At some point in 2016 clothes became less important to me. That's not to say that I chose to go sans clothes at random moments, but I placed less emphasis on what was in my closet. To unpack that further, the closet purge project was born of a need to reduce my fashion footprint in this house, if you will. You see, pre-marriage, I had two closets in the master bedroom - one for "work" clothes and one for "play" clothes. It worked for me. But as life and marriage go, I relinquished control over one of those closets for my shiny and new husband (but I was steadfast in maintaining church and state with the laundry). Fast forward one year and one too-cramped main closet later, and The Purge became a very, very real need. The project not only taught me some valuable lessons about space and clutter, but I ultimately achieved closet clarity.
In the past, I culled through my closet to get rid of a few items here and there, but I never put a significant dent into the mess. This year was very different. A few things led to this project become a real thing. First, a mid-year job switch to a mostly work-from-home gig (jazz hands!) meant that the majority of my work-ish clothes would serve little to no purpose. Second, I just stopped being excited about my wardrobe. I would walk into the closet and see with my eyes racks of clothes, but my heart saw NOTHING. This led to too many mornings spent whining about not having anything to wear (which I do realize is a first-world problem, ok?...). Third, I notice that I was entering a different color phase in my life. I was drawn less to color variety and more to muted and neutral colors that allowed real flexibility with shoes and accessories.
One morning, I set to it. I committed to going piece by piece and making a split second decision without the agony of, "oh, but I could wear that to the one event in March that I haven't been invited to but know I will need an outfit for," or worse, the "but I know I will fit into that once I lose these five pounds". (Regarding the latter, have you ever noticed how many of these "dream" pieces you keep that roll over into the next year and the next and never get worn? Be real with yourself...). So away I went, discarding this and that and this and those, until 2 hours later, I had purged 60% of my closet...S-I-X-T-Y! And you know what, I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.
Pre-donation to various charities, I surveyed the purged items and determined that I had held on to many pieces based on an odd emotional connection: a memory of a great dinner, a snapshot of a fabulous vacation, a pair of pants I worked hard to fit into, a dress that earned me many compliments. But ultimately, holding onto those emotions and memories was weighing me, and my closet space, down. It was time to move on.
Post-donation , I took stock of what was left and noticed that my newly purged closet represented something that I didn't expect: possibility. In a world of excess, less can truly be more. That's been the case for me. By eliminating those "memorable" or "flashy" pieces and keeping more versatile ones, I am now able to mix-and-match more often and get more use out of my garments. I have also become a more intentional shopper. By picking more flexible garments that can be paired with numerous options, I get more bang for my buck and I spend less time agonizing over what to wear.
At the end of the day, there are people that will never wear a garment twice in one month. I used to be that girl, but now I'm the girl who may wear a garment two times per week paired with a different top or a different pair of pants to change it up. Ultimately, I would not claim to be a minimalist at the end of this project, but instead an essentialist (is that a word?) - or someone that makes the best use of wardrobe staples.