Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Decluttering Conversations

I’ll clean out the spare stationery draw today.  

Oh, good.  There’s a lot of stuff in there you don’t need.

Yeah, yeah.  But I’m sure most of it is useful!

How many spare display folders does one need?

Okay.  Not that many.  But I’ll keep all these manilla folders.  They are definitely useful.

Hmm. You’re less than halfway through that box of 100.  Did you buy that box when you were still at uni?  That’s at least ten years.  You usually just recycle a manilla folder when you need one.

Of course I do!  I don’t want to waste them! 

And all these refill pages for display folders. There’s an unopened packet of 100!  Plus the rest…

I used to use them in folders for my sheet music.  

But a packet of 100?  Why did you even buy that in the first place?

In case I needed them.  

In case you needed them?  Why not just wait until you actually needed them?

Yes, okay, okay.  Can we move on?  What will I do with all these envelopes?  

That’s a lot of envelopes.

I know.  But I when I needed envelopes I could only buy a box of 100.  And I use those four different sizes.  Just not very often.

Fair enough.  That letter paper?

But what if I need to write a-

You don’t write letters.  Ever.  Some of that you’ve had since you were ten.  Bin! 

What if I need this graph paper?

Have you needed graph paper in the last fifteen years?

But what if I NEED some?

You can get more.  Get rid of it.  

Right.  That’s done.  Yes, I’ve kept a little more than I probably need to.  But this is my first stationery cull.  I think I’ve done okay. It looks tidy.  There’s less unnecessary stuff in the drawer. I’m happy with that. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Repairing the burst seams in my wardrobe

I have over 100 items of clothing in my wardrobe.   

This doesn’t even include underwear, swimwear, or my maternity clothing.  

More than one hundred.  I counted them after I did a cull recently. 

Please don’t laugh.  Or judge.   (Especially not before you’ve counted the items of clothing in your own wardrobe.)   

I know I own far too many clothes.  It’s more than I can reasonably wear (there ARE only seven days a week, and I wash on at least two of those).   My whole adult life I have had too many clothes.  Conventional decluttering wisdom says if you haven’t worn it in a year, get rid of it.  Yeah, but I’ve got clothes that I have only worn once in the last year, but I still love them.  Or, worse, I haven’t worn them in over a year because I have more clothes than I could have worn in that amount of time.

Here’s the surprising thing:  almost one-fifth of my wardrobe has been introduced in the last year-and-a-half, while I’ve been trying to gain control over my impulse shopping.   Only about 10% is over six or seven years old.  And given that I’ve either given away or worn out a large number of items of clothing, it means that I’ve bought or sewn a lot of clothes over the last five or six years.  

This is the alternative decluttering wisdom that I need to hear: stop buying more clothes.  Wear the clothes you already own.  Don’t even bother looking at the shops if you have plenty already.   Just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean you need another shirt: there will be another sale.  

I would like to get down to just 30-odd items of clothing - a third of what I own now.   Does that sound crazy?  Sure.  But I don’t think it is unreasonable, either.   Have you heard it said that we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time?  Looking at the clothes I have, and the clothes I wear, I would say that it’s true enough of me.   It means potentially buying nothing new for a year.  Or four.  But it also means that when I do need to buy more clothes I need to be more intentional.    

I’ve started out by identifying my style: a-line skirts, simple t-shirts or blouses, sandals or mary-janes, a chunky necklace. No tiny prints, no stripes, no ruffles.  A little bit hippy.   If I must buy more clothes, they must fit with my style. 

Then I’ve chosen a colour palette. I only buy clothes in colours that suit me: browns, purples, berries, olivey-greens, creams.    I don’t buy colours that I know to not look good on me, or that I tend not to choose to wear: white, blue, red, yellow, black.  (I used to wear a lot of black, but as I have gotten older it doesn’t look so good on me and is being phased out of my wardrobe.)  

Then I consider my lifestyle.  At this stage in life I spend most of my time home with young kids, and my choice of clothing needs to reflect this.  And given that most of the time it’s too hot to wear long sleeves, so I don’t need to own winter attire. 

Sticking to a style and palette, everything should go together, and with a selection of shoes and accessories, there is still plenty to keep it interesting. 

I’m thinking about putting everything but 30-odd items of clothing away in a box or another wardrobe, and when something needs replacing I’ll go ‘shopping’ in my box first.  

To fix my clothing clutter problem, I need only buy clothes when necessary and be intentional about what I do buy. Don’t just get rid of clothes you don’t wear, break the cycle by not buying them in the first place. 

 What about your wardrobe?  Too many clothes, or just enough?  Do you wear everything you have?  Are you intentional in what clothing you buy?