always posed, well, somewhat of a challenge. But it feels great once your done and it really does give one an appreciation of how lucky we are to have such a luxury problem at all!

    Fantastic post – as always!

  • Congratulations! That is a huge feet to overcome. I have tried myself many times to widdle down my wardrobe, and can never really make it as far as I hope. On those days when I am in a particularly “purgy” mood, I talke full advantage and go straight to my closet. I always fantasize about a small and functional wardrobe, but alas, I am a clothing hoarder. Thank you for this post. Very inspiring and gives me hop that one day I will be able to get rid of half my wardrobe!

  • This is one of the most vulnerable posts I’ve ever read from you. It’s open, honest and you graciously write about a frustrating subject. Bravo, Elsie. This is going down as one my faves.

  • you really did good! ive started cleaning out my wardrobe several times. But then I start trying on clothes i havent worn in years, and then the classic tought comes to mind: maybe i will wear this sometime. And it goes back in to the wardrobe never to be used again…

  • Totally using your post to inspire me today as I clean out my closet. I love how giving clothes away is a great motivator for you – it’s also an awesome way to recycle!! I am also motivated by taking some of my nicer/trendier items to a local consignment shop…sometimes a little extra cash is all it takes to encourage me to purge! Our local YWCA collects professional clothing for their Suited for Success program that helps women enter the workforce, so I take my dressier clothes there. Community closets for homeless or otherwise needy populations are great places to take jackets, boots, and outerwear.

    Ok, enough procrastination. I’m off to tackle my closet! πŸ™‚

  • My partner and I moved into our place with way, way too much stuff between the two of us, and the apartment is horrible now. I think the tip about breaks is the one that hit home the most for me- I get really overwhelmed and give up if I try to do it in a continous go.

  • I’m cleaning and donating while in the process of moving to a new apartment, so this came at the perfect moment! I’m going to go through what hasn’t been packed up one more time to add some more to my donation bag (gifts I never wear, things I’ve held onto for those “maybe” occasions). I’m so impressed, great job on your closet!

  • Since moving out of my spacious bedroom and double closet at my parents to an apartment where I have to share a closet (gasp!), I have given away bags and bags of clothes! I am keeping a few of the better quality pcs to eventually sell when I find the time… It feels so good though to get rid of items that I never wear.

  • Your “closet” looks great. I’m glad you pointed out how long it took you. It can be overwhelming if you think you have to finish an organizational project in just one day.

    I love the collection of vintage luggage btw!

  • LOVE your post! We have such a small home and I LOVE to organize and de-clutter but I have been overwhelmed by wanting to re-organize/de-clutter the entire house and it paralyzes me! I love how you took it in steps and allowed yourself to do it over the course of a few months! That’s a great piece of advice! And I loved how you said to make your own rules… love it!!!

  • As always, Elsie, you are an inspiration to us all.

    As a college student and thrifter, I also find myself having the purge and reevaluate my wardrobe all the time. Winter break hits and suddenly I have to decide which things to dump at home and what to bring back to school and what to donate for good! I too am not-yet-but-almost-having-the-mentality-of a hoarder. Thanks for the great tips!

  • This was a brilliant post. I don’t have anywhere near as much clothing as you, but I find the amount I do own stressful. My goal is to finally have all of my clothes fit into one suitcase.

    One thing to be careful of is don’t get rid of things too fast. There are one or two items I seriously regret giving away now.

  • Such a good job! I think the last photo is actually the most inspiring with the empty hangers! I have “donate” and “consign” piles, and then they sit there and I dip into them again… not very helpful!
    Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚
    Hannah

  • Wardrobe wars are the best/worst. It’s awesomely fun to go through all your clothes and be inspired for new outfits, or just fall in love with old pieces all over again. But on the flipside, having a ton of clothes means you feel guilty about not wearing half of them, or you just don’t wear them and then forget about them. Now that I’m moving halfway round the world, and must take clothes for a year in one suitcase…it puts my overstuffed wardrobe into perspective. How do I choose??? As fun as it is, it does tend to force me into re-evaluating all the things mentioned here. Loved the article!

  • I can fully relate. I don’t have TONS of clothes, but too many to store easily or move–and we’re moving this fall.

    I am SUPER impressed that you got rid of half your clothes. Congratulations!

  • Good for you, Elsie!It’s great you are addressing this topic which I feel is a silent epidemic here in America. I’m sure it is worldwide.

