Can clearing out your closet help you clear your head too? Here’s how getting rid of inessential items enables you to make room for the things you really love.
I remain unconvinced on the subject of capsule wardrobes. For one, I like variety, even when it comes to jeans. And the thought of wearing the same clothes all the time makes my blood run cold. I’m not Steve Jobs! I like to think I have a strong enough personal brand without having to resort to a uniform.
But there is definitely something to be said for trimming the fat. After espousing the de-stressing benefits of a clean and tidy living space last month, I decided to practice what I preached and spent an entire weekend clearing out years’ worth of hoarded junk in my flat. Starting with my wardrobe. And my chest of drawers. And the other chest of drawers. And the piles upon piles of clothes that could be seen wherever you looked in my bedroom. (Tidiness is not a virtue that comes naturally to me.)
It took an entire day to decide what I wanted to keep and what was to be donated, partly due to the sheer volume I had to get through, but also because I hadn’t expected it to be such an introspective exercise. I adopted Marie Kondo’s now-famous approach, holding each item and asking myself; “does this spark joy?” It was like a trip down memory lane; a tour of my past in the form of band t-shirts from gigs and festivals, unsightly floppy hats purchased on holidays when the sun got too intense, and oh my god, an entire history of ill-fitting trousers.
I could plot the major milestones in the map of my adult life using just these trousers; some baggy, some so tight they cut off circulation to the lower half of my body. I moved into my flat five years ago and did a fairly significant wardrobe culling back then; bootcut jeans were already on the way out in 2013, and yet I still saw fit to pack half a dozen pairs and bring them with me. Why? Because you never know, I used to think.
Fashion is a cycle, and what is well and truly out right now may well come back into style in a year or two. But holding out hope that a certain type of jean or jacket will become trendy again means that we often end up in abusive relationships with these items. They take up space in our wardrobes, in our lives, and we say “they’re not that bad, really, I can’t wear them right now but one day that will change!”
There are also the clothes which we hang onto because there is a tiny part of us which believes we will be able to fit into them again. And while this is certainly true for some, I personally had to come to terms with the fact that the 28-inch waist tartan trousers which I purchased from Zara when I was sixteen years old no longer had a place in my life at thirty. They were seriously great trousers (imagine Rupert Bear if he were styled by Vivienne Westwood), but I knew that I would never wear them again. I just liked the memory of being sixteen and the kind of skinny that simply isn’t attainable once your body reaches adulthood.
That’s the power of clothes. They influence how we see and feel about ourselves. Now when I open up my wardrobe, I only see things that I wear all the time, the things I feel great wearing — and there’s space for new things.
For me, holding onto those old clothes was about who I used to be. Now my closet reflects who I am… And I look good!