less is more: downsizing and decluttering your wardrobe: getting ready! (part 1)

last week i went out for a lovely lunch with my friend m.

we had a nice, intelligent chat over falafels and lemonade that touched on a little bit of everything: religion, psychology, love, craft…and eventually, we landed on the subject of decluttering.

m. admitted she’s been feeling overwhelmed by her *stuff* of late, and was having a hard time sorting though all the stuff she had collected over the years. it had reached a critical point for her…she HAD to get rid of stuff, but was completely flummoxed and unsure of where to begin.

m. was plagued by her thoughts, and by guilt:

“what if i could use this later for something?”


“this was expensive…i feel bad having spent money on it or that others spent money on it, and thus i’m remiss to let it go.”

m. confessed that almost everything she owned seemed to hold some importance, or it evoked a memory; some negative memories, some positive memories. she felt incredibly attached to EVERYTHING, in a way that she could hardly explain.

m. didn’t use or really even LOVE many of these items, and they were getting in the way of the things she DID love. and while some items were inherently lovely, she felt they didn’t represent who she truly is…they just were not her style.

m.’s STUFF was threatening to take over her life.

it was time to sort through it all, but how? where could she begin? how could she even approach such a seemingly daunting task?

the wardrobe

i know a lot of people (including myself) are in the same clutter-filled and nearly sinking boat. we are deeply entrenched in the consumerist culture in which we live. we go out and collect things we need and want, and sometimes, those collections get out of control.

but how much of this stuff do we truly use, need, or love? how much of it is just stuff that we may never get use of, regardless of any good intentions we might have for said objects? i’d venture to guess that much of it, while perfectly useable, is just STUFF that you or i don’t really need, and would be better off without.

things are nice, but realistically and honestly, LESS IS MORE.

when you have what you actually NEED and LOVE, pawing through your closet can be easy, and relatively stress-free. you can see what you have readily, and can be more assured that what you have suits your lifestyle, personality, and body. no more needing to comb through the so-so stuff to get to the stuff you actually adore and use.

doesn’t the idea of that sound NICE?

but again, how would one go about it?

well, as i’ve been through this myself numerous times, i’ve got some tips to share, and i’ll do so over the course of three installments!


you can prep yourself in these ways:

it’s super important to get your mind space and physical space souped up before you scrutinize your stuff!

first and foremost, make a concerted effort to keep a positive attitude about the decluttering your wardrobe. think of the process of delcluttering as an amazingly good thing: it’s a fresh start! you’re going to a.) eliminate stress in yourself and those who live with you! b.) end up with what you NEED and LOVE. and c.) put the kibosh on clutter.

make sure you have a full length mirror at the ready. you want to be able to see yourself from head to toe. none of this half-body bathroom mirror business.

open up all the curtains and windows in the room, or turn on all the available lights in the room where you’ll be doing all your sorting. you want to be able to see yourself and the clothes and accessories which you will be evaluating in the best possible light. good lighting allows you to see the true colors and textures of your clothing and accessories and how they honestly work with your skin tone and figure.

before you begin, eat a good healthy meal and set aside a glass of water that you can sip on while you work. dehydration and low blood sugar are bad bedfellows for your brain and the task at hand…you want to be at your best when you’re trying to determine if you TRULY love and look good in that denim skort, lace-up bustier or argyle socks!

to set the mood, put on some great music! choose some tunes that you know will motivate but not distract you. i think something that gets your blood pumping is just perfect for this sort of task! i love to put on a breaks or hip-hop dj set while i am working through my closet and trying things on. when i need a break from the intensity of sorting and deciding i can dance around the house a little!

shower, put on makeup, and do your hair! this tactic helps me, big time! i can evaluate the clothes i am sorting through as if i was getting dressed to go out in the usual way, without being distracted by the possibly scary state of my makeupless face or wild bedhead!

-if you’re a little unclear about your personal style and are feeling overwhelmed trying to figure out who you are and what you love, make a mood board/inspiration board first. if ye know thyself, the process of decluttering your stuff will be much simpler and less stress-making.

gather up those trashbags or get out those empty shopping bags you been saving! these will be the eventual receptacles for your discards.


PART 2 is to come:

the sorting process!

stay tuned!


  1. ambika

    Living out of a suitcase helped me *tremendously* to overcome the clutter that I see a lot of my friends despair with (especially as quite a few of them are looking at the prospect of moving in the next couple of months.) I have been fortunate enough to really stick with that philosophy–that it’s more stressful to have more stuff that you don’t need/use/adore, than it is to purge on a semi-regular basis.

    Awesome post and great pointers.

