I’ve been aching to clear out my closet and see what can be minimized, but I’ve constantly repeated, “I’ve got more important things to do!” Well, today is the day to clean out the unnecessary, unworn, ripped, tattered, and otherwise useless. Spring is here, and now it’s time to find some clothing to donate or throw out!
I’m a rather failing minimalist. Life circumstances (being a graduate student) require that I keep ungodly numbers of papers for years. In an effort to minimize the clutter and paper space, I’ve scanned and digitized everything I can. The rest — what must be held for safe keeping — goes under the bed.
Clothing can’t be moved or digitized, and space must be occupied. While I have ample room in my apartment, there isn’t much “storage.” I don’t have any furniture (i.e., bureaus, dressers, etc.), either. Every time I look in my closet, I’m reminded of the unorganized mass I own. After many weeks contemplating, I decided this would be the day to really review what I have, and decide, In or Out?
Before I review the photos and take you on a little tour of what’s left, I want to explain some rules that informed my choices:
1. While minimal, I haven’t moved to uniforms; thus, multiple outfits remain
2. I’ve trained and run two marathons (and plan on more), which require athletic clothing
3. I don’t like multinational brand names stamped across my chest
4. I won’t replace or buy more clothing by reviewing and donating excess
5. Furniture could help make it look more minimal, but see rule 4
Then, I moved to tee, long-sleeve, and collared shirts. Despite advocating for a more minimal life, I found it hard to let go and/or donate some of my more sentimental — however aged — clothing. The soft texture and wild memories of concert tees were the hardest to rule over. Images of dancing, friends, former girlfriends, and everything in between seemed stained into the shirts. In the end, those with massive pit discolorations were thrown out. Although, I couldn’t help but keep a couple for sentimental purposes (and I wear them frequently). One collared shirt was a big no-no, as it featured a brand I no longer wish to advertise across my chest nor support.
Two pairs of jeans unfortunately needed to go. I had wiped out on my bicycle in one of them, and they no longer met professional work standards. The other had started out as skinny jeans and were quickly shrinking into leggings. I’m not sure if that’s a consequence of weight gain or the dryer; let’s go with the latter option.
My wonderful mother insisted I take a bed protector with me, and I’ve had it for quite some time — unused. I’m not opposed to fitted protectors, but this one is loose. Invariably, it crumples up into an awkward ball in my bed and messes up the fitted sheets. No, it was time to be rid of that stinky old “protector.”
This little In or Out experiment netted 28 items. Those items will either be donated or thrown away. Additionally, I was able to take out 14 hangers from my closet (bringing the total to 42)! Now, it’s easier to get at what I want, as opposed to fighting back and forth to get jeans and a t-shirt. There’s room again, which feels fantastic.
The following are 5 lessons learned in the process of eliminating the unnecessary from my wardrobe:
1. Sentimentality is piqued by things, but inspired by brains
Humans are inherently pulled to place energy and emphasis in things. We name cars, put stickers on everything, and place creative cases on phones, all with the desire to make something nice and unique. Our things get special treatment. They become a time capsule and place to store our memories. It’s important to remember that those mental images are within us — not in things.
2. Clearing out old clothing is therapeutic
What seems to be a chore at first is rather calming as you go along. There’s a routine: open, dump, review, decide in or out. That’s all there is to minimizing your wardrobe. In the calm of a weekend day, it can be a meditative task to focus on the here and now.
3. My nice things might be necessary things to another
I have ample clothing, even after minimizing some. What helped me decide to donate a couple more items are other people. It helped to focus on them. The “nice” stuff that I rarely — if ever — use could be immensely helpful and necessary for another person or family. I’m not just removing stuff from my closet and tossing it, as I want some of these things to have better owners.
4. It’s embarrassing what we keep around or forget to throw out
I don’t know how 2 stray socks slowly buried their way into the bottom of my box o’ socks, but they did. I probably wouldn’t have noticed for a couple years, if I didn’t engage in this cleanse. Also, the Halloween costume from a couple years ago? Yeah, no need to keep that around.
5. Minimizing your wardrobe takes far less time than you think
I procrastinated for weeks about getting rid of extra clothing. I didn’t want to let go of anything, and felt like I had more important things to accomplish. In some ways, I did, but that was also a tool to delay the inevitable. Now, the day of reckoning is here and complete. My closet looks way better. In reality, what I thought would take hours only took one. One and done to be lighter than ever.