After four kids, I really started to see the enormous amount of clothing we had acquired. Some were hand-me-downs, some I had purchased, some were gifts. With six of us in a two bedroom house, this was becoming a problem…a serious problem. Changing out clothing for Fall/Winter was overwhelming this year because it wasn’t just moving clothes down the line for my three girls; now I had a quickly growing baby boy to change out clothing for.And every Monday when I did laundry, I was exhausted from the number of loads to wash, dry, fold and put away!
I started thinking about all the blogs and articles I’d read in the last year or so about organization for closets. One day about 3 months ago, I came across a link that a friend had posted on Facebook. It was to a video of a Family Closet a woman had created. I watched the video, read the post, and my life was changed instantly! (I later heard that the Duggar family also has a family closet, but I hadn’t seen or read about theirs yet.) HERE is the link I watched.
Immediately, I knew this was what I wanted to do. BUT, that would be impossible due to the amount of clothes for each person and the (what I thought was) limited space in our house.
So, I’m beginning a series of posts on how to simplify your closet. Maybe closet space is not an issue in your home. Family closets aren’t for everyone. I do hope, though, that something in these posts helps with closet organization and making laundry day a little more sane.
#1 – Less is definitely MORE.
I have absolutely no fashion sense. Honestly. I don’t keep up with the trendy items or the designers or anything. I don’t look at fashion magazines, subscribe to any websites. I’m lucky I don’t get laughed at every time I leave the house.
My wardrobe choices are very plain – solid color shirt and jeans almost every day. Church days require a smidge more effort – solid color shirt and either dress pants or skirt.
This is how I like it. I’ve never been big on spending time picking out clothes. My household, as a child, was hectic. There were 10 of us in the house for a period of time; we all had to get ready at the same time most days. This didn’t leave much time for lounging around in front of my closet, staring at a multitude of options. I also shared a standard size closet with 2 other girls. Sooo, there wasn’t room for too many outfits in there!
I can now appreciate that simple approach to clothing. We run around like headless chickens on Sunday mornings here; I can’t imagine what it’d look like if I had more options for clothing!
So, in my effort to organize and simplify my closet, I started thinking about how many articles of clothing I had (shirts, pants/jeans, skirts/dresses) and how many I really needed.
I think in the US we had waaaaay too many choices for things. You see other countries and the people there don’t have 100 shirts to choose from. They have the one torn shirt that’s 2 sizes too big and they’ve been wearing it for weeks. It’s sad that we waste so much money on clothing; I even know people who FORGET they have new clothes in their closet because they have that many articles of clothing!
So, how many do we need? Well, if you wear one shirt a day, that’s 7 shirts. One or two extra, I suppose, if you have a baby that likes to spit up. But, really, I could do laundry more than one day a week. I don’t like to, but I could.
Pants and Jeans? I have 2 pairs of jeans that I will wear in public. After this last baby, my hips just don’t fit into my really cute skinny jeans, and my low-rise ones just don’t seem appropriate anymore, now that I’m nearing 30. It grosses me out to see moms with undies hanging out the back because their pants are too low-rise. (And I know I’ve been one of those moms, so I’m not judging.) These 2 pairs of jeans get worn a few times each a week, unless we go out to eat. Then they go right to the wash. I hate the smell of restaurants on my clothes. You know – that greasy food smell. Even the nice restaurants leave you smelling like food when you get home. Otherwise, I just keep wearing them until Monday, when everything gets washed. That’s the day I wear my “laundry day jeans”. This is one of my low-rise pair that I will not leave the house in. Plus, there’s a bleach stain on the one leg, so I’m pretty much home bound on Mondays.
For skirts and dresses, I have a few. I’d like to get a knee-length cotton black skirt and a longer cotton skirt to throw in with my jeans wear, to mix it up during the week. Otherwise, I have 2 skirts I wear for church. I have 2 dresses also; neither of which I’d wear during the week.
My dress pants consist of one pair. I only wear them to church. Or for a really nice dinner. Otherwise, I’m just not comfortable in them. I am a casual gal, through and through.
