Monday, January 16, 2012

okay, so i might be a hoarder

As I was folding and putting away some laundry the other day, something dawned on me. I was shoving about four or five of my many folded t-shirts into the middle drawer of my dresser, trying desperately to cram them in so the darn thing would close, and I thought to myself, I have absolutely no idea what is at the bottom of this drawer. Keep in mind, this is a pretty shallow space. However, over time I had managed to layer and compress so many shirts in there that I no longer had any idea what was lying beneath. I mean, it could have been wads of cash or a family of tiny mammals and I'd be none the wiser.

Then, as I was thinking about the dresser, my mind drifted to the closet. And the dresser upstairs. And the closet upstairs. Each of these locales had accumulated some overstuffed collection of my clothes and the hilarious/sad part was that I pretty much rotated like twelve items of clothing over and over again and that was the extent of my wardrobe. I didn't even wear 75% of the things I had. Not anymore! I said to myself (But not out loud, because let's be honest, that would have been silly.) I decided it was finally time to rid myself of the old clothing I had been keeping from high school and college and narrow the old wardrobe down to something that was manageable and incapable of hiding the aforementioned family of small mammals.

Now I would love to say that this whole project stemmed from some new year's resolution to rid myself of all my worldly possessions or to shed the metaphorical skin of my former self, but in fact it began having nothing to do with either of those things. It was completely selfish. I simply wanted to have an idea of the full range of clothing I owned so I could dress better and not feel the need to just keep buying clothes when I had a closet full of perfectly cute items. (If we're being honest here.)

I do want to take a moment to explain myself a bit, though. I promise I am not some girl swimming in cash that's addicted to shopping and amasses oodles and oodles of clothing. (I've seen MTV's True Life: I'm Addicted to Shopping, and it is not a pretty sight.) In fact, it's quite the opposite. See, growing up my family didn't have a ton of money. In fact, we didn't have very much money at all and all my mom and stepdad ever wanted was to make sure the bills were paid and my brothers and I had a few creature comforts. Shopping was a rarity but when I did, it was with birthday or babysitting money and I would scour the sales or rifle through racks at TJMaxx. (As a result, I still feel that there is no better feeling of satisfaction than scoring an amazing deal. It's pretty much like my drug.) I also hated spending money because I never had a lot of it. But anyway, as a result of that upbringing, I feel this compulsive need to keep things. I don't want to give anything away because each item I have is something that I worked hard to buy and I want to stretch every last bit out of my clothes so I don't have to spend a fortune going shopping. As I've gotten older and made my own money, I've had to train myself on buying things that are of better quality even though they may be more expensive. It sounds bizarre to use that word trained, but it really is a mental barrier when you've grown up being so frugal. Anyway, the moral of the story is, this bountiful closet is only bountiful because I literally didn't give away a single thing for like six years. Not good.

So I began by separating things into piles: Goodwill, throw away, and my personal favorite, "this is still really cute but I know I'll never wear it so I'll let my little sister look through it before I donate it." (Yep, I wrote that in Sharpie on the garbage bag.) Even with my mission in mind, I still found myself fighting my uber-saver instincts as I worked my way through the closet. I would pull an item out and convince myself that there would surely be some miraculous occasion in the future that this coral polka-dotted skirt would be just perfect for. Or I'd think, What if I have a costume party in which a bubble gum pink cable knit sweater will be the piece de resistance to my suburban soccer mom costume? (These are ACTUAL thoughts I had.)

Right, like I said. Piles.

Jason walked in and almost had a HEART ATTACK.
Um yeah, so you can imagine the epic battle of self-discipline that ensued, but when it was all said and done, my closet was about half as full. Not to mention I had a full bag of things to throw away, a full bag of things to donate to Goodwill, and a whole heck of a lot to let my little sister rifle through. Everybody wins.

Despite my progress, I admit there are some things I still couldn't bring myself to give up. Like my collection of six white camisoles. What? Don't judge. They're all different lengths/fabrics/fits, plus one is off-white so I wear them under different things! (Crap. This is where you guys call the people over at Hoarders, isn't it? See, I knew it was coming. Should've kept the white camis thing to myself, huh?)

Not only do I now know exactly all the items I owned, but I managed to consolidate my four clothing locations in the house (downstairs closet, bedroom dresser, guest room dresser, guest room closet) into two and a quarter locations: guest room closet, bedroom dresser, and my two stacks of workout clothes on a shelf in the downstairs closet. Yes, that's right ladies, I surrendered my real estate in our bedroom closet to my boyfriend's ever growing collection of daily t-shirts BUT I assure you it's all well within my carefully plotted strategy. Having the entire upstairs closet sans whining about how much room my sixteen scarves (see right: not an exaggeration) take up is worth the trade. Plus, I got WAY too much satisfaction out of creating an entire system for where things are located - a Dewey Decimal System of clothing items if you will. Behold my glorious spectrum below:

Okay, so I agree, not that impressive at a glance. BUT underneath that exterior layer of seemingly haphazard hangers is a carefully crafted system with purpose and precision. (Holy alliterations, Batman!) In case you care, here's the breakdown. From left to right we have: business attire (the smallest piece of the pie), day dresses (think brunch), night dresses (think weddings/cocktail attire), a section I will just called "black" (which could mean anything from t-shirts to sweaters to dressy tops), t-shirts, summer tops, coverups (read: dresses too short or thin to be worn sans swimsuit underneath), long sleeve shirts and sweaters (thank goodness Florida only requires a few of these), and then the rest is pretty much cardigans and blazers/jackets! Voila - my masterpiece!

One fun (slash-enlightening-slash-slightly-embarrassing) thing about organizing things this way is that it becomes painfully obvious just how predictable your style is. Apparently in order for me to buy clothing it must fit within at least one of the following categories: cotton t-shirts, cardigans, brightly colored tops and... well, just black. These items make up 90% of my wardrobe. Who knew? (Probably everyone who sees me on a semi-regular basis.)

I also made a new promise to myself. From now on, every time I want to go shopping, I will donate or give up the same amount of items I come home with. I think my wardrobe is at a very manageable size right now and this will ensure it doesn't get out of control again. This may be one of those self-made promises that I live to regret, but I really think it's the best thing for me. In case you haven't gathered this about me, I'm one of those people that is all but paralyzed by choices, and if I have less choices in my wardrobe, I think dressing myself will actually become more fun.

So I hope to update you all in a few months to see if I've actually been able to keep up with my promise - I'm counting on all of you to keep me accountable! I also challenge those of you reading out there to do the same in your closets and share some of your tricks to keeping yourself organized and clutter-free! Do you have any self-made promises like mine that keep your wardrobe manageable?

1 comment:

  1. YAY! So proud of you and your glorious closet. I recently did the same, it always feels good this time of year to purge your closets and get rid of the (many) things you don't need. It's hard being a girl...I mean there are always going to be things you're emotionally attached to, things you "might" wear, and things you wear maybe once every couple of months...but at least we can admit to it. ;) The important thing is now you know what you actually have, and what you wear on a daily basis...and I feel like that helps when you go shopping now. If you go, you're going because you're looking to fill a specific gap in your wardrobe, and you won't be buying things just to buy things anymore. I also tried the whole, donate an item when you bring home a new item, and although I'm not too sure I did that well with it, it is a good idea. At least I'm being conscious about what I'm buying now, and that's made a big difference in knowing my style and what's in my wallet. :)

    Miss you! For reals.