Pre-moving declutter, part I: Clothing

Posted on August 17, 2017 under Declutter

I’ve been in Toronto for over a year now, which is the longest I’ve been in one place in five years. I’ve become very good at moving all my earthly possessions via plane, car, and Megabus, on average once every four to eight months since 2012. As many of you know, in just a few weeks I’ll be making a big move again – back to Glasgow, Scotland, where I spent 7 months in 2014 and 2015. Of course, moving across an ocean comes with major restrictions as to what I can bring – namely, whatever I can cram into two checked backs and two carry-ons. This impending move has inspired a necessary round of decluttering. Today I bring to you a recap of some recent clothing decluttering. A makeup declutter is soon to follow!

As I go through my clothes, I’ve been keeping three criteria in mind:

  1. Do I like this? Basically, the $1000 Marie Kondo question. This is an obvious one, but I have been hanging onto items which simply don’t spark joy (as Kondo puts it). I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to move four suitcases through three airports, but it requires every bit of physical and emotional strength a person can possibly possess and there’s no point expending that energy on things I don’t actually like.
  2. Do I wear this? A “no” is a good indictor that I shouldn’t keep the item, though it’s not 100% damning. I did keep some items which in my current life as a fulltime retail employee with a strict dress code I have not been wearing, but which may fit into my grad student life a little more easily.
  3. Will I wear this? This is the question that naturally follows from “Do I wear this?” Not only are there items that I have not been getting much use out of lately that I think I will wear in the upcoming months, there are also pieces that I wear constantly now which I don’t think will be useful to me in the UK. This question encompasses a lot of smaller questions. Will this fit into my lifestyle? Is this a comfortable article of clothing or just one which I like the look of? Can I envision how I will wear this? Is this appropriate for the Scottish climate? I’m lucky in that I’ve lived in Glasgow before, so I have some insight into what will be useful and appropriate for me to keep.

Going through my clothes piece by piece I found that what I got rid of fit into 4 categories:

  1. Things that don’t fit. You know when you order something online and it doesn’t fit right or isn’t comfortable but you don’t want to pack it up and trudge to the post office so you convince yourself you will actually wear it but of course you never actually do? Yeah. I had a few of these pieces in my closet, and they were among the first to go.
  2. Things that I don’t love. I have a lot of pieces that I’ve kept around because I think they’re useful: a comfy grey cardigan, a red v-necked t-shirt. Certainly these are practical and versatile items, but I just don’t reach for them over my other clothing options.
  3. Vestiges of a former life. Clothes I bought at 19 when I was in my undergrad are not necessarily clothes that are relevant to my current lifestyle.
  4. Work clothes. For work, I have to wear black dress pants and a black shirt. I have a lot of black shirts. Granted, I like some of them because black is a colour I tend to buy a lot of anyway. But there were definitely shirts I was holding onto simply for work purposes that I wouldn’t ever reach for in any other context, and so I gleefully said goodbye to them.

When I was finished, I discovered that what I had left was very formulaic: shades of grey and black and lots of jewel tones; black and white striped items; skater skirts and fit and flare dresses; patterned button-downs; sweaters. Yep, I have a type.

Here’s (most of) what I got rid of:

As always, getting rid of stuff feels so good that after I donated all this I ended up going through everything again and getting rid of more. I would say in total it would fill about a garbage bag and a half, which is a significant amount of space saved in my suitcase.

Highlights of my purge:

Lots of crop tops! They were great when I was 19 but just aren’t something that I have room for in my current life, for the most part. I decided to keep one for nights out and ended up getting rid of the other four (obviously, only two are pictured).

Some dresses which I bought with no occasion to wear and have worn very few times. All of these are from H&M. I wore the blue one to my high school graduation so it has some sentimental value, but I have a very similar dress that I wore to my university graduation which I kept instead. The others have all been worn to various occasions (birthday parties, NYE, funerals…) but I don’t wear them enough to keep them around.

Skintight miniskirts that don’t fit anymore and actually just shouldn’t be a part of my life at this point. I just can’t deal with having to tug my skirt down every 3 seconds anymore!

Two black purses which were too big for me to carry on a daily basis. I favour small (but not tiny) purses, and now I have one that I’m really happy with. These ones are in good condition, so hopefully someone is walking around the city getting use out of them now.

