Lean Closet: The Sort

+ It’s May and also the beginning of my next six-month capsule wardrobe! I’ll post the items next week, and for the rest of the month we’ll focus on other closet and getting-ready essentials. First up, an easy guide to help you go through all of your clothes!!

It’s such a great feeling to start the day enjoying your closet: the space it has, the items you know you love and fit. Unworn clothing wears us down: storing it, sorting through it daily. Imagine not having to search for what to wear! No matter what your closet philosophy (keeper, capsuler, minimalist, ambivalent), there will come a time in your life when you need to deal with the piles and layers of clothes in your closet.

When I first started this process on my essentialism journey, I had hundreds of items to get rid of and the sort would take hours. Since I've changed my relationship to clothing and consumerism, the whole thing is now much easier and faster! This last purge, I found ten items to donate and the process took me less than an hour, woot!

(my room midway through the sort and at the end)

(my room midway through the sort and at the end)

So, twice a year, at the end of October and April, I do...

1. Prepare for the sort by having your laundry done, having snacks on stand-by and wearing something easy that won’t be a part of your daily wardrobe like workout gear or just your undies. Go into it relaxed and not with dread.

2. Set limits. Figure out a rough estimate of what you really need or want to have (for example: 3 pants, 6 sweaters, 8 pairs of socks). I like to do this before I even open my closet so I’m not influenced by what already exists or any emotional attachments. 

3. Figure out what you have now. Take EVERYTHING out of your dresser and closet and sort by type of garment. Pants with pants, dresses with dresses. Completely empty your closet. If you want to do it in smaller doses, start with one section... maybe all pants, so that you can complete that task, feel good, and move on!

Start from a place of abundance. Pull out your favorites, your 9’s and 10’s, so you don't start with that feeling that you'll have nothing to wear (I have three sweaters that I love!). Go ahead and remove all of the obvious rejects as well. 

Then pick up and touch each individual item. Commit to making a decision before you put it down: YES, NO, or MAYBE. If it's too hard to decide, add it to the MAYBE pile which you can revisit. Questions to ask yourself for keepers: Do I love it? Does it make me feel good? Does it fit with my style at this time in my life? Questions to ask yourself to help let go: Am I keeping this out of guilt? Did it cost a lot of money so it's hard to get rid of? Is it attached to a fond memory but no longer used?

(my bed as the piles get sorted and filtered)

(my bed as the piles get sorted and filtered)

4. Make it work and restore the space. Remove the piles, clean up and put back the items that you truly love. Compare your keepers with your original wants/needs list. 

You can now re-sort the MAYBE pile. For really difficult items, you can do one of two things. Either put them in a box with a date six months in the future and add an event on your calendar in six months to go back through the box. Chances are you won't miss that many and they become easier to let go. The other option is to put them back in your closet but turn the hangers the wrong way so when you choose to get rid of more clothing, you can see what you've worn or haven't worn.

If you’re considering a capsule wardrobe, choose the items that can be stored away for the next season and put them in a box in the top of the closet or somewhere else. It can be exhausting to see the same items every day that you have no intention of wearing!

(my finished closet and "dresser"... the empty spaces are Greg's)

(my finished closet and "dresser"... the empty spaces are Greg's)

5. Finish and celebrate your accomplishment! This work is emotional and can easily cause decision fatigue. Be proud of yourself! Start a list of a few things that you might want to add to your wardrobe so you can now shop with a goal in mind and the confidence that you actually want or need something.

+ When sorting, set aside any items that need dry cleaning, mending, or alterations. And then deal with them! If you don't want to, maybe you don't really want that item after all!

++ If you live in SF or NY (or maybe any Uber market): Uber is partnering with Goodwill tomorrow, May 02. Uber will pick up your bags of donation clothing and deliver them to Goodwill for you! Exciting Friday night project ;)