Getting Rid of Stuff Feels Great - The Big Declutter

Last Saturday my husband Jeff and I went through every item of clothing we owned. We’ve been feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of STUFF packed into our small, 1940’s house.

We ended up donating 6 large garbage bags to Goodwill - full of nice clothing and shoes, like Land’s End, Banana Republic, and Calvin Klein.

And we still have more to donate - another large garbage bag and 2 boxes are sitting in my kitchen now. Jeff loves clothing and shoes, so he had plenty to get rid of. But I also went through and de-cluttered my makeup collection, my pattern stash, and my fabrics.

It was an incredibly busy and productive day, and we feel SO good looking at our tiny closets now!

Let’s back up and talk about how we got to the point of donating 6 garbage bags of stuff.

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When Jeff and I moved in together 3 years ago, we were combining our families. I came from a much larger house with 2 teenage boys, and Jeff brought an entire household of his own. We got rid of a massive amount of stuff when we merged our households - but we still had SO much extra stuff. We’ve been living with every nook and cranny of our little house filled with stored up things. We’ve both made a few passes through the last year or so, and gotten rid of knick-knacks, furniture, old papers and junk, and clothing and shoes.

But it still wasn’t enough. We still just had too much clothing - Jeff’s extra shoes alone filled 3 boxes in our hallway. I was always annoyed about how hard it was to get dressed in the morning, and I felt like I never stopped doing laundry.

My struggle with my wardrobe is a little different from your average girl’s, because a lot of my clothing is hand made. It’s hard to part with items that you picked the fabric for, spent time sewing just right, and fit you perfectly!

However, a lot of those items were made when I had different tastes, a different lifestyle, or just turned out differently than I expected when I sewed them. That’s one of the problems with sewing your clothes - you can’t try it on and check if it’s going to suit you first!

Jeff and I have been talking about doing a big de-clutter for a while now.

I read Mari Kondo’s popular book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” a few months ago.

I’ve been checking out capsule wardrobes on Pinterest for several months too.

I’ve always been afraid of the capsule wardrobe idea - I love aspects of it, such as only owning clothes that you love, and getting dressed quickly and easily.

BUT, I worried, won’t I get bored? I love style and variety, and I don’t want to wear nothing but bland, safe clothing. Grey shirt. Black shirt. Striped shirt. Repeat.

The past few months, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by life. I seemed to be always busy. Rushed. Stressed. Walking into my cluttered house made me feel…. Depressed. Like I couldn’t relax - everywhere I looked there were boxes of stuff. Piles on the tables. Baskets of scarves and hats. SO MANY CARDIGANS EVERYWHERE. (Seriously, we have like 100 cardigans between us. HAD, I mean.) Laundry all over my room. My sewing room was just a hot mess. My makeup table looked like someone let a toddler loose in Sephora.

But in the last week, I made a decision. It was time to get rid of the stuff, in a big way. I talked to Jeff about my idea to pare down to a capsule wardrobe - and he was on board. He decided to make a capsule wardrobe too!

We did exactly what all the capsule wardrobe blogs suggest - we pulled out everything we owned and threw it on the ground. Then we went through and pulled out the items we LOVE, that we always reach for and that make us feel great.

Then we sorted the rest of the items - keeping only what we REALLY wanted to wear for the rest of spring and summer. We were ruthless, getting rid of expensive items, well made items, gifts, items we had previously loved.

Now we each have a small, well curated closet. Everything we kept works well with the other items. There are no weird, one-off garments that can only be worn in a specific way. Everything suits our current lifestyle - business casual and athleisure items that go from office to weekend.

 We have so many extra hangers now...

We have so many extra hangers now...

We did keep a few dressier items each - I kept a sheath dress and a party dress, and Jeff kept 2 nice suits. We won’t use them often, but we go to a few nice events every year.

I wouldn’t say that we went FULL capsule wardrobe - I think I have about 50 items including shoes, which is bigger than a true capsule wardrobe. But it’s an amazing difference.

Since I consider fabric and patterns to be part of my wardrobe, since those *will* become clothing for me, I also went through and got rid of a bunch of fabric. I had a bunch of fabric I purchased because it was pretty or a good deal - but that I don’t really want to wear as clothing. I got really honest with myself. Yes, that gorgeous black vintage pinstripe wool suiting is special and it was a steal. But, I don’t wear suits, I don’t like to wear black that much, and I don’t even like pinstripes.

I did the same with my pattern collection. I pulled out every pattern and chose only those patterns I was excited about RIGHT NOW. Not things I thought were pretty or cool.

And if that wasn’t enough, I also tackled my makeup collection. I had a MASSIVE amount of makeup. I love makeup and I consider it a form of artistry. I worked at Sephora for a while last year and with the discount and the gratis makeup, I had enough to stock a small store.

However, like my clothes - most of it wasn’t being used. It was sitting in a drawer or in organizers on my desk, collecting dust. I don’t do extra fancy Instagram makeup on a daily basis. Yes, I wear blue, green, and purple lipstick sometimes - for Burning Man or parties. But not at work or yoga or chilling on the weekends - which is what I do most of the time.

I pulled all my makeup out and sorted it by type and color. Then I chose my favorites of each item, setting aside duplicate colors or things I don’t really use.

I set aside some of the nicer but crazier makeup for Burning Man and stored it away. The rest I put in a big box and gave to my oldest son’s girlfriend. :) She was pretty happy about that!

I kept only what makeup would fit on and in my makeup table - I previously had a stacking set of drawers I kept overflow in. Now it holds the empty makeup organizers.

It’s amazing how good it feels to get rid of all that stuff! It feels like a big weight has been lifted from me. And I realized that I feel like I have a lot more time now too - to do things I’ve been wanting to get to, like writing more blog posts!

I no longer have piles of laundry to do. I no longer have baskets of scarves and piles of cardigans all over the living room. I no longer have piles of fabric and patterns that I feel guilty about for not making. I no longer have tons of makeup I feel like I have to use.

I never thought I would feel so good about getting rid of stuff!

What about you? Have you been considering a declutter, or have you already done it? Do you use a capsule wardrobe? I’d love to hear about your strategies in comments!