Impractical shoes. I bought the 72-inch black wedges with Christmas money when I was 18. I have worn these twice because I can’t walk in them and will never be able to. The open-toe shoes I did actually wear a few times – including to my graduation last year – but they’re not very comfortable. They were Forever 21, so the expenditure wasn’t too immense. I wear heels extremely rarely and am more likely to go with a pair of heeled ankle boots when I want some extra height. And if I want to wear heels, it’s definitely not going to be these:

I mean, REALLY. My eighteen-year-old hubris is astounding.

My favourite combat boots in the world. I love these boots so much and I am heartbroken that they are as destroyed as they are. They’ve been beat up for quite some time, and then I dropped a bottle of Essie Bahama Mama on the floor and it splattered on them, which horrified the employee who was helping me but which I loved. I think it really adds to their charm. I mean, they’re combat boots. If they’re pristine they don’t look right. I have another pair from the same brand, but the plaid is teal and blue and the boots themselves are a bit more bulky – I like them, but not as much. However, I think my mom will personally kill me herself if I take nail polish-splattered combat boots that are detaching from their soles overseas. Really, if I were moving to a climate where it didn’t rain daily I might consider it anyway. But walking around in the rain with holes in your boots is not the most practical idea.

A lot of work clothes! Most of these are hand-me-downs from my mom. I wear a lot of black in my day-to-day life anyway, but I’m getting rid of a lot of pieces that aren’t really my style but that I kept for the sake of work. A few of these items are also just worse for the wear and not worth hauling overseas.

In all, I decluttered 5 cardigans, 4 crop tops, 9 blouses, 3 blazers, 4 t-shirts, 7 pairs of pants, 1 pair of leggings, 3 pair of shorts, 4 skirts, 5 dresses, 1 pair of PJs, 1 athletic top, 1 beach cover-up, 2 bags, 4 pair of socks, 3 pairs of tights, and 4 pairs of shoes. 61 items gone total, which is a lot more than I was expecting. Good job, me!

(P.S. I’m taking my driving test tomorrow afternoon, so wish me luck!)

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There are 4 responses to “Pre-moving declutter, part I: Clothing”

  • Good luck tomorrow!

    Last fall, when I wasn’t sure if I was moving or not, I went through and decimated my wardrobe. I just went through it again, because this is the year that I finally nailed down my style as a professional adult, and have started discarding all of the clothes I’ve been holding onto since I was an undergrad. I need to do another pass though, since I have several of those dresses that are pretty but have no real reason to own.

    We’re doing better than one of my coworkers, though – she told me that she still had a suit from when she was in grade 11. She’s in her fifties. I have been encouraging her to declutter her wardrobe.

    • Thank you!! I’m getting a little nervous, but I think I can do it.

      Moving is the best excuse to lighten your load. Dresses are the hardest for me – I always think, “They’re so pretty, I will have an excuse to wear them one day!” But then more often than not when I have an event I just buy a new dress which I wear like two times.

      I don’t think I have any clothes left from high school, and I only graduated 5 years ago. I can’t imagine holding onto something for that long!

  • Excellent work! I’ve been doing some clothing decluttering myself this year, and I plan to do even more before the school year begins. In one sense, I find it easier to declutter clothes than makeup, because there are so many more places where I can donate used clothes without hassle. In another sense, I find it more difficult: I tend to spend more money on clothes than I do on lipsticks, which increases the guilt I feel at giving them away. Plus, my weight has fluctuated pretty dramatically throughout my 20s, so I’m always reluctant to get rid of too-big or too-small clothes–what if I can wear them again in six months? So frustrating.

    I love that mint skater dress, by the way. And I’m excited for you to start your graduate studies!

    • I find I play more mind games with myself when I’m decluttering clothes. I constantly do that “Well, I might wear it in the future…” thing, which I don’t do as much with makeup. With makeup, if I’m not wearing it, I get rid of it. With clothes, well, I do have a fairly big lifestyle change coming up, so it can be an easy justification to make. Yes, some of my stuff that hasn’t gotten much wear will definitely make its way back into my rotation soon, but some of it won’t because I don’t actually LIKE it all that much. And yeah, I gained maybe 10 pounds this year and I’m between sizes, so that’s been a tricky one too. But I’ll have like a ~2.5km walk to and from campus every day, so that’ll probably even out soon.

      I love that dress too but it’s too short for me! I find a lot of dresses and skirts are. I don’t really like maxi or midi skirts, but it seems like there are almost no options between maxi skirt and “barely covers my butt” skirt. I’m only 5’6 but I’ve started buying tall sizes when I can, which helps.

      And I am VERY EXCITED for grad school as well! When I’m deep in my first semester I may laugh at my foolishness, though.

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