Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Simplifying Your Closet: Part One

Over the past year I've seen so many things all over the internet about simplifying your life. It's been great for me, because as I've gotten older I've realized that my level of anxiety and mood is directly attached to my surroundings. I feel immeasurably lighter and more clear headed when my home is clutter-free and clean. I'll sometimes get comments like- how do you keep everything organized, or how do you keep your house so clean all the time? For me, it's actually a necessity- I feel exponentially better having organized surroundings, so I just make that a priority. I will do anything I can do to avoid feeling anxious...and what helps for me are clean and open spaces and keeping our home pretty much clutter-free and simple. And obviously with children this is impossible to maintain all of the time, but I try my best. This is just what works for me.

I've allowed this idea to seep into all areas of our life too. Over the years I've been working on getting rid of things we don't need, and replacing with only things we do and love- trying to pare down excess to necessity. For instance, instead of four pairs of different brown boots that give me the illusion of choice (when I never wear more than one pair anyway), I replaced all of them with one pair of really great brown boots that I absolutely love. Rather than a ton of winter jackets, I purchased one Patagonia jacket I can wear everyday and a couple heavier classic coats that will last for years to come. My closet has been totally transformed, and I've gone from owning so many items of clothing that never saw the light of day to just one rack of go-tos.

I also wanted to add that I'm not one to follow a capsule wardrobe. I can't really get into the idea of wearing the exact same 12 items (or whatever number it may be) all of the time, as much as I admire those who do. I love reading all of the capsule wardrobe blogs, but it's just not for me. I can get into the idea of only keeping what you love though. Like most everyone else on the planet I read this book, and became incredibly inspired. But it's taken me a long time to get to the point where I finally feel like yes, I only have what I need...and what I have, I love!

So I thought I would put together some of what has worked for me as I've cleaned out my closet, then purged it again (and again!). This is part one, where I'll discuss how I got rid of things and why. Part two will talk about buying what you do need and maintaining the quality over quantity mentality. Here goes:

1) Make an "I need" list. 

When you make this list, don't worry about what you currently own. Just think about your day to day lifestyle, and what you need as far as shoes, clothing, etc. Here's an example of a portion of my list:

Shoes- 1 pair brown ankle boots, 1 pair black ankle boots, 1-2 pair heeled ankle boots, 1 pair casual sneakers, 2 pairs Birks (black and brown), 1 pair hiking boots, 1 trail running shoe, 1 running shoe, 1-2 wedding/event friendly shoes, 1 pair flip flops, 1 pair water-friendly hiking shoes/sandals. (that kind of sounds like a lot, but I feel like each one has a purpose.)

Jackets/Coats: 1 green anorak type jacket, 1 rain jacket, 3 athletic jackets/hoodies, 1 puffer coat, 2 heavy coats, 1 jean jacket.

Your list will probably be TOTALLY different than mine, but for me these are the base items I would ideally own for these categories. So you start there (obviously do shirts, dresses, etc.) and THEN you go through your closet and see what you have. Take the items that you already own ON your list out of your closet, check them off, and put them in a separate area.

2) Go through what's left in your closet- what ISN'T on your list. 

Once you've gone through your list and have all of those "keep" items set to the side, you are probably going to be left with a lot in your closet. This was the hard part for me, and what took a long time to go through, and eventually let go of. I'm talking years. Each time I would go through my items I would get rid of more and more, until now I wouldn't get rid of even one item. But seriously, it took awhile, and at times it can still be hard to really decide, do I need this? For example, it was difficult for me to include dresses in my "need list" because I go to various events and always feel like I "need" new dresses. So this area of my closet has a tendency to grow out of control at times. However, I had been holding onto so many dresses that were either a) out of style or 2) did not fit, and I knew it was time for them to go. For me, the dresses category is one I'm a little more lenient with- I always like to purchase dresses I love because I know I'll have a reason to wear them, but I have been trying not to go overboard.

