Learn to clean out your closet without the guilt
I’m a girl who loves to clean out my closets. I don’t know if it’s the or what, but streamlining my clothing and shoes, while making room for new possibilities has always made me happy. However, every now and then I get struck by this overwhelming sense of guilt when I try to get rid of something. “Ugh, I just got those shoes. True, they were final sale, and I ordered them, so I didn’t know they were just a tad too tight, but still… Maybe I could squeeze into them for an hour or two at dinner??” Or the always present, “Okay, yeah, so I’ve never worn that dress. But it’s so cute, and you know the second I get rid of it, the perfect occasion will pop up where I could’ve worn it.”
But unless you have a vastly huge closet (and even if you do), you don’t need to keep things that aren’t you from mucking up your space. So here are some steps to clear out your closet without needing a glass of wine to cope through it –
1. Accept it for what it is and learn from it
Yes, you spent money on that shirt, and no, you’ve never worn it (or you only wore it twice). Did money get wasted? Probably. Have you learned anything from it? Sure. Maybe now you know that you really don’t like cashmere sweaters (anyone with me there?? Why are they always itchy to me??) Or maybe you really thought you could pull off a mini skirt, but you can’t get over how your knees look. You won’t be spending money on those same fashion mistakes in the future. And recognize this fact – unless you still have the receipt, that money is gone. End of story. You can try your luck at Buffalo Exchange or Plato’s Closet, but you will likely not fully recoup whatever you spent to buy that item in the first place. Accept that fact and move on.
2. If you really can’t let go – then don’t
A few years back, I had gained a lot of weight, and I had to majorly clean out my closet because so few of the items fit. I threw the garbage bag of discards into the trunk, and promptly forgot about them until almost a year later. Then one day, and about 50 pounds lost later, I noticed a pair of jeans poking out from the bag, and I decided to investigate. I took the bag inside, tried on the clothes, and ended up bringing a couple of the items back into rotation. But here was the thing – out of probably 20 items, I only ended up recouping 3 or 4 pieces. The rest were either now too big for me, or they just weren’t my style anymore. No matter what, those clothes just weren’t meant for me anymore. But, at the end of the day, if you just cannot make yourself get rid of something, then box it up and make a note somewhere to check it out again in 6-12 months. Maybe it’ll be right for you by then, maybe you’ll have learned to let it go.
3. Don’t let emotions get tied to material objects
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people say, “Yes, that dress looks awful on me, but my boyfriend gave it to me. I can’t possibly let it go” (or some variation thereof). Look, if someone you love gave you something that you don’t love, you are not obligated to keep it. First of all, the person who gave it to you would (presumably) want you to be happy, and wearing something that you feel awful in won’t make you feel happy. Second of all, once a gift is given, it is the property of the recipient, and no longer any business of the gift giver. I have a family member who I love dearly, but who I hate accepting gifts from. She will give me something, and tell me that if I ever don’t want it anymore, that she wants it back. Then she’ll ask me later if I’m wearing said gift, how often I’m wearing it, why she never sees any pictures with me wearing it, etc. Yes, we all want people to enjoy our gifts, but a gift is just that – a gift. The receiver can do with it whatever they want, and if that means taking it to Good Will, so be it.
4. Don’t accept other people’s timelines
Pretty much every clothing clean out article tells you that if you haven’t worn something in 6 months, it’s time to toss it. Why???? If you love it, and you only wear it on special occasions, who says you can’t keep it? I have a great skirt that I got from Ann Taylor almost 6 years ago, and I’ve probably only worn it 4 or 5 times. However, every time I wear it, I get tons of compliments and I feel like a princess. It’s way to fancy to wear to the office, and really, it’s too much for even a date night. I’ve worn it to a gala before – that’s how fancy it is. But it takes up a minimum of space, it fits perfectly, and I love it. So what if I haven’t worn it in 3 years? Conversely, if you wear something every day for 2 months, and then one day it just doesn’t work for you anymore, that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Maybe you’re suddenly over peplum, or the color worked in the summer and not so much in the winter. If you suddenly stopped enjoying ice cream, you wouldn’t force yourself to eat it, right? Don’t force love when it isn’t there.
Which brings me to –
5. Recognize that you can’t force what isn’t meant to be
Every girl on every webpage and in every selfie is rocking out skinny jeans like there is no tomorrow, and dammit, you are NOT going to be left behind. At least, that’s what you said when you bought those jeggings, but… they’re just not working for you. Maybe they don’t move with you, or you just don’t love how your booty looks in them. Whatever the reason, it’s okay. Some things just aren’t meant to be. I love shorts, but I have never felt comfortable in them. I just get too self-conscious, and I wonder if everyone is staring at me legs, and then the fun of whatever I was doing is wasted. If you don’t love something, it doesn’t matter how much you spent, or who gave it to you, or why you bought it in the first place – you deserve to be surrounded by things you love. If every time you look in the closet you feel guilty over some item, that’s unfair to you. You should love every piece of your wardrobe like a child loves a puppy – unabashedly and fully!