Updated: Apr 26
Spring cleaning is often associated with a new beginning, fresh start, hope, and promise of better days to come. And I think the best place to start the spring cleaning is with a wardrobe cleaning. What can be better than a cleaned-out, organized closet filled with items you love and treasure?
Nowadays, most of us have more clothes than we need, from our everyday pieces to single-event purchases. We buy more than we wear, we want more than we can afford, and we impulse-shop more than we should. The perils of modern life - we own and want more than we need.
"Remember the 80/20 rule: Most people wear only 20% of their clothing 80% of time. Much of the rest reflects past sizes, past self-images or past life roles. Recognize them for what they are. "If you want to move forward, release the past, starting with your closet," writes Jennifer Baumgartner in her book "You Are What You Wear."" The Wall Street Journal, The Psychology of Clutter
A. The Benefits Of A Decluttered Closet
It is hard to imagine that we need that many clothes in our lives. Yes, we want to wear something exciting each time we go out, but that does not mean we have to buy something new every time. Instead, the goal should be to own versatile pieces that pair well with essential or dramatic items.
Decluttering our closets is so much more than getting rid of excess clothes. It is a therapeutic symbolic ritual that organizes our thoughts and emotions. In the end, not only our physical space is better off but also our mental state. We feel lighter, in control, filled with feelings of achievement and positive emotions.
B. How To Declutter A Closet
The most critical step is to have a good night's sleep. Then I would pour a cup of tasty coffee and grab some water.
Step 1: Prepare
Clear out floor, bed, and counter space. We will need to review many items, and we need space to spread them all out. We will also need bags or boxes to gather our donations and throw-away items.
Step 2: Take It All Out
Everything needs to come out of closets, dressers, armoires, bins, bags, or boxes. I know this sounds overwhelming, but this is a necessary step.
Step 3: Sort It By Category
After you take everything out, sort items into piles by category, all t-shirt will be in one pile, while dresses will be in another. And so on. Do not forget socks, undergarments, coats, and accessories.
Step 4: Review
This step is emotionally draining, so take a deep breath and tackle one pile at a time.
The first items that have to go are:
items not worn in more than a year
items that do not fit
items you no longer like
Then, review what is left and assess what you are going to keep. You will have to try on the items that are left in a pile. As you try-on items, keep an eye for
fit, specifically around waistline and underarms
condition of a garment
As you twirl in front of a mirror, think about pieces that would complement what you have on and try them together. Very often, what we envision does not match reality.
If the item does not fit, does not look good on you, or you are not sure about it, throw it into the donation pile and never look back.
Step 5: Repeat
Tackle the next pile and repeat the review steps.
C. Desired Outcome
After a good day's work, the closet space will be more organized, reflecting your current state of mind. The KEEP items will be the pieces you love and want to wear. They will be practical, versatile, and purposeful.
Every time you reach into your closet, I guarantee you will feel happy, accomplished, and less stressed. Your mind will be free to focus on more important things than trying to figure out where you put your favorite top.
Decluttering or spring cleaning is not a cheap trick. No. It is paramount to gaining a calmer better inner space.
If you are afraid to take on the whole wardrobe in one day, start with a specific category like underwear. Pull out bras, panties, and any other undergarments. Review, try-on, then sort into the keep, donate, and throw-away piles.
The one-category-at-a-time process is gentler, takes less time, yet still delivers the great benefits of clearing out your physical space to allow inner space to find its zen.
D. Going Forward
Now that you have experienced the joys of the cleaner wardrobe, you have to find ways to keep it up. Shopping for new items must be a mindful process. Do not just add items because you want to buy something. Think hard about what you are buying.
"Purchase mindfully: Will you really use this—or are you trying to fill an emotional void? A closet full of clothes and shoes with price tags still attached is a telltale sign of the latter. "You can never get enough of what you don't need," says psychologist April Lane Benson, who specializes in treating compulsive shoppers. The Wall Street Journal, The Psychology of Clutter
There is a trick I use when I want to buy something new. I add the desired item to my electronic cart and let it sit there for a day or two. If I forget about it, then I never wanted it. If I keep thinking about the item, then I order it.
When it arrives, I try it on, pairing the newcomer with my existing items. If I love what I see, only then do I consider keeping the new piece. Suppose something is missing or does not work for me. I immediately pack it back up, create a return label and ship it back.
It is imperative to ship it back on the same day or week. If you let it sit, chances are you will forget about it or get lazy. And that is how you will end up with a cluttered, unhappy, and dysfunctional wardrobe once again.
I plead with you to never settle for O.K. or "will do." Strive for a highly effective and exciting wardrobe that you deserve. Nothing short of awesome will do.