Earlier this week, I was so proud of myself. I finally decluttered my jewelry.
Why is this such a huge deal?
Because I love jewelry. Love it. And to get rid of it? Is so very, very hard for me. (Like Sophie’s Choice hard for me…)
For most of my life, I loved clothes. They were my passion and my weakness. And I still do love clothes, but as an adult I always loved shoes and jewelry more because, let’s face it, shoes and jewelry always fit.
That is, until I got plantar fasciitis in both feet and my shoes weren’t comfortable anymore. Then jewelry became my main source of joy. But my jewelry game? Had gotten out of hand.
I had so many chunky earrings and huge necklaces that it was getting harder and harder to actually use them. They were just giant clumps of tortoiseshell, gold and plastic all hanging together, unusable. It got to the point where I was just picking one of the same three necklaces and couple of pairs of earrings every day because untangling the mess of other jewelry was just too much.
So I finally had to deal with it —dive into this pile of crazy and start to untangle the rat’s nest. But as we all know, organizing is not enough. You have to get rid of it: what you don’t use, love, or wouldn’t buy again.
Get Rid of It – How I Learned to Love My Stuff More By Having Less of It
My goal? Get rid of half of my jewelry.
Now, if you have recently decluttered your jewelry, I would not advise letting go of half your pieces. But for me, who apparently had the same hoarding tendencies as a squirrel before the apocalypse, it needed to be done. I couldn’t just organize my jewelry. I had to get rid of it.
So I started to make piles based on the Clutter Free 3 Questions. In one pile: what did I love and use, and what would I buy again if I lost it. In the other pile: things I hadn’t used and wouldn’t buy again, that I liked, but didn’t love.
And of course, there was the undecided pile.
As I sorted, I realized that my undecided pile was bigger than the other two piles combined.
It was time to make some hard decisions:
I picked up each piece and got tough.
I had another pair of earrings that I could wear in place of the pair I’m holding in my hand? Get rid of it.
I don’t wear this necklace because it scratches my neck? Get rid of it.
I bought this bracelet because I thought it would go with everything, and that’s why I never wear it—it doesn’t feel special. Get rid of it.
Someone gave me this pin as a white elephant gift. It is so not my style. Get rid of it.
It was hard. Really hard. I love my stuff. Truly.
And when I was done, I squeaked by with having just half the jewelry that I had before. VICTORY!
But of course, that is when the doubts set in:
What if I got rid of something I will miss?
What if I buy a new shirt and I just gave away the necklace that will go perfectly with it?
Didn’t I just waste a ton of money?
And those doubts stayed with me—until the next morning.
When I got dressed and went to pick out my jewelry, I felt overwhelmed, but in a good way.
I now had so many great options. And I could actually see them. I was excited about picking out jewelry again. And that is the number one reason to get rid of half your stuff. It instantly doubles your choices.
How does getting rid of half your stuff actually double your choices?
You can actually see what you have. When you have too much stuff, it’s easy to lose some of your favorite things in the process. By getting rid of half your stuff, you uncover your hidden gems. If you need a great way to see all your stuff, I just bought this jewelry organizer from Hobby Lobby and I can’t even tell you how much I’m loving seeing my stuff displayed. Glory be!
You are not overwhelmed by the amount of your stuff. Several times in the past when I’d go to put on jewelry, I would look at the tangled mess and just give up. Now, I am no longer overwhelmed by my choices.
You keep the best and get rid of the rest. This is a great opportunity to really curate your style. If you bought a necklace with feathers because it seemed good at the time, you can reevaluate who you are and what you love and keep only the things that fit and support your current lifestyle.
You know what you still need. When you are brave enough to get rid of half your stuff, you will see some holes. My favorite turquoise earrings have now become earring (singular). The necklace I wore daily a year ago is tangled beyond hope. It may be time to find the new pair of turquoise earrings you love, or replace the chain on that favorite necklace.