  • Thanks so much for sharing this! I def need go to go through my closet – er, room – and organize it and get rid of tons! You have a lot of great tips and have really inspired me to get it done! Thanks again! <3

  • i’ve actually been working on a wardrobe cull or “purge” for about a month now. i’ve got all the bags of unwanted stuff piling up in one corner of the bedroom waiting for that final okay from myself to donate them. Thanks for giving me some motivation to finish the project!
    http://DesignThrift.blogspot.com

  • Thanks for the tips, I’ve just moved into a new place and I’ve been a bit overwhelmed by the amount of clothes I have that I never wear (more than half!) I’ve been selling some things but mostly I keep putting off giving the rest away, but it’s more due to laziness!

  • This is a post I can really relate to. You should be proud of your efforts! I’ll be pinning this for next time I go through my wardrobe.

  • This is a great post – but I must say these photos look much nicer than Hoarders’ disasters! I’m moving to another country soon so I’ve been trying to donate and get rid of as much stuff as I can, but my boyfriend’s just not having it: “noo that dress? I love that dress!” …even if I haven’t worn it for years!

  • I can relate to this, I just moved and these tips will be very useful to me!

    Thank you thank you!

    BisΓΉ,

    Claire

  • I just always keep a box in my closet where I toss things that I decide I don’t want anymore. I try not to keep any clothes that don’t make me feel fantastic. So when I go to put on clothes that I own and then feel crappy, I toss it in the box. It helps me both feel better about myself, because I am now wearing only the clothes that actually make me feel good about myself, and it helps me get rid of all my extra stuff, because I am putting things in the box slowly. Then, when the box gets full, I take it to the goodwill.

    But these are great tips! thanks for all your wonderful work!

  • Thank you so much for this! I’m getting married in 10 months (exactly), and my favorite things tend to come with big piles of stuff–sewing, crafting, reading, etc. The thought of packing up my entire life and trying to consolidate enough to fit my stuff in his townhouse AND share a closet has been rather intimidating! I know it will still be tough, because I’ve sewn a good chunk of my wardrobe and that has all sorts of sentimental value involved. But this post makes me more hopeful that I’ll survive the culling process.

  • Thank you for this post! I really need to do the same thing myself and this is a great inspiration!

  • Wow!! i felt so identified with your post, im getting married soon and my new home closet is pretty small, my fiancee suggest me to get rid of all the extra clothes and i was like… What????????? between the clothes i buy, the clothes i made and the clothes i get as gifts (and please dont let me start with the shoes) my closet is amlmost carry bradshaw-sized (well, almost) i will be taking very serious this post, but just a step at a time, nobody wants a dead bride weeks before the wedding

  • I have been working on this myself since the start of the year and have gotten rid of about two-thirds of my cothing, most of my books, and a bunch of my craft stuff. I want to get rid as much as possible; I just keep telling myself that I should donate everything I don’t use to others who will be able to make better use of them.

  • i am a diagnosed hoarder, mainly clothes and books, and a lot, a lot of shoes. i can get enough of it! i recognized that – a good home for my stuff is very important! it breaks my heart if i must to throw away perfectly good thing. but, i run out of my space so i started. first books, almost done. now my clothes and most difficult, shoes later one. i would like to thank you for such a wonderful blog and lovely photo’s! greetings from holland πŸ™‚

  • Oh gosh. I admire you. BUT HEY? I’VE GOT SO MUCH SPACE IN MY CLOSET! AND I LOVE YOUR STYLE! HOW COULD YOU THROW AWAY SUCH BEAUTIES AND DID NOT ASK ME IF I…. okay, well. forget it. I’m a fashion victim.

    New blog needs love… <3

  • I found this post to be inspiring to me, not only because you managed to accomplish your goal to declutter, but especially since I could relate to the earlier part of your post about being easily distracted. I get soooo distracted and then eventually give up with my hopes to organize spaces. I’ve had to include some of my closest friends before to help me keep focus with the goals at hand, and make some actual progress. This weekend I had a very good reason to rid myself of great pieces of clothing & shoes I hold onto solely because I find them valuable…a clothes swap. It was amazing! And because I have very stylish friends with great vintage pieces, it worked to benefit us all! I headed home with some beautiful new dresses, jewelry, & purses that I look forward to actually wearing…while decluttering my closet at the same time! You have to try it! I know you have fabulous friends that could do with some trading! We aslo included housewares (scored a beautiful gold mirror), and I even brought brand new makeup that gave me great trading potential!

