How to purge your clothes so every morning is easy 2

I’m obsessed with getting rid of clothes

When I walked across Spain on the Camino de Santiago, I wore the same two outfits for seven weeks: A green tshirt or the teal one with black yoga pants.

I loved it.

Marisela and me

Each morning, my routine was the same: take out the clean clothes and throw them on. No decisions. No agonizing. No surprises (like discovering some essential element was dirty). It was so liberating!

Purposeful simplicity

When I got home from Spain, I was inspired. After purging my closet of non-essential and ill-fitting clothes, I donated or resold anything that didn’t feel like me. I marveled at how much simpler life seemed without a closet half-full of stuff I didn’t want to wear.

However, in the three years I’ve been back, the memory of living from a backpack has faded. Closets make it tempting to fill them up with more than you need. Backpacks keep you focused. Storage is the enemy of simplicity.

storage is the enemy of simplicity

When you have less stuff, life is simpler. A radical variation on this concept is called the capsule wardrobe. This trend’s fans are paring down their wardrobes to one outfit. This cut-down wardrobe with a simpler, more classic style prevents agonizing over the daily what-to-wear question.

I got so excited when I learned of this concept, I got inspired to re-evaulate my own clothing and get brave with things I hadn’t let go of before.

How much could I purge?

I revisited my closet of winter clothes with the intention to whittle down my wardrobe to just the essentials. The items that made the cut had three things in common: they look great on me, are comfortable to wear, and require very little maintenance.

Also, by choosing black as my base color, every item coordinates—creating a grown-up version of Garanimals. By the time I finished, I had five winter professional outfits and five casual winter outfits.

five outfits

I’m thrilled with the results. When I dress professionally, I just grab one of my five tops and combine it with a sweater and one of three pairs of pants. Job done.

The benefits are huge: it’s less stressful to prepare for work, I don’t have to think about what I’m wearing, laundry takes less time, and I feel more confident. Instead I’m able to focus my energy on stuff that actually matters.

Here’s how to do it yourself

  1. Reflect: How do you want to feel when you peer into your clothes closet? Excited, inspired, ease, eager? Focus on *why* you’re purging and the benefits you’re hoping for and the decisions will be easier.
  2. Make three piles: Keep, Sell, and Donate. Don’t be afraid to donate stained or ripped items. According to Goodwill Industries, 95% of clothing is recyclable unless it’s wet or moldy. Most clothing consignment stores will accept good-quality, in-season items only for a percentage of the sale (around 40-60%).
  3. Feel each item on you, then look in the mirror. Notice how comfortable it is to wear on your body. Then notice how you think you look in it. Don’t think too hard. Just notice your first reaction.
  4. Reflect: Do I love this? If you hate it now, chances are good you’re going to hate it when you’re in a rush to get dressed. Sell or donate those items. If it feels yummy on your bod, put it in the Keep pile. If you’re ambivalent, that’s a sign it’s ready to leave you and go on to someone else, or it’s a hard-to-replace necessity.
  5. “Someday” clothes: We all have them. Stop torturing yourself and let them go. This allows you to be where you are today, keeps you out of guilt, and in the process helps someone else out (by donating).
  6. Look for orphans: Spread out everything you’re keeping and notice which things look good together. Do you see any oddballs that don’t match? Those can be whittled too.
  7. Start a shopping list: This might sound strange when the goal is simplifying, but you might notice as you purge that you’re missing essential pieces. For example, I need a nice pair of jeans that are actually comfortable and a black maxi skirt. Add those to your list—and when you go shopping, look for classic pieces that are high quality so they’ll last a long time.

When I finished, I decided to keep a couple of hard-to-replace statement pieces (a gorgeous red dress jacket and a little black dress) that I’d wear for special occasions.

End result?

I have a closet full of hangers! Though it’s not technically an official capsule wardrobe, I might be able to fit it all in a backpack, if pressed. Now, if only I could get the laundry to do itself!

2 thoughts on “How to purge your clothes so every morning is easy

  • Karen J

    I need to have several levels of *warm*, available, too – my metabolism makes me feel cold, even when other folks are in shorts, so the prospect of 20 degree highs simply urges me back to bed! How can I get to “minimal wardrobe”?

    • Jennifer Hofmann Post author

      Shivering sisters, unite! I run cold too, so I kept that in mind as I purged. In the end, each of my five winter outfits include a sweater, a blouse, an undershirt, and a pair of pants. Layers, baby! You could throw in an all-purpose scarf that matches everything (or most things) and a pair of leggings too for extra warmth.

      It *is* possible to go too minimal and not have the essentials you need. There’s no magic number of items to have, just what works for you. My recommendation is to try everything on for the season you’re in. See what feels good and fits well, and from there, donate anything that doesn’t suit you. Good luck!

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