Get Rid of It: Other Categories to Cut in Half
Now that I’ve done this halving with my jewelry, I’ve done it in other areas that were out of control:
And can I tell you—in each of these categories where I’ve gotten rid of half of my stuff? I haven’t missed one little thing.
Plus, with giving away half of my things, I know I’ve made it possible for a single mom to have something new for herself for the first time in a long time.
Hmmm…keeping it unused at my house, or loved at someone else’s house? Why is this even a question?
As much as I know you want closet solutions, I know it can be incredibly challenging to actually give things away. Here are some ideas that will help you love what you own, cut down on what you don’t, and have more choices without being overwhelmed.
Closet Solutions #1: Go through your closet at the beginning of every season.
When is the best time to donate Christmas decorations? In November when you’re unpacking your own decorations—that way, some other family will be able to decorate their tree on the cheap and enjoy their holidays. The best time to run a donation of summer dresses, flip flops and cotton shorts to your favorite charity is when you declutter your wardrobe at the beginning of spring. That way, some other mom can have something new and cute to start off her spring.
One of my favorite decluttering solutions is to have a donation bag right inside my closet. If I try something on and it doesn’t look as great as I thought it did, has a stain on it that I can’t get out (donations centers will take stained or ripped clothes and sell it by the pound), or doesn’t fit anymore (it happens), I can drop it into the bag. When the bag is full, I take it down to the car and the next time I’m driving by my charity, I drop the bag off there.
If you have to have a new plan every time you want to donate something, it’s probably easier to just leave that piece of clothing in your closet—leading to clutter. Make getting rid of clothes that don’t pass the clutter free test easy.
Closet Solutions #3: Turn All Your Hangers Backwards
This trick is the best way to have hard evidence whether I’ve worn something or not. In case you haven’t heard about this system, let me explain: At the beginning of a season (I do this in the Spring and in the Fall), hang up everything in your closet backwards. As you get dressed, pull clothes out with the hanger. When you go to hang up clothes again, hang them up normally. At the end of a season, if I’ve never taken that hanger out of my closet to wear, that means that I really, really don’t wear that piece of clothing and I can donate it guilt-free. If you still can’t decide, use the Clutter Free 3 Clarifying Questions to decide fast.
Closet Solutions #4: Create Outfits You Love From What You Have
When most of us are looking for closet solutions, it’s because we have all these clothes and nothing to wear. And that’s because we’re trying to get dressed in the few minutes before we get out the door. The worst time to try to put an outfit together? When you need to put an outfit together. Spend some time pulling a few outfits together now when you have the time, brain space and creativity to do so.
With all the talk of a capsule wardrobe, many of us are told we have to dump all our clothes and start over with some basics that can mix and match into a thousand different outfits.
When whittling down your wardrobe, the most important thing is to start with the pieces you have and already love. Pull out the things you love, wear and make you feel fab. Then start seeing what you need to do to make those pieces work for you. Do you need to refresh some of your t-shirts to make your jeans and trench look fresh? Maybe you have been ignoring your jewelry game and it’s time to get a couple of standout pieces to tie things together.
Remember—clothes are supposed to be at least a little bit of fun. And all the closet solutions in the world are not going to fund a shopping spree for a new capsule wardrobe…
If you are not having a little fun putting outfits together, I want to give you permission to loosen up a bit and let your creative juices flow. I think this is especially important for any of us (raising my hand here…) who struggle with not loving the state our body is currently in.
If you’ve spent very little time thinking about how you dress (except crying in front of your closet, on your knees, praying up a miracle), it’s time to get some inspiration. Go on Pinterest and create a wardrobe category. Look at the clothes you already love in your closet and then look for pins that have outfits with similar pieces. Get inspired by the women who think about clothes 24/7 and then just borrow their genius (because who has time for that).
Try putting together “looks” for the coming week and figure out how you can make your clothes work double time both for work and for weekend, running errands and going to church.
I challenge you to put together seven days of amazing outfits—shoes, jewelry, bags, the whole bit. Have fun with your clothes again and get a serious game of dress-up going.
