How cleaning my wardrobe is helping simplify my life

When I started thinking about simplifying my life, I considered many areas which needed work. Areas such as diet, exercise, time management immediately sprung to mind. Strangely, my wardrobe, an area I use several times daily, did not.

When responding to an email about my word of the year, Stasia Savasuk suggested I start by simplifying my wardrobe. But why? I thought. I already did that at the beginning of last year. Surely it doesn’t need re-doing again already? The idea nagged at me for a few days, then I watched the first episode of Marie Kondo’s Tidying Up. Okay, I decided, maybe my wardrobe would be a good place to start, after all. It made sense. My wardrobe is the source of stress on a daily basis, as I struggle to select clothing to wear and accessories to match. Surely with only items which ‘spark joy’ (Kondo) and ‘nothing that hurts’ me (Savasuk), choices would have to be simplified?

Although I’d read some of Marie Kondo’s work a while ago, have used her method of folding clothing in drawers before I even knew it was her method and had implemented her idea of re-homing items which no longer brought me joy, I had never placed ALL my clothes on the bed and gone through them one by one. After chuckling at a woman on TV who had a pile of clothes touching the ceiling, I was shocked at just how many clothes I owned. Stored in three wardrobes, the clothing made a considerable pile when placed in one location. A feeling of dread washed over me; I felt daunted by the task ahead. I had to do this today or I wouldn’t be able to get into bed tonight. (No cheating and making a pile elsewhere allowed.) Aha, so that’s why the clothes are placed on the bed, so you HAVE to finish sorting in a day! Smart move, Marie.

Having placed all my clothing on the bed (shoes, handbags and jewellery excluded), I launched into Phase 1 – Operation Quick Cull. This was easy and I rapidly made three piles: love it so I’m keeping it, maybe and nup – it’s gotta go. In the nup pile were items I used to love but were no longer my style, worn out and uncomfortable clothes, and things I loved on the hanger but just didn’t work on me. I immediately bagged good condition nup items and binned worn out ones. Maybes would wait until later.

Operation Quick Cull complete, I quickly moved onto Phase 2 – Operation Multiple Madness. In this phase, I considered items I had multiples of and moved less favoured ones into donation bags. For example, I don’t really need two long black skirts and decided to only keep my favourite. I don’t need more t-shirts or pyjamas than can fit into one large drawer. I certainly don’t need 6 bikinis and 3 rash shirts when I rarely swim. (After all, the only time I swam last year was in a stream in Papua New Guinea, wearing hiking gear.) This phase included removing too-small clothing which I still love from sight, where it can’t ‘hurt my feelings’ and make me feel guilty about my current size. All these items were placed in a second wardrobe, then all my keepers re-homed in my walk-through wardrobe.

The final phase, Phase 3 – Operation ‘There’s no such thing as maybe’. was certainly the most difficult. In fact, over a week later, I still had 10 maybe items hanging on a clothing rack before finally placing them into the ‘too small for now’ wardrobe.

This whole process took three and a half hours of worked hard, without interruptions. Next day, I worked through my shoes and handbags, tidying their presentation so they can now all be seen and placing uncomfortable shoes aside for donating. What was I even thinking buying a pair of sparkly silver stilettos I can’t walk in? I managed to wear them once, but never again! I hardly need the extra height and am too old to be bothered with the pain of beauty. Gone!

I used a series of questions to help me decide what to keep:

  • Do I love it? (Marie Kondo’s ‘spark joy’)
  • Does it make me feel good when I wear it? (“Your clothes shouldn’t hurt your feelings.” Stasia Savasuk
  • Is it comfortable?
  • Does it co-ordinate with other items in my current wardrobe?
  • Does it fit?

In order to be kept in my main wardrobe, items had to get yes for all the questions. If they got a yes to all but ‘Does it fit?’, they were allowed into my ‘too small for now’ wardrobe in the next room. I now have clothing in two wardrobes, rather than three and have five large kitchen tidy bags full of clothing donations to hold onto for a while, as everyone else has also been inspired by the New Year and Marie Kondo and charity shops are begging for people to stop donating items. This has become a problem of such magnitude, it has made it onto nightly news broadcasts.

Less than two weeks later, I am so glad I decided to follow Stasia’s advice (albeit unwillingly) and Marie’s method to simplify my wardrobe. Now, every time I walk through my wardrobe, I admire how spacious and tidy it looks. It truly does ‘spark joy’. Every time I need to select an outfit, I can see all my clothes at a glance and easily select what I want to wear because I love everything there and it all fits. I even found a couple of beloved items I had forgotten about, so it feels like I have new clothes too. Now, that’s an unexpected bonus. My morning routine has been simplified and my wardrobe no longer hurts my feelings.

Eventually, I’d like to work with a much smaller selection of clothing, gradually working towards a (large) capsule-style wardrobe, but for now, I’m happy with my newly-simplified wardrobe. (baby steps) To keep it that way, I intend to refrain from purchasing new items and as things wear out, will replace  only necessities. When buying replacement items, they will need to fit my wardrobe colour palette, ensuring they can be mixed and matched endlessly with all other items. As well as being another step towards a capsule wardrobe, this will save considerable time and money, thus further simplifying things.

Does your wardrobe cause you stress? Could a similar project help you feel more organised and simplify your life?

Anna xo

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