Women who love clothes get a bad rap. Personally, I can attest, I’m constantly defending the size of my closet and my genuine appreciation for the art of dressing well. For the record: Clotheshorses aren’t hoarders. They don’t love keeping things. (That’s something else.) They are obsessed with options. (Is there a fine line between these two? Hell, yes. And as I’m nowhere near qualified to analyze or treat anyone, we’ll just assume you’re on the clotheshorse side moving forward.)
Every time I’m told I have “too many clothes” or “you have to get rid of things!” I generally respond with: “Why?”
Seriously…why? Of all the things you could criticize about someone — overworking your assistant, gossiping about your “best” friend’s affairs, generally bitchiness — it’s somehow a sin to collect beautiful things to drape on your body. If anything, they should be thanking you for trying to bring beauty and put-togetherness into a world of hideous chaos.
You’re welcome, haters.
Moreover, getting rid of clothes for a clotheshorse tends to be pretty tough, but I’ve developed a method that’s actually a little bit “anti” what those silly professional closet people claim works for everyone. Just as one size doesn’t fit all, clotheshorses — hereby moving forward called “clothes lovers” — really do love their clothes. They love getting dressed. They love putting it all together. They love presenting themselves to the world. The usual “cleanout” rules simply do not apply.
Style can be powerful. And if anyone’s afraid of that power by compromising your style, exercise it by cutting them out of your life.
This is not an organization story. It’s a way to weed out what’s ready to move onto another woman’s closet. Don’t worry about which way your clothes are pointing or what colors their hangers are. Forget all that. A true clotheshorse doesn’t care. She wants to feel like she’s in her own custom store. Who cares which way her clothes are pointing? That’s for amateurs.
Before you ever approach your closet cleanout, here are some revelations to burn into your brain:
1 Don’t think of it as “getting rid of things”. Think of it as making space for new and better clothes. The more you remove, the more you strengthen your personal style with existing items. Also, truth is, the more you clean out, the more you get to revisit neglected items that deserve to see the light of day. Or, at least the florescent light of your office.
2 Choose an awesome charity. Yes, you can sell if you want to, but if you’re like me, you love the thought of something you love magically helping a woman in need. Two of my favorite charities are the Boston-based women’s shelter Rosie’s Place and your local Dress for Success. The first several times I moved, I didn’t have the money to ship my stuff, so I donated everything—closets to couches—to my local women’s shelter. Some will even pick up. Google it. These women need your things more than you do.
3 Holding onto something you love doesn’t make you a bad person. I’m sick and tired of all the dumb shows that bully people into parting with items that people genuinely adore. It breaks my heart to see them sitting there with a camera a few feet from their face when they put something they obviously don’t want to get rid of in a trash pile. Maybe it could be organized differently, but it’s not at all a sin to be sentimental. Or just totally love that puffy-sleeved dress you bought in high school.
4 Your age has nothing to do with it. If you’re 95 and you want to rock mini-skirts—YOU GO, GRANDMA. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Keep a lookout for the way I ferociously attack those ridiculous lists about what women over 40 can’t wear. (You don’t want me coming to your closet, Rachel.) It’s just another form of bullying, or clickbait, which is just utterly moronic. And why I’m not hyperlinking—yet.
Alrighty then! So, now…are you ready?
You have your macchiato or prosecco or poodle mix by your side (I have all three!) and you’re approaching the closet you’re ready to purge. It’s likely you won’t be able to do it all, based on my method, in one day.
What you will need? You’ll need a full-length mirror and your favorite music. You may also want to purchase some simple storage bins and keep some paper and writing utensils nearby.
How to start:
Try it on, right then and NOW. There’s no “naw, I’ll do it later” or “I know I like that, so I won’t put it on”. Nope. Try it on. If you’re completely opposed to putting it on, that right there is your biggest tell. If you feel a sense of repulsion while slipping it onto your body, those jeans/blazers/graphic tees/whatever need to be passed along. If they’re too gross to pass along, burn them in some legal or semi-legal fashion.
SPOILER: It doesn’t need to spark joy. I have so much respect and admiration for the Konmari Method—but it doesn’t work for me.
When you have the item on your body ask yourself: “If I had to wear this today — appropriateness assumed! — would I?” You will know instantly is this is an item you should keep. The answer should be “yes”. If not, put it in a pile.
If it’s somehow not obvious… put it in a pile, anyway. We’ll deal with it later.
If you love it… leave it. It’s that simple. We’ll organize at some stage, but you already know how to grab and wear something that makes you feel good.
At the end of your session — remember, this could take some time, so don’t try and do it all in one day — survey your pile.
Break your big pile into three smaller piles:
1 We’re breaking up This stuff is all wrong for you but it’ll be so right for someone else.
2 Costumes Fancy dresses you’ll only wear to the Tony’s, Halloween stuff, dress-up, naughty wear.
3 Sentimentals Your old Pink Lady jacket from when you played Frenchie, Homecoming dresses, that tutu—the stuff that you won’t wear likely ever again, but really want to keep.
Like I said in the beginning, this isn’t an organization piece (stay tuned for that!). But for now, you can box and label the piles above and put them in your climate controlled storage unit. You’ll now wear the stuff you love even more, and know you did a major good deed giving great clothing away to women in need.
Why do this? When you look good, you feel good. When you feel good, you’re powerful.
Style is power.
Now, go clean out your closet.