Move Beyond Decluttering to Minimizing – Clothes and Shoes

Collection of Multicolored Women's High-Heel Shoes

This year for spring cleaning, move beyond decluttering your clothes closet to minimizing what is in it, forever. These five tips will help you get started.

Reducing your clothing, shoes, and accessories down to the items you actually wear and then keeping your wardrobe at a minimum has a double benefit. First, getting dressed will be easier, faster, and guilt free since you no longer have to look at things you never wear. Second, it is good for the environment because it reduces the need to make new clothing, which involves using raw materials, water, energy, toxic dyes, and harmful chemicals.

Minimizing is a more ruthless form of decluttering, which will likely require you to wrestle with your feelings about the clothing you own now and change your approach to adding items to your wardrobe in the future.

Below are some tips that may help you navigate through the emotional aspects of minimizing your wardrobe.

1. Give Yourself a Break

Do any of your clothes still have price tags on them? Has your wardrobe expanded into the guest room closet? Is there anything in your closet or dresser that you have not worn in two years or more?

Did you answer yes to one or more of the questions above? I did, too.

Recently, when I surveyed my wardrobe, I still had clothes and shoes suitable for the corporate work world that I left over six years ago and was hanging onto other things I had not worn in years. I felt embarrassed and a little ashamed. It seemed wasteful and even selfish to have unworn things hanging in my closet and tucked away in shoeboxes and in my jewelry box.

There is nothing you or I can do about our clothing past so I propose giving ourselves a break and moving forward with minimizing our wardrobes now and then trying to keep them that way in the future.

2. Who Are You Now

As your circumstances change throughout your life your wardrobe changes, too. The overcrowded closet problem arises when you move from one life change to the next without jettisoning the wardrobe items that you no longer need or like.

Ask yourself what clothes, shoes, and accessories you want and need for the person you are now and consider getting rid of everything else.

Do you have snow apparel or shorts from when you were living in a different climate that you will probably not wear in the foreseeable future? Have you retired from paid work or changed jobs and no longer need the business suits, ties, or uniforms hanging in your closet? Are you still holding on to clothes worn by your younger and/or smaller self that you will never wear again (be honest)? When all of your favorite clothes are in the dirty clothes hamper, do you put on your just-in-case clothes or do you do the laundry?

Once you have honestly assessed your current needs, you are ready to begin clearing out the items that do not fit your minimized wardrobe requirements.

The most difficult things to let go of are the items you have a special attachment to like handbags, ties, shoes, sweaters, jewelry, jeans, or _____.

If this pertains to you, try wearing each item and then putting aside the ones that are not your favorites. Keep repeating the process until you are either down to one or what seems like a drastic reduction to you.

3. Imagine a New Life for Your Gently Worn Clothes

Another minimizing strategy is to imagine who could benefit from the wardrobe items you do not wear or need but are having a hard time removing from your closet.

Over the years, I had been reducing my corporate wardrobe but I still had a sizable collection of clothes, high-heel shoes, and jewelry that I did not wear anymore. I was down to my favorites so they were the most difficult to part with.

I decided to donate my work clothes, high-heel shoes, and a lot of my jewelry to a nonprofit organization helping to empower women by providing support and professional attire.

With that decision made, I began boxing up the items I was donating.

Even though nowadays I rarely wear high-heels, narrowing down to one pair was agonizing for me. For work, I had bought expensive, well made, and beautiful shoes. How could I pick just one pair? My solution was to put on each pair of shoes and wear them around the house for a half an hour or so and then decide which heels were the most comfortable.

4. Inspirational Clothing

If you find yourself justifying holding onto clothes because you might wear them some day, go back a read tip 2 and 3 again.

Then decide if you have any inspirational clothes you want to keep, meaning clothes that you do not or can not wear now but that you aspire to wear in the future.

I kept two pairs of size 10 jeans as my inspirational clothing items. They were my favorite weed whacking and yard work pants until I gained 25 pounds during breast cancer treatment (I was one of those people who gained weight during chemotherapy). Now, I am working on shedding those extra pounds and looking forward to being able to pull on my old jeans.

5. A Word about Donating

By donating your gently worn clothing, you are giving it a second life with a new person. This is a people friendly practice and an environmentally sound solution for getting rid of unwanted clothes, shoes, and accessories.

However, there is a downside to donating. If you do not have growing children but are donating clothing on a regular basis it might be time re-evaluate your clothes buying habits. Are you donating existing clothes to justify buying new things? If you are, then perhaps you are not ready to minimize your wardrobe, yet.

