Release: The Ultimate Remedy
As the trees start to lose their leaves, it is an almost poetic reminder to let go of things that are dead or no longer doing us a service anymore. This can pertain to a few things like habits and people, but, today, I am going to touch on STUFF.
We all have things, but what goes in the category "stuff" are the things that no longer serve a purpose in our home, other than taking up space. Many studies have been done that prove that by removing excess, our productivity levels go up. I'm not going to go into consumerism, but, by doing an annual home detox, it can have a hefty influence on shopping habits, saving you money, because, sometimes, the hardest things to get rid of are the things you never got use out of. Surveying those items will allow you to avoid the same pitfalls of buying items just in case you need them or for future events or projects you foresee maybe doing, but aren't on the immediate horizon.
1. Clothing. I'm starting with clothing because this is what many of my clients (and I) have had the biggest weakness with. Many specialists suggest applying the "if you haven't worn it in six months, get rid of it" rule, while weeding out your closet. I am a rarity because I don't agree. Just because you haven't worn something in six months doesn't necessarily mean it's not worth keeping. A clothing item's relevance can change from season to season. If you bought a pair of quality wide-leg jeans that fit you perfectly and the next year, you see that skinnies are what you're gravitating towards, it doesn't mean that next season wide-legs will still be out. In fact, they could be the very style that you are dying to wear. That's when you realize that if you had parted with them, you would have to go on the ultimate search to find that same type of pant and, alas, you get stuck in the consumerism trap. Keep quality classics. I am a firm believer that your closet should be a nice balanced mix of price points. Usually, that means you will have a combination of quality pieces and, as I call them, "one hit wonders". When it comes to purchasing a blazer, classic cut denim, tailored shirts, etc., go for the pieces that will practically pay for themselves with as much wear as you end up getting out of them. Buy items that will be worth the investment and once they start to look a little tattered, remind yourself that they had a nice life and (quickly) send them to retirement at your local charity drop-off.
For the trendier, more elaborate items, try your best to find less expensive alternatives. Those are the pieces that lose their thunder after one season or a few nights out with the same crowd. You will feel much less of a sting parting with them when you realize that look has run its course or it's starting to fall apart only after a few wears. Another pro to this technique is, if you really reason with yourself and admit you'll only wear it a handful of times, you can decide to part with it sooner. This increases your chances of getting a little money back for it at a consignment or resale shop and will then reduce the amount of work you'll have to do during your annual purge. Poshmark is also a new favorite resource of mine. It's a super simple app where you can immediately shoot and post the items you want to part with. The thing I do suggest is creating a personal deadline for the item to sell. If you pass the deadline, find an alternative to get it gone! (Sign up with code GRDRE to save $5!)
So, while weeding through your closet, I have devised a little mental routine. If you land on an item you're unsure of, figure out if it lies in the category of:
Quality + trendy: part with it if it's been a year since you've worn it.
Quality + classic: part with it only if you can really never see yourself wanting to wear it again and you haven't worn it in over a year.
Cheaper + trendy: part with it if you even pause for a second on it while sifting.
Cheaper + classic: part with it if it's showing its quality or if you haven't worn it in a year.
Another great tip is if you're at odds with letting something go, ask yourself, "what would I wear this to?" Once you answer, ask "if I were going to _____, would this be the piece I would want to wear over everything else in my closet?" If the answer is no, let it go.
These rules also pertain to accessories and jewelry.
For the sentimental pieces, keep no more than five of them. It sounds harsh, but, really, that item doesn't hold special power, it's the memory attached to it that's special. Take a picture of it so that you can get that warm feeling when you see it again and find a better home for it.
2. Crafts and office supplies - You don't want abandoned projects staring back at you. Not only will you maybe feel a small sense of failure because you never completed it, you will also feel that pressure of getting back to it so that you're not out the money you spent on it. Do yourself a favor, donate or sell it and utilize that energy towards something you WILL happily complete and succeed in. As far as office supplies goes, if it's dated paperwork, shred it and recycle it. If you have 50 pens, donate at least 35 of them. If you have a lifetime supply of stationary or notepads, you don't have to toss even half of it but try to narrow it down. I used to buy those "just in case" greeting cards in case of a birthday emergency of some sort. I recently went through my pile and more than half of them weren't something I would give to anyone anymore. Case in point, buy as you go.
3. Old magazines and books - Outdated decor or fashion books: part with. Those styles may come back around again, but, usually, they will incorporate updated classics. Books that were a gift and you don't feel like diving into probably aren't worth keeping. The sentiment is wonderful and I don't think this is for every book, but if the content of the book is of no real interest to you and it isn't something that even touched you when you received it, it's okay to let it go. A book that you have already read doesn't need to be on your shelf unless you know for a fact you'll read it again. If anything, give it to a friend if it was a book you enjoyed that much.
Up until recently, I was all about keeping magazines. I used to keep every fashion magazine that came into my grasp. Then, I narrowed it down to just keeping special ones and all of my Allures from 1999-2014. Then, I narrowed down my Allures. I finally settled on tearing out the special pages in all of my picked over publications and began putting them in a portfolio for stored inspiration. Another great option is taking a picture of the page or scanning it and adding it to something like Evernote, Google Drive, or Pinterest. I am pretty old school so I like tactile things, making the portfolio a nice compromise for me. It took me a good few years to get this down because they were (clearly) hard to part with for some reason. I do sound a little crazy but I HAD to add method to my madness.
If this process is difficult for you-- make it work. Add little incentives like if you weed through x, you will go get a pedicure. An even bigger incentive: imagine these items being put to good use again by someone who truly needs or wants them; anything that will spark the urge to let go of unnecessary build up in, what is supposed to be, your sacred space. Now, take a deep breath and release!
Need a little push? Try this challenge!
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