I'll admit: I have a shoe problem. Not a "I buy shoes everyday" kind of problem. But more of a "I don't know how to get rid of shoes" thing. If we apply that same logic, then I have a dress and jeans and workout tee problem, too. Downsizing my closet for a year on the road was not easy.
After many attempts to cram as much into my allotted shelf, drawer and hanging space, I finally did it. And even I was surprised: I don't miss a lot of things.
Here's the breakdown of what I brought along:
- 4 workout tops
- 2 pairs workout shorts, 1 pair workout leggings
- 3 long sleeve running tops
- 2 sports bras
- 2 sets pajamas
- 10 pairs socks
- 15 pairs underwear
- 3 push up bras
- 2 pairs boots
- 2 pairs flats
- 1 pair sandals
- 1 pair running shoes
- 1 pair tennies
- 1 pair hiking boots
- 3 pairs of jeans (two dark, one light)
- 2 pairs of pants (navy, olive green)
- 1 pair leggings, 1 pair lounge pants
DRESSES / SKIRTS
- 4 dresses
- 2 skirts
- 1 cardigan
- 1 blazer
- 3 tees
- 2 long sleeve tees
- 2 sweaters (one short sleeve, one long)
- 4 dress tops
- 3 button ups
That's it! Pretty exhaustive list, but when you crunch the numbers it means I narrowed down years worth of work clothes and workout gear and special occasion dresses and heels and sandals and "stuff" to just 41 articles of clothing; 25 pairs socks and underwear; 5 bras; 8 pairs of shoes. Oh, and I brought a handful of jewelry that I store in a teeny tiny travel jewelry box. It's 3" x 3"! I also brought along accessories: 5 hats and 3 scarves.
I wish I'd done it earlier. The truth of the matter is that we wear the same things over and over again, whether we realize it or not. I once did the "turn the hanger" challenge. For a month, you turn the hanger on items of clothing you wear. And leave the others hanging the right way. At the end of the month, you are suppose to donate the items you didn't wear. But I skipped that last step because I'd convince myself that I'd wear that dress someday. Or those shoes. Or what would happen if I lost my "work jeans" and needed another pair?
So here's how I actually did it.
- Make the easy cuts. For me, this included work out tops and tees. I got rid of every single tee I got for free from a road race or college or even high school. If it had a screen print logo on it, I tossed it. I also cut everything that was uncomfortable and unrealistic. My days of 5" heels are wwwaaaaayyy past me. Same goes for anything that doesn't pass the age old "fingertips" rule -- meaning it needed to hit my legs below arm length. Sequins are pretty, but not practical in a trailer. And so forth.
- Group by color and style. Carson and I used to do a little trick every night. He'd hold up two tops that were of the same color or style and make me choose: keep one, toss the other. It was crazy hard at first, but then it made me really think about what I wanted to save. Sure, sometimes I couldn't bare to get rid of one. But more times than not, I was able to make the decision pretty easily.
- Switch to a smaller closet. I found that I wasn't weeding out enough stuff because I was still hanging everything in a regular size closet. Sure, it seemed like I was getting rid of things. But with that much space, it's deceiving. So I took hangers out to our new closet and put up as many as I thought we could support (hint: ours is 30 hangers). Then I set aside 12 for Carson's "nice" shirts. This gave me a goal: I could only have 18 hanging items.
- The simpler, the better. In the process of paring things down, it became clear that I needed to simplify everything. Solid colors and stripes were easier to mix and match than brights and crazy patterns. This meant in some cases that I actually bought some new clothes that fit this bill. I know...that's the opposite of what I was suppose to be doing. But, buying those new pieces gave me the confidence to get rid of some others that I never thought I could.
- Store it. At the end of the day, some things I couldn't bring with us. But they were too nice to get rid of, either. Thankfully my mom let me stock my childhood closet full of my "must keeps." And while it's out of sight out of mind right now, I know that the minute I get back I'll either be able to donate it or say with confidence: I'VE MISSED THIS!
The world didn't end when I downsized my closet. But my perspective on just how many clothes / shoes I need did. And I think it's for the better. I don't feel as though my style has suffered, and while there may be some things at the end that I would rather burn than wear again, it's a good practice in self restraint.