Most of you probably know by now that we bought a house in Washington, D.C. We don’t close until the end of June, so I’m saving public celebrations for when I have the keys in hand, but I think it’s safe to say we are super-duper-expialidocious happy.
(And by the way: even though I wondered when we moved into a rental house last year whether the work involved was worth it, I totally get it now. Just like a marriage or children — of course it’s worth it, because of love.)
Given the house we are moving into is over 100 years old and its assets are not closets, I figured now was a great time to edit our clothing. With kids’ clothing, of course, it’s easy: it either fits or it doesn’t.
With adults, there seems to be so much psychological baggage tied to clothing:
- Oh, that was from my thin days, but I’ll get there again.
- My grandmother gave me that.
- I spent too much money on that.
- That reminds me of when I was young and carefree.
- I’ve only worn that once.
- One day I’m going to get the job I’ve always wanted and I’ll need that.
It’s complicated. But only if you let it be.
I feel fantastic after having dropped off seven bags of my husband’s and my clothing and shoes to the Salvation Army. Getting rid of the stuff was easier than I thought, and I am still reaping the good feeling after-effects.
So in the next post or so, I thought I would go through the whys and the hows of decluttering clothes.
Let’s start with the why:
1. You know what you have so you are less likely to overbuy.
Even though it’s great practice to check our closets before we go shopping, sometimes we don’t plan to buy clothes. Hello, Target! That’s why it pays to regularly go through your things.
My husband discovered in a storage room four pairs of good shoes he had completely forgotten about. In the meantime, he complained about not having any shoes and we even bought some more. When you have too many things, you can’t keep track of them and they get lost or forgotten. So what’s the use of having them?
In the old days, people wore one pair of shoes until the soles got worn out. Then they went to the cobbler, had the soles replaced, and wore the same pair of shoes until the soles got worn out. I think many of us would do well to replace shoe racks and self-consciousness with a dose of old-fashioned frugality.
2. Free up more space in your house.
It sounds crazy, but I think overstuffed closets and basements can make people feel overwhelmed to the point they feel they need a bigger house. My aunt built an addition on her house so she could create a walk-in closet. Some people just love clothes. That’s their thing.
But paring down your belongings can mean:
- Life is more simple.
- You have more breathing space.
- You don’t have to move to a bigger house (or build an addition).
- It won’t be a problem fitting into a smaller, less expensive house.
3. Clothes are relatively inexpensive. You can always get more.
If you shop at thrift stores, rummage sales, or discount stores like Marshall’s, then you know that buying a few pieces of clothing is not that big of a deal. If you realize later that you really need something that you tossed, you can go get another without too much damage. (But I suspect this won’t happen, if you follow the rules for cleaning out closets I’ll tell you about next time.)
If you buy more expensive clothes, then you’ll save money by investing in classic rather than trendy pieces. And since no one needs a closetful of white blouses, you’ll save space too. (Even though I love whimsical colorful clothes, I think it’s time for me to move in the Frenchwoman direction.)
4. You can easily reach what you do have.
If you’ve got teetering piles of turtlenecks, like I used to have, then you know that some inevitably end up smushed and forgotten at the back of the closet. Sometimes my hanging clothes have been so tight, that it was a chore just to pull them apart to see what I had.
If you have to spill out to another closet in the house, getting what you need is even more onerous. So you end up wearing the same stuff over and over and feeling yucky or sorry for yourself. Which brings me to my last point.
5. Decluttering just feels good.
In The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin says if you need to self-medicate, clean out a closet. I agree. After filling the trunk with bags of clothes that I was hanging on to for dubious reasons, I felt so free and light. I kept only the things that fit me or made me feel good.
We change more quickly than we think we do — our shapes, our tastes, our outlooks. Clothes can be a powerful vehicle for self-expression, but what if they no longer reflect who we are?
I love looking across the room at my new closet, with slivers of air between the hangers and three short piles of folded clothing on the shelf. I even organized the hanging clothing according to color. Silly? Maybe. Fun? Yes.
Do you feel good when you get rid of clothes? Do you think it saves you money?