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I have been working hard to reduce and remove the amount of excess stuff in our house in order to improve my life, especially as a mother. One of the big areas I’ve been working on is my own clothing. Throughout the process of purging my clothes, I have found the best trick to purge your closet.
First, a little background:
I am a stay at home mom, and have been for the last 6 years. In some ways this makes it easier to deal with my clothing. I don’t need work clothes and casual clothes. I can wear what is comfortable and what I like. However, one of the big struggles for me, and I know a lot of other stay at home moms too, is becoming stuck in a rut of stay at home mom style. There are endless amounts of jokes and parodies about moms in yoga pants and dirty t-shirts for a reason!
It’s easy to fall in to a style rut as a mom, especially with babies and small children. You’re tired and rarely getting a full night of sleep. Just getting a few minutes to shower can be a luxury. You spend your days changing diapers, being spit up on, feeding babies and kids, wiping sticky hands and snotty noses, etc. And it’s all on repeat for 16 hours a day.
It becomes easy to quit paying attention to what you’re wearing. As long as the majority of the people in your house look somewhat presentable, it’s a win! You stop wearing anything too nice because it’ll probably get a stain within 5 minutes of putting it on. And definitely no sense in wearing something uncomfortable!
Look Good, Feel Better
But I am a firm believer in the idea of “look good, feel better”. When I look dumpy and frumpy in my clothes, that’s the way I feel. But if I am wearing an outfit I look good in, I feel better too.
When my daughter was around a year old, I wasn’t feeling happy with the way I was dressing. I decided I wanted to get out of that rut, and start dressing nicer.
So what did I do? Started amassing a new wardrobe of clothes of course! I still wanted to feel comfortable, but I also wanted to feel good about the way I looked. I thought the only way to do that was to have more options in my closet to choose from.
Fast forward a couple of years. I had a closet full of clothes, some I felt good in, some I didn’t. But deciding what to wear in the morning was not always a fun process. I had to weed through a bunch of stuff I didn’t love, or wasn’t comfortable, only to end up wearing the same handful of outfits most days.
Purging But Not Making Progress
I had already been minimizing the stuff in our house for the last couple of years. But I had never made much headway in my closet. When I first started decluttering, I did a massive purge of my closet, getting rid of multiple big garbage bags full of clothes. I honestly felt embarrassed about how much clothing I owned. But even after I was done, my closet was still just as full as ever!
A lot of the stuff was still new or barely worn, so I felt guilty about getting rid of it. In my quest to make my wardrobe more stylish, I often purchased cheap or ill-fitting clothing, just because it was on sale, or it fit my idea of what I should have in my closet. I also thought the more options the better to make sure I wasn’t falling into a “mom style rut” again.
The Idea of a Capsule Wardrobe
In the last couple of months I discovered the concept of capsule wardrobes. The idea of a capsule wardrobe is that you have fewer items of clothes but you love them all and they all look great on you. There are other things that some people include in their definition of a capsule wardrobe, like choosing higher quality items, or having everything be able to mix and match, or even limiting it to a certain number of items.
What really stood out for me was that you had fewer items, but loved them all. Everything in your closet were your absolute favourite clothes and you got rid of everything else. This is how I wanted my wardrobe to be. Only my favourites, nothing else.
I am never someone who jumps into a new idea very quickly, I prefer to think about something for a while before committing. The idea of a capsule wardrobe appealed to me, but I was having a hard time taking the leap and ruthlessly purging my closet. I continued to slowly weed out my wardrobe, getting rid of a few things here or there. But not seeing much change.
Finding My Style
I would never describe myself as someone who is super stylish, but I am feeling good about the way I dress now. My style evolved and improved. I found a new “mom uniform”. One that I felt comfortable in but still stylish. It mostly consisted of skinny jeans, a longer loose-fitting top, a cardigan and a pretty necklace or scarf to finish it off.
I knew what I liked, but I was struggling to get rid of the excess. My closet still felt too full. I knew I had a bunch of stuff in there that I didn’t wear. But I couldn’t quite figure out how to get rid of the stuff I didn’t love and only have the clothes I love and feel great in hanging in my closet.
The Best Trick to Purge your Closet
One day I heard a tip that became my best trick to purge your closet. The tip was to try each item on, rather than just looking at each piece of clothing on the hanger. I decided I’d give it a try, even though I didn’t think it would make much of a difference.
Boy was I wrong! Let me tell you, trying everything on was a game changer! Trying each item on and honestly assessing how it looks and feels is the best trick to purge your closet and get rid of things you don’t love or wear.
