One of the questions I'm asked most frequently regarding my minimalist lifestyle is where I store all my "extra stuff." There is a very simple explanation, which is truly that I don't have any extra stuff. I realize it's easy to say but not to do, so I decided to take the opportunity to show you exactly what I mean, and be transparent about how this lifestyle looks for me.
Spring is upon us, and like many of you, I have been feeling a need to purge my closet and make room for warm weather and a fresh looking wardrobe. The hard part for me: I find it terribly hard to justify buying new items for my wardrobe when I don't know enough about what I already have. What requires mending or replacing, what pieces I desire or exactly what I NEED?!? That's last one is the most important. Below I'll walk you through my own methods and hopefully help some of you as you take on the seemingly monstrous task of spring cleaning your wardrobe.
I start by emptying my entire closet. That includes, shoes, socks, undergarments, each and every piece of clothing or accessories you own, take them out of the closet and don't put them back until you've asked yourself the following questions
1. Does it need mending or replacing?
Here is where you get to weigh your options. Will mending do the trick? If so, why haven't you gotten around to it yet?... could that be a sign that you don't desire it any longer? Would it be best to replace the garment? Is it's sentimental value the only thing keeping it in your closet? Keeping items around that aren't being worn because of the garments poor quality? Let it go!
2. Have I worn this in the last season (or if it's "special" ask yourself if you've worn it in the last year)?
If you answer no, get rid of it. Sell it, donate it to a Salvation Army or Goodwill near you, seal it away in your attic for safe keeping, just get it out of your closet and free yourself of the distraction. If you're like most people you think this rule won't apply to you, because you spent your hard earned money on it, and it's yours. But in all reality, most clothing pieces that aren't worn are no longer desired by the owner. Chances are if you're not wearing it this year, you won't be wearing it in the future.
3. Does it have stains or holes or runs?
Yes or no, bottom line?! Toss it if it's looking gross. Even if the item is super comfortable or you've had it since college so it's sentimental, quit looking like a homeless person and trade in your over-worn and over-loved garments for something fresh, clean and simple.
4. Does it fit? Is it flattering?
This one is probably the most difficult, because it requires you to be 100% honest with yourself. If it's too hard to decide on your own, grab a trusted friend and ask them for help. I always ask my friend Bethany, because she not only understands who I am, and how I wear my clothes, but she also knows my sense of style and my fashion goals. She will tell me if I'm heading in the wrong direction with a piece, or if it's just not achieving the look I wanted. That honest but loving input is incredibly helpful and will save you a lot of time and bad decision making.
5. How many of these do I need?
Again... be honest with yourself. Do you really need all these graphic tees? Do all 15 pairs of blue jeans really look different, or are they just there cause you can't let anything go? Go ahead... let them go, and keep the best.
While all of these spring cleaning "steps" of mine may seem incredibly challenging, the rewards do pay off. For instance, I like to deep clean my closet with each passing season, and when I do I make a list of items that number one : I Need, and number two : I Want.... which means (say it with me) "I GO SHOPPING!" I do discipline myself to make sure that each pieces of clothing is pulling it's own weight in my wardrobe, and if I buy something new, I make sure it's replacing something else. That stained pair of jeans gets tossed when I bring home a new pair. That jacket goes away because it's out of style but I know I can replace it this fall, with something more current.
My wardrobe is so streamlined these days that I can pretty much write on my calendar when I'm going to need a new pair of jeans or new socks, and when last years sweaters will need dry cleaning, mending and finally replacing. I am also able to continually update my look with each season, staying relevant to the trends or style I admire, without breaking the bank.
Please let me know if you end up trying this process for yourself, I'd love to hear your feedback and know how you feel afterwards!
Chelsea Spear is an art director and editorial producer in Portland, Oregon.