Sunday, March 29, 2015

Tidying Up - The Great Clothing Purge

It's spring (even though it doesn't feel like it most days), and that means feeling the need to clean.  I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed by the amount of clothing that I own lately.  It's not even that I like to shop.  I tend to keep clothes FOREVER and then between gifts, the occasional shopping splurge, and even my mom giving me hand-me-downs (yes, my mom has good taste, so I don't mind wearing her hand-me-downs), I have WAY more clothes than any one person needs.

My normal way to purge is by season.  At the end of winter, for example, I will go through all my long sleeved tops, sweaters, cardigans, blazers, and pants that are specifically winter season stuff and say, "Did I wear this at all this winter?"  If the answer is no, it goes.

That system generally works for me, but recently I've been seeing YouTube videos and book reviews about a book "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up".  I haven't read this book, but the basic concept that I'm getting from the different videos I've seen is that the author, who is a Japanese organization guru, tells you to "tidy up" all at once.  She wouldn't approve of my seasonal purges.  Since she wants her clients to do this process all at once, she has an order to how you should purge these items: first clothes, then... books, maybe, and so on until your entire life is "tidied up".  I was most interested in the part about clothes, because that is the area of my life where I have been feeling the most overwhelmed by the volume.

The author encourages her clients to put every single bit of clothing out in a pile on the floor or bed in order to first fully understand the amount of stuff one owns.  I didn't want to do this at first, because I thought it would be a major pain, but then I thought, why not?  I decided to only do this with what was in my actual closet, because I recently organized my dresser drawers and didn't really feel the need to tidy that area.  This was the result... don't judge.

This is horrifying.  Now granted, I've seen videos of other people who have just as big of a pile as I did, and I had no illusions that my situation would be any different.  To actually see it, though... wow.  Now, to be fair, some of these things are many, many years old and I really do feel like I've gotten more than my money's worth out of probably 75% or more of this stuff, so I really can't say that any of the items have been a waste... but still, some of the bulk needed to go.  Obviously.

I left the stuff on hangers to make it easier on myself, and as the author of the book suggests, I picked up each item, decided on a whim if "it brought me joy" (aka... did I like this?  Do I see myself wearing it again?  How do I feel when I'm in it?) and if the answer after a couple of seconds was no, it went in another pile on the floor to be discarded (aka donated or yard sale).  There were a few items that I had to try on to really know, and a few items that I kept, even though the initial thought was "eh, I don't know," but I still think I made a good dent.

Look at all those empty hangers!  I started at 9am and by 12pm when I stopped to eat lunch, I had 5 stuffed garbage bags of clothes and one large tote of shoes.  I'm actually surprised that I didn't get rid of more, but considering that I do the whole seasonal purge thing, I'm not entirely shocked.  I do think that I am a pretty organized, tidy, and even to an extent minimalist-minded person.  You'll laugh at that last statement because of the amount of things on my bed, but hear me out.  It's not that I don't like my stuff.  I'm human, however, I try to keep in mind that stuff is not necessary for my happiness.  I only buy things that I know I really want or need, so when I went through the process of "does this bring me joy," the answer was often "yes".

I still have to go through coats and maybe my dresser drawers again to see if I want to get rid of any exercise gear... but I think I feel pretty good about my "tidying up" progress for a Sunday morning.

If there's one thing that I took away from this, it's that I feel good about my already established idea of how to tidy.  I don't really feel like this "all at once" method was really earth shattering for me.  I'm glad I did it.  It definitely needed to be done, but I don't feel like it was life changing.  I will more than likely do this purge again in about 6 months.  In fact, I think I will schedule a clothing purge in my calendar for 6 months from now.

The positive take-away from my purge:  I probably emptied about about a third of my long wall-to-wall closet.  I reorganized it so that I could easily see the spring/summer things.  There is more space to move the clothing around.  My shoes are more accessible and easily seen now.  Of course, less clutter!

Now that I am fulled by food, it's on to round two: coats and winter accessories, then bags.  Let's see how many more bags I can fill!


  1. One thing about old houses is that they have very small closets (if any at all!) so you just can't keep as much. I might have to try this method of pulling everything out at once sometime.

    1. Yeah, I don't have a ton of closet space either, but since it's just me I had it kind of spread all over the place. It doesn't seem like that much until you put it all out on the bed or floor.


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