Minimizing your wardrobe can be both cathartic and agonizing. Having an uncluttered closet holding only the clothing you like and do wear gives you a sense of accomplishment and makes getting dressed a pleasure.

Please share your wardrobe minimizing stories and strategies with other readers.

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Move Beyond Decluttering to Minimizing Your Stuff – Part 2

Zen Garden with Sand Swirl and Balance Stones

Moving beyond decluttering your stuff to adopting a minimalist philosophy can lift your spirit, free up your time and money, and help keep Earth habitable.

Decluttering is about paring down your stuff and organizing what remains. Minimizing is that and more. It is a way of life. Becoming a minimalist entails shifting your attitude about owning things and enjoying living your life with fewer material goods.

In part one of this post, I attempted to explain how my worry about Christmas consumerism and the health of our planet disrupted my decluttering project resulting in a change of direction from just decluttering to minimizing.

We will be exploring ideas about decluttering and minimizing in part two. I hope that this will help you in evaluating your own situation and deciding if you are ready to embark upon a minimalist journey.

Decluttering

Generally, decluttering involves going through the rooms in your house or apartment and your garage if you have one, tidying up and organizing your things. Often, it also includes getting rid of unwanted stuff by donating, giving, selling, recycling, or throwing it away.

Decluttering is a cathartic process for many people. Divesting yourself of stuff that you do not use or want anymore can be a liberating experience. By putting the things you do want and need in order, you can easily find and get to them.

Minimizing

Minimizing begins with an extreme version of decluttering involving reducing your stuff to the items you really, really need, use, or love. Once you complete the initial process, which could take you several months or more, the hard part begins. Living with fewer belongings means adding less stuff to your home and life in the future. Like eating a healthy diet, minimalism is something you strive to do, forever.

Becoming a minimalist usually requires making a substantial shift in your relationship with possessions.

Moving Beyond Decluttering to Minimizing

People’s reasons for taking a minimalist approach to stuff are variable just like people. My motive is to reduce environmental harm and keep Earth habitable for my children, your children, other people’s children, and future people. You may feel owning less stuff would free up your time for family activities, charitable work, or traveling. Maybe having fewer things, from clothes to pots and pans, would make your life feel less chaotic and more peaceful. Perhaps you would appreciate having more money to invest, save, or donate to a worthy cause.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to minimalism. If you are a parent with young children living in a suburb in California, your life is different from a forty-something unmarried New York City dweller. Older people have had more years to accumulate things, but younger people who have done a lot of shopping and buying might have amassed as much or more stuff. One person may be satisfied with holding onto a few keepsakes, or books, or fill in the blank ______, while another person needs more of these things to feel content.

I believe the common theme is a mindset of desiring to own less stuff and being willing to change.

Getting Started on Your Minimalist Journey

So, you made the decision to move beyond decluttering to minimizing your stuff. Congratulations! I can hear the planet sighing in relief.

Where do you start? It does not matter just start. If you need help or inspiration, try reading a post or two or checking out the resources in the sections below.

Your journey and mine will likely be filled with both supportive and unenthusiastic family members, unexpected challenges and benefits, and unyielding pressure to buy more stuff. Keep trying and make a u-turn if you need to.

Making Minimalism U-Turns

If you are like me, you have had decades to perfect your shopping and buying habits and are probably holding a “good consumer” certificate. Transforming your relationship with stuff may not go smoothly, at least at first.

My transformation hit a bump in the road the first week.

I was packing a box in the kitchen when I noticed a pile of muddy shoes belonging to various family members in the corner by the laundry room. We have received a lot of much-needed rain recently and it makes sense not to put muddy shoes in your closet, but it was making a mess on the kitchen floor.

My first impulse was to buy a plastic tub for each person to put dirty shoes in. I even made a note on my shopping list. Fortunately, I stopped myself from making the purchases by realizing that I could solve the problem using cardboard shoeboxes, an old towel, or occasionally wiping up the floor.

Sigh, I wonder how many times this type of scenario will occur before my first instinct is to use something I already have versus buying something new.

For fun and as means of evaluating my progress this year, I am keeping of list of the things that I buy and things I think about buying but do not. In the future, I plan to write a post sharing my results and any wisdom I acquire along the way to living a minimalist life.

Please share your ideas about minimizing your stuff and making u-turns with other readers.

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Resources