The Self-Care Closet Clear-Out

January 7, 2019

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  • The perfect post for my first official day of retirement! Good-bye suits (and much, much more). Thanks, Max!

    • Congratulations on the newest phase in your life! Happy closet shifting…remember Dress for Success when you offload those suits and you can toss them all with zero guilt.

  • I might add clothes I have had for ages, worn often, and now I am really sick of them…

  • I recently said goodbye to size 6 forever (I’m 58 and tired of starving myself), so I had a good closet clean-out. But I kept some items I loved, and I’ve actually turned them into knitting bags! I took my tiny skirts, sewed them together so that one skirt was a lining, added a straps. One item I haven’t touched. It’s an ornately embroidered blouse from Daffy’s in NYC that is too beautiful to let go. I suspect that there’s an ornately embroidered knitting bag in my future…

    • Daffy’s! What a lovely memory!

      • I know!!!! *has a moment of silence*

    • This sounds absolutely brilliant! A way to keep things that are special, but also functional and space efficient.

      • thx!!! I came up with this idea after reading “Overdressed” and learning about how much clothing ends up on those barges!

    • Wonderful!

  • Thank you for the level-headed, realistic AND FUN! inspiration! I was gearing up to do a closet clean –and there was a link to your article in my mailbox.

  • I find the place I fall down is how I have categories of clothes. Work clothes (relatively casual), everyday clothes (remarkably like work clothes, but more casual/less work appropriate), dress-up clothes (because sometimes life demands more than jeans), exercise/sports clothes (which has varied in amount as I went from team-sports to Mom with no time), and field clothes (for hiking, collecting mosses and slime molds on forays and field trips, gardening, etc). And of course also being in MA means “needing” all this for 4 serious seasons, and living in a tiny apartment. (And do shoes count, because hoo-boy shoes.) Any advice on wrangling our “categories” to help reign in the keep it all mentality?

  • This Thursday! Just a couple of hours. Too many items have been taking space in my laundry baskets, so I’ll start there.

  • Love this!!!

  • Raggedy handknits can become felted mittens or felt squares for a heavy warm rug or blanket. Old jeans with holes can become skirts or cut offs. We can avoid throwing away things that can be re-used. Even look at the fabric of what you are discarding–can you use it to clean or to make into pillow cases or napkins, or as the above poster said, knitting bags? Yes, cleaning the closet can be a chore, but often our clothing can have a second (or third!) life with a little imagination.

    Right now, my heavily worn, threadbare napkins are being used again–as covers for my swiffer. When they get dirty, we throw them in the wash and re-use them and stop contributing to the landfill.

    • Hole-y jeans or in my case, my youngest’s hole-y sweatpants, can be cut into bulky yarn-like strips and knitted or crocheted into afghans, baskets, rugs, what have you.

    • These are great ideas, but I have come to see that I keep too many things that would be great if I did this or that to them. When my husband’s jeans get to the point where they would need a whole new seat to keep from being a threat to public morals, then I am sorry, but they are out. Somebody else is going to have to make the Gee’s Bend-ish denim quilt.

  • This is SO good, and realistic – thank you! I’m obsessed with Marie Kondo on Netflix but when it comes to my closet (and my kids’ closets) her methods are a bit much.

    • Amen. Some of her methods are not new and a little bit “precious.”

    • That’s IT! I MUST see this show now…

  • Oh Max, another keeper just when I need it!

  • You had me at calico log cabin patch.

  • I think a lot of people miss the boat re Marie Kondo. If it sparks joy, no matter how ratty it is, KEEP IT. Some clothing should fall under the classification sentimental because it reminds us of a time or place or person. A lot of handkints are more sentimental than clothing, for example.

  • Thank you for noting that our old clothes become trash someplace on the planet because that has become quite a problem. It has caused me to think more before I buy and to buy what I’ll actually wear. And it has also caused me to learn how to make other items from old clothes, like the really (really!) cute oval rugs I crochet from old t-shirts. I’ve used some in my home, but mainly I donate them to charities for their clients or to sell as a fundraiser.

  • Boxing up the too small clothes instead of tossing or donating them speaks to me. I am at my highest weight after a stressful couple of years. I may lose the weight or I may not but looking at a closet full of smaller clothes right now depresses me instead of motivates me.

    • It’s so uplifting to have all the clothes in your closet fit you right now.

    • That part really spoke to me, too. I might actually have better luck losing my unwanted weight without a closet full of smaller clothes taunting me!

  • I finally threw out a Top I loved. I still loved the fabric but the cut was from the 80s with giant shoulders (how do you even put giant shoulders in what is essentially a glorified t-shirt?) so I knew I would never wear it. But I still regret no longer having the inclination to reuse the fabric as a different garment or to incorporate into a quilt (since I will never quilt). For reference the tee was from Banana Republic. They sure made great casual clothing back then. Chloe P.S. It just occurred to me it would have made a great throw cushion. That I would do. Gosh, the regret never ends, does it?

  • I live in Denver and when I decided to get rid of some yarn that couldn’t serve a purpose, I found a specific place that took donations Three big trash bags later, I got rid of things that could help others !

  • The ONLY thing that I could never part with is a Hermès scarf that my parents bought for me in Paris 30 years ago.
    The colors remain the most beautiful thing that I’ve ever owned and it went with a black gabardine skirt and a silk t-shirt. My ex called it my uniform and always classy

    • …and why WOULD you! Sounds amazing.

  • Thank you bunches for this wonderful idea. It’s simple. It’s not overwhelming of daunting. I can face my closet and make it easier to open that door every day without shaming myself.
    What a life-brightener!