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Top 4 Things that Clutter Your Closet

Do you open your closet and sigh because figuring out what to wear each day feels complicated and overwhelming? You want getting dressed to feel effortless and it’s anything but!

While there are many reasons your morning ritual of choosing an outfit is stress-filled, one of the first things to consider is whether your closet is cluttered.

We tend to think of clutter as being messy with items strewn everywhere (and this is one form of clutter), but even a relatively organized closet can have clutter within it. Clutter is one of those insidious things that sneaks up on you and can significantly affect the versatility of your wardrobe.

Being able to get dressed with more ease means first addressing any clutter in your closet.

Here are 4 reasons your closet can feel cluttered (#2 is the easiest to address and #4 might surprise you!):

1. Clothes You Never Wear

I bet you’re not surprised that this is number one. What percentage of your current wardrobe do you NEVER wear? If it’s 30%, 40% or even 80%, you’re not alone and I know it’s a source of frustration. There’s a reason you purchased what you have and there’s also a reason you aren’t wearing more of them.

Your closet is prime real estate for your clothing and when it’s clogged with things you don’t wear it wastes your time and takes up valuable space.

Why are those items in your closet?

  • You used to wear them, but now that something has changed (maybe it’s your lifestyle or body (the pandemic was instrumental in impacting both of those for many women)) you never each for them anymore.
  • You thought you’d wear them, but you never seem to be able to make an outfit with them.
  • They have sentimental value. These pieces deserve a place of honor, but not in your active closet unless they are actually something you can wear.
  • The fit needs adjusting. You might have a pile of things that need to go to the tailor, but you either don’t have a tailor or you just haven’t gotten around to it yet.
  • You worry you might miss it if you get rid of it.
  • You spent good money on it and even though, in your heart, you know you aren’t going to wear it, you hate to just give it away because it feels like you’re throwing money down the drain!

The key to reducing the number of pieces you don’t wear (thereby increasing the percentage of your wardrobe you DO wear) is to be able to fully assess garments to determine why you can’t make an outfit with them. Perhaps it’s the color, fit or comfort level. Or maybe you were talked into buying it and you never really felt like yourself when you put it on. Once you can identify the reason, you can either fix it or feel confident letting the garments go…yes, even the ones that you ‘spent good money on.’

Rather than feel badly about wasting money, consider the money spent as an educational expense towards understanding what doesn’t work so you won’t make the same mistake again.

2. Mis-matched Hangers

Hangers are hangers, right? No! There are so many different styles of hangers and you absolutely do not want a variety of hangers in your closet. When your clothes are hung on a mishmash of random hangers, they hang haphazardly and it automatically creates chaos even in an organized closet.

Choose one kind and use it to hang everything. You’ll be amazed at the difference even if you do nothing else to declutter your closet!

3. Clothes That No Longer Fit

I know this also falls into the ‘clothes you never wear’ category, but it’s different. It’s very possible these are clothes you like, but they are either too small or too big right now. It’s safe to say that many women have more than one size in their closet and that’s totally fine. Weight can fluctuate from time to time.

If you have clothes that don’t fit, and assuming you actually would want to wear them if they did fit, definitely keep them, but NOT in your working closet.

The closet you go to when you get dressed every day should only contain clothes that fit you now. Everything else should be moved to the back of the closet or preferably a separate space. Otherwise, it makes getting dressed harder or more frustrating because you have to filter through all the things you cannot currently wear. Feeling sad about what you can’t wear can lead to discouraging thoughts which are a form of mental clutter and you don’t want to add clutter on top of clutter.

Addressing fit also goes for shoes! If you keep moving shoes and boots back and forth with each season, but you don’t wear them all, it’s time to try them on and see if you ever will. Just admiring how they look on the shelf (I’ve done this myself!) won’t help if you don’t put them on. We often think our feet don’t change, but not only can they change, but our tolerance level for discomfort can become lower as well!

Putting those shoes on only takes a few seconds and will tell you if they still fit and are comfortable and will inspire you to wear them OR, if they are neither of those things, to let them go.

4. Mental Clutter

The whole concept of clothing and fashion can be fraught with frustration and negative self-talk. This is absolutely a form of mental clutter. Perhaps you’ve experienced one of these scenarios.

  • You want your lifestyle to be something it isn’t. Did you used to go to an office but now you either work from home, have changed jobs and the dress code is different or you’ve retired, those ‘office’ clothes might no longer meet your lifestyle. Any changes to your lifestyle can mean a change in your wardrobe needs, BUT it doesn’t have to limit how you feel about how you look in your clothes.
  • You see clothes on other women, in catalogues or on mannequins and you want to wear those outfits, but they never seem to look the same. Not all outfits translate well from one body, lifestyle or personality to another. I know this first hand. For instance, I love the look of a kimono on other women. But when I put one on, I feel frumpy and droopy AND it often doesn’t reflect who I am (my inner beauty words). I haven’t given up trying to find one, but I also know it’s not an easy go-to for me and I’ve accepted that. Instead, I’ve learned to look for clothes that help me feel empowered and reflect my essence (again, my inner beauty words).

Here’s an example of a model wearing a cute casual look and how it looks on me (definitely not my best look)!

  • You want to have the body you had earlier in your life. Whether you wish you were younger, more fit or a different weight, those judgments can make you feel badly about yourself. You clothe your body every day and it’s worth it to make peace with it as it is and enjoy expressing yourself (instead of hiding or just blending in) through your wardrobe. It’s time to celebrate and honor who you are now. Yes, I know this can be easier said than done, but focusing on how to feel good in your body can bring you peace and reduce the mental clutter.

Whether your form of clutter is tangible or hangs out in your thoughts, it can be unsettling and energy draining. I know it’s easy to try to ignore it, but it never truly goes away until you address it. Once you do, each step you take brings you an immediate sense of relief and accomplishment. And it can even motivate you to do more. Choose one step above to get started!

* * *

If you want to dive more deeply into the concept of clutter, check out my friend and colleague, Kerri Richardson’s books, “From Clutter to Clarity’ and ‘What Your Clutter is Trying to Tell You’ here: https://kerririchardson.com/shop/

If you are stuck, especially with #1 above, check out my next ‘Create Your Personal Style in 6 Weeks’ class or, to get started right away, explore my VIP program or get in touch (ginger@totalimageconsultants.com) and we can discuss what would be most helpful to you.

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Ginger Burr is a fashion stylist and personal shopper serving clients worldwide from metro Boston.

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