I'm goin' in! (the clothes closet) Tips & pep talk welcome...

celticmoonMay 5, 2007

I've put this off long enough. Rainy Saturday morning so why not? Just pulled out everything that wasn't on a hanger and dumped it on the bed. Yikes, quite a pile. (I have no dressers, etc. *everything* goes in the closet jammed on a couple long shelves.)

What now?

How do you press forward and make a zillion decisions?

- I'm wondering if I should pretend the bed is a store and "go shopping". Would I pay good money for these shorts, etc? ("shopping" approach)

- Or should I stop and determine what situations I truly need to dress for, and how frequently. Then create X outfits that are passable, comfortable & functional and cover those needs. ("function" approach)

- Or decide to ditch, say, a third, and just sort like with like. Then cut down each category to a sane realistic number: x tank tops, etc. ("numbers" approach)

- Or do it by the book and eliminate anything that I haven't worn lately ("familiar" approach). Problem there is seasonal dementia - need for diffent things different times of the year. Also, it has been such a mess that things I forgot about are more deserving than what I've worn out of habit.

Help. I'm paralyzed. And will need that bed tonight. I'm tempted to redesign and rebuild the closet, but that is dumb. Better infrastructure would be nice, but the same old "too much stuff" is the immediate problem. I know this.

Tips? Anybody have a successful method to this madness?

I think I'll start by eliminating the obviously bad stuff: illfitting, outdated, uncomfortable, ugly. (LOL, that could be the whole works!) Ok, enough procrastinating...

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I vote for the "sort like with like" part of the "numbers" approach, followed by the "familiar" approach. That should cut things down quite a bit! Good luck!!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 11:27AM
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Thanks, pc.

Just quickly pulling out everything really bad, really "no brainer bad", cut the mess down by 20%. Jane Fonda 70's workout togs, anyone? Eeek. Short black leather skirt circa 1985? (Cripes I'll be 55 years old this year. Not gonna happen! I look like a burnt out hooker.) Tropical print, shapeless, silk dress in weird colors that match no footwear on earth kept for 8-10 years cause it was on sale but makes me look like a Florida rattan cushion? Gone. Dusty handbags? (I always use my one favorite) Gone. 3 pair heavy corderoy pants with balloon like pleats & waistbands up near the nips, so unattractive but such a deal. Gone. Torn, worn, ink stained...gone.

It is all now "like with like". Time to cull. This shouldn't be so hard. Half the stuff likely doesn't fit, looks awful or feels uncomfortable.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 12:09PM
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I'm finding trying things on is discouraging. But the upside is that it is pretty easy to cull, because some things, well, look terrible. Me in fitted green and pink and white striped cotton sateen capris? Right. And where exactly would I ever go wearing those... Culled shorts and capri length pants down to those that look and feel OK. Realizing it is easier to plan on solid bottoms and printed tops.

I see sadly that my black and my brown knit pullon corderoy looking Lands End pants I wore to death all winter actually look awful. Peg leg. Inch too short. Shades of 80's leggings. Ew. But on the upside I rediscovered some comfy wideleg drawstring yoga type pants. Much better.

BTW, I am breakig this up with other things, bank & grocery run, prepping supper, laudry, changing sheets, etc. Trying to find the source of that maddening occasional beeping...

On to jeans...

    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 2:43PM
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I've been reading your progress throughout the day and am so impressed! You are going to be looking in the closet tomorrow and realize it's done. You're inspring me.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 3:09PM
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Wow, I just got on the computer for the first time today. Celtic, you are awesome! Go, girl, go! You are giving me hope that weeding through clothes is a manageable task. I am very curious to see what you end up with as your "new" wardrobe.


    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 3:36PM
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Thank you for the votes of confidence! But...

Good news first: closet is no longer jammed with squished in hangers and leaning towers of random jumbles of clothes. Four big bags of stuff are out. What is in there is orderly. Like with like. Pretty much fits and is presentable and/or comfortable. I can see everything. It is organized, uncrowded. I know what is in there and I can find anything quickly.

Much better.

