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Closet

Urge to Purge the Closet

Lana Hawk

Every time spring rolls around, I get the urge to purge. I know the phrase is “spring cleaning,” but I’m not a huge fan of actual cleaning. You know, the dusting, sweeping, vacuuming? Not that. I get the urge to purge and clean out my closet. I don’t feel like I have an overwhelming amount of clothes, but I know I have some excess hidden away. Those tops-skirts-dresses-pants I am holding on to for some random, albeit worthless, reason? They need to go. As I go through my clothes for my annual spring purge, here are some questions I ask myself.

  1. Have I worn it in the last year? If this is a no, that’s a red flag. This is where clothes sneak in. I come up with excuses of weather, occasion, or “I will this year” that allow clothes to linger. This is where I have to be ruthless. The one exception I do make is for dresses worn to special occasions (like weddings). Those have to be considered in another round of questioning before they are dropped.
  2.  Is it in good condition? I’m going to be honest here. I have a lot of clothes I keep out of comfort or laziness that are well beyond their prime. I’m talking holes everywhere or general rattiness from overuse. I’ve sewn up holes, patched up snags, and tried to look past them all, but sometimes it is just time to let go. The weird thing is, usually the “ratty” clothing is the cheap stuff that I’ve had FOREVER that shouldn’t be that difficult to let go of. Yet, I hold on. My goal is to get a slimmed down closet that is high quality and classic. (Example: Get rid of the eight-year-old tank tops from Forever21.)
  3. Does it make me happy to wear it? This seems like it would be a no-brainer, but it really isn’t. I have plenty of clothes that I wear because they are in my closet and they are easy to grab, but they in no way make me happy. I’m either super uncomfortable in them, they make me feel self conscious because of their fit/condition, or they just aren’t my style anymore. Why would I wear clothes that make me uncomfortable? I need to get rid of them.
  4. Does it fit my style? Clearly, everyone’s style evolve over time. Pictures are gems that make sure generations to come experience those changes. As for me, I feel like I am still coming into my style. My desire is to have a classic wardrobe that is simple and pairs well with more artsy pieces. In order for me to get there, I have to dump the junk I still hold on to for fear of “not having enough clothes to wear.” Seriously? #firstworldfakeproblems
  5. Does it even fit? For years, I have been holding on to dress pants that don’t fit me. I wear them, because they are there, but they don’t fit well. They’re huge, so I wear them with tight tanks over the waist to make sure they don’t fall off me. Not flattering. Recently, I have stopped wearing them, but they still linger. It’s time to throw them out. On the flip side, I grabbed a pair of older J.Crew skinny, khaki cords out to wear the other day (out of desperation, mind you), and I couldn’t zip, let alone button, them. Yikes! Lifting sure changes the makeup of the old legs.
  6. Does the husband like it? Now I will honestly say, this isn’t a deal breaker. I hold on to some items that he doesn’t like, and that’s because I LOVE them. However, if I am on the fence about it and he hates it … it’s a goner. This spring purge brought about several spouse approved casualties. (Example: A flannel shirt from American Eagle and gold gladiator sandals. I stood strong on a t-shirt dress from TopShop though. He didn’t win that battle.)

Inevitably as I go along, I run into trouble spots where I want to diverge from the path outlined above. Hopefully, by being aware of them beforehand, I can avoid the trap!

  •  “It may come back into style.” No. No, it won’t. And you know what? If it does, I’m not going to want a 20-year-old, cheaply made shirt to fulfill that style. I mean seriously. I will keep high quality items if they are classic, but super trendy stuff (which I don’t own much of) usually gets tossed if it doesn’t pass the questioning.
  • Shoes. Shoes in general are a trouble spot for me. I want high quality, good looking shoes, but I don’t want to pay for them. I used to rely on Kohl’s brand Nike shoes as my running shoes, because I couldn’t accept the $100+ price tag of high-quality running shoes. I stand before you now and can honestly say, the extra bucks make a difference. I hold on to shoes far longer than their lifespan, because I don’t want to fork out the money to replace them, but hopefully, quality will soon replace quantity.
  • Sentimental value. The excuses that surround my t-shirt collection run deep. Nearly every t-shirt I own has some story or sentimental value attached to it. I have to fight hard against this one, and I often lose. I am in the third phase of t-shirt clean out. The plan is to finally buckle down and sew a new t-shirt quilt with my “keep, but don’t wear” t-shirts and finally get rid of the rest. Wish me luck.

Off to finish another round through the closet. How do you decide what goes and what stays?