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IMG_2419I have too much stuff. I remember when I could fit the contents of my life into four boxes. I don’t think my clothes alone could fit into four boxes.

Decluttering is the new lifestyle buzzword and trend. Everyone’s reason for decluttering their life and homes is different. Sometimes it’s the guilt of being American or the desire to create a manageable environment. Having too much stuff is bad. We don’t know why, but cleanliness is next to godliness, right.

I’m not taking this approach. Part of the frugal lifestyle is evaluating your purchases. From a utility standpoint, my closet is too packed. I don’t wear everything. The packed nature of my closet is causing fabrics to snag on adjacent hangers, because there is simply not enough room to hang everything properly.

Okay, fine. Maybe there is some guilt involved. I read Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion. Cline opened my eyes to the shear amount of waste produced by cheaply-constructed clothes. I had no idea that there were so many non-biogradable plastics in our fabrics.

A stocked closet is the hallmark of fashion blogging. It breaks my little frugal heart to buy an item for a photo shoot that has no discernible purpose in my real life, even if I did purchase it from a thrift store. Truth be known, I can style with few items. That’s the whole point of a style blogger.  This is why I re-wear many of my favorites in Instagram posts — to show how to make much of little.

So, I’m going back to my roots. I’m eliminating 1/3 to 1/2 of my wardrobe. In all fairness, my wardrobe is smaller than most women’s wardrobes. I think Cline said the average is 350 pieces of clothing. I’m not near that ballpark figure.

I’ve decided to document the process. I’m mapping out the reasons, the process and the results. Maybe this will guide you in your decluttering efforts.


The Reasons

Logic states that one cannot wear everything in one’s closet if one is not aware of what is said closet. I’ve never been one to forget what I’ve purchased until recently. Obviously, I have too many options. The contents of my closet are a bit overwhelming.

Secondly, I have several items that are just poorly-constructed. I’m not a seamstress. I can tell if a fabric is poor quality. Poor construction is another matter. It’s not as simple as choosing a pricier brand over a cheaper brand. Some pricey brands are poorly constructed with a higher markup. Some cheaper brands stand the tests of time and washings.

Remember what I said about trendy seasonal clothing? It’s fine if you like the trend and don’t care if it will go out of style. Honestly, most of closet was never in style. What did Lagerfeld say? Something about trendy is the last stage before tacky. He also said “personality begins where comparison ends.” I always wonder in this age of Internet memes if people really said what we say they said. It’s a bit ironic to find such sage advice from someone who creates the trends and makes a living from it. Point is buy trends if you like but don’t make it a rule for your wardrobe.

Of course, there is that book I mentioned. Dang you, Cline! I was content in my ignorance concerning ethically-sourced fabrics and environmental impact. Actually, it did make me think. How can I be frugal and consume so much clothing that my closet is bursting at the seams?

Thus the purge begins.

Your reasons may be different. That’s okay. Some people are amazingly sentimental about clothes. We assign meaning to a piece of clothing or a style. Maybe you’re indecisive or have a shopping addiction. All three of those paths are dangerous. Decluttering your space won’t fix the problem long term.

Step one is to define the reason(s) for organizing your closet and drawers.

The Process

Decluttering articles encourage a step-by-step formula. Some blogs and advice columns recommend an arbitrary system like 10 shirts, 2 pairs of jeans, one jacket and a partridge in a pair tree. I don’t live according to formulas. It’s great for recipes but not every day living, at least not long term. If you need a formula, there are plenty to glean in a Google search.

The only formula I abide by is the three suit formula. Everyone should own three full suits for multiple interviews, funerals and other occasions.

Other decluttering gurus recommend pitching all clothing that you haven’t worn in a year or six months or another arbitrary time period. I don’t like that system either. We all have sacred pieces that we wear sparingly. I may not wear that wool coat from London often. Winter is an esoteric concept where I live. Occasionally the temperature drops lower than what my lightweight cardigan can handle. Nice coats are expensive. Leave my once-in-while coat alone!

I like lists. I made a list. Your list may look different than my list. I do think this is a good guideline to use in your own closet-organizing endeavors.


What to keep:

  • The basics: clothing you will wear the most and is the most versatile
  • Pure fabrics: clothing constructed from 100% fabric like wool or cotton and not polyblends
  • Absolute loves: clothing that has sentimental meaning (within reason)
  • Utility: I can wear it for many different occasions with some modification
  • Repairable and/or alterable: Maybe it needs a new zipper or hemline and the cost of alterations is justified long term

What to discard:

  • It’s worn, old, doesn’t fit at the moment, cannot be altered or repaired and quite frankly sits in my closet because I’m not inclined to wear it.

A word about donating clothes — if it’s not good enough for you to wear, don’t donate it. Most clothes cannot be re-purposed or recycled. Most discarded clothes end up in a landfill. Nobody will buy your old tattered polyblend underwear. It’s better to toss it.

I’m posting a few examples of clothing I kept.

I love these scarves. I bought them in London. They’re fairly fragile. I wear them but only for special occasions.

IMG_2427Like the Audrey Hepburn tee my friend Whitney gave me or the dress the hubby bought me, I wear these pieces sparingly. They have meaning. It’s okay not to toss them. This is why I hate the wear-X-amount-of-times-in-as-many-months rule.

Then there’s the skirt I almost tossed until I realized the zipper is an easy fix. This skirt is technically a basic for me. I can dress it up and down. Pencil skirts are hard to find for my hippy frame.

IMG_2407Some clothes make me smile. I may not have many occasions to wear them, but I enjoy them, like my tulle skirt.

IMG_2417Every serious adult needs a tutu. I also love the semi-sheer skirt that is useless for work but perfect for date night or a party. I mean, I don’t work all the time.

IMG_2425Then there’s the things I discarded like the awesome jeans that I wore twice before my 30s betrayed me with sudden irreversible weight gain.

IMG_2411Plus, I’m too old for rhinestones on the bum. Not too old for a tutu, mind you.

I learned through this process that I am harsh on shoes. Campus walking and teaching does a number on my heels. FYI — worn heels means strain on your knees and back. Heels made from real materials like leather are easily repaired. Cheap plastic shoes need to be tossed.

Here is the before:

IMG_2423IMG_2422IMG_2420Here’s the after:

IMG_2428IMG_2430IMG_2431It may not seem like a noticeable difference, but I pared down half of my cardigans, scarves and blouses and two-thirds of my camis.

I created a spot front and center for the clothes I need to alter to remind me to drop them off. Along with the romper from my recent ThredUp review and the skirt in need of a zipper, I have an Express military-style dress with precarious buttons that I want to change out and a dress that doesn’t fit in the top.

IMG_2429As far as creating a organizational system and streamlining your morning routine, I have a previous blog on the subject.

Here’s the pile of clothes that didn’t make the cut:

IMG_2434Not bad for an afternoon, eh?