soul space · uncluttered

The Great Closet Clean-Out (Soul Space Thursdays)

kris-atomic-73939Welcome to Soul Space Thursdays, where we work to pare down clutter, open up schedules, and make room for our souls to grow.

Today’s topic? Your clothes closet.

I’ll admit that I’m not a fashionista. I’m more of a practical, functional, if-a-kid-barfs-on-this-it-is-washable kind of dresser. Even so, I struggled to keep my clothes closet from overflowing.

Though I’m pretty frugal, at the end of the day it doesn’t matter much whether your wardrobe is full of Dolce & Gabbana or Target brand if you own more than you ever wear and your closet is overstuffed.

A couple of years ago I decided to make a change, and you guys, it is the best. One tip that transformed my mornings from long rounds of decision fatigue to a simpler, easier, more restful start to the day.

Here’s my single, life-changing tip on closet organization. Ready?

Drumroll please….

….

….

….

Get rid of 75% of your clothing

Wait! Don’t go! I promise I haven’t lost all my marbles. Let me explain.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the vast majority of us only wear about 20% of what we own. 20%! That means you likely have dozens (or even hundreds!) of articles of clothing just taking up space.

Every single thing you own takes time to care for, organize, store, and maintain. Why waste time on things you never use?

I used to have piles of clothes. Small mountains, really. I wore some of it weekly, a few pieces annually, and the rest just sat there. More than a few things, I’m embarrassed to admit, still had tags on them.

Then, two years ago, we found out we were pregnant with Baby #2. We live in a 2-bedroom condo, so Baby #2 had no room to speak of. We needed a plan.

Luckily we had a small bedroom closet. But it was (of course) filled with our clothes. There’s nothing wrong with this. After all, nudity is generally frowned upon, even in California.

So we had a conundrum. We couldn’t fit all of our existing clothes and a baby in our condo. Organizing wouldn’t fix our problem, only downsizing would. So we each took a deep breath, piled all of our clothing onto the bed, and started ruthless culling.

That shirt from college that I didn’t wear anymore? Gone. The pants that only sort of fit? Gone. The khaki shorts that always make me feel more sausage than human? Off to Goodwill. Together my husband and I filled three garbage bags of clothing within an hour.

Honestly, it was embarrassing.

We weren’t getting rid of clothes we even liked or wore. They were just taking up space. Baby’s closet/nursery came together and we put our remaining clothes into a dresser and onto a hanging bar.

We’d gotten rid of probably 25% of our clothing.

I immediately noticed that it became easier to get dressed in the morning . Decision fatigue is real, and my closet purge quickly gave me a simpler, more restful morning.

But God wasn’t quite done with me yet.

Next came Lent. For Lent this year I pared down my wardrobe to 25 articles of clothing as a further exercise in simplicity, and I didn’t tell anyone except Daryl I was doing it.

Usually by week two of Lent I’m up in a tree with crankiness because I’ve given up sugar or caffeine, but this year Daryl commented on my restful state.

“You seem happier,” he said. “Is your Lenten experiment going well?”

“I love it!” I said. “It is so easy to get dressed now!” Instead of trying to match colors in the morning (does salmon go with navy blue? does anything go with salmon?), on workdays I had a simple choice of about five different outfits.

Here’s the crazy thing: no one even noticed. No one. Not my congregation, not my close friends, not my administrative assistant, not my family.

When Lent ended I went back to my full closet and quickly realized I missed the simplicity of having fewer choices. I went through my closet a final time and ended up giving away another huge round of items.

Do you know what? I haven’t missed a single one of them. Not one.

Turns out I didn’t need seven pencil skirts, since I basically wear the same Anne Klein black one every week (that I purchased at Goodwill in 2007 for $4, I might add!). Apparently holding on to blue jeans that fit me in college is simply a drawer-clogging pipe dream, not a weight-loss strategy.

Is your closet weighing you down? Get in there and let things go.

Goodwill or the Salvation Army or the local thrift store will lighten your load, or you can partner with a cool organization like Working Wardrobes to help people in need put together professional attire in order to get jobs.

If you’ve thought about doing this before, don’t wait. Go after some soul space.

Start today, and tell us how it goes!

courtneybellis.com soul space thursdays

How’s your closet?


Soul Space Tip #1: Get rid of 75% of your clothing

Soul Space Wins:

  • Less decision fatigue in the morning while getting dressed
  • Decreased need/desire to shop
  • More space in your home/closet
  • The opportunity to donate gently used items to a good cause
  • Less time spent organizing and maintaining items you never use
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