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6 Questions to Help You Purge When Trying Everything On
Over the course of several days (because my kids didn’t have the patience for me to do it all at once!) I tried on everything I owned. Paying special attention to the things I didn’t wear very often. As I tried each thing on, I asked myself:
1. Does it fit?
I only wanted to keep clothes that fit me right at that moment. My shape and size had changed after having our babies, and I wanted to make sure what I kept fit me nicely now. Anything too big or too small, or not fitting my new shape, didn’t belong in my closet.
*If you are in a position where your weight might change, you may want to keep some larger or smaller clothes. However, I suggest being very selective with what you keep. Keep only your absolute favourite pieces that you will love to wear again. If you’re planning to lose weight for example, you’ll probably want to treat yourself to a few new pieces to celebrate. Don’t hold on to anything you don’t love or is just ok. Only keep what you know you’ll love.*
2. Is it damaged, stained or needs repair?
Anything damaged beyond repair or stained needs to go. Damaged or stained items didn’t make me look or feel good. And that was my whole mission, to only keep what made me look and feel good.
If you have items that need repairing, like hemming or replacing a button, give yourself a deadline to do the repair or have it repaired. Put a reminder in your phone, and if the item isn’t repaired by the deadline, get rid of it. So often we have the best intentions to get repairs done, but they never happen. If you really loved and wore the item, repairing it would be a priority. If you can’t be bothered to repair it, that’s a good sign that you can let the item go.
3. Do I feel good in it? Is it comfortable?
I only wanted to keep things that felt good and felt comfortable as soon as I put them on. I tried to notice if I automatically pulled down the hem, pulled up the neck line, etc. Things that required constant adjustment needed to go. Anything that only felt ok needed to go too. Sometimes I liked the way an item looked, but I didn’t like the fit or the feel of the material. If it didn’t feel great as soon as I put it on, I didn’t want it in my closet because I knew I’d rarely choose to wear it.
4. Do I look good in it? Does the color and style flatter me?
I tried to look objectively at myself in the mirror and let go of what I thought I knew about the way the item looked on me. Sometimes it was surprising to see something I thought I liked, really didn’t look that great. Some things looked out of style, had lost their shape or just didn’t fit my body or tastes anymore.
Looking carefully at the color was also important. I started to learn what colors work for my colouring, and which ones don’t.
It can be helpful to take pictures of yourself in your clothes to get a more objective view. Or invite over a friend who you can trust to be completely honest with you.
5. When was the last time I wore it?
If I couldn’t remember the last time I wore it, it was time to let it go. Or if I hadn’t worn it in the last year, I got rid of it too. I only wanted to keep what I loved and wore regularly.
I had items that fit, were in good condition, felt good and looked good, but I still didn’t wear. Most of these were things I had loved and worn a lot. But I was just sick of them. That’s ok! I got my use and money out of the item. Now it was time to donate it so someone else could wear and love it.
6. Would I be happy to wear it for the rest of the day?
This was the final test, to catch anything that slipped through the previous questions. Sometimes I had a hard time admitting that it was time to let something go. I would be attached to an item for whatever reason (cost, what it said about me, sentimental reasons, etc.).
Asking myself if I would be happy in it for the rest of day really made me think hard if it passed the test to be in my closet. If I thought I should keep an item, but couldn’t wait to take it off for whatever reason, obviously it does not belong in my closet!
It was crazy how many things I tried on and didn’t even like! Trying on each piece of clothing in my wardrobe changed everything for me. I no longer just passed over things that I thought I liked and looked good in, but actually never wore. It forced me to think about each item. And I got rid of a ton of clothes.
If you’re in the process of cleaning out your closet, I highly recommend trying every, single thing on. Then see if it passes the test of the 6 questions above. It is an eye opening experience, and a great way to weed out the clothes you don’t need in your closet.
Creating a Capsule Wardrobe
I have recently taken this a step further and created my own capsule wardrobe. I made my capsule wardrobe on February 1. Because I often have a hard time committing to new ideas, I told myself I would try it for the month of February and see how it goes. But I don’t think I’ll ever go back!
I absolutely LOVE having a capsule wardrobe. It makes deciding what to wear in the morning a breeze. My closet has so much breathing room in it. Sometimes I go and stand in my closet just to gaze lovingly at all the empty space!
I will share the exact process I took to create my capsule wardrobe. In the meantime, I strongly encourage you to start trying on each item of clothing you own. Use the 6 questions above to discover if you REALLY love it.
Getting rid of the things that you don’t truly love or wear is the first step to creating an intentional wardrobe. One that flatters your body and your life. And makes getting dressed in the morning fun!
Do you usually try on each thing in your closet when purging your clothes? Try it and let me know how it goes! Did it surprise you how much you were ready to let go of?
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