Declutter 101: How to get rid of clothing

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“Know, first, who you are; and then adorn yourself accordingly.” – Epictetus

While I have really enjoyed sharing my thoughts on mindful minimalism, I have no desire to reinvent the wheel. This week I’ve compiled a post that gathers the best resources I’ve found, in the great minimalist blogosphere, on how to achieve a minimalist/capsule wardrobe or basically remove items of clothing that are no longer required (either through fit, style or excess). Obviously one size does not fit all so I’ve included a few different links that have helped me at different stages of my journey.

This is partly in preparation for my second attempt at removing things from my wardrobe when I get back from Bonny Scotland. I completed started this task on January 1st 2015 producing 4.5 bin liners and since then a steady stream has continued to leave. Clearly I’ve not done a thorough job and my hope is that in Marie Kondo’s words if I “do it once and do it properly” the stream will cease. Until then I shall leave you with these.

  • Denaye Barahona’s post, at Dallas Mom’s blog, Why I got rid of my wardrobe, helped me believe a minimalist wardrobe is both possible and achievable (for me). I already have a wardrobe of clothes that colourwise work but taking it that step further to think about what combinations work is my next task. I love that this post has before and after photos of her closet and pictures of 12 different outfits she can assemble by simply grabbing a selection of clothes and shoes.
  • I really enjoy the accessibility of Joshua Becker’s posts at Becoming Minimalist and it is lovely to see how he has evolved as a minimalist (and writer) over time. He also includes regular guest posts. One such post was The story of enough by Sarah Peck, which resonated with last weeks post on being a Good Enough Minimalist. Sarah gave up buying new clothes for a year and discovered what she liked and what mattered to her.
  • If you’re still not convinced you can do it, then how about a look at Joshua’s post A practical guide to owning fewer clothes. He outlines 10 clear steps that are practical and applicable. I certainly need to revisit a couple of these!
  • No post on minimalist wardrobes would be complete without mention of Courtney Carter’s Project 333. Wear only 33 items of clothing, shoes, jewellery, and outerwear for 3 months. There are some exclusions such as workout gear, underwear and your wedding ring don’t count. If that is feeling a little daunting, I love her list of 33 things to eliminate from your closet.
  • And last but certainly not least is Janie Baran’s post over at Simple not plain on how to develop a minimalist wardrobe. It contains a step by step formula that combines consideration of colour, style and suggestions on what to have as your base items, secondaries and accessories. She suggests a 50 item complete wardrobewith a 33 item working wardrobe. It is a great guide to getting started and is an alternative approach rather than staring with a remove the excess approach.

I’ve no idea how to approach my next cull. Perhaps I should start with Marie Kondo’s ‘what sparks joy’ and then use Janie’s advice as a follow up. Whatever I decide, I’ll let you know what else I discover when my task is complete. Who knows, I may even find Narnia!


Items de-cluttered this week – From the depths under the sink I’ve disposed of 6 partially used bottles of cleaning product I don’t use, 2 brushes, several items that I’ve no idea what they were for and part of the fridge we replaced two weeks ago. I’ve also (finally) defrosted the freezer and in the process have disposed of a bag of food I would prefer not to admit to or think about!

A blog I’ve enjoyed – I love coming across posts that take ideas that I’ve had and extend them. This weeks post is one such blog. I’ve recently discovered the writing of Francine Jay over at Miss Minimalist and I have loved every post I’ve read thus far. Her post, Declutter your fantasy self, chimed so clearly with my post a few weeks ago about tomorrow is now that I had to share it. Her idea of seriously asking yourself what your fantasy self is like, and then being honest about our real self has already begun to help me think about the task of going through the wardrobes again when I get back from holiday.


Photo: 2015-02-14c Ideal for things to wear — index card/Sacha Chua/

Farewell to the Little Black Dress

black dress

I have a Little Black Dress. Black doesn’t suit me and yet I have the standard  Little Black Dress. I’ve known black doesn’t suit me for four years and have said goodbye to everything else in my wardrobe that is black including 2 beautiful black wool coats. However I’ve really struggled to say goodbye to the dress, and I mean REALLY struggled.

I covet a minimalist wardrobe (the irony of coveting while moving towards minimalism is not lost on me). I’ve taken a number of steps along the way and while the first had absolutely nothing to do with minimalism it has had the most profound impact. I had my colours analysed. This simple act has saved me more time and money than I can count.

There are a number of different companies that sell colour consultations and while I take the “science” of it with a handful of salt I do like that I have a clear idea of what colours suit me. I can spot them a mile off so I can walk in a shop, scan it and if there is nothing “in my colours” I can walk out again. In the past I could have spent an hour or more trying on numerous outfits with the running commentary “if only I was…” (Insert thinner/fatter/shorter/taller/more hippy/less hippy etc). This commentary is a thing of the past. Now if it doesn’t look great on me it is either because it is not my colour (or not my style). It makes it about the clothes being wrong rather than anything about me being wrong – the liberation!

The company my wife and I used categorise you into “Seasons”. We went to our consultants home (a slightly eccentric 70 year old who was wilfully blind about our relationship) and were analysed. This involved taking it in turns to sit on a stool in front of a mirror draped in a white cloth to cover our clothes and with a white bandanna covering our hair. The consultant layered coloured scarves on alternating shoulders. Initially I could not tell the difference between them but one side definitely looked better. The colours of each layer were similar however one set were yellow based and one set were blue based. (If you are not sure what I’m on about look at something red. Does it look more orangey-red or more purpley-red?) I’m apparently a “Blue Spring” which means that I look good in brighter yellow-based colours and amazing in yellow-based blues. My wife also looks good in yellow-based colours but at the more muted end as she is an “Autumn leaf”. I’m glad we did it together as I’m not sure I would have believed it if I hadn’t seen it done on someone else. Neither of us look good in black!

So back to the Little Black Dress. I know that black doesn’t suit me. In fact black makes me look jaundice and as though I’ve not slept in a week. So why have I had so much difficulty in letting go of the Little Black Dress?

I recently came across Jennifer Skinner’s blog The Very Small Closet. Unfortunately this ceased to be in 2009 but has some great posts about wardrobe management. She did a few on why it is difficult to let go of clothes and I could certainly relate. Three key factors are:

1. Clothes represent an investment of our money

2. The association factor (holding on to the memories associated with the item)

3. Imagining the future: The Someday… factor

I consider myself to be quite reflective and psychologically aware (I have to be in my work life) so I decided to spend sometime while on my recent staycation investigating the hindrance. After much deliberation I finally worked out it was the feeling. Not the feeling of owning it but the memory of the feeling of wearing it. It felt amazing. The dress in question is a beautifully tailored number by Reiss. I would team it with blue suede stiletto heels that I love (and which are in my colours) and I looked amazing! I remember very clearly buying it. I remember the day (it was sunny). I remember the location. I remember who was there. I also remember that I bought the shoes at the same time as they looked so amazing together…7 years ago! Powerful associations! I am not the type of person who remembers where and when I have bought my clothes.

When I was speaking to my wife about my difficulty her passing comment was “I don’t think I’ve every seen you in it”. Ok so I’ve not worn you in 5 years, farewell beautiful dress. Go make someone else happy.

 

Items de-cluttered this week

Zilch, zip, zero, nowt, nothing. We all need time off every once in a while and the Little Black Dress was de-cluttered last week.