This was not always the case.
If I had to estimate, I would say that it took me over half an hour to decide what to wear, at least twice a week, all last fall/ most of my life. You know the feeling: you drag things out of the closet, try on ten half outfits, nothing looks right, so you fall back on the one thing you like. Again. Then off to work late, rushing through the rest of the morning. Please tell me that isn’t just me.
And if I had to bet, I would probably wager that your difficulty in dressing in the morning was due to the same woes that plagued me: too many options, and all of them are terrible.
I would like to blame it on not having enough clothes, but that is simply not true. My clothes are Legion. They were so numerous in fact, that they stressed me out, drowning out the clothes I liked in things that just never seemed to work. A partial culprit in this is the 20+ pounds I gained since getting married (yep, typed and deleted that sentence three times, but I’m leaving it in case any other newlywed nineteeners needed some solidarity). I just couldn’t bring myself to get rid of things that had once fit, even if they were routinely reducing me to tears and dire proclamations to eat only cabbage. Another partial culprit was my penchant for bargains, sales so good that I really believed they made up for me not actually being thrilled with the garment.
And so, every morning was a battle of fashion angst and indecision with a side of general self loathing.
In January, as I embarked on my year of discipline, I started by purging the closet. Y’all, it felt so good. But unlike other purges (which we shall also call Legion, as I LOVE throwing stuff out), I joined this one with a resolve to hold off buying stuff and a ferocious set of rules. I purged deeper and made myself take stock of not just my closet, but the rest of our home and life.The result? The result is that almost three months later I reach in my closet every morning and still find clothes I like. Clothes that fit and match each other. Clothes that make getting ready easy, which in turn makes my day flow smoothly. I then went on to purge James’ closet and my (new!) sister-in-law’s closet, and all of us have felt similarly: when you have less, you actually have more. I gave away five garbage bags of clothes, yet I feel like I have more wearable clothes than ever before.
Should you be interested in a similarly freeing closet purge, here are the rules that I used to ruthlessly slash through my belongings. A “no” on ANY one of them meant permanent exile from my closet. I recommend recruiting a friend for this process, as everyone needs someone to remind you that no, you won’t someday make a quilt of your beloved sorority t-shirts and no, you don’t go to enough decade themed parties to justify holding onto that many out-of-style outfits.
- Does it fit? Not, “does it fit when I have a non-bloaty day where I ran ten miles the day before?” or “does it fit when I reach my target goal of losing ____ pounds?” Does it fit now. Because if not, you are more likely to feel judged by a piece of fabric on a regular basis than you are to fit back in it. This was hard for me, especially as our purge predated Whole30 and a subsequently sizable weight loss. But I’m so glad I did it, so glad that I feel free to strive for health, rather than striving to squeez back into holdovers from younger days before donuts and brunch were a way of life. (The obvious exception to this rule is if you are pregnant, when you do drastically change your size for a period of time.)
- Does it match the rest of my wardrobe? That sweater that you constantly put on, fuss with, then take off again because it just doesn’t “work”? It never will. That skirt that you keep taking shopping, hoping you will find a shirt to match? You won’t. With the rare exception (cough… sequin mini-dress that rolls out once a year for my annual night out… cough), I am opposed to clothing that can only be worn one way and in one context.
- Is it appropriate for my age/ profession / lifestyle? I once had a dreamy femme fatale black miniskirt that I bought – and wore – all over Paris. It was real heavy on the mini and light on the skirt. In Europe, totally fine. Stateside? As a teacher or later a graduate student? I carted it through three moves before admitting that it had served its wonderful leggy purpose and should probably hit retirement.
- Have I worn it in the past year? No mercy on this one. If you haven’t, toss it. The only exception would be for the occasional sentimental or costume item. But even then, limit it to whatever you can fit in a small box and stow it apart from your daily wardrobe.
Please know, I’m not pushing the tempting blog goddess of simplicity, aka the Minimalist Pixie Dream Girl over here: your clothes can be as wild as you want so long as you wear them. I’m just saying what made my life so much simpler and happier. To prevent the need for as many future purges, I also ask myself these four questions every time I buy something, as well as throwing in the, “Is this actually good quality?” The result…very few purchases actually make it home. Should you still be on the fence about closet purging, check out some of my favorite posts about cutting back and the freedom it brings. I loved what Mary said about how living in a tiny German apartment freed her style, and what Mary Beth said about downsizing your whole life to have more freedom. I once wrote about purging random clutter around the house here and you can read great closet cleaning tips in regards to capsule wardrobe formation here.
Anyone else have to resort to closet purging to stop the daily clothing crisis? What helped you cut back?
Image via this tumblr.