Growing up, I had a walk-in closet, 2 dressers, 2 night stands, and a desk in my bedroom. In high school, my step dad built me a bed frame with built in shelves. I had every storage item in my room, packed to the max. I had too much stuff, and as an indecisive person, that’s a problem. I would get rid of enough stuff so I could close my drawers. That would only last for so long. It was never a good solution for my problem. But it ‘worked’ while I was in high school.
When I went to school my freshman year, I packed about half of my closet. I had decent storage in my dorm. Then I bought a plastic storage container from Walmart, for more storage. Once again, I had all my drawers packed, no matter how I folded my clothing. This continued throughout undergrad. I continued to move back and forth half of my closet. The biggest issue with this is that I either didn’t wear ⅓ of it, or I wore ⅓ once or twice a school year. I didn’t actually realize that until my senior semester.
Halfway through my senior semester, I had to sit down and figure out my clothing situation. I was preparing to move in with my boyfriend. He lived in a townhouse, with about one good sized closet. There was no way I could take all the clothing that I had been carting back and forth for the last 3.5 years. It was at this point when I started looking into minimalism. Trying to find a better solution for my clothing and to keep what I actually wear.
Minimalism has been described as a lifestyle relating to living with less. I watched countless hours of videos, podcasts, and even read Marie Kondo’s book. Below I will link some good resources. After countless days of researching, I was ready to dive in. I asked my boyfriend to come over and assist me in decluttering. I did not want to get rid of some clothing and put a bandaid on the problem. I wanted his opinion for 1) do I actually wear it enough and 2) does it look good on my body. This was the first time in my life that I was brutal to my clothing. It took hours to go through all my clothing and I had moments of frustration. This was not an easy task for me.
But once I was done and put away all my clothing I was keeping, I felt really good. Finding clothing in the morning was so much easier. I felt good with my closet situation. I donated about 2-3 garbage bags. I threw out about one garbage bag of trash from broken or over used clothing. I had never gone this in depth with my declutter. This was the first purge. This allowed me to finish out school with a better number of clothing articles.
After I moved in, I still had an issue of a little too much clothing. We went out to IKEA and bought a clothing rack and small dresser. I decided that my seasonal clothing would go on the clothing rack. My everyday wear of t-shirts, leggings, and undergarments would go in the dresser. The out of season clothing went into the little closet space I had. I folded my clothing in the Marie Kondo style. But I removed about 2 more bags of clothing at this point in time. I removed even more shoes. Getting rid of shoes is my kryptonite.
Once again, I felt amazing when I removed all the clothing I still wasn’t wearing after the initial purge. For work, I wear the same things; a top, jeans, and running shoes. That’s it. My workwear is casual considering I am in residential care. I need to be able to move easy and play with the kids. Things were going good but every so often when I opened my drawers, I would see the shirts I don’t wear. But for some reason I couldn’t get rid of them. I was a bit stuck.
I am currently moving into our first home. We do have more space there than our current townhouse. But I’m not buying tons of clothing. Between the two of us, we removed another 4 garbage bags for donation. The shirts that were sitting in my drawers I wasn’t touching, have finally gone. I have about 2 shirts that I’m not crazy about but they were from my fraternity so I feel weird donating those shirts. But from 7 shirts to 2, is progress.
I am in the midst of buying staple pieces. I am getting 3 plain neutral t-shirts. This will allow me to get rid of my graphic tees. This will simplify my outfits even more. This will allow me to be more intentional and practical with my wardrobe. A big section of my closet is crop tops, I have about 5 but I alternate between them on my days off. I feel good in every shirt in my closet. I don’t have uncomfortable shirts, and no shirts that I wear every blue moon. I own about 6 pairs of jeans in different styles and colors. I have light wash, medium, dark, and black jeans. 2 pairs are ripped so I alternate those on my days off. I own 3 running shorts, 4 shorts, 4 leggings, 2 skirts, 3 dress pants, and 2 joggers. The only thing that is not getting much wear at the moment are my dress pants. Due to the fact that it is summer and I’m about to start grad school, they can stay. If I don’t wear these in grad school I will get rid of them. I do still have 7 dresses, I may go through my dresses once the summer season ends. Any dress I don’t wear or don’t feel good in, is being donated.
The biggest portion of my closet is my hoodie section. I used to have about 20 hoodies. At this point, I own about 8 but these aren’t getting decluttered anytime soon. Hoodies have always been a hygge-like thing for me. (Hygge is related to daily coziness. More on this at a later date.) I wear a hoodie every day, whether I am at home or at work. These have always sparked joy and are practical in my closet.
Minimalism has helped me throughout the last 10 months. I don’t spend forever deciding what to wear. I don’t struggle with clothing that doesn’t fit me right. For this article, I focused mostly on clothing, but I decluttered my office supplies and kitchen gear. I have a refillable notebook, 1 pencil, 2 pens, and 4 highlighters instead of 15 unused notebooks, 30 colored pens, 10 highlighters, and 15 pencils. The benefits I have received from minimalism doesn’t just extend to just clothing.
My home is easier to clean, everything has a home, and by having less things they are used more often. I have shifted to buying quality items because I am using them more. I have less items but they are being loved. I don’t have a shirt that’s been hiding in my closet for 5 years and only been used once with a certain bra. I don’t have special mugs or a million travel mugs. I grab one, fill it, and wash it for the next day. This prevents a million dishes piling up. I can clean my space easily and quickly. I used to have to sit down and figure out where I put a specific item but now I don’t have to think anymore. I know where my medicine is, where the glass cleaner is, where extra paper towels are etc. There is no time spent thinking and hunting.
My minimalism stems from practical use. I need to be able to use the item and love it frequently. I no longer desire to have those one time use items. I don’t desire going on huge shopping sprees. If I do go shopping, I follow a one in one out rule. If I buy a new shirt, I get rid of an old one. When I buy new quality sweaters for the fall, I’m getting rid of some that have been loved a little too much over the fall and winter months. But once I get all my staple pieces situated, I doubt I will be doing much shopping. Unless it is something that screams 100% yes, and has a purpose, I won’t be buying. I don’t have a capsule wardrobe or 2 bowls but this works for me and my lifestyle. If you struggle with decisions, I strongly suggest trying minimalism even for a month. You can just pack things up for a month and just use the things you love. But you may not go back to having 20 shirts, 17 dresses, 20 untouched books, and 10 mugs.
There are so many more resources that I have used but these are a good start.
The Minimalist podcast (theminimalists.com/podcast/).
Marie Kondo- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (https://www.amazon.com/Life-Changing-Magic-Tidying-Decluttering-Organizing-ebook/dp/B00KK0PICK/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=)
Ashlynne Eaton- What’s your minimalist personality type (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9npY6VvwU4)
Matt D’Avella- A day in the life of a minimalist (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tG2GJZcBKOE)