Closet Solutions #5: Create a Shopping List
Get the scene from Pretty Woman out of your head. We are not talking a shopping spree here. Now is the time to create a list of a few items that would tie your wardrobe together.
For instance, I have a pair of tan pants with tiny white polka dots that I love. But I realized that I wasn’t wearing them because the shirt I have to go with them is on the warm side and I want to wear these in hot weather. A lightweight, flowy white shirt would go perfectly with these pants.
But, a lightweight, flowy white shirt would also go with a lot of other clothes that I love, so a lightweight, flowy white shirt is going on my list.
Last year, I wanted a pair of olive green cargo pants more than I wanted to be on Trading Spaces. I put them on the list in April, and kept looking and looking for the perfect pants. The problem? I couldn’t find them. Anywhere. It was like all the shops in the world conspired against me to keep clothes out of my reach.
Finally, I had to go international in my search. In July, my husband and I took a trip to Canada and while I was in a department store there, I came across the perfect olive cargo pants. It may be the one time in my life I didn’t look at the price tag; I was just so excited to find the pants that I would have spent about any amount of money on them.
And no, they weren’t on sale, and yes, they were more than I normally pay for a pair of pants. But I have worn those pants at least once a week during the fall and spring since I bought them. Other clothes that I’ve bought on sale? Those have lingered in my closet for months. Best Canadian money I’ve ever spent.
So keep a little list. I’ve got one on Evernote on my phone. The other advantage of keeping a list? I go into a store (or online) and look for what’s on the list, not getting distracted by all the shiny things that are out there trying to rob me of my money (and my closet space).
Closet Solutions #6: Know When to Invest and When to Have Fun: Anchor Pieces vs. Fun and Frippy
Every closet should have the basics: the jeans that make go with everything, the black jacket that you can throw on with any shirt you own, the white tailored shirt that makes you feel like a million bucks.
But you should also have a few things that are fun and fab. A few of my favorites? An olive-colored tank top with tiny owls on it, a grey T-shirt with the words “Blah, Blah, Blah” in black sparkle (for when I’ve used up all my words), and a pair of navy Toms shoes with moons and stars on them.
Here is the key to having a closet you love: Invest in the anchor pieces and have fun with the frippy ones.
Anchor Pieces: These are the basic workhorses of your wardrobe you wear all the time and go with everything. Depending on your lifestyle (working in a corporate job outside the home, running a freelance business from your spare bedroom, raising small humans) your basics are going to be very different.
As someone who works from home and could get away with yoga pants and slippers most of the time, I had to put together a working wardrobe so I wasn’t embarrassed to go on a Zoom call or answer the door when the UPS guy showed up. But I don’t have to look like I’m ready to take a meeting in the city everyday either. I keep my anchor pieces in neutrals with just one accent color (Neutrals: black, white, cream, olive—Accent: coral) so that almost everything mixes and matches. Here are my anchor pieces:
White cotton pants
Cream cotton pants
Black cotton pants
Olive cargo pants
Black tank top
Cream tank top
Olive Tank top
White button down
White and khaki striped shirt
These are the pieces that I could dress with every day. But where would the fun in that be?
And that’s when the fun and frippy come into play.
These are things like:
I tend to do most of my fun stuff in shirts and accessories. These are the pieces that express our personality and make dressing fun again.
Closet Solutions #7: Keep the Clothes You Actually Wear
Get rid of the rest. (Guilt free!) We’ve all done it—bought the jacket with feathers on it, decided that epaulets are back in style, bought a shirt that looked cute on our daughter, and then realized our daughter should be the only one who is young enough to wear it.
One of the most important closet solutions is to understand that we all make mistakes, but we don’t need to hang on to them. (Yes – this is a closet solution, but it’s also a life solution).
Maybe you were supposed to own that butterfly T-shirt for just a season, and then get it into the hands of the person who will love it for the next five years. I love how God can use us to help other people get what they want, even if it’s though a mistake of ours.
