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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

On Minimalism and Decluttering my Closet



Late last night I got back from Punta Cana, exhausted from the trip but with this fiery need to declutter my closet. Alex promptly fell asleep, but I decided to take my laptop into my closet and watch an episode of Girls while filling up an extra large trash bag with clothing to donate. One episode turned to three, and one trash bag turned to two, until I was knee deep (literally and figuratively) in piles of clothing. 

I haven't done a real, intense, wardrobe cull in a very very long time. In fact, I'm not sure I have ever done this kind of cull... where I really take the principles of Marie Kondo's "Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up" to heart and touch each and every item in my quest to see which one brings me happiness. 

My plan isn't to declutter just for the sake of the minimalism trend, I want to make that clear. Trends come and go. When I first started on YouTube, the trend was for huge collections of makeup and clothing, the trend was to have stuff. Right now, minimalism is sweeping the blog world, encouraging everyone to cut back. So it makes me wonder... maybe minimalism isn't trendy right now just for trends sake; maybe there is a need that naturally comes as a balance to the consumerism of the past decade. Having a lot of stuff around all the time can weigh you down, both literally and figuratively. I'm not planning on having a one drawer makeup collection or one rack of clothing, I like these items too much. But this whole "holding onto everything" isn't doing anyone any good. If it doesn't bring me happiness, it needs to go. So that's where we are at. 

Normally when I feel like decluttering my closet I quickly sweep through the racks, pulling the really obvious pieces and putting them in a pile to try on one last time. In the past, I have been left with 10-20 items (at MOST) that I then take to a full length mirror and try on, one by one. Out of these pieces, I normally only end up letting go of half, as the others I convince myself to keep for various reasons.

This time I decided to take a different approach. Instead of pulling the obvious no's, I pulled only the obvious yes's. I sorted through my racks, pulling only the items that stood out as my absolute favorites, and in the end I was left with a rather meager 10% of the whole closet. 

10%? I only love 10% of my clothing? 

I then realized something. I don't tend to shop a lot (for clothing) so I like to hold onto everything I do buy, because I only really buy clothing pieces I love. I have held onto pieces of clothing that are at least 5 years old, because they still fit me and I loved them 5 years ago, but I never wear them anymore because they no longer fit into my life. I found a lot of little sequin dresses, studded jeans, rhinestone jeans, stuff that I loved when I first moved to LA and these things were trendy, but they aren't anymore, and even if they were, do I feel like the type of person who would wear rhinestone jeans? No. 

And on that note, let's say rhinestone jeans did come back into style, and I decided I needed a pair. Would I really want to wear my pair from 5 years ago that maybe hits the style slightly off of the head? Back then the rhinestones were on the pockets, what if the new trend is rhinestones around the belt loops?

You guys, this is a very strange example and I cannot say I would ever be down with a trend of "rhinestones on the belt loops", but I am trying to explain the best I can my thought process on getting rid of these old beloved items. I also don't want to come across as someone who follows every fashion trend (as I actually end to stick to the same kind of clothing vibe), but I do feel like this kind of thought process might be helpful to others trying to cull their closets. You don't need to keep something that you loved 5 years, was super trendy 5 years ago, and you felt super hot in 5 years ago. If that trendy item comes back into style, and you feel you need it, treat yourself to a new pair. Chances are, it's not going to come back into style in a way that you feel you need to try again, but if it does, c'est la vie. 

After pulling my absolute favorites from the closet, I was left with about 90%. I took my favorites and put them outside of the closet so that I wouldn't have to look through those clothes again, as I knew I was keeping them.

From there, I decided to do a run of absolute no's. I was able to pull about 20% of my closet for this category, and I decided to not try anything on. If I felt that strongly that the item was a "no" and not a "maybe", it needed to go. In the past, I have tried every no back on, and ended up keeping half... but not because I accidentally forgot it was a treasure. I would simply convince myself to keep the items and then they would never get worn. These no's needed to go. 

