Monday, June 6, 2011
Take Control Of Your Closet (or Wherever Your Clutter Lurks)
An old friend of my childhood days is hands down one of the sharpest dressers I’ve ever known, and yet has always had the tiniest closet. Her secret lies in keeping her look simple, so she doesn’t need that many pieces: clean lines, no frills, no prints and never wearing more than two colors at the same time. (Even in middle school! Style and neatness right out of the cradle.)
I wasn’t born with that fortunate trait. I liked clothes, and like most of my friends, the more choices I had the better. I wasn’t messy, but things were packed together a little too tightly. (My biggest problem was where to stuff the many sweaters that seemed to arrive at Christmas by the carload. You know the ones I’m talking about.)
Many, many years later, I finally lived in a home with something I had always dreamed of, something that would (I thought) solve my closet problem – a walk-in closet. I really can’t describe how exciting it was for me. I could finally unpack every single item of clothing in my possession! I would actually see everything I owned!
My new, big closet was jam-packed in no time. Ouch!
It’s not that I’m a shopaholic - I just never threw anything away unless it was permanently stained or had a hole in it. And sometimes, not even then. When it came to clothes, I had the pack rat problem. Some of the stuff was ancient. Having a sentimental soul, I had a reason (so I thought then) for hanging onto all of it: gifts from my parents and friends, something worn on a special occasion, etc.
In no time at all, the state of my closet and drawers were depressing me. But between the needs of an energetic toddler and my job, I simply had no time or motivation to tackle a challenge that big. Every day, looking for something to wear was like wrestling with a monster, and everything came out wrinkled and shabby-looking.
Then something happened when I was pregnant with my second child. I was opening the box containing my old maternity clothes and as I put them into the washer, I wondered WHERE IN THE WORLD I was going to put them when I was done. I felt a sudden rage (probably hormonal) and attacked my closet.
I threw all the old sweaters on the floor, and then went after the things I have owned since high school (for real). That was a start. The next day, feeling more rational and very good about the little bit of space I had made, I vowed to continue - but with a smarter process. I made a rule: for every maternity outfit or new piece of clothing I would hang ready to wear, I would choose three items to give away or throw away. After a while, I changed it to a 2-to-1 rule, and now that my closet is more sane, it’s 1-to-1.
These days, I can choose at a glance what I want to wear, and the ironed tops and dresses stay that way. I no longer buy something new for an event simply because I don’t actually know what I have – I can see it all. If your closet (or your desk, or your garage, or your attic) is overwhelming you, try tackling it a little at a time, using a rule like 3-1 or 2-1. Improvement will be slow, but it will happen – and you’ll be amazed by how good it makes you feel.
Good luck with your goal!