creating a content closet
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.
Have you ever been inspired to purge something in your life? How did it make you feel? I would love to hear about your experiences!
♥ Thank you for featuring me: The Mommy Club at Crystal & Co. – Finished Friday at All Our Days – and Family Fun Friday at My Life as Robin’s Wife. ♥
Wow! What a monumental step! Thanks for giving me something to think about and for linking up at Pin It Tuesday.
Thanks for visiting :)
This is inspiring! I just saw the link on FB and had to check it out. I’m also ppm–my baby is 4 months old, and I was recently stressed out by the laundry and the “seasons” of clothes–not pregnant, pregnant, nursing, between nursing and not pregnant–it is becoming a problem! And I probably only actually wear 10-12 outfits regularly. I think I will be closet purging tonight. Seriously–tonight! I’m actually excited!
Carla, you’ll be so so happy you did it!! Let me know how it goes (if you haven’t worn it in a year, toss it!!) -Amy
I truly loved this post! Very real, honest, and inspiring! I used to be a “buy it cause it is cheap and cute” person. But mine was thrift stores and garage sales, so I felt I could buy more and more and more. It was difficult to break. But I haven’t gone through and purged yet. I love that term “content closet.” I need to work on that this week. Any tips for how to do this with kids?
Paula, it feels so great — I don’t even remember what I got rid of. My son loved “helping” me — he is 2 1/2 — he stacked the hangers and just watched, I think he thought it was funny that his mom was throwing clothes everywhere. But my daughter was asleep at the time, so I don’t have advice with more kiddos. Basically, stack everything up and give it to Salvation Army and the nice stuff, find a local consignment shop! Good luck — I hope you post about it :)
What a great idea! I actually try and do something like that every spring and fall. Of course, my clothing is a bit more limited (not sure if it’s a good or bad thing) but I do have problems with letting the pj’s and sweaters/jackets pile up. I too use the “if you haven’t worn it in a year, toss it” rule. It helps a lot. The other thing that helps is limited closet space ;)
Kendra, thanks for taking the time to comment — yes, perhaps a (very) small closet space also motivated me to do this!! I also purged sweats to only what I fit into and feel good in (so nothing sloppy anymore :) )
Thanks for stopping by, Amy
I clear out clothes every 6 months or so, getting rid of everything that doesn’t fit or I don’t love. BUT I must admit that I still have a big container under the bed full of very expensive clothing that I haven’t been able to fit into for almost 4 years!!!!…And I’m a long way from fitting into them.
Would you hold onto them? Or throw them out?
Bring it to a consignment shop! And get it out of your mind — you’ll feel so much better :) Thanks for visiting, Amy
Hi Amy! Thought I’d comment as I listened to that same NPR interview. I’m going to think twice about purchasing cheap clothing – there is another “cost” to consider! I constantly give away clothes if I haven’t worn it in a year but I still buy too much that I don’t wear. Thanks love!
I loved that interview! At first I didn’t agree with her comparison of “fast food” to “fast fashion,” but more and more, her argument made sense! xo
I can relate to this post in so many ways. Well the shouldn’t be’s that are in my closet. I think I may just have to take the plunge and clean out my closet.
I’m so glad that I inspired you, Stacie, tell me how it goes :) -Amy
Wow that’s a lot of purging. You should never have clothes hanging in your closet that you don’t wear and that don’t fit. It’s misleading only to yourself! Plus it makes room for things you will love and you will wear…and that DO fit. I feel ya!
I agree!! Thanks for visiting, Rebecca!! -Amy
Great post! I so need to purge my closet. I co-host a Linky Party Tuesday (open thru Sat). I hope you get a chance to stop by my blog, leave a comment and Link Up, too!
~ Megin of VMG206
Join me each Tuesday for Brag About It Link Up Party
and Sunday for DIY Showcase Link Up Party
Thanks for finding me Megin, I linked up!! -Amy
Love your post! I got rid of some work clothes a while ago from the mid 90’s! I can’t seem to get rid of stuff so I probably only wear 1/3 of my closet! I am thinking of getting into selling vintage clothes in my Etsy shop and if I wait long enough, some of mine will be! I found your blog on Adorned from Above and following you now via Bloglovin’! Would love you to visit my blog sometime!