  2. Anouk

    Ow, I love the idea of these 3 parts! Im moving in a few weeks time and though Ive felt inspired to sort through my stuff several times before, ive never taken the cow by the horns (yet). But Im sure this manual will make me do it! Where are those empty shopping bags?!

  3. erin

    Hello there, this is my first time commenting. I love your blog! I must say that I am excited for this. I’ve been trying to motivate myself to declutter for a while now but just can’t get started. I love your ideas and I’m going to follow all the steps, I’ll let you know the how it turns out!

  4. jennine

    thanks for posting this… hehee” dehydration and low blood sugar are bad bedfellows”

    i desperately need to do this my closet door won’t even shut. i have 15 pairs of jeans i don’t even wear, and .. a shoe falls on my head everytime i wedge myself in my ‘walk in closet’

    oh dear. well, this really helps lady!
    : )

  5. tricia

    everyone: yay, glad you’re liking this! come back tomorrow and thursday for the other installments in the “less is more” series! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. sarah

    Oh hurray, I’m doing this purge thing all summer – through the whole apartment. I can’t wait to see your tips and everyone’s comments, it’ll be like having company.

    Even though it’s always a little heart-rending, I love the space and how good it feels after a good closet purge. And it’s particularly nice when I have friends in need. I don’t have mountains of clothes, but since I put myself through college, most of my wardrobe is business-casual attire – which many of my friends lack. So, everytime I purge, I take digital photos of the nicest stuff and email them to girlfriends that are my size to ask if they’d like them. I also try to keep a donations bag running at all times that anyone is free to rifle through when they visit. When I get about three full, it’s off to salvation army!

  7. Casey

    I can’t wait for the other two installments!! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve really been thinking about how consumeristic American culture is lately (analyzing my own “need” to acquire/spend), and this fits right in with the way my brain has been going! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Decluttering is really very overwhelming and I look forward to seeing what tips you have for tackling it!!

  8. PaperDollyGirl

    Great post! And thanks for the encouragement. It feels so good to look at my closet and only see stuff I really like. It will be so much easier to get dressed and just function. I threw out a hefty bag of garbage, and sent so many shopping bags filled with clothing to community thrift. I put labels on the stuff that was collectible, so the sorters will know to charge more for it. I have more to go, but for now I’m in NJ and will be applying my new decluttering energy to the basement in the family home.

    I find it so helpful to think about stuff as “Do I love this” and if the answer’s no, unless I really, really need it, it goes.

  9. missi

    can’t wait for the next parts….i am moving too and need to get rid of about half of my wardrobe. hopefully, this will be the kick i needed.

  10. Alex

    Howdy! I’ve just stumbled upon your blog via paper.string.cloth. Your tips are great – after alphabetizing my books and feeling smug – if even more nerdy than usual – I’ll definitely be checking back and trying to put your advice into practice. Plus, your wardrobe remix may even inspire me to tackle the ‘to be altered’ pile lurking in my kitchen!

  11. summer

    Darling, this is such a wonderful post! I know all about how hard it is to rid your life of needless clutter. It’s so easy to get unnecessarily attached to objects. Looking forward to the continuation!

    Also, I wanted to link you up with my new Portland street fashion website : pdx in the street.

  12. sanddancer

    I’ve just recently de-cluttered as I’ve just moved house – I wish I’d read this beforehand. The tips about lighting, music & doing your hair and make-up are especially good – I often find it a dusty & depressing process so anything that lifts the spirits is much needed.

  13. Gina

    I’ve done a good deal of de-cluttering of clothing and things over the past few years, but it never seems like enough. I’ve donate, sold and freecycled so many items, and I still have that sinking in stuff feeling. Yet, with all that I’ve given away, I only have ONE regret — donating a mustard sweater that was my mother’s. That’s it — ONE thing — out of the mountain of stuff that has come and gone. Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston is great for tickling the brain as to why we hold on to items. It really helped me let go once I realized why I was holding on to certain things. The downsizing is a rampant theme on many blogs these days — could we all be feeling the weight of our stuff? I look forward to the next two installments.

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  19. I am converting a bedroom into a closet!!!!

    I would REALLY love to see more pictures of what I hope is your closet. I really am converting a bedroom into a closet–not that I have that much (ok I do) BUT I really want to SEE everything at a glance and GROUPED (weekend, work, going out, glitz dressing, etc.).

    Can you tell me more about it? (designer, company) more pictures PLEASE!! LOL

  20. tricia

    to commenter #22: the designer of what? the armoire? that’s from ikea. they have a whole selection of different types of closets/wardrobes/armoires that are similar. check out their website for more photos.

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