Friday, March 11, 2011

Project 365 - Day 69

My closet, after. Well really, it's the after after. Because I'd actually dealt with the closet a month or so ago. But at that time I really just kind of neatened what was in there, and didn't make any serious effort to purge, which I know is really the most important step to real organization. My organizing efforts up until recently have involved the proverbial labeling of bins "String Too Short to Use" without actually GETTING RID OF the string that is too short to use. But after reading about Project Simplify on Simple Mom, I decided to have another go at it. In Project Simplify, Simple Mom reveals a "hot spot" every Monday, and everybody works on the appointed zone all week and posts their "after" pictures of the now-tackled hot spot on Friday. This approach totally matches up with my fundamental need for someone to tell me what to do -- I will cook dinner all day long if someone will please just tell me what to make (the reason cooking clubs resonated with me); I will clean anything if someone tells me what to clean first, etc. So Simple Mom told me to clean out my wardrobe, and I dutifully did just that.

Here is the before/after #1:

I have learned that we hold on to too much stuff for two reasons: (1) we think we will need it someday; and (2) we are sentimental about it. I am definitely guilty of both, although in the closet it's mostly #1 that's been keeping it overstuffed. Although there were a few #2-created stacks as well, like this, the Towering Stack 'O Sweatshirts:

I don't wear sweatshirts anymore. They are huge and bulky and not particularly comfortable. If I'm cold, there are 15 items I'd reach for before the sweatshirts. But they remind me of happy times in my life: college, that summer on Martha's Vineyard (the torn up Black Dog sweatshirt), law school. I read that when dealing with sentimental items, you should ask yourself: are these items the best link I have to this happy time in my life?

In the case of these four law school sweatshirts, the answer is no. The best link I have to my amazing three years in Charlottesville is my husband, whom I get to see every day and who does not take up valuable, limited real estate in my tiny closet. Buh-bye 3/4ths of the Virginia sweatshirts!

In addition to battling sentimentality, I established a few other groundrules:

(1) Just because it looked good on you in 1998 doesn't mean it looks good on you now, even if it still fits.
(2) You probably don't need to be wearing clothes from 1998 anyway.
(3) If you didn't wear it back before you had kids because it just wasn't all that flattering, it's only going to get worse. Get rid of it.

I worked on this project in 30 minute intervals throughout the week. I limited myself to 30 minutes at a time because I didn't want things to get too out of control and then find myself bored/overwhelmed and abandoning ship entirely (after everything was strewn across the bedroom, of course). This worked well because I was able to make decent progress in 30 minutes while staying somewhat interested. I was thrilled at how my closet looked when I was done with it; unfortunately, the project was not just "closet," but "wardrobe." That meant I had to deal with the clothes in my armoire as well:

Which I did, and that resulted in still more purging, but again, I'd done this a couple of months ago (which is when I bought those shelf dividers, which actually work quite well), so I didn't end up with piles and piles of clothes to donate. The after shot of the armoire:

I was feeling quite self-satisfied with the closet and armoire, when I suddenly realized that I ALSO had to deal with my boxed up summer-only clothes:

and the winter-only clothes I had just moved into the upstairs linen closet:

These are not all my clothes, but they are all my clothes to deal with

I knew if I added my summer clothes to my gloriously uncluttered closet and the neat stacks in the armoire, I'd be right back to where I started: overstuffed. I was really liking the quantity of clothing that was in the closet/armoire after round 1. So I decided I had to be super ruthless in round 2, culling some clothes that made the cut in round 1, and becoming like a Studio 54 bouncer in deciding which summer clothes gained admission to the closet/wardrobe (actually, bad analogy -- an actual Studio 54 bouncer would not allow ANY of my clothes in, as I am not cool enough/not a fashionista -- but you get the idea, I knew I had to be REALLY PARTICULAR in deciding which clothes would make the cut).

I made some more room for round 2 keepers by getting rid of some more old t-shirts. Again with the sentimental clutter. And seriously, why am I even sentimental about some 5K I ran in 1999? Or the marathon I ran in 1996, for that matter? Okay, I did pause over the marathon shirt, because, you know, huge accomplishment that will never be repeated by me and all that, but I finally decided that the shirt is "not the best link to that happy time in my life" -- I keep up with my marathon buddy Cara on Facebook, and I have the medal and the newspaper clipping from the marathon somewhere; the shirt can go.

Hundreds of similar mental conversations later (the rest of which I will spare you, mercifully), and I was done! {FULL DISCLOSURE: I HAVE NOT COMPLETELY DEALT WITH OUTERWEAR YET}. While I still have way too many clothes, I feel like the only clothes left in my closet/armoire are clothes that I actually wear or will wear. And believe it or not, I identified a couple of items that I need, like new white t-shirts (of the non-concert/race/orientation/tournament variety) and khaki trousers. Who knew? Now that I've undergone this exercise, I am definitely going to implement a system in which I get rid of one old item for each new item I bring in. Hopefully that will keep the volume under control going forward, and there will not be a need for future long-winded posts about my closet purging efforts. Hooray!


The Starr Family said...

Impressive, streamlined, no clutter here baby! Way to go, it really does look great. And I can only relate too well to the Virginia Law sweatshirts (not the law part, no thank you)... I still, in my third decade of life, have sorority sweatshirts in my closet. :)

Nicole said...

Great after shots! Your new closet looks awesome and I love the angle at which you took your photos. Nice work.

Anonymous said...

I love the tip about something being the best link to the memory you are trying to preserve. Thanks for sharing.

Heather said...

That is just downright impressive. All of it. I am in dire need of purging those college/sorority t-shirts and sweatshirts, but it is way easier said than done. I am going to print and use your rules! Entertaining, but SO VERY TRUE.

Mary @ A Simple Twist Of Faith said...

Love the picture of the Virginia sweatshirts!