3) Ask yourself these questions:

Have I worn this in 6 months? Would I wear it again? Why am I holding onto this item? Does it fit? Do I hope it will fit someday? Is it tied to some sort of emotion? If I was shopping right now, would I buy this? Answer all of these, then make a decision about each item. In the book I mentioned above, the author encourages readers to ask themselves "Does this spark joy?" I love this, because I actually ended up holding onto some weird clothing items that just bring me so much joy even though it's silly to have them. As long as it brings me true happiness, it will remain. But ask yourself these things and find out WHY you have had that same jean skirt hanging there, unworn, for 6 years. It's time to let it go.

4) Donate or sell.

Over the past few years I've sold so many items over at my Instagram closet shop. This has been a very easy way for me to make money from the clothes I no longer wear. I don't sell everything, just key pieces that I think are worth the time and effort to put up there, and the rest I donate. Get yourself a big bag and stuff it full of everything you don't want to sell and bring it to the donation center the very next morning. I promise you, it will feel so good!

So this is what I've done, at least the first part! I'll be back next week to talk more about the next steps. In the meantime, have you gotten on the simplification bandwagon recently? Do you have any closet-cleaning tips or tricks to share?

And read part two here!



  1. I'm all about the simplification. I live with my brother right now so we have a two bedroom apartment, but my goal is to someday own a tiny home (although more than 100 square feet - I don't get claustrophobic and I'm a homebody, but I don't think I could handle 100 or less square feet). It's just me and I don't like stuff/clutter/junk.

  2. Great post Dani! We are working on this at our home now! Takes a lot of effort and dedication but we are getting there! ❤️

  3. i have been working on this for a couple of years now. the thing is my post preganacy body has changed so much i am having a hard time decidind if i should keep or let go some itens. i lost a lot of weight, most of my pre-pregnancy clothes are too big right now but people say i will gain weight back once i am no longer breastfeeding, so i just don't know what to do. i am getting rid of things i know for sure i won't wear even if they fit me again and holding onto some pieces i might want to wear. this is not a very easy time to clean out a closet.

  4. I feel this on so many levels. I have my clothing down to minimal items. Any advice on toys though? Or organization for toys.. Literally going nutty with the toys everywhere.

  5. Great article! This could not have come at a better time- I am reading Spark Joy now! This weekend I am turning 27 and all I want to do for my birthday is organize/clean out/and donate stuff. I don't know if its a combination of getting older/settling down or just a spring cleaning itch but I like it!

  6. Great article! This could not have come at a better time- I am reading Spark Joy now! This weekend I am turning 27 and all I want to do for my birthday is organize/clean out/and donate stuff. I don't know if its a combination of getting older/settling down or just a spring cleaning itch but I like it!

  7. I have totally been on the decluttering, simplifying bandwagon myself. It is so difficult with kids though. They want to keep everything! I will clean a room and the time between them getting home from school and going to bed it's a mess! I enjoyed your tips and suggestions.

  8. I would love to see your list!

  9. My husband and I have just listed our house on the market as we plan to move to DC this summer. Since we will be downsizing (we may actually do a liveaboard boat!), I plan to do a simple wardrobe of good-quality, mix-and-match pieces. My main rule is "Did I wear it at all last season?" If the answer to that question is no, then there's really no point in keeping the item.

  10. This so resonates with me; I feel so much clearer, focused and anxiety free when my home (and office, and car) are clutter free and simple. I love waking up to a clean home!

  11. I love this series! I have always been such a clothes hoarder/impulse buyer and ever since I had my daughter my style has changed so much but I am having a really hard time letting go of my pre-mom wardrobe. I'm definitely going to be making a list and finally detoxing my closet. Thanks! P.s.- any additional tips for making this list would be awesome ;)

  12. I love this! just came across your blog and so glad I did. I'm a new mama so looking at my closet is painful some days. I have yet to do the big purge...but now reading this it's coming sooner. I love the idea of not having a set number of items. Thanks for this!