If you live in a small apartment, frequent closet cleaning is something that comes with the territory. Considering this cold weather has me housebound, I decided to tackle mine. I don’t know why it’s hard to get rid of things you haven’t worn in years. (And by years, I’m talking about ten.) The general rule when it comes to clothing is that if you haven’t worn it in a year, you should let it go- but that’s a little easier said than done. And while I have lots of clothing that I wear continuously, my closet was beginning to feel like a storage facility.
Both Grace and Max wrote this month about being mindful with the acquisition of items, but sooner or later if you don’t want to live like the Collyer brothers, you’re going to have to let some things out of your life. I have a theory that if you want good things to come into your life, you need to make space for them. I found that to be true in nearly all aspects of my life. You won’t meet the love of your life if you’re afraid to let go of a so-so relationships. You won’t find the job of your dreams if you’re too nervous to contemplate leaving the security of the known job you have. Even though I believe fundamentally in facing change head-on, it can be hard to let go of things that were once so good to you. I’m not an advocate of getting rid of things just because they are old (my house is filled with vintage pieces so that would never work), this was more about letting things go that were no longer bringing me joy on a daily basis. It was about trusting that my memories were stronger than the items themselves and that I didn’t need the items to remember those times in my life.
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In my closet, there was the blue cashmere/wool blend skirt with its purple silk lining that I got from the boutique A. Cheng when it was located in the East Village. I was in my early twenties and something about that shop made me feel grownup and stylish. I would go there with one of my very first friends in New York, who she now is married with two kids and has lived in France for 9 years. That give you a sense of how old this skirt is. It was such a simple cut that I tried to convince myself that I would wear it again. But I hadn’t worn it in at least five years. I was hanging onto it because it reminded me of that special time (and it was expensive).
Then there were the black J-Brand cords that I got at Barney’s with Grace just before the Design*Sponge book tour and literally wore to every event. I wore them so often that the pant seat wore away, and I had to get it repaired. If we met on the book tour, I’m pretty sure you met these pants. I had a closet full of black pants and these were just no longer as flattering.
The blue Tsumori Chisato skirt that I found at Bird was there, too. I bought it for my graduation from Cooper-Hewitt, where I graduated with a Master’s in the History of Decorative Arts and Design and won (to the surprise of both me and my parents) the award for Outstanding Student. It was an expensive skirt but it just didn’t look that great on me. It was time to let it go.
It can be tough to get rid of items like these that hold special meaning. My method is to give myself a quota. Like ‘I must get rid of ten items’. Then I take a break and do ten more. I love the challenge aspect of a quota and it’s motivating to be able to check things off a list and finish them. This time, I was ruthless.
The velvet hangers I purchased to save a little space were no longer able to keep up. I needed to create space for new clothes and new memories. While I didn’t get rid of everything (I held on to a small but hard-won collection of DVF and Mayle sample sale dresses), I was able to let go of enough for a truly deep clean and take most things to the Salvation Army. What I didn’t donate I took to the Design*Sponge yard sale, where they found great new homes and I earned a little money for my Peru trip in March. By de-cluttering, I created space in both my mind and my closet to let the new, good things come into my life. –Amy
(p.s. If you feel ready to let some things go, check out this post on Decluttering Tips and Where to Donate)