Saturday, July 28

Culling the Herd

I did lots of shopping while on vacation, so naturally I came home and needed to make some room by cleaning out my closet. This isn't really a big deal to me. I clean out my closet fairly often (this is probably the third time I've done it in a year) and maybe that means I shop way too much or maybe that means I'm just not doing a good enough job when I do clean out my closet, but shut up. Mind your own business.

Wardrobe culling may seem like a pretty obvious process, but that's just because it is. Throw out what doesn't fit, what you don't wear and what's become unwearable. Sort through it all and sell, donate or dump in the trash. Voi la, new, clean closet and ideally lots of inspiration and ideas for wearing what you already have and replacing things that you need now that you've tossed all your gross, pitted-out white tees. However, if you're like me, that is, a crazy person, cleaning out your closet isn't exactly as obvious as previously stated.

If Your Weight Fluctuates. Depending on the time of year, my commitment to exercise, how often I'm hungover and whether or not I have the time to cook, my weight is either up or down 15lbs. I like to think that's not a lot on my frame, but it does make for a small difference in what I can and can't wear. This -15lbs time is great because I can usually finagle my way into smaller jeans and dresses that are otherwise unaccommodating to my rack, but it also means I have lots of items bought on sale when I was smaller that do not fit when I'm +15lbs. Cull after cull I've held on to these things, but this time I finally thought rationally. This stuff is taking up space most of the time, and while I look great in that dress when it fits, trying it on throughout the year to see if I'm down (I don't have a scale) is damaging and unhealthy. Plus, I have plenty of equal opportunity outfits. And if I don't, they can be bought.

If You Live in a Manic Climate. The weather here will be in the high 90's in July and in January the wind chill will be -30, so owning what is essentially two wardrobes is necessary. During this wardrobe cull I was sorting undershirts and thermals and leggings and it was a million degrees in my house because I don't have air conditioning and I was just sweating looking at all of it. As much as I wanted to get rid of everything out of spite, I knew I'd need the options come winter. The smartest way to deal with a dual wardrobe is to literally pack away your unneeded clothing as the seasons turn. This is a pretty old fashioned custom and I don't think many of us still do it, but it's really smart and we should bring it back. As fall hits, anything that you absolutely will not wear for the next six months gets put into a cardboard box and tucked out of sight. Shorts, tank tops, sundresses, all of your sandals; hide it. You'll love the lack of clutter in your space and come spring, opening the box will be like opening a present.

If You Love Joke Clothes and Costumes. Vintage cheerleader skirt, "Single Ladies" leotard, Chewbacca t-shirt with fringe cut into it, neon pink leggings, Twilight t-shirt, I mean, this stuff is gold. And you never know when you're going to get invited to a horse-themed costume party and you'll suddenly need your cowboy boots. You never know when you'll want to look like a crazy person and wear those leopard print bike shorts to go grocery shopping. Usually I keep this stuff integrated with the rest of my clothes, which is stupid because it's just taking up valuable closet space that should be reserved for dignified clothing only. So this time I decided to pack all my jokey costume stuff away in its own special box, just like when I was eight and had a treasure chest full of dress up clothes. I aint never gonna grow up.

If You Spend Most of Your Time Lounging. If I were an animal I'd be a cross between a cat and lizard: I like to be warm and I like to be sedentary. I have a lot of clothes that are easily worked into my lounge life: giant, soft knit sweaters, huge sweat shirts, dozens and dozens of pairs of cartoonishly fluffy socks, cotton nightgowns, robes. There is nothing better than waking up in the morning and slipping into something shapeless, cozy and disgusting for the day. Dealing with this stuff can be hard, though. A lot of the super warm stuff got packed away with my winter gear, but the best way to deal with anything that stays out is to invest in some drawers. My closet, which is really just a room filled with my and my husband's clothes, has a shelf, a dresser with four drawers and one of these dealies with the little fabric drawers. Everything has its own place so it's easy to keep a mess from happening. Still, sometimes things can overflow (stop buying socks, Rhiannon!), which means it's time to start tossing things. You don't need two white terry cloth robes, and you don't need all those damn socks.

A typical wardrobe cull is a piece of cake if you've got a little willpower and some spare time, but if you're a weirdo it can be harder. The trick is to stay organized, cull often and don't be afraid to pack things away. And don't let anyone tell you that how you're doing things is wrong. Your wardrobe doesn't need to look nice or minimalist in order to be effective; it just needs to be clean.

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