The Value of Less

With the beginning of summer officially upon us, we suggest a quick look in the closet to help jump start the process of living with less:

How to de-clutter your closet

We will approach this process in steps. Begin by emptying out your closet entirely and sorting clothes into piles based on their type (e.g., shirts, sweaters, intimates, etc.). For each pile, follow through the following steps:

  • First and easiest step: Get rid of everything you simply don't like
  • Get rid of all the clothes that don't fit (including the ones you are saving for when you lose weight). Not to worry - if you do end up changing sizes, you can always revisit the idea of buying something then
  • Next, get rid of stained, torn, otherwise worn out clothes that you cannot / don't wish to mend
  • Get rid of all the clothes that you have not worn in the last year (6 months if you live in a climate that does not require a wardrobe change with the seasons) - the only exception I have to this is saving a couple of items that are infrequently used but necessary (e.g., a heavy jacket that wasn't used last year because it was too warm)
  • At this point, you should be left with just the clothes that fit you, look presentable and are actually used. This is a good point to pause for those to don't want to push the process further. 
  • For others:
    •  Go back to the piles now and limit yourself to a certain number of those clothes (e.g., 7 work dresses, 4 pairs of jeans, etc.) The number you choose is entirely up to you, but should be less than the number of items you have and more importantly, should require work to attain  
    • Get rid of everything else - in the case of choosing one item over another, choose the one that you use more often
  • One of the most difficult parts of this process of elimination arises because of our emotional connection to our clothes. For the items that are not actually in use, the physical purge of these clothes also has an emotional effect because we have memories tied to them. Here's how you can tackle them:
    • Typically, we save items because they remind us of a memory or experience from the past
      • Get rid of anything that has a negative memory tied to it (e.g. clothes that remind you of an unpleasant break-up)
      • Get rid of anything that leaves you feeling bitter / wistful of the past (e.g., clothes that used to fit in your youth)
      • Get rid of anything that leaves you feeling that you are not adequate in your current state (e.g., clothes that you bought with the intention of losing weight and fitting into)
      • For all the rest of them that are associated with good memories, keep 1 valuable piece that is most representative of that memory (e.g., a college baseball cap) - everything else becomes redundant if it reminds you of the same thing
  • At this point, rearrange your closet and make sure you are excited about each of the items that you have neatly put away

We typically suggest tackling this once a year (we do it in Spring / Summer, when we put away the winter coats). The first purge is always the most time consuming and emotionally difficulty, but as with all good things, it becomes easier the more often you do it. In the end, you will come to realize that this is more a mental exercise in letting go than anything else. Focusing on the clothes being donated and knowing that they will help another family in greater need, helps ease this process significantly