Simplify: Letting Go, Clearing Space & Reducing Wardrobe Part 2

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”.

4I 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.

2For 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.

mb-wardrobe-pt2-2As 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

About Melissa Belliard

Melissa is committed to helping her clients find the organizing system that works for them, with compassion and creativity. She has been helping her friends and family get organized for years, and loves decluttering closets and cabinets, especially for empty nesters and folks who are downsizing. Melissa brings her 16 years of experience as a Human Resources professional to her work, including compassionate listening, leadership, and creative problem-solving skills. Melissa is also a part-time massage therapist, and has raised two great kids. She loves being out in nature, listening to music and dancing, as well as bringing women together in community.

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