7.28.2011

The Great Closet Clean-Out 2011



The discards...


I mentioned in my "weekend scenes" that I finally took-on my closet in a major way (i.e. "The Great Closet Clean-Out 2011"). I'm pretty disciplined about regularly "weeding" through my clothes, giving a bag here and there to Goodwill or bequeathing an unworn but still loved item to a friend, but I've never really gone "all-in", and it was starting to show... Lately it seemed every time I walked into my closet to get dressed, I would just stand there all flummoxed and frustrated, and finally, out of sheer desperation, I'd just grab the same thing I wear every day despite a seemingly bulging wardrobe.

So the plan was to be ruthless, to assess every single item of clothing hanging in my closet with an end-goal of keeping only the things I wear and really love (the "really love" part being especially important). Key to my success in this endeavor was a bracingly honest (but well-intentioned) collaborator or two... Enter my mom and Audrey, who were seriously awesome at the task, so good, in fact, they could go into the closet editing business. In addition to the collaborators, I would recommend a good chunk of uninterrupted time (at least three hours), as well as a sense of humor, thick-skin (to deal with all that bracing honesty) and perhaps a cocktail or two...

In terms of process, we kept thing pretty simple. Before my mom and Audrey joined me, I went into my closet and removed everything (including shoes, handbags and jewelry) that: (A) I hadn't worn in six months (I was hard-core, so I bypassed the cushy, oft-recommended, one-year guideline) and (B) I had worn but didn't really love...

At this point over half my closet was gone.

The items remaining were things I wore frequently and loved while wearing. In fact, I had a little moment of sartorial peace looking at what was left... My closet was sparse and highly edited, and, for a second, I seriously considered just ditching everything I'd removed and calling it a day. But I resisted; and instead Mom and Audrey settled into the two little chairs in the corner of my bedroom while I tried the whole lot on.

This is the part where the sense of humor and thick skin came in...let's just say there was a lot of laughing and several refrains of: "what were you thinking" and "were you drunk when you bought that." Awesome. But the three of us (Audrey was a surprisingly involved participant) were swift and efficient. We only waffled over a few things, and when we were on the fence about a particular item, we took the time to try it in new ways, making absolute certain that if I kept it, I would actually wear it. Almost everything else was an instant "toss". In the end, I kept maybe 10 things out of a ginormous pile (probably 40 items total), so turns out my initial instinct to just ditch all the "maybes" wasn't really that far off.










The finished product


The exercise also exposed the glaring holes in my closet. I discovered that I needed more throw-on, casual stuff for schlepping around with the girls -- some easy knit dresses, a few more t-shirts, etc... I also needed a couple of options for slightly dressier activities, ideally things that started out special but could become even more dressy with the addition of a great necklace or shoes. I was thinking some metallic or fun prints (resulting in the purchase of that Madewell number).

I would definitely count the closet clean-out as one of the more productive/fruitful "organizing" projects I've done in years. It was a big undertaking but more than worth it, as now, every time I walk into my closet, I'm happy. I know (and really like) everything that's hanging in there, making getting dressed every day infinitely easier. I would highly recommend.

As for the cast-offs, most of it is headed to the local woman's shelter, but I did set aside a dozen or so items to sell, so as soon as I have time to snap pics and get them up on the site, I'll let you guys know...in case you're interested ;-)

14 comments:

denese said...

what a timely post! I've been on a year-long purge myself. It feels good to closet cleanse, yet, even still, I harbor too much...

See my take here -
http://plumlife.typepad.com/plum/one/#tp

best - d.

saltandpine said...

I'm in the middle of my closet clean out (it is taking forever) so thanks for giving me the motivation to keep going! And of course, I'm completely interested in seeing your cast offs; although I'm cleaning out my closet, I may not be able to resist adding... ;)

Brook said...

You have such impeccable taste that I cringe thinking of you getting rid of things. I wish we were neighbors so I could gladly take it off your hands. With a new baby, I am often in t-shirt with spit up on it so I dream of the day when I can look as great as you do!! XO your blog. It is an almost daily read. Brook
p.s. We also moved to a new place with pool and big need of landscaping around it. I would love to see more pics of how you decorated yours. plants, etc. I also loved that domino pool.

Angela Lee said...

Oh gosh, I think I do this a lot too but then I don't have the back-up (ie.mom) to really do a hardcore cleanse, by god I need it. I thrift daily,(due to my job) and although I think I am a master thrifter I have accumulated SO MUCH STUFF I end up wearing the same crappy outfit day after day. Your closet looks beautiful and I am JEALOUS.

Breezy said...

oh yes please!

DeAnna said...

Good for you! I have been feeling the same way and hanging on to some items I haven't worn in years that need to go. It is time for a major clean out. There is a old book I read called Secrets of a Fashion Therapist written by a personal shopper for Bergdorf Goodman. She talks about shopping and purging. One particular statement has always stuck with me (and changed the way I now shop). It is to not buy something new if it is not equal to to will be you favorite item. Otherwise it is not worth having. So every time I buy something new I ask, "is this my new favorite thing?" If not, it goes back and is not worth spending money on.

whoorl said...

I think I need to employ your 6-month rule instead of the usual 1 year. I have no idea why I continue to hold on to so many items in my closet when I never wear them! Love that your project is complete!

Caitlin said...

Oh my word - your closet if filled with beautiful things! And look at that shoe collection. Totally jealous! I love a good purging of things.

Amanda @ doievenlikethis said...

I've lived by the six month rule for several years now and it is a sanity saver every morning. My variation on the "try on" conference is to have some girlfriends over for wine and cheese (everyone brings along some items from their own closet in need of re-homing) and we spend an evening playing dress up in each others' things. Everyone gets a few new-to-them items and everything else goes to Goodwill. =Goodness for everyone.

Jennifer said...

I have that exact blue Rutzou top! Yours looks like it might still have the tag on it. I've worn it once but the idea of getting rid of it bothers me as it was not inexpensive. I also have a patterned dress similar to the top - also rarely worn. Why, I wonder? I loved the idea of it at the time!

Janice MacLeod said...

Bravo! Last year (and it took a year), I got my closet down to one suitcase. And let me tell you, it takes a lot of balls to live life out of a suitcase even if I'm living in just one spot. Surprisingly, I feel like I have loads to wear. I think we all just wear 10 days worth of clothes anyway. Plus packing is a breeze.

Nomadic D. said...

Congratulations! That is a huge accomplishment! I try to do this every year (though obviously it's not very effective since I have to keep doing it every year), and even though I can't usually purge everything I'd like to (so hard to let go sometimes!), even purging a bit feels SO good! I can only imagine how that major overhaul felt!

http://nomadic-d.blogspot.com/

Sherry said...

I've tried this several times and I always get rid of something that I wished I had kept. It's such a hard feat to accomplish. Kuddos to you! I'm sure you feel free and easy now.

CBH said...

You have re inspired me to cleanse my home and things so I can live the life i want. Simple but beautifully surrounded by what I love and use. I moved 2 prior homes into one that was already furnished and have been buried in stuff. Sometimes 3 of everything. This Christmas I will give from what I have since we have no money to purchase stuff.