Wardrobe Clear-Out (because It’s Overdue)

I’ve begun the edit of my wardrobe. I compiled a list of everything I own, everything I wear, and everything I feel confident when wearing. Unfortunately, that gave me an end result of the following:

IN MY CURRENT WARDROBE
Tops Skirts Dresses Outwear Shoes Other
Short Sleeve Shirts 5 Long 3 Long 2 Coats & Jackets 2 Boots 2 Robe 1
Long Sleeve Shirts 3 Short 4 Short 3 Vests 2 Booties 2 Scarves 2
3/4 Sleeve Shirts 1 Cardigans 9 Sneakers 1 Hats 4
Sweaters 3 Hoodies & Sweatshirts 3 Flats 1
Tanks 7 Sandals 1
Heels 2
Slippers 1
Total: 19 Total: 7 Total: 5 Total: 16 Total: 10 Total: 7
TOTAL (11/28/2017): 65

Now, for a lot of you, this may not be much. It might not even be on your radar to have 10 pairs of shoes, or a 5 skirts. But for me, this is a pretty big number – especially when a lot of the items making up that number are pieces that I never reach for or only wear because the pieces I actually like are all in the laundry bin.

If I take away those items, I’m left with:

WHAT I LOVE USING
Tops Skirts Dresses Outwear Shoes Other
Long Sleeve Shirts 2 Long 2 Short 3 Vests 1 Boots 1 Scarves 2
Short 1 Cardigans 3 Booties 2 Hats 1
Hoodies & Sweatshirts 2 Sneakers 1
Sandals 1
Total: 2 Total: 3 Total: 3 Total: 6 Total: 5 Total: 3
TOTAL (12/05/2017): 23

As you can see, I’m not left with much. A couple of outfits and then I’m out of luck. I am a minimalist, but that doesn’t mean I’m an extremist. I’d like to have more than 4 outfits to my name.

I’ve always loved the idea of a capsule wardrobe. For those unfamiliar with this, it’s a wardrobe compiled of a set of high-quality basics used year round. Those basics are then buffered by a few seasonal pieces that you swap out every couple of months (this is the morphed version of the original capsule as proposed by its inventor, Susie Faux). My one issue with this was the idea of swapping out pieces each season and storing the remainder. I hate storing clothes. Storage bins are clutter (believe me, I have enough of them to know). I prefer to have all clothing hanging up year round.

Which led me to a similar idea: the 333 Project is a challenge in which you use only 33 items of clothing for 3 months. Now, again, this project involves swapping pieces out at the end of 3 months- but the idea is to only swap pieces you realize you’re not entirely adoring or that are not getting enough use out. This seems much more suited to my idea of minimalism. Not to mention, I’ve always loved the idea of that beautifully rounded 33 number.

I’ve concluded that I will attempt a version of the two that will (hopefully) equip me to minimize my wardrobe and still allow me the freedom of more than 4 outfits. I plan to take Susie’s capsule wardrobe idea and fill it with 33 pieces (comprised of items for all seasons) in total.

I am using the pieces currently in my wardrobe as the basis for this project, but I still need to purchase several items. I also want to replace some of my existing pieces with better quality items that will last much longer (when you have fewer clothes, they tend to wear out a lot quicker). For the most part, my wardrobe will be primarily black – and I’m 105%  okay with that. I’m confident and comfortable in the colorless color, and I’m embracing that with vigor.

For the inventory lover in you (or is that nerdiness only something I can claim?), here’s a spreadsheet of what I plan to have in my wardrobe (please note that I’m not counting my gloves or purse as I only have one of each and don’t really consider them negotiable wardrobe items so much as needs):

IDEAL WARDROBE
Tops Skirts Dresses Outwear Shoes Other
Short Sleeve Shirts 1 Long 2 Short 2 Coats & Jackets 1 Boots 2 Scarves 2
Long Sleeve Shirts 3 Short 2 Vests 2 Booties 1 Hats 1
3/4 Sleeve Shirts 3 Midi 1 Cardigans 2 Sneakers 1
Sweaters 1 Hoodies & Sweatshirts 2 Flats 1
Blazers 1 Sandals 1
Heels 1
Total: 8 Total: 5 Total: 2 Total: 8 Total: 7 Total: 3
TOTAL: 34

And for those of you who prefer graphics, here’s an image of the entire wardrobe (minus the beanie which I didn’t feel like taking a picture of after all this collage work) all planned out (images are from Amazon – I do not own rights to any of them and will not receive any compensation for sharing them here):

Have you ever attempted a capsule wardrobe or the 333 Project? What are your thoughts on minimalist wardrobes? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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Am I a Minimalist?

Soooo, I did a thing. I inventoried my apartment. Every belonging and possession was counted – every. single. thing. (er, minus stuff that gets used up like soap, feminine products, cleaning stuff, food, etc.)

