Organizing my closet taught me a lot more than just good tidying practices—I was able to refresh my perspective.
My Closet Was a Mess
I'm an official Baby Boomer—born the same year as Bill Clinton and George Bush. I'm reasonably sane and on most days I'm busy and happy, but accepting aging as the natural progression isn't always easy in this youth-mad culture. We are almost absent from the media and advertising. Ads may say they are targeting the more mature adults, but unless the ads are for health products, we don't see ourselves in the mainstream media very often.
I've never been a neat freak, but this year I have not been able to walk around the floor in my adequately sized closet or find specific items because there was too much stuff. What's my problem got to do with age acceptance? Everything! I remember back in my 40s having a friend who owned an exclusive women's clothing shop tell me that even though her weight wasn't grossly different, her body had changed shape. Now I know this to be true.
One reason my closet was so jammed packed was my vanity. If I could just lose 10 to 15 pounds, many of those items I'd hang on to would fit. If I could just tone my arms enough, flatten my belly enough or tighten my butt and thighs enough, I would be able to wear what I wanted. While eating healthy and exercise isn't an obsession but is certainly important to me, guilt nagged me that some younger person could put these items to good use, if I could just let them go.
Then there were the items that had been gifted or that I had a memory or a sentiment attached to, even though the chances of ever using or wearing them was slim to none. Couple that philosophy with my guilt of having spent money on things that were "in style" but didn't really look good on a Baby Boomer and shouldn't have bought in the first place and over time I created a real mess.
While I continued to wear the same clothing that did fit and looked good, I rarely shopped for updated clothing, because I already had too much. Then there was the matter of a small tabletop-sized Christmas tree that was very cute, but I had no other place to put it, so there it continued to sit on the floor of my closet waiting for Christmas to roll around again.
Blouses and T-Shirts
I started with blouses and t-shirts. They were arranged by color and I decided to keep them arranged by color. First I took out all the items that I knew didn't fit and folded them in a pile. Older items were checked for wear and then I tried all the items on and viewed myself in a mirror. Just because I could wear them, did not mean that I should wear them. After two hours, I had a pile of 22 nice shirts to donate to a thrift store that benefits a women's shelter. I also had five t-shirts that were stained that I cut into rags. I also promised that at the end of the season, I would take a second look.
Next, I focused on shoes. I placed six pairs of almost unworn "pinchy" shoes that I should not have bought in the first place in the thrift store pile, put two pairs into the garbage and vowed to re-visit my canvas shoes and sandals in six weeks.
Purses and Belts
Third, I tackled my jumbled purses and belts. The belts were easy. Three fit, one sort-of fit and three did not. Four went, three stayed.
Boy, was I very feeling smug, but I did NOT do well with the purses. I had 6 evening purses and I still have six evening purses even though realistically we have gone to a much more relaxed lifestyle since retirement. My reasoning was they were all different, and all in good condition and some had been gifts. I had 12 regular purses and I did manage to put four of them into the thrift store pile. I'm kidding myself that I'll take a second look and give more of them away any time soon.
To my amazement, I had five pairs of tan pants, five pairs of black pants, two pairs of white crops, two pairs of patterned crops, four pairs of jeans, two pairs of black leggings and three pairs of dress pants. Pants were easy to keep or toss because pants either fit or they don't. The jackets and sweaters were easy too. (Living in AZ most months does not require wearing heavy outerwear.)
Skirts and Dresses
Sorting out my skirts and dresses went quickly too. I had not purchased any in the last two years and unless prompted by a special occasion, or a drastic change in weight, probably won't be buying many more.
Jewelry and Scarves
Forward to costume jewelry and scarves. I have a strange relationship with scarves. I might wear one almost every day for a month and then not wear them for weeks.
- I've gained a more mature view of body acceptance that I probably won't be a size 8 again.
- When I purchased plastic hangers and padded ones for better clothing, the clothes I love won't be in danger of getting caught on wire hangers.
- Stick to a system of hanging or shelving items that works for you be it by color, or purpose or as some of my friends do, plan a week in advance and hang those items together.
- The clothing I kept made me see the three brands that have retained their shape and color and are classic enough to look good for years to come. For me, the brands are: Ralph Lauren, Eileen Fisher and Chicos. For fun and funky, purchase silly T-shirts and updated accessories. Older shouldn't mean boring.
- I'm happy to think that someone might be wearing all those clothes I didn't and that the thrift store I donated to will be able to use the funds.
- A clean closet is such a time saver!
P.S. The little Christmas tree is still on the floor. After all, in three months, I'll use it again.
Shyron E Shenko from Texas on July 22, 2017:
I can totally relate to all that you state here. I have a good size closet and two small ones, when things get tight in the larger one it goes to one of the smaller ones except Hubby has taken to doing the same thing. I need to start giving a lot of clothing and other things to the CCA (Christian Community Action)thrift store. It is hard to find the time to do anything as I have to do the inside and yard work.
And I must do that when my boys (Hubby John and puppy Chipper, who by the way is from Phoenix) are sleeping. Chipper likes to sleep with his head on one foot and body on the other, just in case I move and might get away from him.
This is a very interesting hub.
Blessings my friend.
Susan Sullenberger from Lakeland on July 10, 2017:
I am not a hoarder. My husband gets tired of me saying, "I threw it out." I just can't stand the mess.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on January 17, 2017:
I am amused at your amazement of the similar clothes you have, but I totally understand. I can relate to bringing home something new and discovering that I already have one similar. Thanks for sharing your de-cluttering technique and solution. It helps.
mactavers on October 03, 2016:
Thanks Lawrence. Getting started is the hardest part, and I think you were wise to take your time and finish your job. I will tell you that since the closet cleaning, I have purchased 3 new items that I needed and I'm trying very hard to keep it neat. Thanks for your comment.
Lawrence Hebb on October 02, 2016:
We just cleaned out our garage, it took us a week!
It wasn't just clothes but all the things you 'pick up' over twenty or so years!
Enjoyed this hub.
marlanut on September 03, 2016:
Ah, mactavers, I'll bet one could play a mean card game in that closet now!!!