Thanks, AnnMarie, for visiting — you should purge, you won’t remember anything that you tossed out :) All the best, Amy
Wow! You did a fantastic job. My closet is far from content. I have way to many free clothes. There is a lady at church who brings bags of stuff to give away and I take way more than I need or love. It’s free, so if it fits and looks ok, then I keep it. Definitely need to rethink that.
Kristen, I encourage you to toss everything out that you don’t wear — it feels so wonderful and I don’t regret it!! Thanks for commenting, Amy
Great post! I found you at the Frugal Fri link up!! Love your tips…they are awesome Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for visiting Chris :)
Would love for you to share this at my link up where we pin all those who join to our party board http://myfashionforwardblog.com/all-things-pretty-11
I will link up now — thank you!!
Great post and very practical! Thank you for sharing at Family Fun Friday at happyandblessedhome.com! Blessings!
I’m visiting from the Raising Imperfection hop. I’m Angel, a co-host and wanted to say Hello and Thanks for linking up and sharing today. Sometimes I just want to toss everything in my closet and start from scratch, my husband would love that credit card bill, lol. Your post is great and I’m your newest follower. Hope you will visit me and hopefully return the follows.
Angel @ sewcraftyangel.blogspot.com
I know, thankfully, I’ve been able to buy a few nice things that I love and feel good in and that are higher quality.
I just followed back, thanks for hosting Angel :) -Amy
Going through my closet every few months makes me happy. It’s almost like a breathing exercise!
Thank you for linking to Raising Imperfection.
Please come back Friday to see if you were featured. :)
(¸¤ Lanaya | xoxo
Thanks so much for sharing with Adorned From Above’s Blog Hop. We are so happy that you joined us last week. We can’t wait to see what you have for us at this week’s party.
Debi and Charly @ Adorned From Above
Thank you for this article. I’ve been wanting to purge my closet and this is a beautiful “how to’ for making all those tough decisions.
Marianne, I’m so glad that it helped you! That was my hope — I feel so much better now that I love everything in my closet :) Good luck! -Amy
I also heard the NPR story with Elizabeth Cline and was feeling inspired to change! This is not entirely feasible since I and my husband are students and therefore have student budgets, but it will shape my closet in the future. I will definitely be purging my closet as I prepare to move into the next phase of my educational career. :)
I loved her commentary and her book sounds amazing (I haven’t read it yet) — it’s about purging, not necessarily buying newer, nicer things — just go slow :) Thanks for visiting, Lacey!! -Amy
Somebody actually buys 7 pairs of shoes a year! What does their paycheck look like? I think age also has something to do with one’s attitude about clothing. While visiting my grown daughter last week she wanted me to get new tennis shoes because mine look like “Mom shoes,” so she took me to a store that sells tennis shoes in all the colors of the rainbow. None of them had any more support than my “Mom shoes” but the price was quadruple, at least, of what I had paid. The old adage “you get what you pay for” doesn’t always apply. My advise….get the best quality you can afford without going into debt.
Came across your site while sourcing vintage fashion hangers for my new online shop I’m building. I am a media stylist and fashion editor who is looking for unique items for my consignment biz. My vision is specialized with keeping the stage in mind while sourcing the best looks for music artists, film sets and the couture designer-minded.
Since a lot of people purge their precious closet this time of year-I am on the lookout for great inventory from the wardrobes of those with the Closet Rock style.
Should you send anyone my way with any info on possibly donating or consigning their particular items they would gladly part with- I’d be most interested.
5% goes to arts charities. I enjoyed reading your content closet blog. Very clever.
Visit my style sites and drop me a note! Thanks
Thank you, Amy, for all of your relevant content–still relevant years later!
Thanks Kim!! I need to go back and revisit this myself now :)