My name is Bekka, and I get anxiety attacks when I have to clean out my closet and donate the clothes. I’m not a hoarder. I just have an intense love of nostalgia, a wicked good memory, and a very creative sense of style. The rule, “if you haven’t worn a piece of clothing in a year, then donate it” has never applied to me. There are three hundred and sixty five days in a year and some days call for a wardrobe change. If my t-shirt has a stain no worries, it can be covered with a cardigan. If my sweater has a hole, well it goes great under my jacket. If it’s too old to be worn in respectable company, keep it to work out in or better yet paint the house! As you can see, getting rid of clothing is not easy for me.
Last year my boyfriend moved into the house I’ve lived in my entire life. In the midst of my twenties, I had yet to do a massive purge and now I had to fit another person’s belongings into my life history. Even more, I had to now share my closet!
Queue the anxiety and irrational panic, but in the meantime, I had to make room for my guy. If you have a hard time getting rid of clothes or items that are attached to memories, things you don’t use and take up more space than what can be easily stored in a shoebox, then I bestow my wisdom, gained from 5 big black bags of donated clothes, purses, and shoes, to help you through a purge- in 5 easy steps!
1) Put your donated clothes in a big black trash bag, and don’t open it! Whatever you do, avoid the second look. Trust that whatever is in there, you decided to put in there for a very valid reason. Like a bad relationship, don’t revisit the good memories and know it’s time to let go.
2) If there is a hole, stain on the clothing, or it does not fit that well: get rid of it. Remove the clothing item from your closet, even if a sweater can hide the stain or the hole isn’t even that noticeable. If you’re in the position where room must be made then hard decisions will need to take place. There were some pieces that I had worn through the best of times, great shows and fun nights out, but in the end it was good to have adeal breaker in place.
3) Hold on to the memory in a picture. I took a lot of pictures of purses, team sweatshirts, dresses, etc. The pictures were a way of me being able to hold on to the item, without it physically taking up space. Admittedly, I haven’t looked at those pictures and probably never will, but at the time it was my way of holding onto a little piece of that possession, so I could remove it from my life, because I refuse to let my possessions possess me.
4) Make up a story about the new owner. Yup, this might sound nutty but it worked! I had a green purse with a leather butterfly on it that I had never really used. I thought it was really cute, but it wasn’t my style. Yet it could be my style one day… see where the crazy talk starts kicking in? So, I had to beat crazy with crazy and I imagined a free spirited, thirteen year-old girl who purchased my cool purse. She’s super excited to bring it to school Monday then, she gets compliments from all her friends. This imaginary girl was going to have way more fun with this bag, than I ever would… into the black donate bag it went!
5) Tailor your style. Just because it fits, it doesn’t mean it’s you. Pick a style icon and ask yourself, “Would Audrey Hepburn wear this? Could I zip around on a moped in 1960’s France like Francoise Hardy in this outfit?” A perk of getting older is knowing yourself better. Don’t just keep clothes because you have them, but keep them because they still reflect who you are today. I used to be angry, jaded, and had lots of punk style clothing; but that’s not who I am anymore. I said goodbye to my pink plaid pants and made room for cute ankle cut slim fit trousers.
Now these rules didn’t take away my sinking feeling or accelerated heart rate when removing these bags from my car and into the donation box. I was still uncomfortable and irritable, not a happy camper but, I also know it was all for the best. I took a few deep breaths and let my rational brain talk to the emotional and irrational part, because I know how silly and superficial all that anxiety is.
Good luck on your purge and I hope my tips help you the next time you’re moving or have to make room for someone else. Until then, enjoy that t-shirt with the pit stains no one can see under your adorable cardigan. If you like it, then VIVA!
Smile Pills photo at begining of post is from Flickr courtesy of Jessicahtam