New season=mega closet clean out + new clothes, right?! Well, maybe.
In a culture constantly pushing for more, a few are bravely wishing for less. Shauna Niequist wrote a great post on Less a few weeks ago, and this book made me want to sell everything. (I didn’t. I’ve got people in my life that help with these sorts of moments.)
But the closet? That is surely one area we can all agree: we need simple.
First of all, I’m a huge fan of the tiny twig‘s No Brainer Wardrobe. She wrote these posts (start here) a couple years ago, but the principles still stand today. I went ahead and purchased the ebook, but I just like to have things easier to find. Most of the content can be patched together through her various blog posts on the subject. My high school self really would have benefitted from this… Not that I would have listened.. (more is more, mom!)
If the fashion part isn’t as big of a deal for you, here are my top 6 steps to a simple closet:
1. Count everything.
No, really. How many times have you stood there staring at the same pairs of pants wondering if a new on-trend pair will suddenly appear? After counting, you’ll realize there are 10 staring you right in the face. Is ten too many? I don’t know- I’m not you. Maybe it depends how many you actually wear. If you wear a dress every day to work, 10 pairs of pants might not make sense for your life anymore.
Every area of life needs an inventory before helpful steps can be taken, and redeeming a closet is no different! Don’t do this to feel guilty, but instead make yourself have an accurate view of what’s in there. My journey of this step started here, and it wasn’t pretty.
2. Realize what you need.
Did you see that word? NEED. This is a tricky one. It might be the step to bring in a trusted friend or accountability partner. Sometimes there are blind spots in the wants vs. needs categories of our lives, and for me, this is absolutely true.
For the record, you do need clothes. You’ll get arrested without them. You also need work-appropriate clothes, of you’ll get fired. You may not need to have a different full outfit for every day of the week (plus evening attire and weekends) that won’t repeat for an entire quarter/year/life stage.
You also need shoes. Our feet have grown soft in our Western first-world days. Trust me.
3a. Think through what you can afford to replace.
This is the step most advice-givers skip, but I would argue this is key to sustaining a simple closet. You may be having a wake-up call to the excess in your life and not want to replace anything. However, that staple black dress you’ve worn 57 times but now is ratty would be wise to replace. One time I threw out my “everyday” shoes because they were worn out, but then I couldn’t afford replacements yet, and was left with no good options.
Unless your budget is unlimited, this is a difficult. Ideally, you’ve been budgeting ahead of time if you know replacements are needed, but not all of us end up on What Not to Wear (um, thankfully!) with $1000 to burn. Be wise. Go back to #3. Bring in friends to help.
3b. Ruthlessly get rid of things.
Again, I’m going to point you back to the tiny twig on this, because I am not a fashion blogger and she has much more helpful tips of what’s worth keeping vs. what needs to go. I also love this graphic I found on Pinterest via this pin (can’t find the source link?!) for its visual practicality.
Remember, before you throw it away or donate it, consider the repercussions (see 3a).
4. Donate intentionally.
After my first massive closet clean out a few years ago, I was just planning to take it all to goodwill. This is certainly not a bad idea. After all, who doesn’t love a good thrift store?
However, my friend Lacey was staying with me that weekend, and the ministry she works with has a clothes closet for women leaving the sex-for-sale industry. She was elated with my multiple bags and took it all off my hands immediately. A few weeks later she sent me a picture of one of the women wearing one of my shirts, and I loved that!
So, before goodwill (if you can), try to reach out to a local ministry you could help. Call your local church and ask their recommendations. (They’ll have plenty!) If you’re in Dallas, I’ve been directed to Union Gospel Mission; either to the women’s shelter or directly to their thrift store on sight. I love how connected our church already is with UGM, so it’s an easy decision for me.
5. Keep simple sustainable.
Now that your closet is paired down considerably, make plans to keep it this way. Don’t just clean it out to fill it to the brim again, because then what was the point? I still have clean outs every now and then, but after the first big one, I made a point to keep the number of items low on purpose. I want to live simply, and this was the first area I needed to redeem.
6. Rethink the way you buy.
I’ll talk your ear off about fair trade and how things are made and who made it and why those things matter (I have, several times on this blog), but I strongly believe that this changes everything. When I purchase something that directly impacts the one who made it, I feel one step closer to changing the world. Even through my closet.
Live simply, so others may simply live.” -Mother Teresa