Cleaning Out My Closet: What I Learned In My Quest Towards Less


By Kate Kole

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about my 2017 goal to minimalize – not just my things – but my thoughts. The same day that post was published, I went out shopping to use a couple gift cards I’d received for Christmas. It was the first time I’d been to the mall in almost half a year. And you guys, let me tell you, I wanted it all. I wanted pants in patterns I didn’t even know existed and I wanted one of everything from Pottery Barn’s window display. In my mindset of craving more, I was fairly convinced that fancy tea and new snow boots were my ticket to becoming content.

Then, I somewhat begrudgingly remembered my intention to let go rather than add on. And even though my resolution (or lack thereof) was less possession based and more personally driven, I had a hunch the two were somewhat connected. So, I spent my cards, but nothing else, despite the nagging, unsettling feeling that I needed so much more.

Part in an effort to see if there really was anything I needed in my current wardrobe and part in an effort to keep my new year commitment, I decided to clean out my closets at home. Creating 3 separate piles to trash, donate, and store, I set aside a few hours and I went to work. A few full, heavy bags ready to ship out later, here’s what I learned in my quest towards less (otherwise known as my attempt to justify going out and buying all new things):

I don’t need to get rid of something if it makes me sad to part ways, but I also don’t need to hold onto everything that I have an emotional connection to. So, I’ll keep the one t-shirt that I have from my yoga teacher training, but I probably don’t need to continue to store the slew of Forever 21 dresses I bought when my husband and I first started dating. The memories will still exist even without physical (and no longer trendy) evidence of them.

Let go of items that are anticipatory driven. Rather than having a closet full of clothes to dress for my day-to-day life, half my items were things I’d held onto in case I need to attend 5 formal dinners a week, or on the flipside, need to spend a summer painting. I need one, maybe two, gowns and hair dye day shirts – not 20.

Consider its condition. No matter how much I loved it, or still love it, the stain from the sticker that went through the wash on election day isn’t going away. Neither is the hole near the neckline of my softest t-shirt.

Get rid of what doesn’t fit. Regardless of the cost. For some reason, I had a really hard time letting go of the tank top I never wear and is tight in all the wrong places (i.e. my belly button) because it was more expensive than the rest of my tops. The reality is, no price tag is going to convince me to wear something that doesn’t feel good or fit well.

Clearing out some is better than none. Admittedly, I was somewhat hoping to become one of those people who has the epiphany that she only needs something like 5 good outfits. That didn’t happen. I got rid of a lot, and I also kept a decent amount. Similar to so many things in life, the approach to do with less doesn’t have to mean all or nothing.

I have what I need. In my desire to have all the newest and nicest things, I forgot what’s already present, plentiful, and doing its purpose in my closet. The truth is, now that I’m removed from the bright lights and pretty displays of the mall, I feel just as happy with what I already own as I would have felt with a new, unnecessary wardrobe.

There’s something to be said for simplifying. It felt good to toss out crappy hangers and uncomfortable pants. Clearing out the junk made space for me to better organize what I already own and I can honestly admit there’s something to be said for quality over quantity.

Will I still go shopping? Absolutely. But, I don’t need a new closet full of clothes, nor do I need to indulge in a bunch of impulse buys. After sorting through what I already own, I’ll be more selective in what I choose to add to my cart.

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

12 thoughts on “Cleaning Out My Closet: What I Learned In My Quest Towards Less

  1. Angela says:

    I needed to read this!! I am also trying to life simpler, I have been avoiding the shops because I have a tendancy to buy things I don’t need (or even like that much) because its on sale!! I’m having a closet clear out tonight, so many dresses worn ONCE! ugh

    Liked by 1 person

  2. carbscatsandcaffeine says:

    Good stuff! So often closet clean out posts I see are an all or nothing approach. Maybe all and nothing, get rid of it all and keep nothing! Your experience is much more realistic. I’m working on this approach with beauty products and skincare. If I just find that perfect lipstick, my world will be transformed! Right? 😉


  3. Ditch The Stuff says:

    Downsizing my wardrobe was the best gift I gave to myself in 2016. Now I plan my purchases in advance and only purchase a couple items every three months. I actually like everything in my wardrobe for the first time in my adult life!


  4. Ali says:

    Fabulous. Just fabulous. I have done his counteless times and it feels amazing:). And then I go back in the bags and take things back out. The trick is to drive immediately to the nearest Goodwill:)


  5. vjalexander says:

    Great article….I’ve been practicing this for years BUT love the reminders of “you don’t have to get rid of something if it makes me sad to part ways…” and “clearing some is better than none.” It’s so much easier to clean my house without so many “things” taking space (less over whelming too)! Also, I have a box near the garage door that I will periodically (while cleaning up) put things in that I want to donate
    (taken every other month) and purge my closet twice a year. It’s kind of funny though…I went to purge my closet last week and realized it was a bit more crowded than normal…guess I went shopping a few more times than normal!


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