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How I decluttered my clothes

decluttering clothingHaving written a pretty decent beginner’s guide to decluttering quite a while ago, you might think that our house is a minimalist paradise: no TV, no clutter, no unnecessary stuff, no chairs, no decorative items, no nothing.

Well, you’d be wrong.

You see, decluttering for us hasn’t happened overnight. It has been a constant process ever since we first came across the concept on Zen Habits a couple of years ago, as we continue to refine what we do and don’t need.

My wardrobe and drawers are a brilliant example. Angie used to have all of her clothes in a wardrobe in our bedroom, as well as in six drawers in a separate chest. My clothes were in the spare bedroom – a wardrobe and another five drawers.

An easy start
Our first clothing decluttering session was easy. A bin liner full of clothes that either didn’t fit or were tatty and ragged. It was a marvellous session! It didn’t take much mental effort, as the stuff that had to go was obvious. We really didn’t need things with holes in, or stained, or way too big or small.

But after that session, we still had clothes full of drawers. When Lucas was almost here, we thought we would need a bit more space for his clothes and stuff, so I cleared out two of my drawers to make room. I got rid of a few more bits, combined a few drawers, and bam! Two free drawers. It was more progress.

After each dedicated decluttering session, I felt good. I had less stuff, fewer options, more space and more free brain power.

But a few months later, it wasn’t enough. I still felt that I had too many T shirts that I didn’t wear, or undergarments that were clearly past their best (sorry, Angie). I also had a ton of socks. Why do I have over 15 pairs of black work socks? A three week supply in case there is a sock drought? A world sock crisis? What once seemed logical was now just taking up brain effort as well as physical space.

So I gradually got rid of a few more bits. A couple of T shirts went in the clothing recycling bag. A few pairs of socks and pants with holes in went in the bin. A jumper that I never wore went to a pal. Rather than a big session, I got rid of things quietly, a few bits at a time. And it worked.

Combined with pre-cluttering, I was able to gradually reduce my clothing without much fuss, and with barely noticeable changes.

And that’s when I decided that we were ready for another big session.

A drastic change
Two wardrobes, no longer! Two chests of drawers, be gone! It was time for both of us to reduce our clothing enough so that between us, we could fit all of our clothes into one wardrobe and one set of drawers. Angie liked this plan, so we tackled it together.

We asked each other for opinions on items. We were brutally honest about whether we would wear stuff again. We weighed up alternatives (which jumper do you always go for, really) and got rid of the least favourite options. And we almost made it!

It was an epic (and dare I say it, fun!) session which resulted in a tidy, organised, simple wardrobe with only essential, often-worn items remaining. We cleaned drawers and surfaces as we went. We wiped down shelves. We ditched tatty hangers that we wouldn’t need anymore. We almost made it…

Except that I still needed space for my grown-up-job work clothes. They didn’t quite fit, which means that while we now have all of our folded clothes in one set of drawers, I still have some stuff in the spare bedroom wardrobe. Namely:

  • About nine work shirts. All in okay condition. All get used for work at the moment.
  • Two grey suits (one suitable for work, one, the suit I wore to get married, which would be good for a wedding or event)
  • One tuxedo (for movie premiers, gala dinners and royal invitation events)

I have a plan. My next job will not require work shirts. I may have occasional contract work which would, but I am going to go from nine shirts down to three on June 13th – my last day. The grey work suit is going to the charity shop (provided you can’t see through the crotch!). The barely worn tuxedo is also going to be on Oxfam’s racks come Saturday 14th, unless one of you fine people could make use of it.

Which means I would have three work shirts and one smart suit. All of which would easily fit into our wardrobe! The dream will become a reality….until I get bitten by the decluttering bug again….

Have you tried to declutter your clothes? What did you find most challenging? Let me know and I’ll see if I can help!

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5 Comments

  1. Kev May 23, 2014 Reply

    Hi Keith, we decluttered some months back, it’s worth returning every say 3-6months OR as you promote 1 in, 2 out if you can. Biggest challenge; the ‘What-Ifs’.. What you’re always conscious of is not chucking something out that you may have to repurchase later. Generally though, just have to be ruthless and check-off clothes vs occasions.

    • Author
      Keith Porter May 23, 2014 Reply

      Agreed. The what-ifs are the biggest challenge, and sentimental items are also a topic for a blog post coming very soon.

      My default nowadays is to just get rid of any what ifs. I’ve always thought that the worst that can happen is that I have to buy something again. That hasn’t happened yet though – I can’t even remember 90% of the stuff I’ve chucked!

  2. Ian May 29, 2014 Reply

    Great blog post! After much procrastination, this inspired me and Mrs Me to tackle our wardrobes. Seven bin bags later (including random non-clothing stuff) and we’re definitely feeling less cluttered! We’re not at the one wardrobe and one chest of drawers level but it’s nice to have more space and less mess.

    It’s interesting how less wardrobe clutter results in less mental noise and makes the simple act of grabbing a t-shirt so much more pleasant 🙂

    • Author
      Keith Porter May 29, 2014 Reply

      Hi Ian,

      Welcome to the blog! Thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m so glad it inspired you to take action. Seven bin bags is nothing to be sniffed at – that’s a whole lot of clothes!

      I totally agree with the ‘less mental noise’ point. I heard that Barack Obama has several identical suits, shirts, and ties. Each morning, the decision on what to wear is already made, so there’s less stress, and less of the finite amount of decision making capacity that we all have each day is used up.

      Lucky for me Bryan Adams made a white t-shirt and jeans cool. It’s still cool, right? RIGHT?

  3. Yukova October 20, 2015 Reply

    Very useful tips, love it. Here is my article on a same topic. Feel free to visit for more wardrobe detox tips
    http://www.yukovablog.co.uk/de-clutter-101-how-to-bring-order-to-your-wardrobe/
    Yukova x

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