Like many who declutter, I decided to start with clothing.
Clothing is easier for many reasons. First, it is something that is not designed to last forever, so parting with it is not as difficult. Also, it is something that replaceable if you do purge something that you later regret. Your clothing is strictly yours, so you don’t have to worry about purging something that somebody else loves. And, once you are finished, you can see immediate results in your closet!
So, here is how I manage clothing:
1. I keep a list of the types of clothing that I want in my wardrobe. For example, I want to have 4 sundresses, 2 blazers, 1 denim jacket, 1 short-sleeved top (to go over a dress), 1 short sleeved shirt, 1 pair of shorts, 1 pair of jeans, and 1 bathing suit. For shoes, I have 1 pair of dress shoes that are never used outside, 1 pair of sneakers, and 1 pair of sandals. I also want to have 2 pair of tights and 5 pair of underwear (we do laundry every 5 days!). I have one pair of “grubby” pants for painting.
2. I look at my closet and sort my clothing by type. If something doesn’t fit into a category, or if I have too many of something, I purge. I do have two pretty, more formal dresses that I still enjoy, and these stay. But the fewer exceptions I make, the better!
3. Sometimes wardrobe maintenance involves shopping! I go to thrift stores and hunt for the items I need.
4. Some articles of clothing hold up better, and some just work better than others. It’s been a process of trial-and-error. It’s important not to be set in stone.
5. Once I’m done with my closet, I repeat the process with Beanie’s clothes. She often gets hand-me-downs, so I go through those, looking for items that she needs. Beanie has 4 long sleeved shirts, 4 pair of pants, 4 short sleeved shirts, 4 pair of shorts, 3 dresses, 3 sweaters/undershirts, 3 pair of tights, tennis shoes, boots, dress shoes, sandals, 2 sleepers, and 2 swimsuits. As hand-me-downs come in, I start collecting these items in the next size up as well!
6. Rob is the tricky one. We sat down together and came up with his wardrobe list. We decided on 3 pair of shorts, 4 short sleeved shirts, 4 long sleeved shirts, 2 pair of dress pants, 1 pair of jeans, 1 sweater, 1 turtleneck, 1 pair of grubby pants, running shoes, dress shoes, and Topsiders. He also has his t-shirt collection (not too out of control) and two suits (probably ready to be pared down to one). Rob does all the repairs around the house, as well as the yard work, so he goes through clothing faster than I do. We’re working on limiting the work that is done in the grubby pants.
So, there you go! Make your wardrobe list. Don’t even worry about the number of items in the beginning. This trick is to do it deliberately, so that you’re using all the items that you have.