The bad news. Feels like still way too much stuff!! Where I think 3 of something would do fine (say, jeans or shorts or capris or sweatshirts or short skirts or long skirts or workout stuff, etc - whew, makes me tired just to type it!) there are 6 or 7. Then multiply that by all the different kinds of things. Yikes. Tops alone there are: tank t's, dressy shells, regular shortsleeve t's, shortsleeve blouses, long sheeve blouses, long sleeve t's (my daily layering workhorses - got bunches of those), jean jackets, dress jackets, sweaters, fleece tops, sweatshirts...sigh.

And none of it is particularly great quality or fabulous.

Nothing to be done about needing a range of things. Wide range of seasons here. I have to dress presentable for court every week or two, and also for hospitals and nursing homes. (where I have sat in pee more times than I count - hence wash and wear there!). Some activities (painting, motorcycling, biking, golf) need completely different clothes....wait, I'm rationalizing.

I think I'll consider this phase one. Now that I can actually see and choose from what is there, I will let time tell. All hangers are backwards and I'll rehang them normal as I wear things. And the 'short stacks' of 6 items willl eventually have the more desired on top, right?

I'll cull more then. I'm satisfied for now.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 6:32PM
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There probably is still way too much stuff, but the next times will be easier. Keep a bag or something in your closet so that when you pull something on and realize it headed for the thrift store, you can put it right in the bag. I keep thift store bags going in both the laundry room and my bedroom (one up on our main floor also.) Having a place for the "no good" clothes will make the continued purging easier to do. When the bag gets full, just drop it off somewhere. You really won't have to do a full closet purge again because you have finally learned that you can let this stuff get out of our life.


    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 9:29PM
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Thank you Gloria, that is an excellent idea. I will have a bag and every time something pulls, itches, or otherwise offends me, it will go there. I am at or near a Goodwill frequently so the drop part is easy.

I am trying now to accept something called "sunk costs", a consumer psych concept that says people are reluctant to acccept that money spent is gone. Gone. And keeping that 'mistake' hanging in the closet has no bearing on that 'sunk cost'. I get it in my head, but it is hard to apply in my life. I think I also have a 'sunk cost' element about bargains. If something was a really great buy, I feel compelled to give it a shot. Though it is occuring to me that some things are deeply marked down because they are trouble. Need to accept those 'sunk bargains' also.

My last revelation concerns quality vs. quantity. Reminds me of a delightfully snarky friend observing decades ago : "You have more clothes, but mine are better." So true. I wish it were as simple as buying better (more expensive) stuff, but most of my "sunk cost" dollars went to pricey pieces that didn't work out any better than Goodwill finds. I am just not a good shopper. Bad batting average. So I find it less painful to shop at Goodwill or TJ Maxx knowing some things won't work out than to drop a bundle at a department store on a piece or two.

I admit too I am not particularly into 'dressing well'. EX: today I am wearing a blue tie dye camisole, an orange plaid flannel shirt, lime green running pants, blue socks, and some ugly but comfy shoes. OK to work in the house, but then I did go to the store and bank like this. Oh well...both took my money.

Truth, I'd trade all 6 of a thing (shirt, jacket, whatever) for 1 that was perfect. Not necessarily stylish, but just right for me. Unfortunately I just don't have a reliable way to find that perfect thing. So I fall back on trial and error or natural selection. I just need to be more brutal about killing off the weak and buryng the dead.

Thanks for the company on this journey into the closet.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 11:52PM
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I understand about the sunk costs, but think how many people enjoy going to the movies as a hobby. They don't walk out of the show thinking that their money is gone. They paid for the show, they got the show, they are even. It's not really any different from money spent on food. That's definately money "flushed down the drain." (I couldn't resist.)

Just try and remember that you are learning a new skill. It will get easier as this becomes a way of life. You'll still pick up the items which don't work, but you won't beat yourself up much about them since you aren't seeing the huge chunk of wasted money heading off to the thift store.


    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 1:58AM
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Maybe your friends could nominate you for television's What Not To Wear! TLC will fly you to NYC for a week, throw out all your stuff for you, laugh at your fashion failures, let you spend $5,000 of their money on a new wardrobe, and give you a new haircut and makeup job.

