Monday, July 15, 2013

closet clean-up: from cluttered to loved

Once I found out in February that I would have to move for school, I slowly started cleaning out my closet. I've lived in Madison for seven years now, and have lived in four different houses. Each time we moved, I just grabbed everything I owned and took it with me to the next place a few streets away. This move though, across several states and by myself, would require me greatly reduce the items I own.

I had clothes in three different places - my main closet that had all of my normal clothes, some coats in our coat closet, and my handful of dresses (which I couldn't wear to work) were in a shared closet in our bedroom - our place has a lot of closets! I started out by pulling all of the "big ticket" items that I knew I could sell on eBay - a few purses, a North Face jacket, and a few J.Crew / Banana Republic items. I'm a pretty beginner eBay seller so I don't have a ton of tips and tricks. I do a lot that is recommended here, and I almost always use the eBay app as you can take pictures, upload, and have a listing within just a few minutes from your phone.

Once those items were gone, I started going through the clothes that I regularly look at. I pulled out the pieces I knew I hadn't worn in years, and put them aside. I tried selling some on poshmark and on here, but those took more effort than it paid out. I basically worked through my closet a little bit at a time. Every time I by passed something and couldn't remember the last time I ever wore it, it went into the pile. About once a month, I would take a pile of clothing to Plato's Closet - a consignment store geared mostly towards teenagers. My experiences were fine there - I've made about $100 from selling clothes there, but I felt because they were so geared toward teens that a lot of my nicer items that just didn't fit were passed because they were "too mature". The items they didn't take I handed down to my mom and sister, and whatever they didn't want, they donated to St. Vinnies.

That was what I did up until this past weekend. I move on Friday, so this last closet clean out was really necessary to get rid of the last unnecessary pieces. I had already packed up all of my blazers, remaining bottoms, skirts, and shoes which hadn't been pulled. My family is shipping those boxes to me at the end of the week as I just didn't have enough room in my car. Next, I went through all of my tops. I pulled each one out of the closet and put it on. If I felt uncomfortable in it, if it fit me wrong, or if I knew I was just never going to wear it again, into the pile it went. I'm only packing the pieces I really wear. As hard as it was to let go of a bunch of relatively nice jeans, tees, and sweaters, I knew I hadn't worn them in so long, and with my restrictive dress code, I knew they weren't going to be worn in the future either. I tried one last time to take a few things to the consignment stores, made about $25, and took everything else directly to Goodwill. I set a side a few things again for my mom and sister, but the rest will find a new home with something who will appreciate them.

When I look at my closet now, and even during the cleaning out process, I felt so much better about getting dressed. I didn't feel guilt looking at all the clothes I spent money on, but didn't wear. My choices were limited, but I liked everything, so I never had "I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR" moments. Since I started working with a budget, I feel like I've been a lot smarter about what I buy, so I'm hoping that in a year/four years from now, I won't be in this same situation. I need to make smart buying decisions, buy items off of my holes in my closet list, and not just buy on a whim. I want to find the balance of buying staple pieces versus more "fun" pieces - maybe do 3/4 of my budget towards purchasing items I will get a ton of wear, and then the rest towards statement/fun pieces? Since I will be living off student loans that I receive twice a year, instead of paychecks I receive twice a month, I may do what Kimmie and Jess do, and have a yearly budget and work with it that way. I'll definitely share what I decide to do!

I can't wait to show you guys by new closet next week! It's going to be beautiful :)

My tips for cleaning out your own closet - no moving 10 hours away necessary! :

+ Pull everything (EVERYTHING) out of your closet, and try each piece on. If it doesn't fit NOW, get rid of it (or if it may fit again for sure, put it into storage)

+  If you haven't worn it within the last year, ask yourself why. Does it just fit wrong? Donate or sell. Not your style anymore? Pass along to friends or donate. Needs alterations? Put into the alterations pile and actually do them.

+ Be prepared to make "the hard" decisions. Yes, it sucks that you spend x number of dollars on that sweater/pant/skirt/shoe....but what good is it doing you in your closet if you haven't worn it in years? Either store it in case it comes back into fashion, pass it along to family members/friends, sell it, or donate it. You'll feel better not looking at it every single time you open your closet.

+ Reorganize your closet so you can see your clothes better. I currently organize by color, but when I move, I'm going to organize by type - blazers, cardigans, sweaters, tees. Seeing your clothes in a different way may inspire you to wear it a different way.

+ Now that you know what you have in your closet, think about what you think needs to be added. Think about what you want your style to be, what colors you should focus on, and what pieces you'd like to add. Make a list, and keep an eye out for them when you shop. If you are unsure, these posts, these posts, and these posts have been a big help to me!