With the first days of fall under our belts and the weekend around the corner, it seems like a natural time to get geared up for a closet clean-out. No matter how many purges my wardrobe and I have undertaken together, mentally preparing beforehand continues to be an essential step in the process. Here are the six things I remind myself before embarking on a seasonal mission of minimizing.
1. You’ll need to go it alone. Those articles that encourage you to invite a pal over and open some wine while you go through your closet together…forget that! A closet clean-out is an inherently dirty, personal and emotional task, one that’s best attacked alone. That said, who am I to turn down expert guidance? My friend Sally McGraw authored Already Pretty, an incredibly friendly, honest and uber-positive guide to defining, refining and owning your one-of-a-kind style. To help psych me up, I reread pertinent portions (chapters 2, 5 and 6 if you must know)…there’s something about Sally’s writing and sage advice that keeps me focused on the bigger picture. (Craving hands-on help? She’s available for style and closet consults, either in-person or online, too.)
2. It’s not going to take an afternoon. Sure, if you’re looking to skim off the top and barely make a dent, you’ll probably be set after an hour or two of work. But in case you’re a hoarder like myself, you may have a lot to cull through, and setting a short time limit could add unnecessary pressure, especially if you’re going to try everything on (which you absolutely should). Personally, I prefer to set myself a deadline a week or two out, and then carve out time when my schedule allows. A half-hour here, an afternoon there, just pick a category—pants, purses, accessories, work skirts—and get to work.
3. You’ll need a system. When tackling a wardrobe reboot, I bring an entire BOX of garbage bags upstairs with me, setting aside a bag for items that need dry-cleaning, one for pieces hurting for repair or tailoring, another for clothing that I could potentially resell (or find a new home with a friend) and the rest for items that are destined to be donated. (Clothing that’s worn-out, ratty or ruined is earmarked for the rag pile.)
4. Facts will be faced. Paid top dollar for a pair of boots you’ve only worn once? Scored a gorgeous designer piece that isn’t really your style, but it was SUCH a deal, you can’t bear to let it go? Haven’t fit into your “favorite” pair of jeans in years? Just. Be. Honest. The fact you that once upon a time you were fiscally irresponsible/had bad judgment/size 8 isn’t anything to be ashamed of. We’re only human, y’all! In fact, getting rid of pieces that bring up of feelings of disappointment, shame or self-loathing can be downright cathartic, especially when you consider all the room you’re making for pieces that make you feel AMAZING.
5. Letting go can be hard. One truism from Sally’s book that consistently stands out to me is “Clothing is imbued with emotion, steeped in memory, and parting with it can be downright painful.” Not to mention stressful! Get ready for emotions to arise when making decisions about what to keep and what to part with. One trick that helps me maintain objectivity is asking “If I were to see this item at a store today, would I buy it?” If the answer is no, the attachment is purely sentimental. Take a minute to remember the good times you had together. Then, let go.
6. A good exit strategy is key. Now that you’ve done all the hard work, it’s time to get your unwanted goods out of your house ASAP. For me and my crazy schedule, finding an organization with convenient drop-off donation service is a must. Savers recently opened eight Donation Drop Stations in Minnesota, including metro-area spots in Robbinsdale, Apple Valley, Columbia Heights and Richfield. Every donation made not only gives gently used goods a second life and keeps them out of landfills, and also supports local nonprofits like the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota, the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota and Vietnam Veterans of America. Savers pays these local organizations for every single donation made, whether or not it makes it to the sales floor. With locations close by, and convenient drop-off hours (9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week), getting your unwanted clothes at Savers makes total sense. (Just don’t forget to ask for a receipt!)
Y’all cleaning your closets out this fall? If so, I’d love to hear your tried-and-true tips for maximum effectiveness. My overstuffed drawers and I could use the advice!!
P.S. My friends at Savers sponsored this post, but all opinions are my own.