Jill Martin, a Today Show contributor, writes in her book, “I Have Nothing To Wear”, that women should get rid of 75% of their closets. That means going through all those clothes, shoes, scarves and belts and finding the 25% that you can’t live without. I love a good challenge. In fact, I was so inspired after I watched Jill’s segment on Today that I ran upstairs to get started.
At the end of my great closet purge I ended up getting rid of two pairs of jeans, a black vest and a sweater. Four items. Not even close to 75% of my closet. So where did I go wrong? Or should I say, where did I go right?
Several years ago I heard a professional organizer share tips on how to keep closets under control. She advised that for every new item you buy you should get rid of an old item. I thought this was an ingenious idea.
I loved her advice so much that I have made it an ongoing habit. The reason I didn’t have 75% of my closet to purge was because I’ve learned how to keep my closet under control.
Everything I own is something that I actually wear. At the end of each season I will make another assessment and if there are items that have gone unworn, they will eventually make it to the give-away pile.
So, how do we get started, and how do we keep our closets under control?
- Schedule a day to thoroughly go through your closets.
- Assess what you have and make piles.
- Keep items that you absolutely love, wear or use on a consistent basis.
- Donate items that do not fit properly or you haven’t worn for 6 months to a year. Anything that has been shoved to the back corner of your closet should probably go.
- Maybe items are those that you may want to think about. At the end of the day go through this pile and make your final decision.
This is also a wonderful way to teach your kiddos how to manage their own stuff. I believe that training our kids on how to do a good closet and toy cleanse will give them a tremendous skill for years to come.
Here’s what I did with my girls:
- Schedule a portion of the day for a little one-on-one time.
- Let the child Choose the area of the room/closet we will be focussing on first. (I like to pick two areas that we will tackle. The child chooses the order in which we work. This gives them a sense of control over the situation.)
- Have the child Expose the stuff and lay in on the floor.
- Allow the child to Assess items and put them in the appropriate piles.
This year my eight-year-old was responsible for going through all her drawers and hanging clothes and trying everything on to see what fit and what she had outgrown. She has learned how to make piles without my constant supervision. When she was done I checked on her work. She had re-organized her drawers with the clothes that still fit, and had put everything else in a pile ready for donation. I’ve been working with her for a long time, and she is becoming quite the pro.
My six-year-old struggles a bit more in this area. She is a very responsible little girl, but has a completely different temperament. I allow her to take her time and give her space to process as we work.
One of the things I have tried to do as we have gone through toys and placed them in piles, is to verbally walk them through the process. I will ask questions like, “Why would we put this in the give-away pile?” or “What makes this item a keeper?” I have found that by talking them through it, and encouraging them to articulate why they are deciding to keep or get rid of something, allows them to fully understand what we are doing. It’s not just about getting the job done, but knowing the why behind it. At least, that’s my approach.
I would LOVE to know if/when you have done your own closet cleansing, and how did you do it? Have any of you tried to purge 75% of your own closets? If you have children, how have you brought them along in the process? If you have any additional small-space living tips, please share them. I will post them in an upcoming edition of this small-space living series!