Friday, February 18, 2011

11 Things I Learned from Cleaning Out My Closet

I actually will wear all of these things.
I've been goofing around, telling myself that sorting my purse and washing my car are worthy organization projects. But finally I've tackled my clothes closet, and man was it worth it.

I followed my organizing guru Colleen's instructions:
  • Put all like items together (i.e. jeans, sweaters, etc.)
  • Edit ruthlessly according to these three criteria: 1) Does it have purpose, 2) is it meaningful, 3) do I love it?  In honor of my midlife crisis,  I also added this one  -  Does it represent the me I want to become?
  • Get rid of anything that didn't meet at least one of the criteria. 
  • Organize the keepers
The organizing was a cake walk compared to the torture of editing. Each piece that didn't measure up felt like a failure. But I did it. I took every single t-shirt, every shoe, every skirt, every belt out of my closet and determined if it merited a place in my new life. So many things didn't. 

The process was like therapy. Not only did I learn how to set up a workable closet - I learned some surprising things about myself. If you're like me, here are 11 things you can expect from cleaning out your closet.

  1. You'll feel fat. Trying on every article of clothing you own is daunting. After the first 15 minutes of wriggling and fastening and tugging and inspecting, I felt so blubbery, I had to go weigh myself to make sure I hadn't gained five pounds since breakfast. I hadn't, but, ugh.
  2. You'll feel stupid. Why did I spend so much money on that Elie Tahari jacket that I never wear because it's as itchy as burlap? Why do I own seven black cardigan sweaters? Facing the evidence of poor decisions and wasted money is sickening. At one point I found myself moaning.
  3. You'll have changed. My black mini skirt is not only too small, it's ridiculous. I had some really good times wearing it, but for many reasons, skirts that short don't have a place in my future. Sigh. Goodbye mini-skirt wearing me. 
  4. You'll confront your life.  I actually have some nice clothes but I rarely wear them because I never go anywhere that requires dressing up. "I need to go more fun places!" I wailed to my 14 year-old daughter, Emma. "Why don't you call your girlfriends and go have coffee?" she suggested. Which I thought was funny because, sweetie, I need to go someplace a lot more exciting than Starbucks.
  5. You'll need a good friend. Certain items paralyzed me. Should I keep the expensive Teri Jon evening suit that's perfect for the black tie business functions I never attend? What about the flowy leopard print tunic - is it sexy or scary? I ended up making a "maybe" pile, then asked my friend Lisa to go through it with me.  With her help, I was able to make the tough calls. The suit stays because it looks good and serves a specific purpose - the tunic is out. Thanks Lisa!
  6. You'll need an entire day. You will, just trust me.
  7. You'll get on a roll. As I got into a rhythm,  the decisions got easier. I had no trouble getting rid of anything itchy or binding, turtlenecks (very sweltering during hot flashes), anything dull brown or wide striped, and all capris and dingy white tees. 
  8. You'll feel better in heels. I tried on everything wearing heels or boots. Honey, if it doesn't make the cut when you're three inches taller, it's out!
  9. You'll want new hangers. Once you've edited, hang up everything you can. Hanging garments are easier to see and stay unwrinkled. I hung almost all my street clothes - even t-shirts. It's very satisfying to have a closet full of clothes you feel good about displayed on matching hangers. I bought a box of 50 velvety space saving hangers at Costco and they are awesome! Nothing slips off these streamlined babies - I wish I'd bought another box. 
  10. You'll organize your way. There are many opinions about the best way to organize your closet. Some experts advise grouping your clothes by outfit; others say to put all similar colors together. I decided to sort mine by type of garment - all tanks in one area, all jackets in another, etc - and I mixed up the colors so they'd stand out from one another (helps with my ongoing vision problem.) I also put several plastic shoe boxes in my deep lingerie and sock drawers so I could subdivide them. Now all my panties are in one place. I love it.
  11. You'll feel great. I'm telling you, I am basking in the afterglow of my organized closet. I feel so productive, so virtuous, so clean! I arranged for a charity to pick up my discards and I have not a single regret about the six bags of stuff I donated. Getting dressed is more fun now, and - because I like everything and can see it - I actually feel like I have more clothes.
Clothes for donation, ready for pick up.

So don't procrastinate like I did. Go forth, my Forty Fabulous friends, and confront your closet! You'll feel fantastic when it's done, I promise.


amkovacs said...

Love the tips - and the wit with which they are presented. I might get to clearing my own closet one day soon. One day...

Beth Drucker said...

This just might be the incentive I need to get to a job that has been on my list for years. Oh, those bad buying decisions! Beth D.

Marjie Killeen said...

Beth, those bad decisions are hard to face, but easy to forget once they hit the donate pile!