The Quest for Clean – The Closet

I’ve mentioned before how much I love my closet space in this house. Basically, everything I wear is located here. I do have four dresser drawers for socks, undies, pajamas, and tank-tops, but it’s only a few feet away.

When I’m lying in bed, I face my closet. Having lived in this house now for over a year, I’ve spent enough mornings facing this closet for me to slowly start to understand that, in all it’s nice “togetherness” it isn’t the organized space I want it to be.

Don’t get me wrong…I’ve seen worse. And on most days, there is no “cramming” that has to happen in order for all of my clean clothes to fit. I have a pretty loose rule in effect that I won’t buy something new (this includes thrifted clothes) if I don’t get rid of something at home. It helps me to think of it this way – I only have so many hangers and if I am going to bring something home to hang up, I need to somehow free up a hanger. That’s not to say that I haven’t bought new hangers at all in the past year. Or that I haven’t occasionally raided Jason’s closet for a hanger when I was one short.

But the fact remains that I like clothes. My problem with them is three-fold:

  1. They’re fun. They’re sort of a form of art for me. Working in an office makes me want lots of unique, different things to wear every day instead of just a few boring basics. And that becomes part of my problem – I have lots of unique and different things, both for work and for home. And many of them are so unique that it’s hard to pair them up into an outfit.
  2. I love to visit the thrift store. I like it too much. It’s a thrill – you never know what you might find. And while I always go in with the intent to only buy something if I need it or if it’s really nice quality (a good wool sweater, a vintage dress, etc) I often walk away with a few handfuls of sub-par crap that I didn’t really need but looked good on me.
  3. I sew clothes. This in an of itself creates problems because they’re not just something I wear, they’re something I birth and I get attached. The only other articles of clothing I get attached to are ones that people I love buy me as gifts – it’s that bad. The problem is, my sewing levels are constantly improving and I have quite a few shirts that I made six years ago that don’t fit right or just aren’t holding together well. Those should go. But oftentimes they don’t.

I want to drastically scale my closet down, and I want it to be better organized. I know it may never be as clean and neat as I’m dreaming it will be, but I want to at least set some ground rules and begin to establish some lifelong habits. If we have kids, I want them to see me modeling good organizational habits. I don’t want them to see me buying things to make myself feel better, or keeping something that isn’t serving a purpose.

Here is the plan:

  • Pull everything out and go through each item, one by one. I will have three piles: Keep, maybe, and toss. All of the “toss” pile will either go to Goodwill or will get saved for the next clothing swap I attend.
  • The “keep” pile will go back into my closet with the hangers facing towards me. I’m actually hoping that there will be very few clothes that make this cut!
  • The “maybe” pile will also go back into the closet, but with the hangers facing away from me. Over the next six months (because I rotate clothes seasonally) I will make an intentional effort to wear these garments and decide if I like how they fit, how they look, if they’re my style, etc. There’s no better way to decide if you should keep something than actually wearing it. In fact, I wore a shirt on Monday that I was on the fence about and decided it needed to go.
  • After the six months have passed, I will hopefully not have any “maybe” clothes left. If any clothes on hangers are still facing away from me, they will go. Clearly, despite best intentions, I have not wanted to wear those items for whatever reason and they don’t belong in my closet.
  • After that, I will use the hanger system over six-month periods to maintain a sane level of clothes.

I do have a few piles of folded clothes – pants, t-shirts, workout clothes, some sweaters, etc. I think in my ideal closet, everything is on a hanger. But in the meantime, I will try to manage the piles differently – make a “keep” pile and a “maybe” pile and employ same strategy for my clothes on hangers.

So, there’s the plan for my closet. I’ll try to remember to check back in six months and let you know how things went!

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