the purge: tips for minimizing your wardrobe

You wake up in the morning & look into your closet & just stare. You see a closet stuffed with clothes, yet in the sea of shirts, sweaters, & dresses you find that you have nothing to wear. Bring on the feelings of frustration at not having anything you like enough to wear, feelings of insecurity as you try on 10 different outfits only to settle on one that feels a little less “meh” than the others, & feelings of guilt at how you have wasted money on clothes that you’ve maybe worn once or twice. We’ve all been there.

It was mornings like these that brought me to a point where I just didn’t want to feel those feelings anymore. I want to be able to look into my closet & be satisfied with the clothes that I see. I want to be able to pick out an outfit that I feel comfortable & confident in every single day. & back in May I discovered a way to achieve this…or at least work towards achieving this. My eyes were opened to the option to minimize my wardrobe so that I could get rid of all of the clothes that made me feel lousy, insecure, or antsy when I wore them & leave the pieces that I wouldn’t mind grabbing on any given day. There’s the doubt that might be creeping into your mind that says “how can getting rid of clothes solve my problem of having nothing to wear?” & here’s the thing: if you purge out the unwanted & unnecessary items, you’ll remove the roadblocks that stand in the way of your key item pieces. It clears up your vision & frees up your mind to come up with an outfit easier. Does this mean that you might have less to wear? Yeah, it does. But if quantity over quality has led you to a state of “nothing to wear,” then clearly it’s not working out. If you like an outfit, why not wear it more often? If you don’t like a piece of clothing, then why keep it in your closet? These realizations & ideas inspired me. So much so that when we moved into our apartment I couldn’t wait to unpack all of my clothes so that I could go through them & get rid of them.

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I set aside some time one afternoon/evening to go through everything in my closet & dresser. I started with my closet, took everything out & tried on every single piece of clothing – tops, sweaters, dresses, & t-shirts (this one was a big feat because I have a lot of them & have fond memories attached to most of them). I even tried on the clothes that I was pretty sure I would be keeping, because I didn’t want some emotional attachment to blind my vision of what the clothes actually looked like. As I went through each piece I asked myself a lot of questions to determine if it was something I really wanted to stay in my wardrobe. Does it fit? Is it too short? Too tight? Too baggy? Is it flattering to my body shape? Do I feel comfortable in it? Do I feel confident in it? How often do I wear it? When was the last time I wore it? Can I see myself wearing this in the near future? Does it work with the other clothes in my closet? Do I honestly like it? Or am I just tolerating it?

As I answered these questions, I found some pieces were easier to figure out than others. Some were an immediate no. Those ended up in a pile on the floor. Some were a definite yes. Those ended up back on a hanger. Then there were the maybes. The ones that I was still questioning; The ones that I thought might not be a necessity, but I was still attached to; The ones that I thought might be able to be worked into other outfits; The ones that don’t exactly fit me anymore, but could if I stayed committed to working out and losing a few pounds. I took the maybes and put them back on a hanger, but put them in a separate spot in the closet to revisit. I continued on to my dresser & followed the same procedure with my jeans, my shorts, my sweatpants, my socks & intimates, & even my bathing suits. I continued on to my accessories (scarves, belts, jewelry, shoes). I didn’t want to keep anything that was unnecessarily taking up space. By the time I finished trying on everything, I had a pretty massive pile on the floor of items that were no longer going to be a part of what I wore. Then I revisited the maybes. I tried them all on once again. There were some pieces that I was now able to give a more clear answer to. Then there were still some that I wasn’t so sure. The ones that still didn’t have a definite answer I put back along with the yesses. I had future plans (that I’m also very excited to share with you soon!) for these pieces to see if they were worth keeping, so until then I would keep them with the good stuff. (As an update though, I have continued to get rid of a piece here or there as the weeks have gone by as I have settled on a final decision about the piece. So I’m still getting rid of things on a weekly basis). I turned to the giant pile on my floor and sorted through it to create a sell pile, a donate pile, and a trash pile. Then I boxed up the sell & donate piles to follow up with on another day & threw the trash items into the trash (those pieces included items that were either damaged, or unable to be donated). Then I rested peacefully that night knowing I just accomplished a great deal (& had my own fun doing it too).

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So after going through a total purge of my wardrobe, I’m here to share some of the tips I picked up while dwindling down the things that no longer belong.

