How to downsize and de-clutter
By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor
As someone who is facing an impending move, I have become fully aware that I own a lot of crap. One of my biggest hurdles to fully realizing my dream of becoming a big city girl—currently I live in Mission, and I will soon be moving to Vancouver’s Downtown core—is downsizing my current wardrobe.
As a self-proclaimed “frugal fashionista” with a lot of storage space and an ever-changing fashion identity, I have accumulated a lot of clothes over the years. I am also a pack-rat, so it is very rare that I will throw anything out. Unfortunately, I will be moving into a much smaller one-bedroom apartment that I will be sharing with a beautifully fluffy cat and a lovely man whom I adore, and do not wish to drown us all in layer upon layer of knitwear and cotton-poly blends.
As I have slowly been working through my closets and deciding what to donate, keep, or throw out, I have come up with a few simple rules to help myself out.
Have you worn it in the past year?
When I was first looking to organize, I had heard a tip stating that if you haven’t worn or used something in the past three months you should probably get rid of it. Though I agree with the sentiment, I don’t think this is the best idea.
Clothes can be seasonal, so just because I haven’t worn my bathing suit in the past three months doesn’t mean I should get rid of it. I say, go for a year. If you can’t remember wearing that sweater last winter, get rid of it. This is also a great way of ridding yourself of trends or styles you may have either grown out of, or you don’t find appealing anymore.
I have gone through a lot of style evolutions over the years. Maybe I don’t need that fully mesh top with the dragon on it from my high school goth days, for example. That chic semi-transparent black blouse though? Totally need to keep that (I never said they were vastly different evolutions). This does bring me to my next tip though: Redundancy.
Do I really need more than one of these?
When downsizing your wardrobe, it’s important to take into account how many pieces are similar to each other. An easy way of deciphering what you can get rid of is to first start with the multiples. I had four black tank tops. Granted, I do wear black tank tops under sweaters or other shirts, but four is excessive. Pick one or two that you like the most, or that fit you the best, and the rest can be donated or thrown out.
Does it fit?
My weight fluctuates depending on my stress levels, so having a couple of different size options, or clothing that will accommodate that, is important.
However, having a lot of clothes you’re either too small or too big for is not healthy, and can encourage self-image problems. It’s best if you own clothes that are several sizes too large or too small to just get rid of them. If the clothes have sentimental value, give them to a loved one, or keep them as your guilty pleasure. Just don’t have them in your regular wardrobe to taunt you every time you open your closet.
It’s okay to keep something special.
Set aside an area of your wardrobe to keep clothing that is special to you. I’m not talking about a cocktail dress or a suit for a special occasion. I mean clothes that have personal meaning.
I know I am a very tactile person, and I tend to associate happy memories with objects—this includes clothes. With that in mind, I know I’ll want to keep one or two things that I may not wear a lot, but hold sentimental value. That’s okay, just keep it contained and don’t start justifying every outfit you’ve ever worn when something good happened to you. Your wedding dress? Yes. The cardigan you wore to prom? Okay. The shoes you wore when you passed your driving test? Maybe not so much.
A good way to get around this instinct to hoard things that remind you of happy moments in your life, is to take a little piece of the clothing–such as a button, or a swatch of fabric—and keep that as opposed to keeping the entire garment. This way you still have the physical reminder, without having it take up a lot of space in your closet.
Make sure you are prepared for special occasions.
Another huge mistake I have noticed with all these de-cluttering tips is when people go overboard. Yes, you are trying to downsize, but you don’t want to be wasting money buying new clothes down the road. Don’t just keep all your favourite, most comfortable clothing. You will need some formal wear, and maybe an ugly Christmas sweater or two just so you have all your bases covered.
Hopefully these tips help you out in your own downsizing journey. Good luck!