Seriously, I learn from that show. What I learn is mostly how style-challenged I am. I don't have clothing from the 80's (ok, there's a short red suede skirt in there somewhere), and I don't have too much stuff, but only a few pieces are really flattering, functional AND fashionable.

It's difficult for us non-clothes-horses. Some gals love to shop. They aren't afraid to spend a hefty amount for investment wardrobe pieces, and they aren't afraid to discard when styles changes. If I see a $150 blazer, I calculate how many shrubs or perennials I could get instead. A $45 shirt? Gosh, that's ten new herb plants!

And don't get me started on the different clothes for different roles thing! Most of you probably have an outfit for painting, but I do that for a living, so the bulk of my wardrobe is overalls and cotton shirts. Would you believe that I always wear a collared shirt so I don't look so sloppy, even though I may be decorated with multi-colored drips, smears and splatters? Who says I don't have a personal style?

Then there's the gardening wardrobe. That calls for a certain kind of bra, shirts that protect from mosquitos and ticks, pocketed pants that can get dirty, gloves, clogs, socks, hat, shades. I look so bad that if I have to walk the dog or run to the store, it calls for a fresh outfit.

Then there's workout clothing, going out for dinner clothing, boating and beach clothing, and hanging around the house without frightening DH clothing. He just puts on pants and a shirt everyday and he's ready to go, no matter what's on tap. Men!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 4:43AM
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Wow! I'm new, but you're awesome. And funny, too. Burnt out hooker, I'm PIMPLOL. I'd suggest watching where you sit just a little more carefully, though! You're outfit du jour cracked me up, too, but your progress inspired me. I'm almost ready to go into my closet, but it's gorgeous here and I already have to finish cleaning and organizing the visible bedroom spaces. About those sateen pants...what size are they and would you ship? LOL!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 9:33AM
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Very pleased to report it was a simple pleasure to get dressed this morning.

(Dh is jealous and just made up 2 "go bag"s of his stuff to get rid of. Well well well.)

Maybe I'll invoke a "one in, three out rule" in addition to gloria's 'ongoing instant reject bag'. Slowly evolve toward fewer but more perfect things that I would be very happy to wear over and over again. Wouldn't that be great?

    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 10:42AM
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Way to go Celtic!!! An excellent day's work -- with great results -- even your DH got into the act too! Always an added bonus in the clear-out/clean-up game!

It is amazing to see what's left after the big bags have gone! And I'm still eyeing certain items to see if they have any life left in them!

Around here "sunk costs" do cause friction -- DH wants to hang on to things -- while I can literally get rid of something -- and hopefully learn from the mistakes ......

Yes -- thats the thought for today -- "what did I learn from this clear/clean out" LOL!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 12:58PM
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Congrats on the easy dressing this morning! You have done a huge amount of work. It's a much more difficult process than culling bottles of nailpolish, etc. Even if your expectations were different, you have clearly taken your closet to the next level.

I like Gloria's thought about this experience being a learning one. Did weeding through your own closet give you any ideas about how to shop smarter? I'm very curious because this is where I struggle most. Totally can relate to the ability to buy expensive clothes that don't get worn just as easily as cheaper ones from TJ Maxx or a thrift shop. I need to learn how to set parameters for myself when I go shop, no matter where it is. But first I need to figure out what those parameters are! I'm starting to think the clothing closet is just a large scale example of the overpacked suitcase. Just as important: What is missing when when getting dressed for specific events? I'd really like to have a wardrobe that is well-rounded, has coordinating outfits that are interchangeable, and has fun items that I love and look forward to wearing.

I must admit where I go astray is in wanting variety. I know gals that have quite simple wardrobes and I'm sure they're quite serviceable and easy, but they just seem so "blah" to me. I want more! Am I living in a dream world?


    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 5:26PM
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Congratulations, Celtic. Great job!

Many years ago, my sister had a friend who hated to shop. She made an appointment with a personal shopper at Nordstrom's. The shopper put together clothes that worked together and looked good on her. If I remember right, the shopper kept a record of her purchases so she could recommend other things that would work with her wardrobe.

