Everyday, I would stand in the closet I share with my husband and just stare at my clothes. For five minutes I would be completely stationary and let my mind run this phrase over and over again: “I have absolutely nothing to wear.” Which was completely false. I had more than enough clothes that I could have worn to work. Instead I always settled for what I had worn last week (even though we could have gone a month without washing clothes).
I’ve always had this problem of buying clothes on an almost weekly basis. For several years, my lunch break activity would either be to go to Target and treat myself to Starbucks and some new clearance section clothes or to go to Hobby Lobby and stalk the clearance section there too. While I was in college I worked at two stores in the mall and a resale clothing store. I could hardly go three days without buying something that I absolutely thought that I had to have.
Last year, D and I had come to a point in our lives where things didn’t really matter all that much. We realized that being together and sharing experiences was far more important than buying new things to fill whatever void we felt that we had. In August last year, the purge came. It felt like we had emptied our whole house, but that was just the beginning of me cleaning out my closet and dresser drawers.
This is just the beginning… a whole rack and table filled with our unwanted wearables at our garage sale.
It wasn’t until my pregnant belly was too big for my regular clothes that I saw how little of my wardrobe I actually wore. I had a very limited (mostly secondhand) maternity wardrobe and I was happy wearing the same things over and over again. The key thing about this was that I was comfortable. I wasn’t squeezing into anything that was too small or holding up things that were too big. I wore over and over again the things that actual fit and made me feel good.
After the birth of Little Guy and all of the baby weight came off a few months later (read: my blood pressure was so high that I retained 20 pounds worth of water weight), I significantly reduced the amount of clothing that I own. Here is how I let go of the things that I thought that I loved to wear.
All of my clothing went in a box.
I took every single piece of clothing I owned (minus underpants) and folded them neatly into a plastic tub. D did the same with his clothes. The theory behind this is that all of our clothes would stay in our tubs until one year has passed. We could pull out anything that we wanted to wear, but once it was out of the box, it had to stay out. All of the things that really should stay on hangers (winter coats, suit jackets, etc) went in our guest bedroom closet. Maternity clothes (as I said good-bye to the last pair of stretchy jeans) went with all of my son’s clothing in a vacuum sealed bag under his bed. His clothing organization will be in a whole other post!
The thought of having to store things for a year made me think twice.
I maybe made it two months without having a massive Good Will run. I tried so very hard not to look inside my big orange tub, but once month two hit I got that itch. I was so tired of looking at my tub and dreaded even the thought of digging through that to find something that I had in mind to wear. These bags both left my closet for good. Yes, that is an Ikea shopping bag FULL. I gave most of it away but sold some of it on eBay (my side hustle -You can go through my eBay page here).
I got rid of so much during that second “mini purge”, if you will, that I was able to put more things in that tub to free up some space. Handbags, shoes, and accessories were now able to go in my giant tub and stay out of sight until I wanted to wear them. Of course, I edited what I had before I put it in there. My once giant collection of purses and necklaces was down to a select few. AND IT FELT AWESOME.
I had to get over doing laundry more often.
Yes, with a smaller wardrobe you may have to do laundry more often… or is there an even better secret of less laundry?
In the beginning, in the wee first weeks of doing this project I did laundry every three days for our adult clothes. Seriously. That was on top of all the sheets and PJs that Little Guy peed through, assorted baby laundry because he peed everywhere (I was unwise to how far he could pee if I didn’t throw a cloth over it), cloth diapers, and all of the other household laundry (towels, sheets, blankets, etc). Picture a mind-numbed twenty-something new mom hauling laundry all over the house every single day and sometimes three times in a day. I felt like I ran out of clothes every time I picked my baby up. Then I realized something awesome when I asked myself this: Am I doing laundry because I literally have no clothes to were or am I washing the clothes I love to wear because nothing in my closet is appealing to me?
My Ah-Ha Moment
Isn’t that the point of this whole project? To find what you really, truly love to wear and stick to it? Buy less fast-fashion-never-going-to-wear-again clothing just so we don’t have to do laundry as often AND spend less money??? When I asked myself that question it was like someone had splashed cold water on me. Why wear myself out doing laundry when I can just wear less!? I don’t mean physically wearing less on your body… but owning less. You are responsible for everything you own – from the moment you swipe your card at the register or take the cash out of your envelope, to the maintenance of the item, to the decision of how to dispose of your item (trash, donate, recycle, repurpose), YOU are responsible. YOU have to make the conscience decision to keep and maintain an item.
This is why so many of us have so many things. It is because we aren’t taking ownership of the maintenance or proper disposal of an item. That’s why in my shopaholic mind, it was okay for all of my clothes in my closet and in the heaps on the floor to be there because I needed something new and what I had was “old”. I didn’t want to necessarily own what was already there. Taking ownership of what is already there and then clearing it out is seriously one of the most freeing and empowering things that I have ever done. Ever.
As I journey into my life as a stay at home mom (SAHM) starting in October, I can rid myself of my “corporate” clothes and have even less. Do you know how good that makes me feel? I am leaving a job AND a whole other wardrobe behind. I am keeping very few items from my work wardrobe (this is six weeks away and I’m already planning what to get rid of 🙂 ). One pair of slacks, one skirt, and one blazer will remain along with one blouse I bought for work but is very cute and comfortable with jeans.
This has been such an impact project for me. I no longer waste time thinking of what to wear or fretting over whether or not something still fits or makes my panty-line noticeable. I’ve eliminated all of that. What are some of the biggest changes that you have made to your wardrobe recently?