Make your clothes earn the right to be in your closet. There should be nothing in there that you don’t love, use or would buy again.
Living clutter free is never one and done. You have to keep at it daily. But there are times when you want (or need) to know how to declutter fast. When your parents are coming to visit (or worse, when your in-laws are coming to visit…) friends are coming over after a crazy-busy week of work, kids and life, or you need to find that bill but can’t uncover it in the piles around your house. We’ve all had our declutter emergencies.
And while decluttering your house fast is great, what you don’t want to do is recover from stashing stuff in drawers and bookshelves. We call that the Dash and Stash around here. It helps for a day, but the next time you are looking for your car keys, you’re sunk because you “stashed” them in the basket of dog toys.
So here is how to declutter fast, get rid of the things you don’t need or love, while still being able to find all the stuff you do need tomorrow.
How to Declutter Fast Step 1. Gather Your Tools
This is a system you will be using in every room in your house, so I want you to gather up everything you’ll need right now:
Set up your iPod and a timer (you can use the one on your cell phone or your oven), three cardboard boxes, a garbage bag, and a recycle bag, Mark one cardboard box “Other Rooms,” one “Put Away,” and one “Give Away.” (Or, if decluttering this way becomes a routine, check out our 3 Bag System that you can pack up when you’re done and store until tomorrow when you declutter again.)
How to Declutter Fast Step 2. Start Sorting
Set fifteen minutes on your timer and pick a spot to clean out (an area no larger than what you can sort through in fifteen minutes).
Go through the area and use the three boxes to sort the contents.
Anything that doesn’t belong in the area you’re cleaning goes into the “Other Rooms” box. This includes toys in the kitchen, dog brushes in the living room, report cards in the bathroom, or dishes in the bedroom.
Put Back Box
This is the box where you put things that belong in the area you’re cleaning, but they need to be put back in the right place. If you’re straightening up your bedroom, examples of items might be clean clothes on the floor, shoes under your bed, or scarves hanging over a bedroom chair. These all go in the “Put Back” box so once you have your bedroom in order, you just put those items back where they belong.
Give Away Box
Clothes your kids have outgrown? Check. Videos your family will never watch again? Check. There is huge freedom in giving stuff away. Here is a great set of criteria for keeping or giving away an item:
Is it something you or a family member is currently using or wearing?
Is it something that makes you or a family member happy when they see it?
Is it something you or a family member will definitely use in the next six months?
If you can answer yes to one or more of those questions, find a home for the item. If not, away it goes.
And a friendly reminder: don’t donate garbage. It costs charities time and money to get rid of stuff you don’t want. Don’t be that person. Donate only those things that are in decent condition and are worthy of reselling.
Anything you don’t want and isn’t worthy of being donated or can’t be recycled goes in here.
Recycling regulations vary from city to city, so check with your local municipality or disposal service if you have any question about what should be recycled and what shouldn’t.
How to Declutter Fast Step 3. Deal with Your Boxes
Once you’ve cleaned out your chosen area, take the “Other Rooms” box and put away all the stuff where it belongs. Take the “Give Away” box to where you gather stuff to donate or directly to your car to be donated the next time you run errands. Now, since your area is clean and organized, put anything in the “Put Back” box into the spot it’s supposed to go.
And the most important part: when you are done with decluttering, put your boxes away. (You don’t want those to become clutter!)
If this feels totally overwhelming to you, consider having a supportive friend or someone you hire go through these steps with you. There’s a lot of freedom in a fresh start.
The beautiful thing about decluttering? When you do it every day, it keeps you from wanting to bring things into the house in the first place. The more you declutter, the more you will want to keep your space as clutter free as possible. It’s this daily action that will help keep you out of the Target dollar aisle, keep you from buying those shoes just because they were on sale, and keep you from holding onto that second DVD of Legally Blond just in case.
Make it the most PEACE-FILLED Season ever!
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