Yesterday I had a decluttering session with Lee-ann from All You Yoga, Nottingham. Prior to our session Lee-ann was apprehensive about decluttering her beloved wardrobe of clothes. Despite being pretty good at getting rid of general house clutter, she was completely daunted at the task of whittling down her wardrobe. After we booked the session she messaged and told me she got “cold shivers at the thought of such a mammoth task.”
The Decluttering Goal
When I arrived at the house I was greeted by Lola, the family’s gorgeous dog (who also helped us with throughout the process!).
I had a chat with Lee-ann about she wanted to have, feel or see at the end of our time together. What she felt was important was to be able to see her”best” clothes easily. She wanted to wear them more often and keep only the things she liked and thought suited her.
Lee-ann’s a yoga instructor (and busy mum) and was most nervous about approaching her yoga clothes for culling. We left them until last so she had a chance to get into the swing of letting go before tackling them.
We were working with a lovely walk-in wardrobe and got started on jeans, trousers, skirts and shorts. We pulled everything off the shelves and worked through which ones didn’t fit, were out of style or were unnecessary duplicates.
One or two went on the “not sure” pile to come back to later. A couple of times Lee-ann seemed a bit guilty about wanting to keep things she really loved. I reminded her my job wasn’t to make her a minimalist or to make her get rid of things she really enjoyed wearing but to help her let go of the things she didn’t love or feel great in.
Lee-ann seemed able to let some of these items go quite easily when I was there to say it was ok to do so. We moved onto looking through her collection of tops. Some of these went surprisingly easily too as Lee-ann decided which ones didn’t really suit her or made her feel scruffy when she wore them.
A few more items went on the “come back to” pile but the “get rid of” pile was definitely growing much faster!
Emotions Run High…
Before we started, Lee-ann joked there might be tears but part way through the occasion wear she had a moment where she thought there might be a few for real. Looking at clothes from 20 years ago that invoke all the associated happy memories and then thinking about parting from them can be tough. Taking a picture of the outfit can be a good way to keep hold of something without needing to keep the actual clothing itself. In the end, Lee-ann decided not to do that and was able to part with things she’d held on to for many years.
We only approached the yoga clothes after everything else has been sorted. Given that hadn’t all been plain sailing by the time we got to the lycra, items were being parted with quite easily! Even things that were worn often (but didn’t induce joyful feelings in the wearer).
We tackled the running clothes first, just to procrastinate for a little bit longer. Some things went quite easily, others took a bit more thought. Laying out all the items in a category, ie all the shorts to see them in one go was a good way to decide between them.
In the end the yoga drawers weren’t as painful as expected. A couple of items went in the pile to think about but then fairly swiftly moved into the let go pile.
Tidy Drawers & Easier Decisions
We folded the yoga clothes and put them back in the drawers in a way that meant everything could be easily seen. Everything fitted perfectly and I suggested that new workout clothes worked on a one in, one out basis but that idea was met with a little disdain, haha.
Here’s how things looked part way through (it always looks a bit messy in the middle)…
After sorting through everything we set about putting all the clothes back in the wardrobe. One of the things Lee-ann wanted was to make sure she could see everything so she’d remember what was available to wear.
We popped those things into one of the storage boxes so they were out the way until the summer. This left more hanging space and shelves for autumn/winter clothes.
As we went back through the clothes, sorting them by storage, Lee-ann actually whittled out a few more items. Completely unprompted by me she decided to let go of a few more pieces that had been deliberated over a couple of hours earlier. Honestly, the decluttering does get easier once you have permission to be ruthless!
Things we talked about during the session:
- It’s not really a “staple” item if you can’t remember the last time you wore it.
- If you’ve had it forever and never chosen to wear it over something else, you probably never will.
- Getting rid of items your were gifted is completely acceptable if they are uncomfortable or itchy or you just don’t like them.
- It’s ok to get rid of something that someone else tells you you look great in, if you don’t feel great when you wear it.
- It’s ok to get rid of something that cost you a lot of money at the time. If you’ve worn it loads then the cost per wear is really low and you got your money’s worth. If you didn’t, then you’re not really gaining anything by it sitting in your wardrobe unworn.
- It’s ok to feel guilty about being wasteful – guilt leads to behaviour change. Learn from the experience, let go of the guilt and choose to do things differently next time.
- Letting go of the clothes doesn’t mean letting go of the associated memories.
- Discarded items need to be disposed of promptly to avoid stagnant energy and another pile of clutter in the hall/garage/loft.
- Anything worth selling needs to be photographed and listed ASAP for the same reason. The eBay app makes this easy.
At the end of the session we had a huge pile of clothes that filled 4 large black sacks for the charity shop. There was an additional pile for selling that included around 8 smart dresses and 3 jackets. We also had a small pile of undecided items. Some needed to be tried on to make a decision as to which one out of two were to be kept.
I felt confident leaving this pile with Lee-ann to go through at her own pace. I was sure she’d now make a level-headed decision about each item rather than just chucking everything back in the wardrobe. Looking at the pile of clothes and realising that she’d been “carrying” the weight of all these unwanted belongings was eye-opening. Indeed I received a message the next day telling me that a some items had been considered and retrieved but the remainder had gone.
The wardrobe looked much less cluttered and there was space to see everything that was hanging.
If you’re ready to let go of the weight of your own clutter, join my 5-day Clear Your Clutter, Claim Your Abundance challenge here or get in touch about my virtual and hands-on decluttering support.