Minimalist closet
Build,  Downsizing

Downsizing – Closet Purging and How to “Try on” Minimalism

It’s important to mention, I’m a reformed fashionista. My first few years of life included tutu-laden fashion shows to appeasing family members, my weekends as a teenager were spent in modeling classes, before graduating with a college degree in fashion business and 5 years working in ecommerce. That’s over two decades of drinkin’ the juice, my friends!

Suffice it to say, I realized style could forever be a part of my world without having to settle for high competition, low wages and an environment that started to feel like it was doing more to poison the way I saw the world than inspire it. (Let’s overlook the irony in me moving from fashion to tech…hindsight is 20/20.)

There’s inspiration in finding clothes that feel as good to be in, as they look when on.

One of the beautiful things to come of leaving the fashion and beauty industries was finding acceptance for my body. Instead of squishing myself into clothing that fit cultural norms – like vagina-suffocating skinny jeans and lymph-blocking underwire bras – I found inspiration in finding clothes that felt as good to be in, as they looked when on. This meant purging a lot of uncomfortable clothing. I sought out pieces that better fit my form, could layer better and therefore worked across seasons.

Amazingly, when I wasn’t tugging at pinchy undies or stiff, tailored blazers, my mind felt freer to focus on the present.

Less clothing may mean more frequent washing, but it also means less to put away. No procrastinating for 2 months only to spend literal days catching up with endless cycles of sort-wash-hang-putaway.

This may sound a bit extreme. But it’s a summary of a transition that realistically took about 4 years to experience. As a next step to preparing for tiny house living, I spent last Sunday afternoon doing a closet clean up and documenting the process for you. Below is the culmination of the last few years of practice and last weekend’s exercise.

The Before

What wasn’t working:

  • I was losing track of what I actually owned.
    Clothing hung, folded, shoved with no logical order making it near-impossible to see.
  • Why were the bathing suits near winter gloves?
    All seasons of clothing were mixed up in various places and often the wrong season was more accessible.
  • The curse of the “One day when…”
    Piles of clothing that needed tailoring to fit properly or called for a special occasion or I’d purchased with high hopes were taking up valuable real estate.
  • I didn’t stick to using the damn hangers!
    Buy your ideal number and then stick to using them. Stacks of folded clothes tip over, become disheveled and make it more stressful when you’re inevitably running late and on your 3rd outfit change.

The After

Rules you can try to live by:

  • It’s gotta work hard!
    If it can’t serve multiple purposes (like a white tee with jeans and under a dress OR a sweater that can be tucked into a skirt and worn over leggings) then don’t buy it. If it requires special circumstances, then it’ll get less use and claim more real estate than it’s worth.
  • It should go with things you already own.
    I know those liquid leggings are sexy and they’ll go so well with a denim jacket and high tops. But do you own either of those already? No? See how quickly that 1 purchase turned into 3? Add things to your closet that multiply the value of what you already own. Don’t add to your to-do list.
  • Mind the fit, the way your body is now.
    Don’t build a wardrobe for a day that may never come. Life changes too fast. Today is a good day to feel great. Let your future/taller/tanner/thinner self enjoy her shopping day if and when it comes. While your perfectly lovely self enjoys her’s today.
  • Reinvent ways to use your space.
    Things that are important, but naturally less frequented (like jackets off-season for example) can be layered up on hangers to save space. You can roll up tee-shirts or oddly shaped tops (like crops or off the shoulder’s) and put them in a basket or drawer, instead of struggling with hangers.
  • If you’re nervous, make a “probation pile.”
    My rule is if I didn’t wear it this season (which is several months long mind you), then it goes. If the item has sentimental value or I’d forgotten about til now or some other arguable reason, then I give it 1 more month in a visible, designated space. Like it’s staring at you, taunting: “Make me part of your routine or I gotta go.”

Hopefully you can use some of these pragmatic tips on how to ‘try on’ the minimalist approach, even if you don’t intend to go tiny yourself.

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