When she laughed so hard that she spit her tea out, I knew we were having fun. That was the measure I used when my 15-year-old daughter helped me clean out my closet for this week’s home organization project. Correction. I hired her to help me sort through every item in my closet with me and she was worth every penny. When I suggested she could have a business doing this work, her answer was, “It was easy for me to work with you because I know your style – or what should be your style. How would I know that about other people?” Good point.
Her call outs were honest and true. She and I share a closet – oh, the joys of old houses – but she hadn’t even seen half of what was stashed away in our shared closet space.
Here’s just a few of her gems….
“Those pants make it look like you don’t like your body.”
“You don’t go to enough weddings to justify keeping every suit.”
“What is with those shoulder pads?” (You guessed it – the ’80s!)
“Is that dress from the 1800’s?”
“No more black and white stripes.”
“You only need one black dress.”
“That is not a good color for you.”
“Get rid of those ‘mom’ jeans. When are you wearing those white skinny jeans I made you buy last August?”
It took well over an hour and when we were finished, I was getting rid of more than I was keeping. The clothes I’m to discard have been sitting in this chair for a couple of weeks. They’re waiting for me to drag them to a consignment store – or two.
The best part? She made me a list of 4 items I needed to buy to make my wardrobe complete. 4 items – that’s it. There’s also a little pile of alterations – 5 or so shirts that need fixing or altering. We discussed what T-shirt sleeve length looks best and which I should no longer wear again. Ever.
- This week’s project. My closet.
- Small. It was a doable project and I had completely prepared myself by reading up on closets and fashion. My attachment to many of the clothing items was emotional. “Oh, I wore that when George (my friend and style fiend who we met up with last summer while in New York) and I worked together,” or “This is what I wore after our wedding.”
- Clear and clean. Nope – didn’t clean but I did recycle a bunch of hangers. I should clean now since there’s not much left in there.
- Get set. I’ve got a list of 3 or 4 stores I’m headed to consign and sell my clothes. I worked for Polo/Ralph Lauren for 9-years and have some really great items but many I haven’t worn in 20+years. Many items don’t fit and honestly, many items I don’t want to wear. One jacket had mold on it. I have no idea how that happened! Dress for Success will be on my list to visit, too.
- Stop buying. I love to shop for clothing – LOVE TO – but, this clean out has confirmed for me that women’s clothing doesn’t last as long as men’s even if we think it does. It may last quality wise but it looks dated before it looks vintage. I may buy my 4-items but that’s it. I even passed up a chance to pop into TJ Max earlier this week. Will power!!
- Less is more. I can’t stress this enough. Even with all of the items I’m getting rid of, there are plenty left for me to wear. I seriously have clothes for a month left up there! I have to keep reminding myself that I can only wear one item at a time and that’s it. The closet looks empty but it feels really good.
Even though I was absolutely dreading this project, it’s done and wasn’t nearly as bad as I had built it up to be. What will happen when I go to put on a skirt or jacket that’s no longer in my closet? That’s when I’ll need to remind myself about this purge. I’m not sure what next week’s project will be but I’ll come up with something!
Have you cleaned out your closet lately? Any regrets?
Go Gingham related links:
Gingham style: It’s got a definition
How to make a waistband smaller without pins!
How to turn jeans into capris – easier than you think!
How to make skinny jeans from wide leg jeans – make your own “jeggings”
Holiday attire that’s all used clothing – frugal and fancy to wear!
As part of our New Year’s resolution, we’re cleaning out a different area of our house every week this year. Find all of the “weekly home organization projects” – or click the image below.
17 thoughts on “Home Organization Project 17”
I’ve been thinking of trying the 333 project (http://theproject333.com/) – perhaps with a few modifications to fit my own lifestyle better. Rita at the This Sorta Old Life blog (http://www.thissortaoldlife.com/) mentioned it once and I was intrigued. It’s been percolating in the back of my mind ever since. Sounds like you’re on your way to doing something similar even if it wasn’t because of that project. I, too, keep some things out of sentimentality, and I keep some things b/c I love them, not b/c they’re right for my body anymore.
As far as your daughter doing that for a job, if she’s interested, I have a friend who does exactly that, and she doesn’t know the people she works with ahead of time. She’s right here in Portland! I could set up an informational interview or something, I’m sure. Then if she if she wants some practice, she can come try out the process on my closet and see how it goes with someone she doesn’t really know! I might actually get that 333 project to happen!
Which consignment stores are you using? OK, will stop hogging up comment section now!
Thanks for the great tips! I will check out the project – and mention your suggestion/offer to my daughter.
I like the ‘Silver Lining’ consignment store in Sellwood and ‘Sequel Apparel’ on SE Stark. Silver Lining has more classic type clothing and Sequel is more current. There are a few on SE Hawthorne who pay cash – Buffalo Exchange, Red Light and Cross Roads Trading. Yes, I look like a bag lady trotting my stuff around but it’s worth it!
I go through my closet yearly. You are so right, women’s styles change more quickly than men’s. My method for handling that is to purchase quality bottom pieces (dress pants, skirts). A good pair of black dress pants and a straight knee length (or slightly above) skirt don’t seem to get dated easily. Mine are wearable in all 4 seasons (and are slimming!). I watch for crazy-cheap clearance deals on tops/sweaters to make it look updated. Sheath dresses and straight denim skirts don’t seem to look dated, either. I was glad to read that you don’t totally eschew updating your wardrobe. So many frugal blogs do–and while I don’t believe in blowing my money on crazy shopping purchases, sometimes a new wardrobe item is a real pick-me-up. I always send my used clothing to Goodwill, as it is in good condition, so I don’t feel I am being wasteful. Good luck on finding your 4 remaining clothing items! I’m curious to know what your daughter recommended. 🙂
Your method for updating sounds smart – of course! And, I completely agree about the denim skirt. That is a year-round staple.