So, those are all my bottoms. For tops, I have 4 long-sleeve solid color tops, 5 short sleeve solid color tops, and several tank tops. I like layering a tank under a shirt. I don’t have any shirts with designs. This is where my fashion handicap comes in. I don’t know about patterns. I am awful at picking them out, finding ones with good colors for me, etc. I just avoid them all together!
Ok, let’s recap. How many items should I hold on to? Well, my number is probably different from your number. I am a stay at home mom that doesn’t work outside the home and only dresses up for church. My wardrobe is casual and I can wear the same pair of pants for 2 or 3 days because some days I don’t see another adult at all.
2 pairs jeans
1 pair dress pants
9 tops (short and long sleeve combined)
5 tank tops
I went with this plan, and ditched the other items. Most of the “others” I’ve had since high school and hadn’t worn since I had my second child. Not because they didn’t fit but because they looked like something a high schooler should wear. And, I should mention that I do not wear pajama pants around the house. I am absolutely unable to get anything done if I have pajama pants on. All I want to do then is sleep. Very unproductive for me!
My encouragement for you is to go through your closet. If you haven’t worn something this year, you probably aren’t going to wear it again, are you? Be honest. I found a few things that I thought were super cute in my closet, but I hadn’t worn them in 3 years. I had to get rid of them. I’m most likely never going to wear them again and they are just taking up space. It felt really good to see space opening up in there once I ditched the unused and old items.
Does something have a hole in it? You know, one of those “I’m going to stitch it up real soon” items?? I had a shirt like that. The hole has been there since 2 winters ago. I’ve stitched and mended numerous things since then, but I never took the time to do this shirt. I pitched it.
Go through and really look at each item hanging up or in your drawers. Get 3 piles going: Keep, Donate, Garbage.
1. Does it have a hole? GARBAGE (unless you’re stitching it right then!).
2. Have you worn it in the last year? If yes, continue. If no, DONATE.
3. How many of this item do you have? If more than 4, you could probably just do without it. DONATE.
4. Have you worn it so much that it’s faded or extremely, noticeably worn? DONATE or GARBAGE (depending on how bad it is)
5. Does it even fit anymore? If no, DONATE. If yes, refer to #3.
6. Is the style still popular? This one is tricky if you are fashionably challenged, as I am. Think about whether or not you’ve seen someone within 5 years of your age wearing this style lately (someone who wasn’t living on the streets). If yes, refer to #3. If no, it’s probably way out of style or not something someone your age should be wearing.
Let’s just stop and go over #6. I had this problem with my two-piece bathing suits. I had 3 of them. All of them were acquired when I was in college or right before my honeymoon in 2005. I am a thin girl. I’m not bragging, I’m just saying this caused me to struggle with letting them go. I figured I had a decent figure and could probably still be ok wearing them, as bikinis seem to never go out of style. BUT, I’m not 21 anymore…and I have FOUR KIDS! I don’t think a bikini is the right path for me anymore. I’ll be 30 next year and I found it a little embarrassing to wear them after my 3rd child, so I was definitely rethinking it after my fourth this summer. I hadn’t seen another mom with 4 kids wearing a bikini, and I knew that’s because bikinis are best left for the younger girls or those without kids. I mean, I’m telling my girls to keep themselves covered, and here I am showing my goods. Ok, not really showing my goods, but you get the idea!
In conclusion, maybe it’s time to start rethinking your wardrobe. Maybe you’ve acquired more clothes than you could wear in a year. Maybe you’ve been holding on to items since your high school days, thinking you’ll wear them again some day. Maybe your body has changed and things don’t fit the same. It’s time to start going through and really looking at each item to see if it’s worth taking up space in your closet. If you don’t wear it, think about donating it to someone who could really use it. I donate clothes to a truck that comes around every Wednesday for donations. All those items you don’t wear or can’t wear really could benefit someone in need.
Next week, I’ll go over #2 for Simplifying Your Closet: Paring Down the Kids’ Clothes!