After being inspired by the minimalist documentary mentioned here, and learning about Project 333 and capsule wardrobes, I discovered my current wardrobe was causing a lot of unnecessary stress in my daily life. How could I always feel as though I had “nothing” to wear, or that none of my pieces could come together to form a Pinterest-worthy outfit? I’m currently in teacher’s college and have been working toward developing my professional wardrobe, which was another push to get my clothes in order and to start being intentional about future clothing purchases. My goal was to find a balance of comfy/casual clothing pieces and professional pieces to get the most use of a much smaller collection of clothes.
I used the KonMari method (from The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up) to guide my wardrobe overhaul. The first step was to purge my current clothes and find a new home for items which no longer made me happy or added value to my life. The majority of items I didn’t wish to keep either didn’t fit me right, were not my style (and were often secondhand), or had not been worn in at least a year. I believe I donated nearly half the clothes I owned and I physically began to feel lighter! My closet purge took on four basic steps:
1. Bring every clothing item to one space
I was able to fit all of my clothes on our queen-sized bed, but perhaps a larger area like a living room floor could also work well for you. It’s quite surprising to see just how much clothing you own when it’s all in a pile in front of you, instead of being spread across a closet, some shelves, some drawers, and an under-the-bed storage container.
2. Sort all the clothing in 3 piles
You’ll need a pile for the clothes you love, clothes you don’t want, and clothes you feel as though you should keep them, but aren’t sure why. Some questions to consider while sorting:
Does this fit me?
Do I feel confident wearing this?
When was the last time I wore this?
How difficult is it to wash this?
Do I have duplicates of this?
So much of the purging process is an internal battle. I felt extremely guilty letting go of items I barely wore, or even worse, had recently purchased within the past year and really didn’t need it in the first place. There was one particular sweater I spent $60 on and only wore twice because the fabric pulled very easily and I was constantly finding loops of thread sticking out everywhere. This item did NOT spark joy, but I felt the need to hold onto it because I spent a good amount of money on it. In reality, I was not likely going to wear it again, so this piece ended up moving from my “why” pile, to my “don’t want” pile.
Once you’ve sorted and have your three piles, go through your “why” pile one last time to decide if you’ll keep the items or not. I found that once I had gone through everything, I moved most of my “why’s” to my donate pile without hesitation – and it felt great!
3. Decide what to do with your “don’t wants”
Those are the “donate” bags from my first round of clothing purging which took place a few months ago. I’ve since let go of two more bags of clothes! There are many options for how to get rid of unwanted clothing, but the very last resort should be throwing it away. My unwanted clothing has either be sold or donated to a local women’s shelter or to Goodwill. It’s so easy and such a quick feeling of victory to go through your closet, fill a garbage bag full of clothing, kick it to the curb and never think about it again. But when you take the effort to avoid sending pounds of used textiles to the landfill, you can give your clothes a second life and help someone in need.
4. Put away the clothes you’re keeping
Did you notice the hangers in my donate pile? This may sound silly, but my mis-matched hangers really annoyed me. Most of my tops are loose and flowy, so they don’t easily stay put on regular plastic hangers. I replaced my hangers with black velvety ones that help slippery fabrics stay put – the perfect closet upgrade.
Because I got rid of so much clothing, I now only keep clothes in my half of our closet, and on one shelf. All of my clothes are in one part of our room, instead of being spread across the dresser, under-the-bed-storage and the closet. With everything in one place, it’s easier to put together an outfit each day.
My ultimate goal for this purge was to minimize my wardrobe and to be extremely thoughtful when purchasing future clothing items. Capsule wardrobes have inspired me to choose a basic colour palette as the base of my wardrobe, so the majority of my pieces can be mixed and matched. They can be dressed up to look professional and they can also be casual.
While I’m not obsessed about the numbers, I was curious to count the remaining pieces of clothing I have (excluding undergarments and outerwear). My total is 80 articles of clothing! The number itself seems high to me, but if I had counted my “before” number, I’m sure the difference would be quite dramatic!
What I love about my current wardrobe situation is that I know exactly what I own and where to find it. I love my new hangers, so I always put away my clothes at the end of the day or after laundry. No more constant pile of clothes on our bedroom floor! I also really love every item of clothing that I’ve kept. Minimizing my wardrobe has made me feel physically lighter – it’s amazing!
A wardrobe purge is a great way to start minimizing your life!