I am so thrilled! Jeroen van Baardwijk of Zen to Life has generously agreed to share his thoughts with us today. Anyone who has been following along over here at Bliss Habits knows I am personally working towards whittling my wardrobe down to 40 items. I have been taking a pretty drastic approach but realize this might not be for everyone. Jeroen has come up with a kinder and gentler, yet very effective method of getting your closet under control. What I really love about this method is that it can be used for all clutter prone areas in and around the house. Please enjoy:
How To Unclutter Your Wardrobe
Look at your wardrobe. Take a really good look. Notice how many pieces of clothing you have in there. Pants, shirts, coats, shoes, et cetera. Now, how many of those do you actually still wear? Unless you recently donated your entire wardrobe to the Salvation Army and only bought a minimal amount of new clothes, I bet a lot of those items haven’t been out of that closet for years. Time to get rid of them.
In this post I’ll share with you how to clear out your wardrobe and keep it that way. It is not, however, something that only takes a few hours — it’s a continuous process.
Phase One – Take It All Out
First, we’re going to empty the entire closet. Get a few empty boxes and keep them nearby. One will be for clothes that need repair, one for clothes to be donated to charity, and one for clothes to be donated to your local garbage dump. Now take one piece of clothing out of the closet and examine it. Do you still wear it? Is it too small or too large? Does it need repair? Decide what you want to do with it: keep, donate or throw away. Put it aside (not back into the closet!) if you want to keep it, otherwise put it in the appropriate box. Repeat the process for your entire wardrobe until the closet is empty. Then also repeat the process for all the clothes you have stored elsewhere. Don’t keep your out-of-season clothes somewhere else in a box, just keep everything together in one closet.
Let’s take advantage of the fact that your closet is now empty: get some cleaning materials and give the closet a thorough cleaning.
Phase Two– Put It All Back In
This will require some creativity on your part as I don’t know what your closet looks like; you’ll have to adapt it for your space. The image below shows what my ideal closet looks like. (Well, kinda, drawing isn’t among my talents.)
Now it’s time to put all the clothes you want to keep back in the closet (after making any necessary repairs). Items that you store folded and stacked all go on the top shelf – the lower shelf will for now remain empty. Clothes that are stored hanging will – you guessed it – go on the rod. Move all them to the left as far as possible, then put in another hanger to act as a separator.
Smaller items (like socks, underwear, scarfs, belts and the like) go in the bottom drawer. The top drawer remains empty. Find a similar solution for your shoes.
You’re already getting an idea where this is heading, right? Make a note about your wardrobe on your calendar on the date exactly one year from now. And then, onto Phase Three.
Phase Three – On The Move
From now on, your clothes will be on the move. After you’ve used (and washed) anything from the top shelf, you put it back on the bottom shelf. If you’ve used any of your hanging clothes, put them back to the right of the separator. Anything from the bottom drawer goes into the top drawer once it has been used. Keep this up for a year (hence that note on your calendar). If you buy something new during the year, it goes either on the bottom shelf, to the right of the separator, or into the top drawer.
Yes, I know, this sounds complex but it’s really quite simple once you get started.
One Year Later
So, what happens once that year has passed? Well, by then your closet should look somewhat like the image below (the green items are clothes you bought in the last 12 months).
Now it’s time for more donations! Everything that’s still on the top shelf, on the left side of the separator or in the bottom drawer hasn’t been used for a whole year, so chances are you’ll never wear it again. Take those out of the closet and get rid of them – donate or trash them.
And then it starts all over again with what you have left in your wardrobe. Take it all out of the closet, examine each piece and determine what to do with it (keep, donate, trash), and put it on the top shelf, left side of the separator or in the bottom drawer if you want to keep it around for another year. Repeat this cycle every year.
Chances are your closet doesn’t look like the one depicted. But that’s not important, what matters is the approach. The point is that you should start out with having all your clothes in one place, then store them somewhere else after they have been used once, so that after a year you’ll know exactly what you haven’t worn for a whole year.
And obviously, this isn’t limited to your wardrobe. You can apply this approach to all your worldly possessions, from kitchen utensils to electronic gadgets to the contents of your desk drawer at the office.
Images © 2011 Jeroen van Baardwijk
Zen to Life, a blog whose tagline makes the promise of helping you “Rebuild Your Life From Scratch.” After losing everything a few years ago, becoming homeless and being diagnosed with Autistic Disorder, he regained control of his life and has now dedicated it to helping people get their lives back on track after major life changes. He also serves on the board of a volunteer organisation that works to improve the situation of the homeless and is involved with a Housing First program. Jeroen lives on his own in Eindhoven (The Netherlands) and has three children. In his free time he enjoys building websites, playing SimCity and reading science fiction novels.