Take Everything Out of Your Closet And Start Anew

Today I am facing my first Buy Nothing January obstacle: cleaning out my closet.

Before: this is the tidiest closet that I've ever seen
After: Still pretty orderly :)

One of my goals this month is to learn to buy less. Strangely enough, working in retail has taught me a lot about the quality of clothing. I can tell from the fabric quality whether it will be durable, and it’s relative chances of surviving in my wardrobe for more than a couple seasons. I have bought a lot of clothing since I started working retail. Most of it has been carefully selected for style, durability, and (of course) how much I love it. Because if I don’t love it when I am leaving the store, I certainly won’t learn to love it.

With the exception of a few summer, formal, and housework items, I like to work my way through my entire wardrobe. Consistently. I don’t hold onto extras just in case, because I know that if I won’t wear it today, there’s not a chance of me getting into it a month from now. So clothing that no longer fits, or that I no longer wear, gets donated.

My cleaning strategy is simple…

1. Take everything out and lay it in a pile.
2. Sort through the pile creating a stack of each garment type. Example: shirts, pants, blazers, dresses, etc.. This permits you to better visualize the contents of your closet by garment type.
3. Go through each stack and get rid of clothes that no longer work, either through donation (if in good condition) or as rags (if in disrepair). I use the following to quantify whether an item deserves to re-enter my wardrobe or not:

  • Does it fit? If no, the item is sent to be donated. This could vary for someone who fluctuates a bit more in weight – but I’m not planning to change any time soon.
  • Is it out of season? If yes, I’ll put these items into storage, with the intention of going through them before they re-enter the closet.
  • Do I wear it? If not, and I’ll either give it a grace period (say the end of the month) to see if I can work it back in. If not, it’s donation time.
  • Can I wear it to work in? Some clothes that are a little more worn than I would like, or a little too large, etc.. are great work clothes. But here lies a bit of a hoarding dilemma – it would be easy to say that all of my old clothes could be kept for working in. I try to be realistic – I have 3-4 pairs of older pants that are perfect for field biology, a few long sleeved shirts, and a couple bulky sweaters that I would never wear on a daily basis. That’s all that I need

4. De-lint, steam, replace missing buttons as needed and put my new wardrobe back together.

As I went through my wardrobe I took stock of what I had and what would be suitable additions to top-up my “adult wardrobe”. I will be using this list in the coming months not as a shopping list, but as a list of permitted items, should I come across them. This technique has actually helped me make better choices since I started working retail.

Anyway, I am super happy to have a neat closet to start the new year off with.

Wishing you the best in the new year!



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