Battling the Out-Of-Control Closet Clutter Monster!
With Valentine’s Day coming up, our hearts turn to what we love. ” Those gorgeous Onitsuka Tiger Mexico sneakers are on sale, I have to have them!”” I really need that Maeve Bows Midi-Skirt.”” I heard the Coach Jelly Tabby purse is coming to Amazon!”
It’s so easy to fall in love with the latest thing! How can you possibly resist that tantalizing pull toward something new and beautiful. It’s soooo hard….
But too much of a good thing can cause overwhelming clutter, which creates a lot of stress, eats up a lot of square footage, and messes up the harmony of your home.
Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself as you battle that seductive urge toward the next bright shiny object.
Assess your collection. How many of each item do you have, and how realistic is that
number? I once had a client who had about 175 pairs of jeans - that would equal wearing each pair twice a year (if you didn’t wash anything).
Did she need 175 pairs of jeans? Um… probably not. You can make an argument for having a couple of pairs for specific reasons - dress up, dark or light, warm or cold weather, two or three different styles (boot cut, wide leg, skinny, baggy, capris), or for a specific activity like gardening or horseback riding.
But we know that most people wear 20% of their clothes 80% of the time, so take a look at what you honestly haven’t worn. The odds are good you have some pieces that you never liked, don’t fit well, and wouldn’t miss if they’re gone.
Identify Triggers. If you already have 45 pairs of black boots, what makes you want to get #46? Did you just break up with someone or have an argument with a significant other (or child)? Sometimes we buy things to make us feel better (retail therapy is a real thing). And other times we get carried away in the moment and fall madly in love.
Pay attention to the situations or emotions that trigger your shopping urges. Finding these triggers can help you develop healthier ways of coping other than buying stuff.
Broken, ripped, or otherwise damaged items need to go. Go through your pieces and put anything that doesn’t function anymore into a basket, and label it with the date. If six months from now it’s still full, then assume you are never going to do the repairs and - be brave!- let those items go. Don’t feel guilty, you’re busy with your life and would rather spend your time with friends and family rather than repairing anything. And that’s ok!
Twins and triplets. If you find duplicates (or triplicates) of the same item, consider whether you need all of them or if a couple will be enough. Bless and release the others!
What do you love? As you start your purge and sort campaign, consider what you really love and wear a lot. These are the ones you want to keep – you want to have a closet and drawers full of things to give you joy.
Does it fit today? Be realistic – let go of anything that is more than one size away from where you are today. Otherwise, your closet is a large accusatory finger pointing at you every time you’re considering what to wear.
Oh, the guilt! The self-hate that you didn’t lose the weight you wanted to – who needs that? It’s much less stressful to know that everything you see is a contender for today’s choice. If you get to the size you want, then you can reward yourself with something new that fits and is on trend.
Special occasion clothes. You probably have garments and footwear for special events like weddings, black tie affairs or costume parties. Consider what you will wear again – if you have expensive items, you may want to hold on to them. But the bridesmaid dresses, flapper outfit and – yes- the wedding dress* can probably go.
* Brides Across America gives military and first responder brides free gowns.
Do a shopping challenge. Implement temporary shopping bans to break the cycle of constant acquisition. This can be a month-long commitment or longer to help reset your mind and your closet.
If you haven’t worn it in a year…. Yes, you’ve probably heard this one. If you haven’t used it in a year, this is probably something you don’t love. Put all your closet hangers backwards, and in a year, you’ll see exactly which ones haven’t been worn. For shoes, take a red marker and write the year on the inside of the heel, and evaluate in a year.
One in, one out. After you have your closet filled with clothes you love, fit you now, and are in good condition, make yourself a promise. For everything you buy, one thing has to go.
Once you've decluttered and decided on the items to keep, organize your closet in a way that makes it easy to see and access your wardrobe. I always feel good about donating the excess to charities that people with less resources than me depend on for quality clothing.
Surround yourself with pieces you love that create lots of positive energy in your home. You can do this!
Check out our Donation and Recycling Guide for places to donate all kinds of items from bicycles to books.