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What I Learned From: Cleaning Out My Closet

7 Nov

One of the things I’ve been doing to prepare for my trip abroad is simplifying my life here, first. I’ve been going through my cabinets, drawers, and closet racks to weed out some of the things that have been weighing me down.

Admittedly, I’m a pack rat. I keep everything, and I had the clothes and old metro passes to prove it, but I decided it was time stop my hoarding ways and purge the junk.

I started with my closet – my logic being that if I haven’t touched it in a year, it’s only function right now is to take up space. I tried everything I owned on and started a Goodwill pile, a sell pile and a give-to-my-little-sister pile.

I realized how attached I am to objects because of what they represent: a time in my life, a memory, a goal…but they’re just things and they’ve become a strong link in the chain the keeps me stuck in Southern California.

The upside of decluttering is not only the lighter feeling that follows, but it also presents a great opportunity to make some money. I made over a $100 taking some of my old clothes and shoes into consignment stores and I plan on selling my old camera and camcorder on Craigslist.  And if I had enough things I’d have a garage sale.

As I sifted through the piles of clothes some things became apparent to me:

1. Impulse buys are never a good idea.

Just because some obscure trend comes back into fashion – like leg warmers, for example – doesn’t mean you should run out and buy some in every color. Trends fade as quickly as they begin and if you’ve got seven pairs of giant fake eyeglasses with the lenses popped out, a year from now you’ll feel like a fool. And speaking of fools, don’t fool yourself into thinking you can pull off looks when you can’t, because your impulse buys will collect dust and taunt you every time you find them.

2. Classics pieces are always in style. 

Classics stand the test of time. Peacoats, little black dresses, leather jackets and pencil skirts will always be in fashion and opting for a classic look over a trendy one looks effortlessly cool and can be worn for seasons to come.

3. Invest in one nice article of clothing rather than four cheap versions of the same thing.

I  learned this when I got my first pair of designer jeans when I was 15. At $125 a pair,  I had to beg my mother to buy me a pair for Christmas. I had so many $40 and $60 jeans with cheap fabric and bad cuts that I was always looking for a better pair. A decade later, I still have those jeans and they still fit. (I don’t wear them anymore, I’ve moved on).

But the point is: Invest in quality, style and a good fit. Your clothes will last longer and you’ll be happier having one item you absolutely adore over a few that barely make the cut.

4. Buy the right size.

I don’t know why this is such a hard concept for me, but buy clothes that flatter your body now. Don’t buy a dress that’s a tiny bit too small and then intend to lose the weight. And don’t buy something you’re swimming in just because you’re feeling like a chub that day – you’ll only end up looking bigger than you actually are.

And the same goes for shoes. Don’t buy a half-size smaller – because they’re the last pair or they’re on sale – thinking that they’re going to stretch out. And don’t buy them bigger and tell yourself you’ll wear big socks, or you’ll end up walking like a duck to try to keep them on. If your shoes don’t fit correctly or they aren’t comfortable, you’ll hardly wear them – or worse, you’ll mess up your feet.

5. Take stock of what you have every few months.

Taking inventory is not just for stores, it will help you realize what you have and how much you have of it. This will stop you from buying excessive amounts of v-necks because you’ll know you already have eight of them at home. It also helps with those days when you feel like you have nothing to wear because you’ll discover you’ve just forgotten about half of the things you already own.

They say we wear 20% of our clothes, 80% of the time. Mix it up every few months and stop consuming if you can’t afford to.

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