As a fashion editor and neat freak, I’ve tried every closet cleaning method under the sun. Though some, like KonMari, have been more successful than others, I’ve never felt totally satisfied with the results, knowing each time that there were still items in my closet I would probably never wear. And I’ll admit, I’m a perfectionist—so anything less than is bound to nag at me until it inches closer to that elusive perfect territory.
A few months ago, while mulling this over as I stared into my still-too-crowded closet, I realized that what most closet-cleaning methods shared was a need for speed—ordering you to tackle everything in one go, and be done with it. But I’ve found this to be overwhelming, and letting go of my personal items is that much more difficult when it feels like I’m getting rid of tons of them. Is it really necessary to chop my closet in half? I start to wonder, as the doubt creeps in. I don’t have tons of spending money right now, so perhaps I should hold on to this stuff just in case, I convince myself.
This usually leads to a much less rigorous closet cleanse than I had hoped, and I find myself back at it again weeks later, repeating the same cycle of self-sabotage.
Realizing this while I stood in my closet that day, I decided I could chill out and try to intentionally take it slow instead. The plan? Get rid of one to two items a week, whether they be clothes, shoes, or accessories. Surely that would be more palatable for my obviously heightened attachment to things—and, plot twist, it actually was!
I revisited my wardrobe every week like a fun challenge, searching for items to either donate to the local Beacon’s Closet or sell on my Vestiaire Collective page. Slowly but surely my closet (and its counterparts: my dresser, my jewelry box, my shoe shelves) trimmed down as I let go of pieces I hadn’t touched in years. Spacing the process out had made it much easier and less likely to induce the counterproductive-nostalgia that often comes with this process. Sure, I had had some fun in these items—or, in some cases, simply had high hopes for the fun I might have—but they were no longer “it” for me, and it was time to move on. After all, it’s only ever one or two items, right? My mind tricked itself, weekly.
After six months, I had a much easier time accessing my favorite pieces, more room for the occasional gift or splurge, and, quite frankly, the ability to boast, honestly for once, about my tightly-curated wardrobe. If there’s ever been an argument against doing it all at once, I suspect this is it.
Scroll down to see what the slow and steady method entails…
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