How to Clean a Closet (Part 3)
Having a lot of wardrobe options can be a wonderful thing - it prevents shortages of key items on laundry day, provides plenty of options to cover fluctuations in mood or activity, and it helps create a near endless permutations and combinations. It is, however, very possible to have too many options. You know your wardrobe has exceeded its maximum occupancy when the sheer number of anything starts to cause you problems:
- Permanent wrinkling due to overcrowding
- Inability to see/remember what you own
- Difficulty browsing
- Feelings of wastefulness
That kind of reads like the fine print on a drug commercial, doesn't it? o_0
Until some mad scientist works out how to fold space, there is no magic answer here; if you've got too much stuff, there are basically two approaches you can take to deal with closet surplus. Which one(s) you choose will ultimately depend on things like budget, personality, and storage limitations.
Add more storage - this is really the simplest answer, yet it is often overlooked. For limited-use or seasonal items, you can add under-bed storage or try compression bags to reduce volume. For jewelry and accessories, make use of your vertical space by installing wall hooks, a jewelry armoire, or using over-the-door organizers. You can also go all-in and have a professional design custom storage - or even build you a larger closet. When choosing your storage solutions, just make sure to measure your space for a proper fit and think hard about how difficult it will be to remove an item for use when you need it - trust me: closet Jenga sucks.
Purge more clothes - there was a time in my life when I owned 30+ pairs of jeans - not a problem in itself, yet kind of unnecessary considering the fact that my company did not believe in casual Fridays. Because of my job, I only had 8 opportunities a month to wear my jeans... and because of the climate, only about 5 months per year. I could almost have worn a different pair of jeans every day of every weekend of every cool month of the year.
Now that your closet is well organized, take a peek inside. It should be easy to see redundancies. Do your jeans take up a city block, like mine did? Do you have 5 jackets that look almost identical? Even when you fit, love, and use an item, you still might need to cut the "second string" players to give your stars more room to shine.
Having too much stuff is a pain, but not having too little stuff can be worse - there are some tops that only work with skirts, for example, and if your only skirt looked awful and was cast away in your closet purge, then you might have a whole slew of beloved tops wasting away on the sidelines... the key word being might.
Experiment making do with less - I always discourage clients from heading straight to the mall after a closet purge, even if it seems like an entire category has disappeared. We get very used to seeing a certain amount of volume in the closet, and the itch to fill it can be uncomfortable - but what happens when you decide to simply make-do for a time? Are you really reaching for that phantom item all the time? Or does life chug along just fine without it?
Keep a wish list - a great way to figure out if an item would be a good, purposeful buy is to keep a list of the things you think "might be nice" as you get dressed every morning. Note how this prospective purchase will help you get more use of your existing items. When you think of the same item again, add a tally next to it. Which items hold your attention and desire over time? How will these items make your life easier and better? Your list might look something like this:
- Slim black skirt - for loose tops when it's too warm for skinny jeans. III
- 3" heels - for flared, wide-leg slacks, jeans. IIIIIII
- Flared skirt - to get more use from my fitted tops. I
Shop for utility - when you finally do go out shopping, take your wish list with you, and browse with a purpose. This is a different type of shopping than when you go out looking for something fun and modern to refresh your style. You have already done the research, so put on your blinders, and go straight for the things you have already discovered that you want and need. When you find a candidate, go back to your list and double-check that the item will do all the things you want. You can even bring the key items with you on your shopping trip to see how they work right there in the fitting room.
Go for it! - I love a bargain as much as anyone, but cheaping out on an integral cog in your wardrobe machine will only cause problems later. I'm not saying to purposefully seek out the most expensive item. Never never never. But assess all the options in your price range, and go for the best one - because chances are that you've already tried the rest... and recently purged them.