The book “Everything that Remains” by Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus (aka the Minimalists) explains that ultimate freedom comes with having less things. Reflecting on that I looked at my not-over-flowing-but-well-stocked closet and thought it was time for a shopping trip – in my closet.
My house was built in 1914. I don’t know how many items of clothing people owned back then, but the closets certainly were not built for today’s wardrobes. I have a small closet and if I wantedto be organized I had some work to do!
I started by taking every thing out and giving it a good clean – removing accumulated dog hair (which, like my clothes, had started to add up). My process for thinning out my clothes was to ask myself “Knowing what I know now, would I still spend money on this?” for each item. This means that the pair of pants that I spent a little too much on but never really fit right went to the donate pile. And the expensive shirt I found at the sale-too-good-to-be-true had to go.
Instead of retail value, this made me focus on each items’ current-day value to me. Regardless of cost, if I would not purchase it knowing what I do now (that it doesn’t really fit, looks frumpy on me, isn’t my color, or that I wouldn’t wear it for 4 years) then it is time to let it move on.
Some decisions were simple – I found two almost identical green shirts, so I kept the one in better condition. But it wasn’t all easy. The things I struggled most with are the items that are fun and more colorful than I usually wear. I tell myself that I will wear them when I visit my parents in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, but honestly, my life there is similar to here. I always want to be comfortable and ready to start a game of tag with my son, build a sand castle, or pet a big, wet, sand-covered dog. Regardless of romance novels, frilly and flirty colorful items aren’t exactly beachwear.
I did not get rid of every single item that is no longer practical. I kept bin of clothes that make me smile – concert shirts, a bright green sweater I wore throughout college, vintage pieces that were gifted to me. I keep them in the basement and will eventually get rid of them, but for now my one bin is not causing any problems.
Being an organizer I tend not to over-buy or collect, but this process was at times a bit overwhelming. A few days after starting I came into the bedroom and the pile of clothes were such a mess that I had an urge to just get rid of it all. Shopping in my closet did not change the world by any means, but it was a good exercise in articulating what my priorities are, assessing the value of things in light of my priorities, and feeling some of the struggle that my clients might confront when trying to reduce their belongings.