Simplify Your Closet and You Simplify Your Life

When we think of simplicity, we don’t always think about simplifying clothing or wardrobes, but taking care of clothes takes a lot of time. Imagine a closet in which clothes are easy to see and find. And when you take out a dress you haven’t worn in a while, it is ready to wear, not jumbled up, wrinkled and somehow entwined with the dress next to it. You look down at the shoes and can find the pair you want to go with the dress at first try.

Full disclosure–I’m not there yet, but I have made great strides. And just in time, as I now need to pack away my summer clothes. There are people who have enough closet space to keep all their clothes in their closets, but they do not live in a beautiful but not always practical 1920s duplex. Closet space is at a premium.

It seems that about 30% of my clothing is “summer clothing” and the rest is “all other.” I need to have cardigan sweaters available all year as well as dress pants for work. So, it’s really only the shorts, capris, tank tops and summer dresses that I store. When I put them away this year, I’ll bring out some of my heavier sweaters, wool socks, corduroy pants and long underwear. (Have you tried cuddle duds? I like them even better than Winter Silks.)

Each time I go through this process, I find things to give to Good Will or St. Vinny. And I know I should get rid of more than I do because there are always items that I store away that I did not wear this season. Here’s a test when deciding what to keep. (This is not the test that says if you haven’t worn it in a year, toss it.) How about–do you like wearing the item? Is it comfortable and do you look good in it? If not, give it away even if you have worn it recently. (You probably shouldn’t have.)

I store the off season clothes in big plastic tubs. There are more environmentally-friendly options, but these stack well and work best for me. I put bags of cedar chips and lavender in the tubs to keep clothes smelling fresh and to discourage pests. Get sachet bags at a craft store or make them with cheesecloth. Get cedar chips at Farm and Fleet in bulk. I get my lavender from my garden but you can buy it at Willy Street Co-op or Community Pharmacy if you don’t have any on hand.

I’ve been unsure about what to hang on hangers vs. what to fold. I always hang my pants, but I’ve found that hanging nice sweaters can give them shoulders with a bit too much attitude–the shoulder has a noticeable hanger bump on it that doesn’t go down. I found online closet tips and learned that knitted items should be folded so they don’t stretch and deform when hung for long periods of time.

That tip resulted in me purchasing a hanging plastic shelf unit at a rummage sale, but you can get one at target. These are great for sweaters and knits. You really only lose the space of about six hangers (in our new, orderly not-overstuffed closet) and you gain the space for 16-20 sweaters as each section can hold two (sometimes three) pieces.

This exercise allowed me to find clothes I forgot I had. That’s not good. A simple liver should know what clothes s/he has. That is a goal for me, I’ll get there. Look for a future post about washing and caring for clothing the simple living way.

This is the time of year that charitable organizations are in need of coats. Listed are some of them:

(Note that I did not find info for this year’s Merry Middleton yet.)

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2 Responses to Simplify Your Closet and You Simplify Your Life

  1. Older houses do often lack closet space, unfortunately. But if you do have adequate closet space, I recommend hanging as much as you can because it makes it much easier to see what you have. This is especially true if you have a baby or very young child because chances are if some clothing is tucked away in a drawer under other items, the child may outgrow it before you remember you have it. It has happened to me!

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