The no's were put directly into a trash bag to donate, and taken out of the closet. Now I was left with approximately 70% of my wardrobe... the maybe's. 

I knew the maybe's would be the hard ones, and the ones that were going to take the longest to go through. I have decided to do this pile in steps, over the course of several days. I still had a little bit of energy left in me so I pulled maybe 10 more items, stuck them in the donate bags, and cleaned up for the night. 

Here is my giveaway pile from this first round:



I'm going to leave my closet for a few days and then come back to it with fresh, new eyes. I'll keep you guys posted!


40 comments:

  1. This feels great - I Kondo'd my wardrobe and got rid of 2 large bags of clothing. I haven't done it in a few months so will do it for summer and more will go I'm sure!

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  2. I love your de-cluttering posts (in whatever form) because they always remind me that I need to do the same! I also think you make a good point about re-emerging trends. When I was in college in the early 2000s, it was flared jeans everywhere. Then skinny jeans came around, and they don't seem to be going anywhere...but I've noticed flared jeans popping back up. But while my early 2000s flared jeans were all low-cut and most had elaborate pocket designs, that's not the exact style that seems to be trickling back around. So even if I could still fit into those jeans (RIP my 21-year-old metabolism), I wouldn't want to rock the super low rise and the pocket bling.

    I'm a bit of a pack rat, so it's hard for me not to justify hanging on to every piece, even if it's something I know I haven't worn in years or that I most likely won't fit into again. So thanks for the tips! I'm willing to bet there aren't a lot of pieces that I LOVE, and I have way more "no" pieces than I think.

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    1. Great analogy! I'm about the same age and cannot imagine wearing my super low cut flared jeans either from then. Although I really wish I still had that body. :-p

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  3. Good job Elle! I try to go through my clothes at least every season. I also keep a donate bag in my closet for anything I suddenly decide I no longer want, which happens all the time as I'm putting clothes away. My mom started me on this when I was little. If I wanted new school or summer clothes, or new toys for Christmas I had to go through my stuff and give away what I wasn't using. It is now an ingrained habit and it will become one for you too in time. Plus, decluttering always makes me feel better.

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  4. I like your philosophy on trends and the hype around minimalism. You have a good sense of balance!

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  5. I loved this post Elle! I bought the book you mentioned a couple months ago, and it's really changed my life. After reading it, I went into declutter mode, and threw away just about 10 trash bags worth of stuff and also donated 7 trash bags of clothing and miscellaneous items. It felt so good to do and it was very freeing for sure. I still have a long way to go as I'm a beauty blogger and have so much stuff in my collection, as well as the rest of my home. 2016 is the year of declutter for me!

    -Katy
    skinstuffbykaty.blogspot.com

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  6. I totally need to pull out the pieces I love too! I always buy stuff and never end up wearing them. I always try to tell my self if the item is something I would repurchase again. I am moving to a new house soon, so doing a little declutter is a must for me.

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  7. I commend your progress on decluttering! I'm sure the clothes you give away will help a lot of people in need as well. I am ITCHING to declutter my closet and have been for months, but unfortunately my spine is not allowing it at the moment, so I will have to wait for at least a few months. But seeing other people declutter helps XD.

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  8. I literally am doing this exact thing to my closet. I'm getting married in 5 months and my fiance is moving in within 2 months! I have so much stuff it was hard! The maybe pile was the one I left for a day and went through once more to make sure I wasn't going crazy and dumping everything. Having fewer possession is less stress, and by purging items it's my therapy right now!! Wedding planning is not my favorite. Cleaning and purging keeps me calm! Good luck with your closet!

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  9. I literally am doing this exact thing to my closet. I'm getting married in 5 months and my fiance is moving in within 2 months! I have so much stuff it was hard! The maybe pile was the one I left for a day and went through once more to make sure I wasn't going crazy and dumping everything. Having fewer possession is less stress, and by purging items it's my therapy right now!! Wedding planning is not my favorite. Cleaning and purging keeps me calm! Good luck with your closet!

