Lately, life has seemed like a busy blur of travel. And while I loved making memories, catching up with friends, and jumping into new experiences, perhaps an unexpected consequence of life on the go is how it motivated me to clean out my closet. Let me explain. For the past two months I’ve been traveling at least every other week and living out of a suitcase. This means I switch between the easiest and most versatile outfits that 1) fit my bag and 2) get me from day to night effortlessly.
These unicorn pieces include my favourites Frida Salvador slip-on sneakersthis Comfortable travel set from Frank & Elaine for the trip, and DOEN OLD DRESS Which easily became my most worn (and complemented) dress, a leather jacket, a few workout clothes, and anything that might be special for the occasion whether it’s a wedding or a business trip.
Having these staples on a weekly basis has brought to light the fact that very little of my wardrobe is devoted to tried-and-true staples, with the exception of a few special pieces. And the rest? It looks like nothing has been worn – and the items take up way too much closet space. Closet cleaning is clearly calling my name.
Featured image by Till Thompson.
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5 tips for effective wardrobe cleaning
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in my place (yeah, Marie Kondo and her KonMari method are now a verb), only to fill it with brand-gifted merchandise, more seasonal items I thought I’d wear and didn’t, and unfortunately, clothes I can’t mentally get rid of because of how much I spent them. Every time I enter my closet, I find myself confused and sigh to myself: “I have a lot!”
Because I don’t have all the time in the world to deal with my wardrobe and get into a full-blown get-together Spring (now summer) cleaning modeHere’s how to work with Project Closet step by step. My best advice before you start? be patient! Each step will require a great deal of thought and time, but doing the process meticulously is the only way to create lasting change. Let’s get started!
Step 1: Start with items that I know I will never wear again
I have an entire section of my closet full of cycling kits and gear from my 2015-2017 cycling days. Want to guess the last time I hopped on my road bike? If you guessed in 2017, you win. It’s been five years since I “prepped,” so the likelihood that I’ll have it anytime soon is pretty low. Fortunately, there is a huge resale market for high-end cycling gear, so I know I’ll be able to make more money. I save two sets if at all tempted to go on a trip.
Step Two: Evaluate and simplify all iterations
I reach for the same comfy sweatshirt whenever I need to unwind. Do I really need a closet full of 18 items, most of which are tough or just not my style? Same with multiple trench coats and workout tops. In this case, more is not more and only takes up valuable real estate. The only thing that will remain are the white T-shirts and tanks. I am prone to spillage and always need a backup!
Step 3: Release the items I rarely grab
A large percentage of my wardrobe is filled with clothes that I only grab once or twice a year. Mostly because it doesn’t fit (too big, too small, uncomfortable), but also because the style no longer suits me. For some reason, I really struggle with the fact that I don’t have the same style as I did a year ago. It can be hard for me to part with these pieces, especially if they are a great investment. If the item could be altered to fit again and I would wear it, I would keep it. If not, it’s over!
Step 4: Donate, sell, gift
ThredUp, Poshmark, eBay, Dress for Success, and colleagues. All my options are to either make a little money, give it to those in need, or gift it to a friend who I know would benefit from the products. I’ve been kicking my heels doing this because when I have free time, the last thing I want to do is take pictures for a website and hang the product at my place. But it’s time. My goal is to take a few hours out of every weekend day and make it happen!
Step Five: Set some ground rules for the future
My sister has a friend who embodies true minimalist style. If she goes shopping, she should remove the same number of items from her wardrobe that she brings into her wardrobe. And she never buys something unless she can use it now. She has a clear inventory of what she owns, unlike me who forgets to cut for months at a time.
The refrigerator and pantry, on the other hand, work the same way, and I often buy the same thing twice because my organization…isn’t there. Looks like I just revealed a clear need to hire a professional organizer! (or take Camille’s Kitchen Organizing Tips!)
While the process seems daunting, nothing makes me feel more clear and grounded than a clean, beautiful home. If you’re hesitant to get started, know that I’m right there with you. It’s a lot to do a complete wardrobe clean-up, but trust me that by removing clutter, you free up space and time that you can devote to the things you love. Happy condoing!