1. Try on EVERYTHING. If you’re willing to commit to a complete wardrobe overhaul, you should go through & try on everything. & I mean everything. I went through my tops & t-shirts, my jeans & sweatpants, my socks & other intimates, my shoes & accessories. I went through it all. There is no reason to keep anything that is never being worn & is unnecessarily taking up space. It’s also unreasonable to hang on to clothes that don’t fit right, or that you don’t even really like that much. Not only are these pieces physically taking up space, but they’re also adding to the mass amounts of stuff that you have to choose from every day. These are the things that can cloud your vision when you’re trying to decide what to wear that can make you feel like you have nothing to wear when staring at a full dresser & closet.

2. Question everything. What I mean by this is really think about each piece in your wardrobe. Ask yourself some targeted questions to help make decisions about whether or not an item is worthy of staying in your closet. Here are the questions I mentioned before that I found myself asking as I went through every item in my wardrobe:

Does it fit? Is it too short? Too tight? Too baggy?
Is it flattering to my body shape?
Do I feel comfortable in it?
Do I feel confident in it?
How often do I wear it? When was the last time I wore it?
Can I see myself wearing this in the near future?
Does it work with the other clothes in my closet?
Do I honestly like it? Or am I just tolerating it?

Sometimes we get so used to the clothes in our closet that we don’t really think about how we actually feel about them. Asking yourself these questions can help narrow down where the problems are with your clothes. & they help to determine whether or not a piece is really worth keeping. Plus, as a bonus, they can help you pinpoint what looks you actually like.

3. Be honest with yourself. From the get-go it’s important to approach this task with the right mindset, otherwise you may end up justifying a lot and not accomplish the goal you set out to achieve. We have a lot of those items that we hang on to just because. They may have sentimental meaning. We may have had it a long time & aren’t quite ready to part with it. We may have just bought it last week & feel like we need to put it to use. We may have received it as a gift, but feel bad getting rid of it. There may be the pieces that we really love, but they just don’t fit like they used to (thanks a lot stupid dryer!). If you’re not honest with yourself when you’re answering the questions from number two, you’re not going to have a very successful purge. You’ll just end up justifying why you should hang on to things. If you’re serious about purging, then you need to blunt with yourself. It can be painful to see so much go out the window, but it can really help release your attachment to things that take up too high of a spot on your priority list.

4. Be systematic. This may just stem from my naturally organized personality, but having a method to your madness & sticking to it can significantly help you plow through this task more quickly & efficiently.

5. Set aside time for it. If you are going to go through every item in your wardrobe, odds are it’s going to take awhile. I found it best to try to do it in one sitting so I could stay focused & motivated. If you don’t have large chunks of time to spare, break it up. Maybe tackle your shirts one afternoon, then visit your pants on another, and the rest on another. But at least devote some chunk of time so that you can stay focused on the task at hand.

6. Phone a friend. If you need some help deciding on some pieces (especially those pesky maybes), having someone there to give you an outsiders opinion can be beneficial. I had the convenience of my husband to ask what he thought of a piece I was unsure about. (Extra Credit marriage tip: the other plus side to having a hubs to ask is finding out what he likes on you so that your wardrobe is not only satisfying to you, but appealing to him.) You can also ask a roommate, family member, or friend that is willing to be honest (yet loving) with you to help.

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As tough as it was to make so many decisions, I was really happy with the outcome of my wardrobe purge. It has freed up a lot of space in my closet & drawers, as well as in my mind. I got rid of a lot of unnecessary stuff that I didn’t need ruining my mornings anymore. & I feel a lot better about the clothes I have to choose from now. I would rather have a wardrobe made up of fewer quality, favored pieces, than one made up of mass amounts of less appealing, not-so-likable items. I would rather wear my favorite shirts throughout my days and be happy, comfortable, & confident, than suck it up when I wear a below average outfit in order to justify the amount of items I have in my closet. We should all be wearing things that we love & feel great in. & we should all be doing that all the time.

If you want further inspiration for minimizing your wardrobe, I would highly recommend checking out Un-Fancy. Caroline’s capsule wardrobe & outfit ideas are definitely worth checking out. This is hands down the blog that I look most forward to seeing each day. It has given me such significant inspiration in my minimizing process. I haven’t quite committed to a capsule wardrobe yet, but I see it being a definite possibility in my future.

So what about you guys? Do have any tips or tricks that you’ve discovered to help purge your wardrobe?

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