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Home Reset: Closet Edition

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Next Home Reset project for January: your closet! A closet reset is a good project for this cold, dreary, wet, dark month that seems to last forever, ugh. I tend to stumble on reset projects randomly because some forcing function takes me to that space and through the process of doing whatever I’m there to do, I start decluttering. In this case the forcing function was planning what I am going to wear for an upcoming trip; first to Portland for dinner at a hard-to-get-into Michelin Star restaurant (Gregory Gourdet’s Kaan) and then to Vegas for U2’s Sphere (!!!!) While pondering my choices for comfy-but-cool traveling outfits and Vegas-appropriate-but-also-cool night out attire I found some things that needed to go and before I knew it I was decluttering.

Clothing Attachments

Closets are some of the hardest spaces for people to declutter because we have emotional attachments to our clothes. We often hang on to things that don’t fit, things  we actually don’t really like, or things that are stained or otherwise damaged. Why do we do this? Which of these reasons have you used to keep something you no longer wear:

  • I spent a lot of money on it
  • I might fit back into it someday
  • I love it so much, even though there is a hole in it
  • I should save it because I wore it at (my rehearsal dinner, prom, sister’s wedding, etc.)

Because we keep things for reasons like these most women wear, on average 20% of the clothes in their closets. Which is fine I guess, if you have more closet space than you need – I have never met such a person or seen such a closet (and I’ve seen a LOT of closets!)

In this post I offer not a step-by-step process but rather a framework for making decisions about what in your closet should stay and what should go. You do not have to get rid of 80% of your clothes, but it’s likely that an edit is in order. 

Curate Your Offer

Think of your closet as a boutique that you get to shop in every day. In a boutique the assortment is curated to reflect an aesthetic (in this case, yours!) In a boutique you can see everything, nothing is hidden from view. Also, nothing is stained or damaged. Stores purposefully create this environment to make it a pleasant place to shop; you can create a similar experience in your closet and get better use out of the clothes you have.

Framework For EDITING

So what’s the framework for editing? There are no arbitrary rules (you haven’t worn it in 12 months!) but rather a going-in mindset (I’m not going to keep clothes that aren’t serving me) and a vision for a closet you’d like to shop in.

By the way – it’s okay to take this project in small chunks if your closet is in bad shape and more in need of an overhaul than a reset. Pick one category to declutter (Shoes, sweaters, denim, T-Shirts, etc.)  The more often you reset, the less time it will take. In my case it added an additional 20 minutes onto my outfit planning.

Here’s the framework: First, commit to having a closet where you can see everything that’s seasonally appropriate (if you can’t see it, you’ll forget you have it and you won’t wear it.) Next, go through and ask yourself whether each item is serving you. If it isn’t, think about why that is: maybe you couldn’t see it because it was buried under a bunch of other stuff? Maybe you love it but it’s damaged and every time you reach for it you remember it’s got a hole. Or maybe it doesn’t fit and hasn’t for some time. Perhaps it was something you thought you liked when you bought it but actually you don’t so it just sits there, never getting chosen for your OOTD. All of these examples should be edits.

What shouldn’t be edits are things you haven’t worn for a while because you haven’t had the occasion. I have a fantastic dress that I love but it’s really only appropriate for a special occasion like a wedding. I will absolutely wear it again, even though it hasn’t seen the light since pre-COVID. Speaking of COVID, many folks found that the kinds of things they used to wear regularly pre-pandemic aren’t part of their everyday attire anymore. In that case maybe it’s a good idea to keep some things in that category but let go of your least-favorite. For me that was heels. I hardly ever wear heels anymore and I had a huge collection of them. Even though I loved them I knew I wasn’t going to wear them and so over the course of a few closet resets I let them go, keeping only a few pairs that I could see myself wearing again. Clothing is personal but it’s important to remember that you are supposed to wear it on your body.

If you are having a hard time letting go try imagining the person who is going to find that sweater or pair of heels and be so excited because they won the treasure hunt lottery. Or think about what a pleasant experience getting dressed will be once you’ve created some space to breathe. Or, like me, maybe moving some things out means you have room to add something new. In any case remember that letting go is hardest in the moment, after that it’s all upside!

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