  • I’ve been saying that I need to pare down my wardrobe for over 2 years now. I kinda started a few months ago as I had to move into a new wardrobe. However, I’ve just been stalling ever since. In fact, it’s so bad that I have a pile of clothes in the middle of my wardrobe that remains unironed until I need to wear them πŸ™ I need all the help I can get! Thanks for the inspiration πŸ™‚

  • I wisg I could keep my shoes out in the open air without the dust piling up all over…

    P.S- At last I can post comments (after visiting this blog for almost two years on a daily basis)…

  • Ohhh my, I’m in the middle of doing this at the moment. After using the typical ‘rules’ (not worn in a year, etc), I’m now looking at each item & thinking – ‘Would I buy this if I saw it in a shop right now?’ If I wouldn’t – it’s GONE! Working for me so far!

  • Great tips! Now it’s time to turn to my closet… And prepare for fall! πŸ™‚

  • I don’t think I cut myself down to half, but I definitely did a major closet overhaul this weekend. Now that I am finally sticking to a specific style, it was easy to weed out things that I never wear anymore – or things that I’ve been holding on to that I want to wear.

    Another great idea for getting rid of lightly used / unworn clothing is going to a store like Buffalo Exchange or Crossroads – they buy (preferably designer label / but they took some unworn Forever 21 items) and let them go through your clothing before donating. I walked in to Crossroads (I feel like they are easier buyers than Buffalo) with four bags OVERFLOWING with clothing, I actually left with four bags of clothing – BUT – I also left with $51.00 in cash for what they purchased from me. Yay!

    I like to congratulate myself for getting some of my money back (instead of going straight to donation) and use it to enhance my wordrobe (since I have such a clear picture of what’s left over).

    That’s one of my favorite ways to purge.

  • This article really Inspired me! I had been thinking about reorganizing and decorating my apt for a whole and reading this gave the boost I needed to start! πŸ™‚

  • We recently moved deeper into the city. This means half the house for twice the price! I recently went to a clothing swap. I was able to unload more comfortably because I knew my items were getting a good home, and in the process if I decided I just couldn’t handle the separation, I could take something back before it was over. I didn’t take anything back, and picked up some gems myself. I was able to bring more clothes to the swap than I could of to a donation place. Also, there were drinks and it was fun times. The host offered to take everything we left behind to a thrift shop at the end. It was wins all around!

  • Thank you for understanding how hard it is to de-clutter. I always have the goal to be more organized. It’s nice to meet someone who has done it and lived to tell about it! Thanks.

  • Wow! Well done! I can relate to your experience too! I think it’s time for me to do the same and start the process of purging my wardrobe. Thanks for sharing your story. I feel inspired. Just hope it doesn’t take me too long. I’d love to have some space in my wardrobe again!!

  • Oh, it’s good to hear that I’m not the only one who finds it easier to give favorite items to people I know rather than donating them! I do it more with my daughter’s outgrown clothes than with mine because I’m more sentimentally attached to her stuff. But oh, this is great advice on how to handle any kind of major purging! I like making resolutions for Labor Day (I haven’t been in school for over 20 years, but it still feels like a new year starts), so this year, I’m planning to get my bonus room purged and organized! Thanks for setting a good example for me. πŸ™‚

    Aviva
    http://FostersBeauties.blogspot.com

  • Great post!!

    “The fact that I even needed to donate half of my clothing shows how lucky (and spoiled) I really am.” Amen! But since I’m just as lucky and spoiled as you, this article speaks volumes to me! My husband and I have just decided to move across the atlantic in the next 12-18 months and just thinking about schlepping my whole closet sounds daunting enough to make me hide my head under the covers. But really, this is great because it gives me great motivation to actually get in there and purge and create a minimal (within reason!) closet filled with pieces I love. And then the move will just be that much easier!

    http://nomadic-d.blogspot.com/

  • Since I own a consignment shop, I have to say that you can avoid the garage sale organization by bringing in your items for someone else to sell. You’d be amazed how much money you can bring in by carrying loads of things you still value but won’t use.

  • I had to enlist my teenager with some tough love to help me weed out stale and unworn items from my closet. We had a lot of laughs in the process, as she can be brutally honest about fashion (especially mine). πŸ˜‰

  • Your closet is so pretty! I definitely believe in rewarding yourself with new clothes, as it’s usually the ultimate motivator for me to clean house. Thanks for the inspiration to empty some hangers!

  • I love an organized closet! i did something similar with mine. i got those sterlite plastic dresser drawers that come in lime green and got all lime green hangers. the smaller purses, belts, socks, and stocking are all organized in the drawers with the bigger purses on top of the dressers and my hats all line the top shelf of my closet. there’s something soothing about such organization.

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