And I kept track of all of it via excel on Google drive. Here’s the list if you don’t believe me:

Disclaimer: I grouped items that come in sets (like bobby pins) together as one item.

Now I know what you’re thinking. “Rachel, I can’t see the categories and numbers and stuff.” (Or maybe you’re thinking that I’m over the top.. I never claimed to be less than over the top.) Well here’s the most important thing: as of November 28th, I own 745 things. That number includes furniture, my car, reusable sacks, storage bins, etc. For the rest, don’t worry, I plan to bore you with declutter posts broken down by category so you can know exactly what I own. 😉

I call myself a minimalist, and I have since my first “great purge” back in 2015. I was going through a time in my life when most things were not great, and something I could control was getting rid of crap. The high I got from parting with stuff that had previously held the proverbial leash to my life was definitely addicting.

Ever since that time, I have regularly (at least once a month, generally more like twice) purged everything I own and bid adieu to whatever was obviously not getting use. Still, somehow the number of things I own continued to climb at a rate faster than I purged. Some of that is due to the generosity of friends and coworkers (I have a “mom” at work who brings me things all the time – love that woman! ❤ ), and some of that is due to my desire to entertain at my apartment (board games). But a lot of it, I could do without.

When I first moved into my apartment, every single one of my belongings could fit in my little 98′ Honda Accord. As you can probably guess, my current list of belongings would definitely not fit in my now bigger car, a 14′ Toyota RAV4. That’s a freaky feeling for me.

Which brings me to a mega goal for 2018:

I intend to get rid of 50%+ of everything I own.

I’ve already been on a purge kick of late. I’ve departed with a trunkload of goodies (one gal’s trash is another gal’s treasure) in the last month, and that old familiar rush of tingly freedom is beckoning for more. But that trunkload was not included in the 745 number, and that is making me feel a little… suffocate-y.

Now, I could jump on the bandwagon and start getting rid of crap IMMEDIATELY (which I’m sorely tempted to do), but I know that if I use that approach, I’ll end up getting rid of stuff I still need/want. I have a tendency to become crazy with my purges and get rid of tons of crap, then regret one or two things after and end up re-buying.

So the plan is to wait.

And wait.

And wait..

Until January 1st. Then I can begin purging.

And during the waiting, I’ll be carefully analyzing my google doc to see what I can live without and what I’d rather have stick around.

No worries, I’ll be sure to post about the purge as it happens.

Do you ever feel suffocated by stuff? I’d love to hear your thoughts. 🙂

How I Keep My Home Clutter Free

love to organize and declutter and purge. It’s one of my all time favorite pastimes… which is why I frequently offer to reorganize a friend’s bookshelf (color-coded? alphabetized by author? selected by genre?) or purge a relative’s closet with them. I just love taking chaos and creating peace out of it.

Because of this, it’s not uncommon for friends and family to ask me for decluttering advice. I’ve finally decided to share what I call the “10 Commandments of a Clutter-Free Home”! Hopefully it helps some, or all, of you out! 🙂

Commandment the First: Write down why you want to be clutter-free.

It’s so important to have your reasons written down. This is the first act that’s sets the tone for the rest of your attack on clutter. Why write them down? Because seeing feels a lot better than just thinking. I like to have something to look at when I’m considering getting rid of an item.

I’m a practicing minimalist (you can see my reasons why here), so I have narrowed my clutter-decision-making down to one word: simplify. I realize not everyone is as eager to toss items as I am, but it’s important to remind yourself of the simplicity of life when there’s less in it!

Aside from that, there is a serious feeling of elation when you look around a spruced up, clutter-free room.

At least there is for me. 🙂

Commandment the Second: Understand your needs versus wants and limit the latter.

Each need you have can be narrowed down to three categories:

  1. to live
  2. to work
  3. to thrive

Each of those categories have an exponential amount of potential for clutter, so it’s important to understand the why behind each. Let’s break it down.

To live, I need: a home, a bed, utensils, food, clothes & shoes, and hygiene products. Now I’d like that list to include hair products and books and photographs and bookshelves and.. well, there’s exponential opportunity here. But I don’t actually need the items in the second list to live.

To work, I need: a computer, a notebook, a planner, cleaning products and a vehicle.

To thrive, I need: hobby items (for me, it’s books), confidence boosters (for me it’s hair products and stylistic extras) and other miscellaneous items (my sewing kit that goes unused for long periods of time but I would too much if I didn’t have it) that simply bring me joy and that I use frequently or on occasion.

“Wants” are any items that don’t fit in those three categories. These items are generally old clothes you never wear but have fond memories attached to, books you’ve never picked up and never will, expired products, duplicate products, etc. You don’t have to get rid of everything that falls into the “wants” category, but if you don’t limit yourself, you’re bound to have a cluttered home.

