The hardest part was starting the process. The longer you wait, the worse it gets. In my case, I waited almost 5 years. A lot of things can happen in 5 years: relationships, jobs, etc. I started working full time for ecommerce startups, which meant the busier I got, the more I let myself go. I explained this in the previous post but my closet turned into a place where I’d just stuff things in when I was done with them without bothering to give it any thought.
My style may be described as simple/minimal but my closet as a whole was hardly anything like that. It frustrated me, but I just kept buying and buying new clothes for the sake of it. Some pieces have lasted me a decent amount of time but most haven’t really made it past a couple wears. I’ve come to realize that I’m a sentimental person and I hold onto physical things because of that.
Once I finally started cleaning out my closet I ended up breaking up the process into 5 steps which really helped me get past the anxiety and refresh my closet once and for all.
Can I mentally picture myself wearing this in an outfit? What does this outfit look like? Also, does it fit me? If it doesn’t fit well when you try it on, you’re probably not going to wear it.
Going back to the topic of the past 5 years and letting myself go, my body has also gone through a lot of changes. 2 years ago I gained weight from stress eating when I was going through a difficult time in my life. I tried to hide it with loose clothes but a lot of my clothes stopped fitting and I had to buy larger jeans. It wasn’t until the last 6 months that I actually did something about it and started working on myself, mentally and physically. I’m not quite at the weight I used to be at (I don’t weigh myself so I have no idea how much weight I’ve lost, actually) but I’m pretty comfortable for now.
A lot of my clothes have ended up being either too small or too big (or just don’t look good on me because I was buying looser clothing) so I haven’t worn any of them recently. Best thing to do is to accept that they won’t fit again and if they’re in good condition, recycle them by selling them online or via a consignment shop because someone else WILL fit into them.
Ok so it fits. But back to the question I asked myself earlier. Do I see myself wearing it in an outfit anytime soon? If you can’t come up with an outfit, you probably won’t wear it. After 5 years I’ve come to realize that as I’ve evolved as a person my style and preferences have evolved as well.
For example, I’m 27 and I prefer to not wear heels now. I live in San Francisco where it’s impossible to wear 5 inch platform heels and try to commute anywhere on foot. So why am I holding onto my massive Miu Miu wooden platform heels? They were one of my first expensive purchases that I saved up for years ago but I can’t remember the last time I actually wore them even though I loved them the first two years I had them. I couldn’t even walk around them when I tried them on recently. It was a hard decision to make since they have sentimental value but what’s the point of keeping them in their box if I’m not going to wear them? Depop it is, then.
Ok now what am I actually keeping? What am I letting go of? This was the hardest part. I found it helped to have a “maybe” pile if I got stuck on something, which let me revisit it later. For the things I definitely knew I was keeping, I organized them into neatly folded stacks or hung them up based on style. It was pretty fulfilling to see my wardrobe come together even though giving up so much gave me deep anxiety. For the “maybes” however…
I know, it’s hard. When it comes to your "maybe" pile your best bet is to actually justify why something belongs in your closet. If you really have doubts about something but you feel you need to keep it, try it on and style it into an outfit with clothes you know you wear. It’s time consuming, but there were a couple things I really fought with myself to keep and ended up being able to justify holding onto them.
This part is time consuming so I don’t recommend doing it with all of your clothes obviously but it did help me figure out what I knew I might be able to wear sometime soon and helped prove to myself what to let go of if I couldn't justify keeping it.
Do I really need this many striped shirts? Well maybe not all of them, but the ones I’m keeping are different colors and styles and I know I'll wear them again and again. Do I have enough sweaters? Enough coats? Too many denim shirts? Reviewing your wardrobe as a whole also helps determine what is missing too which will better inform your future purchases and lead to less impulse buys (another topic I want to cover in this series).
Anyway, I'm sure a lot of you are better at cleaning out your closets than I am but if there's anyone out there who struggles like I do hopefully this will help. Next blog post I'll be talking about how to sell! Speaking of which, I updated my Depop with more stuff this week. Thanks to everyone who has purchased so far!