Welcome to day 14 in our Clutter-Free Challenge. You’ve almost made it! We are rounding third … actually almost to home. And I’m so proud of you!!!
We’ve got a lot to cover today regarding closets, so I’m going to jump right into it. But I also want to remind you that I’m only dealing with de-cluttering – not organizing. My inclination is to start with organizing when it comes to closets, but I don’t want you to worry about that right now. Just focus on minimizing the clutter, and it’s very possible you won’t need to make major organizing changes.
No, this is not my closet. But a girl can dream.
My guess is you are frustrated with your closets. And you might even think your problem is not enough closet space. You could be right. However, the reality is, unless you have a custom-designed home (or are already well-organized), no one thinks they have enough storage. Why? Stuff expands to fill empty space. So almost all of our closets, cabinets and garages get filled to capacity.
That works until it doesn’t. When our clothes are smashed and wrinkled, when we can’t find winter gloves, and when we spend money on gifts we forgot we’d already bought – then we realize it’s time to do something about those black holes. Then we are forced to make decisions. Maybe the hardest place to make decisions is our clothing closet, which is our focus today.
Before you start to de-clutter your closet, you’ll need some supplies. If you haven’t done this for awhile, you are probably going to get rid of a lot of things. My favorite piece of advice is to use black garbage bags. Why? Once you’ve removed an item from your closet and put it in the bag, you can’t see it. And if you can’t see it, you are less likely to go soft and pull it out.
Next, get ready to deal with broken dreams: Dreams that we can still fit into that dress, wear those heels or that someday our favorite pink shirt will actually look good on us. Clothing is associated with special events and seasons of our lives, and is very difficult to give up. Having to admit that I’m older and can’t wear certain styles is painful. De-cluttering my bedroom closet means I might have to let those dreams go. However, I’ve found a way to make it easier.
When it’s hard to part with a dress I once loved, there’s an image I bring to my mind. It’s of a single mother, trying to get a job. She doesn’t have anything nice to wear, nor the money to run to the mall and pick up a cute outfit. Then I look at the lovely skirt I no longer wear. That skirt can either hang in my closet gathering dust, or help a sister I haven’t met.
There are always exceptions, but mostly it’s just wrong for me to keep things I don’t use, and likely never will. I strongly believe we should be living more like the first Christians who shared everything they had with each other. No one was in need. Whether I give it away or sell it at a yard sale, depends on my family’s needs at the moment. Either way, someone else is being blessed. I want to live open handed, not closefisted. For if my hands are closed, it’s very hard for God to place something new in them.
So, with that in mind, as you look at your closet, consider the following two categories of items to remove:
1) What you don’t need or want anymore.
Here are four reasons to remove items.
Damaged or stained beyond repair. Re-purpose these clothes when possible. Use scraps for dusting or arts and crafts. Give some to quilters you know. Make clothing into other items like purses or tote bags. Set some aside for messy or dirty jobs such as yard work, cleaning or arts and crafts.
Not my style. No matter how much you love them, remove clothes you don’t wear due to style. Fifteen years after working outside the house, my dress clothes hung in my closet. Even if I could have fit into them, they weren’t my personal style any more. Or, they were too “young” for me.
Not worn. Shari Braendel, author of Good Girls Don’t Have to Dress Bad, wrote, “Without emotion, take everything out of your closet you have not worn in the last 18 months. The reason for the 18-month rule is that this gives you two seasons of the previous one you just went through. For example, if summer has just ended and you have things hanging in your closet that you didn’t wear this year OR the summer before, chances are you are not going to wear it next year” I like Shari’s advice better than the typical one-year rule.
Undecided. Some items of clothing present a challenge. We don’t love them, nor hate them. Professional organizer and Mission: Organization guest, Monica Ricci offers this piece of advice, “Go through the ‘undecided’ pile piece by piece, and ask yourself what value each piece currently gives you. Clothes that aren’t serving you need to be culled to make room for those pieces that are valuable.”
Wrong size. We have the opportunity to look stylish at any age or weight. If there are clothes that don’t fit well, or not at all, let them go. Of course, keeping some things makes sense if you are on a weight loss plan. Just be honest with yourself.
The other category of items to remove are those that could, or should, be stored somewhere else. Here are some tips for them:
2) What can be stored elsewhere
Sometimes our closets are catchalls for miscellaneous items. As you evaluate the odds and ends in your storage spaces, consider if it would make more sense to store them elsewhere. Try to keep items close to where they are used.
1. Move items to another room. When possible, keep like items together, and in a logical space. If you’ve stored golf clubs in your closet try to put them with other sports equipment. This might involve a whole-house approach if you’ve got like items stored in multiple places.
2. Remove items you want to keep, but seldom wear. For example, formal wear or ski clothes. These items can be stored in an attic or garage depending on fabric and weather. If you have room, consider storing seldom-used hanging items on a rolling garment rack. Buy one with a clear or fabric zipped covering. For under $100, you can get a large portable wardrobe with rods for hanging and places for shoes and other folded clothing.
3. Remove off-season clothing. Hopefully you can rotate seasonal clothing. Store these items under the bed or in another dresser. Or consider a portable garment rack tucked in a garage or work room.
Clearing closets is often easier with a friend … an honest one … and one with some style if possible. I’d still be wearing somethings from the 80s if not for some honest friends.
Once you’ve trimmed down your closets, I hope you’ll spend some time considering adding organizational helps. If you want ideas, visit websites like www.organize.com or www.containerstore.com.
Please join me tomorrow as we wrap up this Clutter-Free Challenge. I’ve got some final thoughts to share, one last giveaway, and I want to give you an opportunity to provide a link to your blogs to share your success stories with each other.
Grace & Peace,
Heavenly Father, it’s going to be tough going through my clothes closet. There are many emotions connected with those items. Help me to trust You enough to release the past. I don’t want to hold on to things that I need to let go. Help me to see this as a chance to release the old, to share with others, and to be open for the new thing You want to do in my life. There’s a part of me that’s afraid to let things go for fear I won’t have enough. But today I stand on Your promise to meet my needs. Thank You for your faithfulness. I choose to trust You today. In Jesus name, Amen.