Life is too short to be consumed by something as fleeting as clothing. Yet, working women will spend up to 6 months of their lives standing in front of the closet deciding what to wear.
One of the key reasons, I believe, is that we let our closets become an un-curated, haphazard mess where all of our impulse purchases go to die. The cure for this is simple; a closet clean out that not only purges what’s not absolutely loved, but a clean out that actually elevates the closet to a beautiful and well-organized space.
That’s why I cleaned out my closet. Here are the before and after pictures. Read on to see how you can do this too.
And here is the after:
Ok, now let’s get started. Why do we avoid cleaning out our closets in the first place?
Having too many options creates decision fatigue
The more clothing you have, the more options. More options mean more decisions. Therefore, the more choices we have, the more conflict we experience.
One the main reasons why people like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs opt for a uniform is that they need to conserve their limited decision making resources for more important things.
Decision fatigue is a real thing and we all deal with it.
What happens when we don’t know what we actually like, what we look good in, and what we need out of our clothing? We end up buying new items that we believe will “fill in the gap”. This is why we can have a closet brimming with clothing yet have “nothing to wear”.
We overwhelm our senses with too many choices. We think more = more. What Biggy should have said is “Mo clothing, mo problems”.
You really can have more with less
Don’t get me wrong. Like Ron Swanson, I love the free market. But gosh darnit if I don’t have a heck of a time trying to decide what cereal to buy. When I started eating organic food, my choices became more limited which made it much easier for me to decide what to buy.
The same was true for me when I created my Style Manifesto. I had to decide what really mattered to me. I had to create some limits to work within and this opened up an enormous world of possibilities for me style wise that I never thought possible.
I recently read an article on the popular minimalist blog, Becoming Minimalist, about the possible combinations of owning just 33 items. The idea was spawned by Courtney Carver, founder of Be More With Less and Project 333.
What she intuitively felt was true, that we have more with less, is also mathematically true. Even with a boundary of 33 items, as one of her fans calculated, it is possible to create over 25,000 unique outfits.
More than enough to last a lifetime.
We wear less than we think
Most people wear far less than what they actually own; around 5% – 10%. However, when I ask my clients how much of their wardrobe they think they wear, the numbers are exaggerated.
We tend to think optimistically of ourselves, not realistically. We’re more sentimental and emotional and make most of our decisions based on how we feel. This is why we avoid getting rid of clothing items that we know aren’t being worn or loved.
- But my mom gave this to me!
- I spent so much money on this, I can’t get rid of it.
- What if I have to be in another wedding?
- But I’d like to hand this down to my daughter when I have one!
- What if I tone up my arms and actually decide to start wearing sleeveless tops?
- But I wanted to save this for a sewing project!
These are all emotional, optimistic, and hypothetical situations. But, in order to really have a closet and a wardrobe that works for you, that makes you feel inspired to get dressed, you need to be real with yourself.
How I got real with myself and finally cleaned out my closet
I recently got back from a my Tribe Writers coaching group in Franklin. I wrote a little bit about my transition from health coaching to styling in my last post which you can check out here.
Are you familiar with the saying, “the shoemaker’s children have no shoes?” Although I clean out closets for a living, my own closet had become bloated, stuffy, and stale.
After being surrounded by creative and supportive geniuses all weekend, I was encouraged to go “all in” as mentor Jeff puts it, on the styling, closet clean out thing and use myself as a case study.
Knowing that my husband would be pulling a 72 hour overtime shift at the fire station, I decided to roll up my sleeves, face the epic undertaking head on, and totally transform my closet.
Warning: graphic hoarder content below.
As you can see, in the before pictures my closet had a lot going on. Boxes, a laundry hamper, shoes, and bags all stuffed into this 2 ½ foot deep space.
The very first thing I did was pull everything out of my closet. Everything.
Then I laid it all on the bed and surrounding area.
Next, I grabbed my vacuum cleaner and began to bust the dust. Countless spiders were killed in the remaking of my closet.
Once all the cleaning was done, I started to pull every item out of the pile that I knew I no longer wanted to wear. I put those things on the couch in the living room in three separate piles: consign, donate, recycle.
Now that I had a clean slate and a pared down selection, I started to change the hangers from plastic and metal to wooden. I then began to put everything back into the closet using an organizing method I learned while working in retail.
I added a few details like a cubby shelf I had in my kitchen that wasn’t really being used, and some extra string lights I had from Christmas. The hangers, if you’re wondering, are from Walmart. I already had them from a pop-up shop I had a few years back.
How you can clean out your closet too
I know this sounds like a lot of work and it is. But I want to emphasize that this is what I do for a living. So I don’t want you to get overwhelmed.
However, you can have these results too. You can do all of it or part of it. You can hire me or another stylist like me to help, but the truth is you have a lot of agency if you set your mind to it.
Your life is far too precious to spend your time worrying about clothing. Tackle the problem head on, pick a weekend where you can really devote several hours to this, recognize it’s a process and that all progress is incremental. Ask for help if you need it.
I clean out closets for a living so I had an advantage. I know what I want out of my wardrobe so it was easy for me to decide what to keep and what to get rid of.
If you’re not sure about your style or feel like cleaning out your closet is just too big of a job, then please reach out to me now. I’m happy answer any questions you have.
Remember that it’s one step at a time. Keep it simple, especially when it comes to clothing. If you loved this article and know that it would help someone else, could you do me a solid and share with your friends? Thanks so much for reading!
PS – next week I’m thinking about either sharing a before and after from a past client’s closet clean out or a post about where to get all my tools and resources for making closets look amazing on a budget.
Comment below what you want to get next!