I like to buy clothing and try to buy second-hand and yet for work or dress clothing, it doesn’t always work. T-shirts are another item that really look worn. I only dry mine in the dryer for 10 minutes – or less – and wash them inside out so they last longer.
OK, here’s what she said I needed to buy:
1. 1 new white t-shirt.
2. 2 pairs of fitted jeans (to replace the ‘mom’ jeans that I ditched – well, one pair went into my camping attire!)
3. a maxi-skirt – in either a grey or stripe. She wants me to buy one but I may sew one instead.
Thanks for asking!! I thought about how I hadn’t shared what her suggestions were. 🙂
My casual wardrobe consists of short-sleeved t-shirts and long-sleeved t-shirts with jeans/shorts/capris, and I have encountered the same problem when I go to resale stores–t-shirt material tends to look too worn out for my taste. Which is why I haunt the mall in the off-season–last year I stumbled on the 99 cent sale at Penney’s in September. I kinda went crazy with t-shirts for me, and t-shirts & shorts for my kids and husband.
I like your daughter’s suggestions. I think the maxi skirts are fun but I’m not sure they would work well for my figure. I’ve finally (almost!) outgrown the desire to purchase items just because I like the style, and try to choose things that actually LOOK good on me, which can be two very different things. I think that mindset actually rids me of wasting money and space in my closet. In the past I’ve bought items only to not like them once I get them home. Sometimes I can still get caught up in the moment and make an impulse clothing purchase but I’m much happier with my wardrobe AND I save a lot of money by really thinking about what I buy, how much I truly like it on me, and whether or not I will wear it regularly. I confess that I have a weakness for fashion …
Ha Ha Ha…This brought back so many fun memories of clothes sorting and shopping with my daughter. “Those pants make you look like you don’t like your body.” So funny!! Actually, it’s great to have someone who knows your style – or what should be your style – to help you weed out what isn’t needed. Have you heard of Project 333? I don’t follow the program but did find many good ideas including going through your wardrobe every season, choosing items that match, and having all items in good repair which seems like common sense, but it is so easy to let closets go. Anyway, it sounds like exactly what you’ve done. Great job!
So true, Rebecca. It easy to let closets go. My plan is to now be really good about something new coming in and something old needs to go out. I’ve mastered that in other areas but honestly haven’t made the effort in my closet.
It does help to do this sorting with someone else – especially if that person is honest. If my daughter hadn’t done it, I would have traded with a friend.
Thanks for the good suggestions…. 🙂
When shopping for clothes without my daughter, who is now at OSU, I always try to envision what she would say if she were with me. Her opinions are quick and usually spot on. Sara as for my chair, the furniture hospital, at 20th and Belmont, was outstanding. So many people wanted to charge a minimum of $50, but I knew it was a simple fix; just one I couldn’t do. Marvin let me bring the chair in and for $25 made it good as new. They are a great group of guys, and if I had something really valuable, I would have no problem leaving it in their hands to restore or refinish properly.
Melissa, I love that you’re listening to your daughter in your head when you shop!
So glad to hear that about the furniture store. It’s been there forever and I’ve wondered about suggesting it to people. Thanks for being the tester and reporting back! 🙂
I did this project a few years ago with my teen daughter and my best friend. It was so much fun and, now that I think about it, it is likely time for it to happen again. They let me put a few sentimental things in the “sad goodbye area”, a little place at the back of my closet where I could keep things that I was not ready to part with yet (but I was forbidden to wear them).
Oh, Michelle, I like the idea of this ‘sad goodbye area’ because it is hard to get rid of items when you’re not ready to. Thanks for that suggestion!
I also have a couple of items that are questionable as to whether or not I’ll wear them so checking back on the closet in 6-months is probably a good plan.
Thanks for writing in, Michelle!!
You won’t believe it, but I actually cleaned out my closet, spurred on by your purge (although there’s still plenty for your daughter to help me with, I’m sure)! I’ve got a large pile for donating and another pile ready to cart around like a bag lady, too, to Sequel and probably Buffalo Exchange for the rejects. Thanks for the tips on where to go!
And, related to a comment above, I’ve used that furniture hospital on 20th and Belmont, too. Great work, and not outrageously expensive.
Tell Eleanor I’ll hire her for a few hours next time you guys are in LA – that was fabulous – and hilarious – advice! We all need someone straightforward when it comes to the clothing we should and shouldn’t be wearing.
p.s. It’s nearly 9pm on a Saturday night and I’m making my own liquid soap thanks to your blog. My 24-year old self would die if she saw my 34-year old self and what I’ve become. Ha!
Your daughter’s comments are exactly the sort of tough love that I need when cleaning out my closet. It’s high time that I get going with this…thanks for the inspiration!
What a great project – I need to do this too! Thanks for the inspo!!!!
I’ve been reading through all your home organization posts and this one made me feel all sentimental! I love that you and your daughter tackled this project together and shared some quality time.
Thank you for noticing ~
It’s not always easy with a 15-year-old daughter 🙂 She’s a strong, opinionated young woman and that will serve her well in life. She does have fabulous taste – and I totally listen to her about fashion and style stuff.
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