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  10. I know minimalism has been trendy lately, but for me it's really practical because I had to get rid of a lot of stuff when I moved to another state for college, and since being here I've kept my belongings small because I need to put everything to storage in a month. It was so hard for me to purge things, but now I feel like I'm actually wearing everything that I have and that is such a great feeling!
    -Sisi
    Modern Beauty Girl

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  11. I read the Kondo book last autumn and did a proper closet clear out when we moved in the beginning of the year, and haven't missed a single thing I got rid off. I do agree though that the maybes are the hardest! xx

    http://shakespeareandsparkle.com/

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  12. I love decluttering my clothes because it just messed up and I'm not wearing all! Anyway, love this post very much xo

    http://www.marsyajauzi.blogspot.my/

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  13. The one time I have been glad to not throw everything away was when i held onto my 90s style skirts from my childhood, which thankfully 90s are back, hooray. But so many things I keep for the sake of memory :(

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  14. I would love to see a video or series of videos on your decluttering, thoughts on minimalism, and some of your favorite pieces!

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  15. I really enjoyed this! I am going to pick up the book you mentioned as I really love the concept of only holding onto things that bring you happiness!

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  16. I hope the minimalist thing isn't a trend! I think it's better for the planet and our sanity if we just have less stuff around - unless we really do love it!

    This post is perfecting timing! After reading the book last month, I calendared April 9th as my cleaning day. I liked your idea of starting with the Yes Pile instead of the No Pile. I'll have to use that strategy this weekend!

    Alec @ www.popfitlife.com

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  17. VERY interesting (and helpful!) strategy to start with the obvious "yes's." I'd never thought of that. Love that the blog is flourishing but gosh I would've LOVED a vid on this so much! Your decluttering thoughts/info/etc is not like everyone else's, so if part of the YouTube struggle is coming up with creative content, there ya go girl! We'll eat it up!!

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  18. I just started going with only buying "absolute yes"s when purchasing item and no I'm inspired to go through all of my stuff too. I love your writing style too, thanks for posting. :)

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  19. Great article! Gives me food for thought.

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  20. Great article! Gives me food for thought.

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  21. I loved this. I think I really needed to read this. I have been SLOWLY going through my closet and trying to pick out pieces to give away. I have a lot of items that I loved 5 years ago, that I don't love now. After reading this, I feel really motivated to go and clean my closet out.

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  22. I have also just gotten rid of a LOT of cloth! to big bags and I still have parts of my wardrobe I haven't been trough jet..!

    // lauradenis.blogspot.dk

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  23. ahh the dreaded cleaning out of closets! I really find it therapeutic to get rid of things haha. I have 5 trashbags full of stuff between my and my bf's clothes so I'm happy to get rid of things that no longer fit into our lives.

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  24. That's really impressive for the first round! I always have to go through things multiple times to convince myself to get rid of stuff I don't really wear! I've been using Poshmark lately to get rid of those items in the "maybe" category. I like them but knowing they are going to a home where someone will love them helps me to say goodbye!

    Brittany | thechicette.com

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  25. I love cleaning things out. It's so refreshing! xx Lita
    http://www.litademiah.com

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  26. I love your example of rhinestones on the belt loops (it made me laugh)! I can really relate this post as recently I have been selling things to Uptown Cheapskate. I like the idea of pulling only the yes items. Such a better perspective that I can't wait to test out!

    www.youarebeaut.blogspot.com

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  27. I have been working on a similar project in recent months. I decluttered my makeup drawers and passed/trashed things I didn't love. I am even doing a project pan to finish off some older items that I do still love. Then I did mine and my hubby's clothes a week or two ago. I have a nice big bag sitting in our hall closet waiting to go to the clothes closet at church. I am waiting to go through one last box from our move before I take it. My next project will be my planner and stationary stuff.

