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How to de-clutter clothing

2012-09-24 16:30:14

Published on 2012-09-24 16:30:14

Every six months or so, I feel the urge to de-clutter the house – magazines, paperwork, books, clothing - all get sifted through. The feeling gradually creeps up on me as I notice a heaviness, like something is weighing me down. It’s hard to put into words, but knowing that there is clutter around me makes it hard to focus, try new things, and move forward. Once I’ve cleared through the clutter, I feel light again, and ready to re-focus.

As well as the physical impact that clutter has on everyday life - struggling to find your belongings or taking up much needed space, it also has a psychological impact. Holding onto things is a signal that you have developed a strong emotional attachment to your possessions. When you hoard too much stuff, it can trap you in the past, making it difficult to move into your future.

Since clothing is a very personal expression of who you are, hoarding clothes that you no longer like, don’t fit or are simply not suitable can have a profound impact on how you feel about yourself. A good clear out feels liberating, and will give you the confidence to move on. I find the regular ritual of de-cluttering clothing particularly satisfying, as each time I do it, I feel like a newer, more refreshed version of myself emerges.

Clear through the clutter of clothing with these tips:

Hold onto the memory not the item

It’s common to find an item of clothing hanging in a woman’s wardrobe laden with memories and associated emotions – a wedding dress from a marriage that is now over, or a well loved piece of clothing from years gone by. We believe that by holding onto the item, we are retaining the memory. Yet it is still possible to keep the memory alive, and let go of the physical stuff that no longer serves a useful purpose. For example, a picture of you wearing the item will take you back to the time and place, and evoke all the emotion of that time. Keeping a memory box containing a few items will help you relive old times in a space efficient way.

Clear little and often

Clutter builds up over time and clearing it can feel like an overwhelming chore. If you have years and years of clothing clutter to clear, start by doing short bursts to stop yourself feeling overwhelmed. Commit to clearing regularly until you’ve worked through all your clothes. Once you’ve completed this one big clear out, promise yourself to continue clearing ‘little and often’.

Notice your repeat buying habits

As you clear, it’s likely you will notice that you have an abundance of certain items of clothing. For example, it might be ten pairs of black trousers, or stacks of jeans. Ask yourself what drives you to buy the same items over and over again? Do you really need so many of the same things? Once you’re aware of your buying habit, make a conscious effort to refrain from buying similar items and cut down the number that you have in your wardrobe to a more realistic number.

A rail of organised clothing

Accept your body as it is now

It’s tempting to hold onto clothing that is too small in the hope that you can one day fit into it again. When you do this, subconsciously you send the message that you are not acceptable as you are now, with those smaller items of clothing serving as a constant reminder. Similarly, holding onto clothing that is too big after weight loss can make it more difficult to accept your new size. What hangs in your wardrobe should represent who you and your body are today.

One item in, one item out

Get into the habit of only ever buying an item of clothing to replace something else – this will help to prevent clutter from accumulating. Write a list of what you need before you go shopping, and stick to it!

Monitor what you wear

If you struggle to turf out items because you think you may wear them, try this experiment over the course of 2-3 months. Tie a scarf around the rail in your wardrobe – each time you wear something, place it back in your wardrobe to the right of the scarf. This will give you a clear idea of what you are wearing regularly, and what is languishing unworn in your closet. After the 2-3 months are up, take a critical look at the clothing hanging to the left of the scarf, ask yourself if you really need, want or love those unworn items

Remember, your wardrobe should only contain items of clothing that you love and that flatter and fit your body shape as it is NOW.

If you need more help with wardrobe de-cluttering, take a look at my Wardrobe Confidence consultation, or use my Wardrobe De-clutter Kit to walk you step by step through the process of clearing and organising your wardrobe for yourself.

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