in my closet | pt. 1 the purge

A few weeks ago, I was standing in my closet and I started to panic: I had basically let it become a complete disaster, and frankly, it was a little depressing. I think I'd been avoiding my wardrobe altogether, wearing the five clothing items that fit in those early postpartum weeks and basically throwing things in the closet at random and shutting the door behind me. It was a bad scene.

A little back story on the space: unfortunately for Nick, he and I share the teensiest little master bedroom closet I've ever seen. No seriously, it's small. We each have identical sides, which include one 43-inch clothing rod, a couple of shelves overhead and the corresponding floor space. Because space is at such a premium, I had to move out my regular clothes to make room for all the maternity clothes (mostly inherited from my sister and some generous friends).

Well, at some point after Owen was born, I started depositing clothes that no longer fit onto the closet floor, completely blocking my shoes and essentially making my side non-functional. My sweet husband was kind enough not to say anything, but I'm sure it was pretty frustrating.

The hangers were in disarray. The shelves overhead were a mess. I considered just describing this in writing because the "before" pictures are so mortifying, but here's what it looked like the day I decided to whip things back into shape. 

Keep in mind most of these clothes were maternity, so I had to get them out to make room for my normal clothes. I was kind of terrified, because if the maternity clothes had my little closet bursting at the seams, then surely my normal clothes would never fit. Well, it's been awhile, so you can imagine my surprise when I moved all the maternity clothes out and the normal clothes back in and everything fit comfortably.

Note to Shannon: you sent me a heckuva lot of maternity clothes! Don't worry - they're all boxed up and ready for you!

The nice thing about doing this when I was fresh out of maternity-ville is that I had a fairly limited emotional attachment to my clothes. I'd lived without them for so long that I could be pretty objective when hanging things back on the rod. A small rip or a stain? Gone. Not really into it anymore? Bye. Pilling? Tired-looking? Late-90s-ish? Adios. I will not miss you.

I boxed up the things that don't belong to me (those will go back to friends) and piled up my own clothes that wouldn't survive the purge. In total, between the closet and my dresser, I parted with two trash bags worth of clothes that are too gross to give away and an additional seventy-two items (more on that next week).

Many of those are maternity clothes, but not all of them. Not even most of them. Below is the current state of the overhead shelves. Not perfect, but certainly improved. This space contains belts, scarves, hats, bags, a couple pairs of shoes and pants.

Oh, and my sorority paddle (obviously).

The closet floor is now clear of the disastrous chaos that had been hiding it for weeks (months?). I got rid of a few pairs of rarely-worn and/or uncomfortable shoes. Why on earth do I keep uncomfortable shoes in my closet? They only make me feel guilty for not wearing them or they just sit there and take up precious real estate.

My triathlon backpack holds a bunch of workout gear, which is nice because it's a grab-and-go kind of thing if I'm going for a swim or a bike ride. My running shoes are in a closet downstairs, but everything else is in the backpack. I keep most of my shoes in plastic boxes and my sandals and flip-flops in a basket. Again, not perfect, but definitely more manageable.

There's lots more to do in this space. In the coming weeks I'll share the fate of the seventy-two items and my thoughts on personal style and buying new things. I feel pretty strongly about maintaining a fairly streamlined wardrobe and in general keeping our home reasonably free of clutter. If you're at all interested in decluttering, or if you're looking for permission to part with your stuff, I highly recommend this book by Peter Walsh. In it, he makes a point that has resonated with me ever since I read it years ago: "clutter robs you of far more than the space it occupies."

I totally agree. It makes me stressed, it sucks my motivation and zaps my energy. It's depressing and annoying and frustrating. Getting rid of it really defines for me what it means to do more with less.

When I get rid of what's not essential, there's room for what's really important. By owning less, committing to less, doing less, I gain more space, time and energy to appreciate the things that really matter to me. 

If you're interested in reading more about finding contentment in your closet, Pink Ronnie has a really amazing series on the subject. Thanks, Kelsey, for letting me know about it! 

Have you considered any wardrobe overhauls? Do you have stuff in your life that needs to be addressed? Any tips for deciding what stays and what goes?