In Part 1 of my series on how I reduced my wardrobe, I talked about the inspirations and readiness for this project. Now in Part 2, I will share logistics and how the process went for me.
Once I decided to consciously and compassionately reduce my wardrobe, my analytical side kicked in to help out. This was definitely a mind-heart project! I also reviewed Courtney’s suggestions in “How to live in the Land of Enough” and “Clean out your Closet for Good”.
I started by merely looking at my wardrobe; opening my closets (I separate my spring & summer from fall & winter) and dresser drawers to let my subconscious absorb the big picture of everything I had. I also began keeping a mini-journal to record my thoughts, feelings, questions, and the count of each piece of wardrobe.
Next, I did an actual count of each item of clothing and jewelry (eek!). I separated my wardrobe into a few different categories: clothes for organizing, for massage, for workout (I tend to be at the gym/light hiking 4-6 days a week), and general wear. One of Courtney’s rules is that you don’t count workout wear separately if you mostly wear it to do shopping or just hang out in; I actually do both but will primarily wear it to exercise.
For fall & winter wear (usually worn late October through mid-April here in New England), I had 17 bottoms, 50 tops (including fleece layers), 5 skirts, 1 purse, 4 boots, and 8 shoes. Since I wear some of the workout things, pajamas, a couple dresses, and massage tops year-round, I didn’t include them in this group since I did the project during the summer cycle.
For summer & spring, I had 36 bottoms, 95 tops, 17 dresses, 7 skirts, 2 skirts, 13 shoes, 1 purse, and 11 pajamas (11 bottoms and 8 tops), and 7 camisole tops.
In terms of the 333 project, I wasn’t really planning to get down to 33 things for 3 months each, but I liked the idea of having a condensed capsule wardrobe in general. Courtney includes jewelry as part of that 33, and I knew that I loved my earring selection (flair!) too much to have it down to a few pairs. Purses are easy, I have one for each season because I am too lazy to switch up the contents into different purses.
As I did the count, I also immediately pulled some pieces that I knew I wasn’t wearing, didn’t fit well, weren’t comfortable or were too hot for organizing work. I put them to one side to let my subconscious process them, and continued to pull pieces as the days passed. This slow-drip approach that Stephanie recommends really worked for me. I didn’t have to make all the decisions in one day, and I know my brain well enough to trust that it would do the work for me behind the scenes so I could be ready to pull things out for donation.
I also put aside pieces that needed trying-on to be sure they really didn’t feel good or right. At the time, we were going through one of the hottest summers on record, and I delayed the actual trying-on process until it got cooler since I don’t have A/C. I knew that trying on clothes while I was hot and sweaty would just frustrate me and cloud my decision making. Most importantly, it probably would make me feel bad about my body. This was, and is a big concern for me as I went through the process. I have body image challenges that I’ve been working on for decades, but honestly am not a person who looks in full-length mirrors very often (denial, anyone?), so I knew that this could bring up some of those issues for me, and that I would need to be really grounded and compassionate when I got to that step in my process.
As for jewelry…I had a lot of earrings. I didn’t even do a count. This really was the hardest step in the process for me, but I knew for sure that I had earrings that were too heavy, made my ears hurt or get inflamed, or that I just never chose to wear, and I had a hard time finding the earrings I wanted because the storage was overcrowded. I did this step at the end, after I had made my big piles for donation. This approach works well with my clients too – hit the low-hanging fruit first, get a rhythm going, and then tackle the more sentimental items. I was so proud of myself for getting rid of 5 bracelets, 3 necklaces, and 16 pairs of earrings!!
It was a joy to drop off my donations to our local charity thrift store (the donations go to local families in need or are sold to help fund their work), and I felt so much lighter afterwards!
In Step 3, I will share what my wardrobe became, and how it feels now that some time has passed.
Image: © Kasia Serbin