Now a lot of people would say the “thrive” category falls under wants, and technically they’d be correct. However, I find that if I’m not keeping things that make me happy (books) or using unnecessary items to make myself look good (hair products, styling tools, etc.) then I’m not really feeling myself. That leads to the danger of not taking care of myself which increases risk of health problems. So you see, I actually do need those things.. even if I technically wanted them first.

Ultimately the rule here is if the item doesn’t make you happy and doesn’t serve a purpose, let it go.

Commandment the Third: If you forgot you had it, you don’t actually need it or want it.

We’ve all had that moment when we’re digging through a drawer looking for, say, a pair of socks and find an old tank top from four years ago that we haven’t worn or thought about it ages. It’s okay to let that item go! If you haven’t thought about it, you don’t really want it and you definitely don’t need it! This rule of thumb is especially helpful during a yearly (for me, monthly) purge-all, which I hope everyone does. 😉

 Commandment the Fourth: If you haven’t used the item in a year and it can be replaced for less than $50, you don’t need it.

This goes for kitchen utensils, household equipment, swimwear (I don’t swim anymore, so I recently parted with my swimwear), extra blankets, cake decorating tools, etc. For me, the rule is that if I can replace it for less than $100, I don’t keep it. This figure should be adjusted depending on your income and lifestyle desire. I find that $50 is a good middle ground.

I chose $100 because if I truly want/need the item, I can scrounge $100 up in a paycheck, but I want to live minimally so this lets me get rid of more things. 🙂

Commandment the Fifth: If it’s got holes in it or stains on it, why are you keeping it?

Seriously.. why? I used to have several tops with holes that, yes, I would still wear in their horrid condition and try ever so hard to keep people from seeing the holes.. but why? That’s just silliness- especially if it’s easily replaced.

Commandment the Sixth: Mend the seams this week, or toss it.

I used to have a huge pile of clothes that I wanted to shorten the hem on or attach a button to, and never got around to it. This taught me three things: one, I’m lazy, two, I wasn’t using those items, three, tossing/donating them was a lot less stressful. I now have a rule for myself: if I don’t mend the item within a week of the problem’s occurrence, I part ways with it.

Commandment the Seventh: Don’t hold onto hobbies you no longer enjoy.

For ages I held on to scrap booking supplies because years and years ago, I adored the hobby. I used to take trips out of town with friends so we could devote an entire weekend to just that. Buuuut it’s been a while since I’ve felt the urge to paste photos to paper and decorate. I just don’t enjoy it any longer.

The same went for my knitting needles and yarn.. I haven’t knitted in ages and seeing the yarn just sitting there, waiting to be transformed, made me feel stressed. So I bid it adieu. Should I ever decide to knit again, it will be a fairly cheap hobby to start up again.

Commandment the Eighth: Sell it on Facebook.

Facebook is the best. But seriously. You can use it to connect with long lost friends, to update relatives you see less than once a year and now to get rid of your junk. Selling on Facebook is simple, convenient and easy as all get out. Take a picture, write a short description and assign a price tag, then watch your friends, family and neighbors bid to buy!

Okay, so it may not turn out to be an episode from Auction Hunters, but probably at least one person will want to buy it. This is how I made $140+ off used books that were just sitting on my bookshelf, more than six times what I would have made on them by selling at Half-Priced books or some other used bookstore. All I did was spread the books out on my bed, snap a photo and post it with the caption “A Buck a Book Sale!” If friends from other states wanted to buy, I’d ship them. They just had to send me money via PayPal upfront to cover the cost of the item+shipping.

Facebook is genius. Facebook is bae.

Commandment the Ninth: Give to those in need.

Donating is almost always a good idea. But listen. If you’re getting rid of something because it’s moldy, filthy or smells like cat pee, don’t expect people to want it. I’ve seen people drop some nasty stuff by Goodwill’s door.. it’s just sad.

Not to mention some of the books donated at the library.

YUCK.

BUT, if your item is in nice shape, smells like a delight and is something others are sure to want, donating is a great way to go. You can do this by giving to a charity, food pantry, thrift store benefiting those in need, or by posting a pic on Facebook and captioning it “free to a good home.” They’ll thank ya for it!

Commandment the Tenth: Buy experiences, not things.

This is the most important commandment for a clutter-free home. We need to understand believe that things won’t make us as happy as living will. And by living I mean taking on adventure! So rather than purchasing three new shirts and two skirts when you have a closet full of perfectly good clothing, consider taking your family to a museum or the zoo.

On your death bed, you won’t be excitedly telling those gathered around you about the perfect chair you purchased ten years ago that now sits, unused, in your basement.. you’ll be telling them about the time you took your daughter to the zoo and she got to ride an elephant because of their special exhibit, or the time you saved up and bought a plane ticket to Rome where you met your spouse.

These experiences are the things that matter.

Not items that just clutter up your house and leave you frenzied and stressed.

So choose to be free.

Choose to focus on living and not gaining, unless your gaining in experience. 🙂

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**** original, unedited image source ****