We all know the basics: go through clothes, get rid of anything that doesn't fit or that you hate, blah blah blah. If you want a detailed, loving guide to going through your clothes and giving your wardrobe a makeover, definitely read Gala Darling's "Wardrobe Taming" article. What I wanted to write about is just how shockingly HARD it was to do! I think my senior thesis in college had fewer steps and less agony to it than my recent closet-cleaning did. [Note: it's all thanks to moving house. God, I hate moving. Worst thing ever. But it makes you get rid of stuff, which is fantastic.] Why is closet-purging so agonizing? The main one for me is that deciding to get rid of something makes me feel wrong. That I chose wrong when I bought it, that I'm doing wrong by not continuing to wear it when it's still perfectly good, or that the person I was when I bought & wore it was wrong. That's a sneaky one, I think: basically, deciding that the vintage lime-green acrylic shirt with faux pockets is hideous (which it was) means admitting to myself that, at one point not THAT long ago, I was proudly wearing a hideous shirt. Ouch. There's also the pain of your inner cash register dinging at you as you tabulate how much pocket money would have now if you hadn't bought these Goodwill-bound duds (ha! They're duds that are duds! How witty.) Basically, facing old clothes equals facing old demons, which is very psychobabbly but also true. It's miserable! The thing is, if you delay closet-cleaning for fear of facing these sad truths, you'll just feel them ever so slightly EVERY time you look at the stuff sitting there unworn. Better to rip off the Band-Aid all at once and then let the scab form, you know?
How I did it: I first went through my stuff months ago. I put a bunch in bags for Goodwill, and the stuff I wasn't quite ready to let go of I put in my coat closet, out of the way. I figured that if I needed anything, I could rescue it...and if not, it was obviously time to say adieu. Then, come house-moving time, I did another giant purge and came up with more stuff to chuck. At this point, I finally got rid of the old rejects from the coat closet, and then put the new rejects into my car (since, duh, we were moving away from the coat closet). I was planning to take 'em to a charity right away, but I kept leaving work too late to make it...so this batch ended up sitting in my backseat for about 2 weeks, weighing down my poor car and surely worsening my gas mileage, not to mention making it impossible to give people rides since the clothes took up the ENTIRE back. Kind of embarassing. But I think I sort of left them that long on purpose, because I needed that what-if, just-in-case, coat-closet stage before finally parting with everything. And I'm actually glad I did, because I ended up realizing that I did NOT want to give away my aunt's vintage striped v-neck or my boyfriend's way-too-big J.Crew sweater (that is totally going to be a sweaterdress once I figure out how to make it). Point is, when I finally pulled up to Out Of The Closet (perfect name, right?) and unloaded my many bags, I was completely OK with it. I gave myself all the time and ridiculous baby steps I needed, and I don't regret anything I gave away (P.S. I sold some of the better vintage--this makes any parting a much sweeter sorrow!).
I'm pretty proud of myself, if you couldn't tell, and I'm even starting to want to closet-purge AGAIN now that I've moved in and can see how full my new closet is. This is saying a lot for a girl who used to save her old math tests. Oh, I forgot one thing: when I had my giveaway pile sitting in front of me, I wrote it all down. Yep, I wrote down a list of every single thing (of which there were, like, 60. No joke.), partly as a record (god, this is sounding pathological) and partly just to gloat over my mad giveaway skills. It was great. I loved it. A weight's been lifted from my shoulders, I feel justified in going shopping again (uh oh), and I highly recommend it. Go! Go! And if you're giving away any vintage boots or long cardigans, let me know--I've got space!