by Susan Caplan McCarthy
A Year of Decluttering - February: Decluttering as Self-Care
Although you’ve seen the suggestion that you should remove any clothing from your closet that still has the price tag attached, that tip annoys you. You spent money on those items. You thought you’d wear them. At the time you bought the item, you were excited that you grabbed the item at a fantastic clearance price, but now you’d rather not think that you spent money on something that you’ve never worn.
You know you won’t wear the garments and you should clear them out of your closet; but, part of you still resists. The clothing items aren’t really the issue; instead, it’s your thoughts that need the decluttering.
The Item Is Uncomfortable
You wore the item once (or for part of a day). Maybe the fabric was itchy or for some reason the item rides up when you move. You might find yourself focusing on an embellishment or detail that gets in your way every time you move your head. You weren’t bothered by these details during the sixty seconds you wore the item in the dressing room, but once you got the item home you realized you were distracted by that annoying detail.
Acknowledge that the item will never become more comfortable. If you have time (and the receipt) to return the item, you can decide to take that option. If it’s a high-end item, you could try to sell it online or at a local consignment shop. Or, donate it so someone else can enjoy it. You won’t get more value by holding onto the item.
The Tags Are on the Item
If you bought the item to wear in an upcoming season, take off the tags and make the item yours. Keep these new items with the others for that season so you don’t forget clothing that you’ve left in a shopping bag.
What if you bought the item more than a year ago and you realize you aren’t going to wear it? Sell it online or bring it to a consignment shop if you have the time to try and recoup some of what you spent. Otherwise, donate the item.
Acknowledge that it was shopping for the item (not wearing it) that served a purpose – such as showing you what colors you don’t like or what styles you don’t feel comfortable wearing. I know, it’s frustrating to think of the money you spent on something you’ve never worn, so consider what you learned from the experience.
If you find that you regularly buy stuff that is marked to clearance prices, then the thrill of finding the deal was what you paid for. You could think of it like spending money on a movie ticket or to attend an event. You were buying an experience.
If you don’t like the sound of that, you can choose to avoid shopping for fun, when bored, or to have something to do. However, if you still enjoy the experience of shopping (and you can afford to do so), consider “adopting” a local charity so you are focusing your purchases on the needs of the men or women who need business attire or teen girls who can’t afford to buy a prom dress.
The Items Are Unrealistic for Your Current Lifestyle
Do you buy clothing that is a size or two too small, so it will be an incentive to lose weight? Do you buy dressy party clothes because you think you’d be happier if you went to more clubs or events that call for sequins? But, do you really spend your weekends gardening and reading books? Do you buy tailored classics because they seem so practical while you’d rather wear peasant tops and flowing print skirts?
Again, use your past purchases as lessons as to what you truly find comfortable to wear. An outfit shoved into your closet probably won’t be an incentive to change your life. If you find that you do make the same types of purchases for the life you aspire to (as opposed to how you currently live), consider if you really want to make these changes.
It’s natural to fear change. You can consider if you are comfortable with your life (but outside pressure makes you feel that you should want to change); or, if you need to steel yourself and take a step toward being the person who would wear this dream clothing.
Take the First Step to Decluttering Your Closet
Without pulling everything out of your closet, look for items that you won’t or can’t wear and take them out of the closet. Remember, you aren’t wearing these items and so you aren’t losing anything by eliminating them. (If the item has sentimental value, move it to a memory box as opposed to keeping it with the clothing you wear all the time.)
If there are items that you want to sell online or bring to a consignment shop, give yourself a deadline for when you’ll do this – and note that date in your planner or on your calendar. Fill bags with your donations, pop them into your car and take them to your local donation center … or, go online to schedule a pick up at your home.
Simplifying your wardrobe saves you time getting dressed in the morning, streamlines your laundry routine, and makes it easier to see what you like wearing (so you can save yourself future errant purchases). Next week, I’ll focus on decluttering your closet when you don’t have the time or energy to pull everything out all at once. For now, visit the Pinterest board I’ve set up on Simplifying Your Wardrobe.
I help people focus on what's important to them by guiding them through clearing clutter and distractions from their lives. I teach decluttering and organizing skills through articles; books; courses; speaking engagements; as well as virtual coaching sessions.