    Www.glamourgirl220.com

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  28. I am doing the same right now! I have to much stuff and 70% of it I don't really use it anymore! it makes me sad to own so much stuff bc I have literally no idea what to do with it so that's why I am decluttering everything (shoes, makeup, skincare, jewellery, clothes, bags, books, deco stuff, kitchen utensils,...) I am going to donate most of it but also going to trash the items that are broken or just really really old. However I am going to try to sell a few products that are practically new! My closet was the first thing I decluttered and the result was 4 bags full of clothes to donate and another 3 bags to sell!

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  29. Elle, I was so happy when I saw that you're going more minimal. I always thought you were too girly for my taste but I'm excited to see how you'll incorporate it into the neutral style!! Love your spirit <3

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  30. Ugh.. that always feels so good. Do you ever regret tossing or donating? Sometimes I'll (years later) wish I'd had something haha.

    Hello -- I'm blogger myself and always looking to build community with other bloggers. I blog about art/lifestyle mostly but I love reading all sorts of blogs. I was searching for fashion and beauty blogs with good design/the best layouts. I'm hopeful because I actually found a blog I'm going to subscribe to. I've fallen way out of the blogosphere and sometimes I wonder if all bloggers these days are bots or advertisements.

    Anyway, do you have any sort of advice for bloggers trying to get back into the game and gain readers? I know you've got a lot going on here and are probably very busy keeping it up (I don't blog nearly often enough.. ugh). I'd love to open some communication with you and possibly discuss? I know this is odd but I'm studying the law of attraction as well and I've realized how to get where I want to be is good to talk to someone who is successful in this area and has relevant advice or friendly communication about it! I'm also very open to having coffee or tea and travel a lot for business (I'm also an artist and designer).

    I've also heard of these new sorts of opportunities for promoting your content or work like sites that offer perks for social media status, blog listings like bloglovin and millions of other, as well as sites where you can actually earn money and promotional opportunities by having good content like Advowire (https://advowire.com//users/profile/new?referral_code=AW36707). What do you think of these sorts of sites and do you use them for your social media to promote content or earn more?

    So it's very nice to meet you, yes this is long and I apologize. Hope to hear from you. Thank you for reading. <3

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  31. Minimalism would change so I would never throw away my precious clothing/makeup which I spent hours to choose. :P

    http://www.makeupandbeautyforever.com

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  32. Hi Elle,

    I´ve really been into minimalism or at least living a bit lighter for the last few month and there´s a lovely girl on Youtube who has the best advice for that topic. Her channel is called "LightbyCoco" and I think you would really enjoy her videos!

    Love from Germany,
    Cathérine

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  33. I love this. I do a wardrobe clear out every year as I find my style changes, especially now in my 30's I no longer wear tight little dresses. I still look like I did in my 20's, but I feel different. I want to dress differently, so it's important to refresh the wardrobe every now and then :)

    Angel x
    http://amoreangelina.com

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  34. You're so right about what was cool 5 years ago might come back, but might be slightly different and you won't wear the saved item anyway. That's a good perspective. I've been trying to read through Kondo's book but a stack of magazines arriving each month and my need to read them so I can' throw them away and rid myself of the clutter has kept me from finishing her book. Ha! However, I do have the fear that I'll throw something away and then need it. 3 years ago a friend gave me a Lacoste polo that must've been purchased in 2003. I was like well, this'll come back in style soon enough! Then two weeks ago I needed a polo shirt and there it was buried in my drawer and I actually wore it for the first time. I was relieved to have it, but it took me 3 years to even wear it once? How much of my closet is in this situation too and can just be tossed out with little regret??

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  35. I love this blog post because now I am motivated to de-clutter my closet because I have a lot of clothing items that I never wear! I am trying to become more of a minimalist.

    Theacatherine.weebly.com

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  36. Perfect for SPRING time!

    www.berkleysboutique.com

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  37. Nice closet. Check this different recumbent bike brands to stay fit and slim at home.

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  38. Great post! Need to reorganize my closet too

    peppermintluxe.blogspot.com/?m=1

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