Little Green Dress- Cleaning out my Closet

by - Tuesday, March 01, 2016

This month, to combine our efforts to have a clean house and my efforts to green my wardrobe, I am trying to clean out our closet. I always feel like I have nothing to wear, but I have plenty of items in my closet that I never wear. So the goal is to have better seasonal turnover and to get rid of more of the stuff I never wear. I know I still have way more than I need, and I spend a lot of time debating with myself about it because I am still grappling with baby weight. I think I let it enable me to hold onto things I may never fit into again (or that look very rough from my early post-baby phases). But the goal is to stop holding on to too much "what if" clothes and to focus on things I really love.

Honestly, some of this happens anyway, because The Boy and I share one closet and one dresser, so there isn't a ton of space to speak of. This isn't a Mariah Carey super closet (so many mini dresses! Way to be eco-friendly and buy less fabric).He and my step-dad turned it into a heavy lifting storage machine (yay Closet Maid Made in USA closet organizers), so more sneaks through than it needs to.

Being eco-friendly is not only about what you buy, it's about what you give away. If you are trying to take a leap into a more environmentally conscientious life, the best first step is to clean out the excess of what you already have. Some of this is pretty easy (like saying goodbye to my son's most annoying or unused toys), but with things we intertwine with our self-perception and identity, it can be harder to let go. I feel like I always linger around the same amount of wardrobe excess, but I struggle to figure out how to take it to the next level.

I researched strategies to pare down my closet, and I saw some great advice, so I thought I would share. Plus, it enables me to procrastinate going through my stuff.

My favorite suggestions come from the Five Step Wardrobe Cleanse from Joo Joo Azad. She also sees cleaning out your closet as social action,  "editing an overstocked inventory, not restocking." She gives five clear and logical steps to determine what to donate.

Info Mind has a Closet Detox Cheat Sheet which I love, because each item can go through the steps. I also like the "trial separation" suggestion, because it shows just how attached we get to our own closets!

Who What Wear has a very simple infographic about splitting your wardrobe into four piles. I love how simple (and kind of harsh) this strategy is. Could be helpful for people like me, who weirdly keep things they can't explain later.

Capsule Wardrobes are pretty popular right now, and the idea truly is genius. Capsule Wardrobes have actually been around since the 70's, but they are picking up speed now. The idea is that rather than having a large wardrobe, you keep a very small wardrobe of staple pieces. These items should be within a chosen color scheme, made of quality fabrics, and in a shape you know flatters you. It's a way to completely simplify your wardrobe. Boulevard House offers a great example of one, Cladwell offers great explanations and the opportunity to plan your own capsule, and Pinch of Yum sets out a simple guideline for starting your own capsule wardrobe.

For our purposes, one of the best things about this idea is that you are focusing on what you really want, not what you don't want. So you pick your capsule, and unless you think the item belongs in another season's capsule, it's out. That simple. I think it's actually a more positive spin on the edit.

Buzz Feed has a pretty good summary of a lot of the tips you see over and over again- get everything out before you make decisions, ask questions like "Have I worn this in the last 6 months?" "If I saw it in the store, would I buy it?" and to turn your hangers when you wear something, so you have a more accurate record of what you actually wear.

I will point out, the things they say to toss you should STILL donate. Ripped clothes and underwear can be used as cleaning rags if nothing else, just make sure to really wash them first. Just tossing things solves the problem for you, but doesn't help the bigger picture AT ALL. Donate, Reuse as cleaning rags. Do not throw away perfectly usable fabric. This article has an awesome list of where you can send specific items.

Where I am Landing: I love the capsule idea, but because I am a dress wearer and am generally not a neutrals girl, I feel like I have to jimmy i I would like to manage my closet like I am packing for a trip that will last me the whole season. I figure if we are packing for a trip that lasts more than two-three weeks we assume we will do laundry every two to two and a half weeks. So that's how much clothes we need, with special events thrown in. No more than 20 outfits? I am pretty sure I have more than that just in dresses, so I really have a challenge ahead of me! It still seems like a lot in comparison to the capsules, but I think I can keep slimming it down.

How I am planning on keeping this up? I am setting a SERIOUS LIMIT for myself. I can only buy myself two items of clothing new per season. If I need more than that, I have to get it used. By having this limit, I imagine I will be more thoughtful about what I pick based on what I absolutely need. I know I have bought tons of items just because they were on sale, or I kind of liked it, or it was there and I was shopping. I think we could all formalize our limits and stick to them as a way to avoid this temptation!

Have a beautiful, organized closet? Share pictures with me- I can use the inspiration! Do you have any wisdom to share? How much clothes do you think the right amount is?

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