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The Magic of Decluttering My Clothes

I have been fascinated with the concept of the 10-item wardrobe for a while now. If you haven’t heard of it, the idea is that you winnow down your clothing stash until you have a base of ten (yes, you read that right) items which you can mix and match for almost all of your sartorial needs. (Thankfully accessories and jammies don’t count. Phew!) Since decluttering is one of my interests (I can’t call it a habit or a passion yet, but it’s getting there), this has seemed right up my alley. But I hadn’t ever done anything about it.


Until last month. Last month just as the weather was starting to get colder, I ran across an article on Modern Mrs. Darcy (which is a really fun blog about reading and other topics) about her “fall uniform.” She has some great links in there to previous posts of hers about her own wardrobe journey; and if you dig a little, you can also find her link to a TED Talk from Madame Chic (aka Jennifer L. Scott, author of Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris), who seems to have begun the current 10-item wardrobe trend. I devoured them all in one sitting, and as so often occurs in my life, the agenda for the day was thrown out — does that happen to you like it does to me? — and I found myself in my closet, determined to wrestle it into submission.

I think it was the concept of “uniform” that finally hit home with me and caused the urge to make. this. happen. now. More research revealed that the concept of a uniform is not just limited to what policemen, soldiers, and nurses wear every day. A uniform is a look that you wear pretty much all the time because it suits you and is flexible enough to cover a lot of bases. I hearken back to the ol’ homeschool mom outfit I used to wear when the kids were small — either a jumper or denim skirt with a t-shirt. Although then I didn’t know it was a uniform; I just wore it because it was easy and looked, well, homeschool-mom-ish. And I didn’t mind that, then. (It’s amazing how when you are in your early 30’s you don’t care as much about looking, um, OLDER… but after 40 it’s a different matter altogether… 🙂 )

So I hit my closet and went to work. Before I was done I had made a thrift-store pile of everything that either looked bad on me, didn’t fit, or hadn’t been worn in over a year; I had removed all my summer clothes and placed them in a laundry basket up on the top shelf of the closet, and I had hung skirts (and dresses) together with the shirt(s)/sweater(s) that go with them side-by-side on the same rod, rather than shirts grouped on one rod and skirts grouped on another one. In other words, one skirt outfit is all together at the same place rather than scattered around the closet. decluttering-clothes-HHH2

Did I get it down to 10 items? Um, no. I don’t know if I’ll ever reach that point. But I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary; the main goal is to reduce until you don’t have any more than you really love and maybe only a little more than you really need. And I think I accomplished that. At least for now.

In the process, I discovered that I had made a start on a uniform for myself without really noticing it. You know how you tend to buy a lot of clothes that are a similar style because you like the way they look on you? What I found after decluttering my clothes was that what I was comfortable in and loved seeing myself in — and therefore had the most of — were long sweaters over jeans. Also oversized shirts, either buttoned up like a tunic or over a t-shirt and unbuttoned like a jacket. So now those make up my casual fall/winter uniform! And it wasn’t really that difficult to figure out; it just took removing all of the distractions.

Benefits of Decluttering My Clothes

There was an immediate gratification upon seeing how clear and clean and expansive my closet is now. LOTS of empty hangers all in a row. But there were some other benefits that I didn’t realize at first. Decluttering-Clothes-HHH3

Perhaps the biggest is that I don’t have “what do I wear today” angst anymore. Every choice in my closet is one I love and that I know I look good in. So it’s not hard to choose what to wear. About the only difficulty is deciding whether I feel like blue or pink or some other color, lol. This is just SO freeing, and I don’t think I can explain it fully — you just have to experience it for yourself. But it is WONDERFUL. Just really, really, wonderful.

Getting the dressier shirts onto their own rod, directly beside whatever skirt or dress they get worn with, aids in this sense of freedom. My eyes and brain don’t have to process them every time I go looking for a casual outfit on the other rod. And the same is true when I’m choosing what to wear to church — it’s all in one place, with no casual stuff there to confuse me. I choose a skirt, for example, and all my options (all one or two of them, lol) to wear with it are right there. Easy peasy. That’s the way I like things to be!

Clearing the summer stuff out altogether accomplishes the same thing. Just because I have room to hang it all up doesn’t mean I should. Getting it out of sight and therefore out of mind has cleansed the whole process of getting dressed of all of the frustration and stress that used to accompany it before. It’s like going into Baskin Robbins with all of its 31 flavors of ice cream — how do you choose?? I can take HOURS in that place. But then there’s In-N-Out — you can choose a burger with or without cheese, and there is NOTHING else. And you choose one and you’re happy!

(Have we not noticed the same thing with our children? Give them too many choices and they become little monsters. Narrow down their selection and they can handle life better. I hate to say I’m no better than a toddler, but…)

Decluttering my clothes has really seemed like magic to me. The lightness of heart I feel when I look at the uncrowded rods has been such a pleasant surprise. And the ease of dressing, day after day, is something that I want to keep in my life now.

I’ve noticed other decluttering to be like that, also. It becomes addicting once you get started. What’s next, you ask? Well, don’t tell anyone, but I’m eyeing the video cabinet…

Ann is a 40-something (ahem) homeschooling mom of five. She has been married for 26 years to her never-boring husband who travels two weeks per month; and she has homeschooled all of her children since pre-kindergarten, graduating three of them so far. Doing this while living in the boonies very rurally outside of Branson, Missouri, she has had to find ways to simplify her life in order to keep her sanity! 🙂 At Annie and Everything she blogs about making any and everything as simple and cheap as possible – frugality, homeschooling, and a bit about homemaking, motherhood, marriage, and other aspects of being a woman thrown in for good measure. You can also find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Google+.

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  1. I so desperately need to do this. So many things I keep hanging on to because “someday I’ll fit into that again…”. *sigh* the struggle is real! I know as soon as I get rid of it I’ll wish I had it again!

  2. I know EXACTLY how you feel. But you most likely won’t ever need it again… TRULY. I can count on one hand the items I have gotten rid of over the years that I actually even thought about after they were gone. If that worries you, then put those things in a box and store it for awhile somewhere where you can’t see it. If you do need one of the items, then you can always get it back out. But I bet most likely you’ll totally forget what’s in there, and in 6 months or a year you’ll have no problem getting rid of most of it, if not everything. 🙂

  3. Love this! I’ve been slowly weeding out things I don’t really like I my wardrobe but I think just a whole closet clean out is exactly what I need to accomplish? Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. I heard of a great way to monitor how long it has been since wearing an item of clothing. I read about turning around all of your hangers backwards on the rack and noting the date. After you wear an item and return it to the rack, turn the hanger back the usual way. Make a note to check the hangers at your preferred time and it will be easy to tell which clothes have been worn because their hangers will be turned around the proper way!

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