Ever the organizer, I had been extolling the virtues of cupboard purging to a buddy. She had been feeling a little helpless. Her possessions were gradually encroaching due to nothing more insidious than the steady march of time and life. Honestly, my buddy is an organized individual. Matters have their place. But lately, there are fewer and fewer places to get things. Yet she remained staunchly purge-resistant, particularly when it came into her clothes.
Sound familiar? Keep reading to learn more about how making a tiny room in your cupboard can be an exercise in self-discovery.
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Reaching “critical mess.” “I don’t have an issue getting my closet organized,” my buddy said. “My difficulty is keeping it organized.” And this brings us to the crux of an issue shared by the organized and maybe-not-so-organized alike.
“As long as I have room for this,” the thinking goes, “I might too keep it.” And that is all fine until you have to dislodge a carefully assembled heap to fish for that pair of shorts. Or you pull out a blouse and three additional items slip off their hangers with it at a wrinkled, crumpled mess. That’s when all your efforts at tidying up head out the window. You’ve reached “significant mess,” and there’s no room for even one more thing. And yet people still insist on holding on.
Editing boldly. While we often throw a few token items, they seldom edit boldly.
Cleaning out your closet is a really private thing and can highlight a number of complexities in our mind. Sound dramatic? Perhaps, but it’s true. We identify our possessions with ourselves our achievements, joys and sorrows. Being advised to give up old or perhaps not-so-old clothes can feel like we’re being advised to eliminate parts of these. And, in fact, that will be right.
What no one tells you (but I will). As soon as your cupboard (or your house) is full of things from yesteryear, things that only remind you of who you’re, you really literally don’t have any room for who you are now and who you’re becoming.
Granted, plenty of people simply will not go down the philosophical road with me here: “Seriously? My cupboard is a mirror for what I think about myself? Yeah, right.”
So consider it this way: what’s the point of spending money on new clothes if you lose them at a sea of stuff that you don’t even wear? At least consider it as making room for all of the new things you’re going to buy this season.
Does your cupboard make you feel bad about yourself? Now let us take a clear-eyed look at items in your cabinet which may have unpleasant feelings associated with them. For instance, do you have professional clothes out of a project where you felt unappreciated? Have you been maintaining your “skinny clothes” as inspiration to lose weight?
Be honest about whether seeing them each day inspires you or just makes you feel bad about yourself again and again. Place them away. Or even better, get rid of these. Because if you do lose that 20 pounds (or even find a new job), chances are you will want a whole new wardrobe to observe your new self!
Place it in view. With a hard time deciding what to eliminate? Try this simple exercise I did with one of my clientele. Her closet was packed wall to wall, floor to ceiling, with old clothes she could not let go of. But it was clear to me that the old, dull, outdated clothes certainly did not reflect the design and personality of the girl who stood before me, most likely, no more fit her correctly.
So, I tore a page out of her favorite clothes catalogue of a kicky little jacket that she wished to buy — something that certainly expressed the stylish and confident person she is now. I taped it into the door. Then I pulled each item from her cupboard, held it up into the picture and asked, “If you had to make room for these things, which would it be?” The juxtaposition was illuminating! Given the option between a paisley corduroy pinafore dress (not kidding) and this small gem of a jacket, she eventually saw what she’d been doing. In the long run, she contributed about a quarter of her cabinet.
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Feeling overwhelmed at the possibility of dredging through your past — I mean, your cupboard? Begin with these baby steps.
Look at each item. Do you wear it? Otherwise, ask yourself why you’re maintaining it and listen to your answer.
Try things on. Have a trusted friend with you and honestly (actually being the operative word) see whether it fits and suits you — your body, personality, style and way of life. If it does not, put it in a tote.
Do you drawer, 1 shelf, 1 row at a time, after per week. Place what you remove into a tote. Then find a charity, such as a women’s shelter or a veterans’ job training program in which you know those garments will be valued, or the nondescript thrift store that you pass on the way to work, and shed those bags off. You will feel good and receive a tax deduction to boot up.
Shop the keepakes. Finally, in the event that you really want to keep what you don’t currently wear, such as your favorite boyfriend jeans from college, it does not mean that you have to keep it in your cupboard competing for space with stuff you wear frequently. Pack it up and store it elsewhere.
Do this and you’re going to gain yourself a little breathing room. Your wardrobe will have plenty of room to grow, and maybe sprout a kicky little jacket or 2.
More: Your Total Home Organizing and Decluttering Guide