I purged a lot of clothes from my closet in the year before we moved. Then when we moved, I really only brought over the things I would be wearing on a regular basis. Sometime this week I have to go back and go through the rest of the clothes. We plan to add more rod space in our new closet/dressing room, but I've been enjoying the openness. Maybe I will get rid of some of the few clothes I've been keeping in the event I lose some weight.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 1:55AM
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I don't have time right now to read all the posts (I will, later), but I wanted to ask you, Celtic, if you would come back now and then and encourage people by telling them THIS about your closet experience:

"Just quickly pulling out everything really bad, really "no brainer bad", cut the mess down by 20%"

Even if a body ditches only the obvious stuff, it will make a difference. A body doesn't have to mess up the whole house, devote and entire day to it, buy all new shelving, etc., to make a 20% difference.

Lesson: Just go get the really obvious stuff out of there. Even if all you had done was stand in front of the closet and remove the stuff you *knew* you wouldn't/couldn't wear again, it would be better!

And congrats on the bigger job as well; that's great that you had time & energy to tackle that.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 10:11AM
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This thread helped me yesterday. I had a new shirt that shrunk after the first washing. I still wore it yesterday and when I went to take it off, I noticed a hole starting. I threw it out. I wanted to keep it to wear when I did the garage and almost took it out of the garbage. But I didn't because I know I have more shirts like that one that I can wear once and throw out. So, thank you for making me see the light.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 8:47PM
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Liz, Nordstrums? Yikes, that'd be a bit of a leap from Goodwill, ya think? Truth, I probably could afford to pay someone to dress me, but I'd get hives or something from the shock of paying for it.

Today I treated myself to a Closetmaid shoe cubby. Assembly challenge aside (is it a rule that one piece must end up backwards so you have to take the whole thing apart and start over?) all the shoes are now up off the floor and against a wall. Having ditched 30% of the clothes, I no longer needed a lower rod on one side. Replaced it with a shoe thing and a shelf. What a difference!! For the last 5 years I'd fought with a dysfunctional over the door thingie that blocked the door. And the shoes would all fall through. AND, being behind the door it was inaccessable. I researched yeasterday and learned my door hanging thing is a universally slammed and loathed product (less than one star of 5 with a ton of rants, all complaining that the shoes fell, etc.) Nothing like a little validation to say "g'bye! you are outta here!" And all this time I thought it was me... need to trust myself more.

Cubbies are way better. I am pleased. Now I can find shoes *and* clothes. Already today I wore an outfit incorporating pink polka dot shoes and tonight pale green shoes. Much fun. And a bit better pulled together than that scarey weekend wear....

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 11:56PM
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Good going, Celtic!!! Don't you feel so much better?

My closet is one of the few areas that I have always been perfectly organized. To the point that my daughters make fun of me!

I am not a slave to fashion --- and now -- I buy 75% of my clothes at GoodWill. But I do look good and have a good wardrobe -- not perfect -- but good.

I have two rules when buying clothes -- Can I wear it with 3 other things that I already have? And does it fit into my "color" scheme?

My basics are black -- black skirt- black dress -- black pants-- black blazer. I don't wear suits much -- I'm really a blue jean type of girl so those are all seperates but one suit would work. Then I add two black sweaters -- one crew --one cardigan. Then I add shirts -- a couple of white ones for starters. Then I add my color -- for me its red in the winter and pink in the summer. A little yellow and blue to break it up.

I love jackets -- so I pair neat blazers with jeans and few shirts and the variety is there.

When I shop at GW -- I never buy anything that I could afford to buy new. So I usually watch for better lines. Talbots -- Pendleton -- Nordstoms -- Jones of New York. I watch for fiber content -- I love silk and cashmere so those are key. And I look for things that I can "fix" --- change the buttons -- add some trim. And I really go in with a list -- I need a blue shirt. So I look for a blue shirt -- I may glance around for something else but knowing what you need -- helps eliminate buying mistakes. You don't buy a "green" shirt just because it was on sale.

Good job! Keep it up!


