Clothing has always been a sticking point in my journey to less. (Those of you who are not “woo-woo” inclined can plug your ears for a minute here). As a Pisces with a Gemini Moon, my Fish and/or Twins go in many different schizophrenic fashion directions. I can be the Pisces hippie chick in the morning, and then on the lookout for some Gemini urban chic by the evening. (Okay, those who are astro-allergic can come back now.) And don’t even get me started on the myriad of jobs I’ve worked over the years. In the eternal quest to fit in, I’ve developed a chameleon complex for whatever phase of life I encounter with a wardrobe to match. Needless to say, this has led to a full closet that constantly needs watching — and weeding.
Does this scenario sound familiar, dear reader? Or are you a victim of other fashion debacles? Here’s some guidelines that may help:
- Looking Good: For a neat-looking closet, you need tidy tools, namely hangers. That jumble of wires from the dry cleaners, and the clear plastic freebies from the local department store have to be replaced by all of the same thing. Since those pristine wooden beauties from the closet design companies are way out of my league, I prefer the sturdy plastic ones from the super stores — and (this is important) all in the same color. If you want to get really anal, you can purchase all one color for the winter wardrobe, and another for the summer, so that it’s easy to tell when the time comes to switch storage. But I’m getting ahead of myself. . . .
- The One-Year Rule: Now you can go in and pull out anything you haven’t worn in over a year, or six months, or a week, whatever. I find that a full year of Mother Nature is a good length of time to test anything seasonal. For example, getting rid of a swim suit because you haven’t worn it in eleven months and you live in Siberia (or Indiana) is a bit hasty. Wait until it’s safe to put out the tomato plants or August, at least.
- If It Doesn’t Fit, You Must Say Adios: No if’s, and’s or butt’s, do not hang onto stuff that you wore in decades past, or only hope to wear in decades to come. It’s time to live in the moment, with clothes that you reach for every day without having to constantly inhale.
- Torn and Forlorn: If the garment in question has been missing a button since 1982, and you haven’t worn it since, time for a parting of the ways. Let’s face it: you’d wear the damaged item anyway with a strategic safety pin placed here and there, if you REALLY couldn’t live without it. Repair the rip or treat the stain, if you must, but be ruthless if you but hesitate a moment.
- DON’T Take a Sentimental Journey: These are always tough choices–especially a wedding dress that weighs the equivalent of a small elephant, and requires just as much space. Probably this particular item is yellowing inside a box in the attic anyway, but if it’s eating up real estate in the closet, consider taking a picture and sending the dream off to charity for another lucky bride. I wore a 1920’s-style flapper dress for my nuptials, and it stores flat in a bag on a shelf, taking the abuse without wrinkles. Hey, my daughter even wore it for an English class presentation in high school, so at least my old finery has gotten some use in the new millennia. Oh, and do I have to talk about prom and bridesmaid dresses, or maternity clothes long after the fact? Don’t go there.
- Here Comes the Space: Hopefully, as you separate the wearable from the chaff, there is room to shift and separate without playing tug of war. I can’t say enough about how much better the remaining garments will look, free of wrinkles and that musty pack-rat odor that shows up in crowds of clothes. What remains you can transfer onto those lovely new hangers you bought. And here’s a trick from numerous organizing books and blogs: Hook the hangers backwards on the closet pole. After you wear an item, return the hanger facing the right way. Whatever is still backwards by the end of the season hasn’t been worn and can be sent off to the great clothes hamper in the sky, or Goodwill.
- Clothing Complacency: I enjoy the challenge of looking at my clothes in a fresh, objective way each time I do the daily scan. When I’m on a real clutter binge, I can find another couture sacrifice nearly every day. I like to push myself to see how far I could go before I truly say “I have nothing to wear.” Don’t worry, there’s always something left and if not, there’s always–
- Buying Only What You Need: In analyzing my multiple personality threads, it became apparent that I also suffer from Ark syndrome: I like to buy two of everything. I don’t know why, maybe I’m worried that shoes have the right idea, and heaven forbid a single sweater might get lonely. I am working on curbing this tendency to pair duds off because it only encourages them to multiply. With a minimal wardrobe, when an important staple wears out (which is all that belongs on the daily racks) I can just go out and replace the item — without a backup, that is.
All in all, it is refreshing to open my closet door in the morning and not stare at the multitude of choices like a deer in headlights. I have basics that go together for a variety of outfits, spiced up with accessories matching whatever personality I happen be that day.
Look out Sybil, here I come. With style.
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