My closet has had a tumultuous couple of weeks: purge, organize, purge more, re-organize, repeat. Be content.
It all began when I read and was inspired by Rhonda Mason and her posts about creating The Happy Closet, which she states was “the most liberating experience of my life.” This post is based on her principles, so you really need to check out her amazing five posts on her closet to understand her minimalist, fantastic approach. (Unfortunately, her site has been inactivated.) I wanted to know what she was talking about. So I decided to jump in with both feet.
The next day, I spent two hours, with my son’s “help,” tearing clothes off hangers, throwing them into a mass of unworn clothing on the floor, while a pile of hangers accumulated on my bed.
Some of my history, which I know many mamas can relate in some way:
- My weight has shifted into a depth of despair after my last pregnancy and every day I got dressed, I was depressed.
- After my son was born, I was wearing pre-pregnancy clothes at 6 weeks and jeans at 3 months.
- My daughter (my second) is now 8+ months and I cannot pull up any pre-pregnancy pants. I can hardly wear any shirts.
- Of course I want to be healthy and try to lose the weight in the right way (namely, continue to eat good, real, wholesome food and exercise more regularly, and I will continue to do so).
How do you create a content closet?
It is one that has clothes you love.
It is one that has clothes that fit.
It is one that makes you feel lovely and beautiful every time you see it.
It is organized.
My closet now. There are spaces between the hangers and I love everything in it.
Everything your closet should and shouldn’t be
It is not full of clothes you wish you still fit into. (I had dresses that were size 4.)
It is not full of clothes from 10+ years ago that you do not wear. (I had clothes from high school.)
It is not full of clothes you feel guilty for buying. (I had some beautiful cashmere sweaters and Anthropologie dresses that were too small.)
It is not full of clothes you do not like/love. (A lot of my purchases were bought because they were on sale and not because I had a plan to actually wear them.)
It is not full of accessories that you “might wear one day.” (I had tons of purses, belts, scarves, that I never wore, even once.)
It does not make you think you “need this and that” to make your closet “complete.”
It is not a slave to what fashion books, magazines, blogs, etc. say that you should love and have. (For example: I look awful in jackets/blazers — but I just purged 7 of them that I hardly ever wore. They looked horrible from the start, but I thought that was an essential that I needed.)
It is a closet that makes you feel good
Rules of creating a content closet:
- You don’t need tons of great outfits. Find one outfit per occasion and you’ll know what to wear when you have to change fast for a specific occasion. (A grocery trip, a night out, a family day out, a wedding.)
- An item you love can be worn many, many times.
- You shouldn’t want to buy anything new — and when you do buy something, there needs to be a plan to complete the outfits that you already have.
- Just because cheap clothing is readily accessible (For example: I could buy 3 tshirts from Target for under $20) doesn’t mean that I need them or should buy them. (More on cheap clothing below.)
My room in the middle of the purge.
Further problems with an over-flowing closet
I used to have a separate summer wardrobe and winter wardrobe. I changed it every season. I didn’t even know what I had. My clothes were in three big tubs in the basement, and there were more hanging clothes taking up way too much space in my son’s closet.
Most of the summer clothes were cute summer dresses and skirts that were both no longer my style (too many bright colors, when more and more, I’m favoring neutrals these days) and didn’t fit (size 4 or 6, anyone?).
And the winter clothes included corduroys I no longer liked or fit into and sweaters that were out of my style and size.
I had too many “cheap, they only cost $9 at Target” shirts and cardigans, most of which were too small or too short or both.
I purged all my bras and all my underwear too. I have found the brands I like and will only buy them from now on. I have more than enough of the ones that actually fit to justify having two drawers for undergarments.
All of the empty hangers I had to get rid of.
What I have kept in my content closet
My dresser now has two empty drawers! This is a miracle!
I have kept my two favorite pairs of jeans and three pairs of pants that fit my former pre-pregnancy self. I put them on a shelf in the back of the closet. Since I am post-partum, and slowly losing the weight, I feel good about keeping these.
I still have three bins in my closet:
- those for my Army uniforms (I’m in the Reserves if I haven’t mentioned it),
- my grubby painting clothes and three tshirts from high school that I CAN’T get rid of), and
- the last bin is for my maternity clothes
On cheap clothing
Reading Ronnie’s posts was so timely. I just heard an interview on NPR (it was fate because I am rarely a listener) related to this very subject. Elizabeth Cline wrote a book titled Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion. She states that Americans are “addicted to fast fashion,” in that, Americans over buy and over spend. On average, we purchase 68 items and 7 pairs of shoes every year, each one of us.
“Cline shows how consumers can break the buy-and-toss cycle by supporting innovative and stylish sustainable designers and retailers, returning to custom clothing, refashioning clothes throughout their lifetime, and mending and even making clothes themselves. Overdressed will inspire you to vote with your dollars and find a path back to being well dressed and feeling good about what you wear” (Penguin Portfolio, June 2012).
Cline also discusses the conditions in which these cheap clothes are made should not be condoned. Three catastrophic and historic events have led up to her fight against “fast fashion:” a floor collapse and increase in wages in China, the 112 people dying in a Bangladesh factory fire, and the building collapse in Bangladesh. After these events, the public is witnessing, more and more, the devastation that “fast fashion” can bring. We must demand quality and sanity — I think Cline’s site is a great place to start — she has long lists of humane fashion and products made in the USA.
How many “fast fashion” items do I have in my closet? How many did I give away? It is outrageous. This experience has taught me to buy higher-end items that will last. And I will only buy items that I can wear as planned outfits. Not just 3 tshirts here and 3 cardigans there “just because they are cheap and cute.”
This is only half of what I gave away or am selling at a consignment shop.
Now, I can honestly say that I love getting dressed in the morning. I know what I will wear. And I feel good.