    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 8:55AM
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Cath/Clink, my are we ever cut from the same cloth re: clothing and Goodwill shopping strategies! I have to 'dress' a notch higher than jeans for work, so black and grey pants substitute for jeans. I like a jean jacket cut, but in other fabrics and colors. Not much yellow here, more pinks, blues and a shot of lime green. My "better" pieces are pretty much all Goodwill finds, mostly Talbot's.

Up early today for closet's stage 3 (1 was culling, 2 was organizing). Things need to be wrinkle free and good to go. Much had gotten squashed. Steaming out wrinkles, I eliminated more pieces because of fragility, stubborn stains or weird colors. Or I just decided 'I don't like it, so I ain't gonna wear it.' Outta here.

I'll clean up the shoes one of these days and I'm done.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 9:32AM
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Another VERY cost-saving shopper here -- from thrift stores to consignment stores to all of the usual outlets (I live about 10 minutes from a Talbots Outlet!) and shops like T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, Ross etc.

Look and learn! I'm a "classic" gal with touches of color and vintage. Wore black capris and a white T-shirt and shirt PLUS my bright red Keds (I collect Keds!) and red bag. Fun for a lunch date with a friend!

    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 10:58AM
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I am cleaning out my closet and sat down for a little encouragement, and, man, did you all give it! I love that other people keep their mistake purchases, and hoard things in the wrong size--I just got rid of a bunch of both categories! And I love that people have trouble clothes shopping, too. I'm almost 29, and I used to love to shop, but lately I'm finding styles to be either too juvenile or too old. I CANNOT seem to find a store that is me, except for the thrift store, but that is awfully hit or miss, isn't it. Grrr.

Well, back to purging. Good luck, all :)

    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 5:34PM
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Xantippe sez: "I'm almost 29, and I used to love to shop, but lately I'm finding styles to be either too juvenile..."

Uh oh. Things can be too juvenile for a 29 year old? Does this mean my keeping a pink seersucker halter dress (at 54) is, er, inappropriate? Perhaps delusional??

    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 6:47PM
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Yes, things can be too juvenile! But not your pink seersucker halter dress... that sounds charming :)

    Bookmark   May 10, 2007 at 3:50PM
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Celtic, I was curious and wanted to revisit your closet clearing experience. It's been almost a month since you weeded out the good, the bad, and the ugly and organized everything, including shoes. How's it working on a day-to-day basis? I noticed when rereading the entries above that you did things in 4 or 5 stages, which is great. It always helps to break tasks down into manageable steps. Any new ideas or insights for when I tackle my closet in a month or two? Thanks!


    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 2:08PM
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Tina, it is working great! Organzation is so helpful. I have had no problem finding a specific item since I have kept the rough groupings. And since I can see everything, I am aware of all my options - no more: "Hey, lookie here. I remember you..." It is a two way benefit: full access and full choice.

Surprisingly I still enjoy putting my shoes away in their little cubbies, so it is staying pretty neat and tidy. And I find don't mind changing clothes as much as I used to (maybe it was the hassle. I used to strive to get dressed only once a day vs DH who changes clothes frequently.)

What I would recommend:

-Purging the junk. That was the most important thing.

-Reversing the hangers. Surprises me how many pieces I have used. More than half are back to hanging normal, and it hasn't even been that hot yet. Good culling I guess.

-Assess what is inaccessible or hopelessly jumbled and solve that need. For me it was the shoes on the floor and socks needing to be split into smaller bins, one for light and one for dark.

-Thinking through poles vs. shelving. I ditched the lower pole to make space for shoe cubbies and shelves and storage bin for out of season. Made ALL the difference.

-Control the urge to buy fittings. With less stuff, there is less need for exotic fittings. Tell yourself you can decide later on a belt hanger, etc. But if you KNOW you need to address something, go ahead and get infrastructure.

-Keep that "go bag" ready for things you find you dislike wearing.

Good luck!!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 3:15PM
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Celticmoon, are you by any chance about 6 ft tall, with freckles and red curly hair? VBG! Something about the way you "talk/type" reminds me of a character in a series of books I love to read. No offense meant, I really like Ruby!

You have also inspired me to start on my own projects when I get back from spoiling a grandbaby, she of course must be spoiled first!


    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 8:16PM
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