When you start minimalist living, it is said that it is best to start in one room and get it the way you want it before taking on the whole house. I decided to start with the master bedroom, and the first part of the bedroom I decided to minimize was my closet, specifically my clothing.
Minimizing my clothing has become hard for me in recent years. This is why:
Why minimizing my clothing was hard
- I only buy clothes I absolutely love. I love Skelanimal t-shirts, band t-shirts and geeky gamer t-shirts. If I was to only keep the clothes I love, my wardrobe would be filled with t-shirts, 3 pairs of jeans, 1 leather jacket and a pair of hiking boots. This is not much of a problem when you are a university student, especially if I add in some leggings and a warm overcoat for winter use. The problem comes in when I hit the working world. Onwards to point 2…
- The clothes I don’t love I absolutely need. Yes, I need to keep my formal red stretch velvet dress. I need to keep those 2 cocktail dresses that show off my figure. I need to keep the brown dress that I have worn to every wedding Mark and I have attended in the past 3 years, it is his favorite after all. I need to keep the corporate suit and a few white and black shirts. I need to keep a few more normal clothes that I can wear to church, or when I need to appear more grown-up. Sometimes dressing like an expired teenager just doesn’t do it after all.
- They are in such good condition. I have a dress I bought in High School (over 10 years ago). I love it, my husband loves how it looks on me, but because of its cut, it is only appropriate to wear to a beach or around a swimming pool. For this reason, I only wear it in summer and only when there is a chance that swimming will be involved, and therefore it has lasted well and is in excellent condition.
- It cost me a lot of money. I bought a beautiful pair of Iron Fist shoes from Zando over 2 years ago. I love how they look, I love how I look when I wear them, and they are the most expensive pair of shoes I own. There is one problem, I can’t wear them for longer than 2 hours without my feet aching. They are high heels, more than 10cm in height. I should have realized that somebody who wears sneakers all day shouldn’t consider buying such high heels, but I absolutely loved them. Now that I have spent money on those shoes, I want to get full use out of them.
- On rare occasions I feel like wearing a different style. Most of the time I wear jeans and t-shirts, but there are occasions where I feel like wearing a summer dress, or I feel like dressing in pink florals. For this reason, I will keep a few of those outfits around.
- Society expects me to wear this outfit. There are clothes that I have been given that I will never wear. A person will buy me something saying “This will look lovely on you.” Usually they are right, it does look lovely on me, I look very nice in it, but the outfit is more suited to the style of the person who gave it to me than it is to my own style. So I keep the outfit because it looks nice on me, and I look nice wearing it, but I always find something else I would rather wear.
How do I look? How about mind your own business!
Have you ever watched the reality TV show on the Style Network called “How Do I Look?” I would absolutely DIE if I was nominated for that TV show. I strongly suspect that all the clothes I love (my Skelanimal t-shirts!) would be thrown out or shredded or whatever they do with the clothes. My worst nightmare is to end up looking like a corporate Barbie Doll, and I fear that is what the stylist would turn me into.
But this brings me to another problem when choosing clothes
Choosing age-appropriate clothing
I am fully aware that there are clothes that I looked great in when I was 19 that I cannot wear now. I had to say good-bye to all crop tops and tartan skirts. It is not the 1990s and I am not a teenager anymore, and while I love the look (think Empire Records), I don’t even feel comfortable wearing it to a rock show. I have kept one of the outfits, but it is reserved for when Mark and I play band hero on the Nintendo Wii.
Most people find their personal style in their late teens or early twenties. When that style is in line with the fashion trends then you usually don’t have a problem converting it as you get older. I believe this is because the same people who set the trends when you were in your 20s are setting the trends for your age group when you are in your 30s, 40s and beyond.
But what happens to those who follow an alternative style in their teens and twenties? Most of the time we end up looking like expired teenagers or mistaken for a time traveler.
When cleaning out a wardrobe, a person has to keep their age in mind while deciding what to keep and what to give away.
Criteria for minimizing my wardrobe
Now that I know why I keep certain clothes and how the fashion world would feel about my clothing style. I have my criteria for minimizing my wardrobe.
Preparing to minimize my wardrobe
- Empty out the whole cupboard. I took everything out my cupboard and placed it on our bed. The intention is to only put back the clothing I am definitely going to keep.
- Sort the clothing into like items. I put all the t-shirts together, all the long sleeved t-shirts together and so on. This gives me a good idea of which items of clothing I have the most of and which I have the least of. Naturally I will need more daily wear outfits than cocktail dresses, so I must take that into consideration as I sort through my clothing.
- One pile at a time and one item at a time. I chose the largest pile of clothing first, in my case this was my short sleeve t-shirts. Then I picked out the first item and made my decision, working through each item in the pile one at a time.
Deciding factors when I minimized my wardrobe
- How many outfits will I rather wear than this one? Out of all the clothing in the current pile, how may items would I rather wear than this one in my hands? If my answer was “pretty much all of them” then I immediately put the item of clothing into my give away pile. If my answer was “about half”, I put it into a pending pile. If my answer was “few or none”, then I put the item back into my cupboard.
- How much of this type of outfit do I need to keep? Now that I had all the ones I definitely wanted to keep in the cupboard, I asked myself, how many of this item do I need? I don’t need more than 2 cocktail dresses for example, and I shouldn’t need more than 10 t-shirts. Knowing how much I need of a specific item is key for the next deciding factor.
- Do I have more in my wardrobe than I need? If my answer was “yes”, then the entire pending pile went into give away basket. If my answer was “no”, then I chose my most preferred items of clothing from the pending pile and put them into my wardrobe, placing the rest into the give away pile.
- Does absolutely love this item of clothing? My last decision, was to ask Mark to go through my entire give away pile and take out anything that he absolutely loved me wearing. I found that it is important to take a husband’s opinion into consideration when choosing your clothing.
At the end of this exercise, I had 3 large gift bags of clothing that I could give away. I gave all three bags to my mom-in-law for her to see if there was anything she wanted, she took a few items. After she had been through them, there were still 2 large gift bags of clothing that I gave to a woman who is about the same size as me and is much worse off financially. I told her that anything she didn’t want she could sell and make a little extra cash. She gave me a big hug and said that it felt like Christmas! I have given her clothes in the past and she is always grateful.