How to Purge a Full Closet

How to Purge a Full Closet

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

To be honest, it’s not only time – it’s past time.

To clean my closet. Actually, to purge my closet. It’s not a walk-in, but a 1940’s cubicle back when wardrobes were simpler. And less. Perhaps a better way to live…

            I have done this before. Seasonally. Well, at least once a year. But sadly, no matter how many black garbage bags are hauled out for trash or donation, the remaining garments always seem to multiply.

            “Hello, my name is Lucinda. And I have too many clothes – way too many.” In my defense, they cover a range of sizes and seasons, options and occasions. Just in case….

            But that day rarely comes. And Honey, I’ve got better things to do than spend time trying to decide what to wear!

            This year is a season of Simplicity for me. Both inside and out. And so I decided to begin with a radical outward step, remembering that “Simplification of outward life is not enough. It is merely the outside. The complete answer is not to be found on the outside, in an outward mode of living. This is only a technique, a road to grace. The final answer, I know, is always inside. But the outside can give a clue, can help one to find the inside answer.” (Anne Morrow Lindbergh in “Gift from the Sea” 1955)

 As I was contemplating all things simpler, I learned a new (to me) term: “capsule wardrobe.” According to one lifestyle blogger this is “a mini wardrobe made up of really versatile pieces that you totally love to wear.” The way it works is that each season you clear your closet except for a set number of pieces; they suggested 37. Doing this clears up more time, money and energy for things that really matter.

            Sounds good to me. So on a recent holiday (away from my closet) I made a list of 37 items I need during the winter season here in Connecticut. Then the theoretical became reality this past Saturday. A harsh reality. But I survived it … and you can too, if you like.

            Here’s how to purge a full closet:

  1. Pick a day off and forbid hubby to enter the bedroom all day.
  2. Purchase a box of large black garbage bags.
  3. Empty your entire closet on the bed.  Note blog title photo here.
  4. Move each item into one of these 4 piles:
  • Keep – because you love it or it’s a staple
  • Maybe – saving for its proper season or can’t decide yet (limit to only 1 bag)
  • Donate – so someone else can enjoy
  • Trash– if beyond repair or need
  1. Review your Keep How many items? If more than 37 (or whatever number you chose) move more clothes into the Maybe, Donate or Trash piles.

Try on everything with a critical eye. Combine into outfits for different occasions. For instance, I need a variety of pieces that work for speaking on stage, teaching high school, and playing with my grands. Here in New England boots are also necessary for snow and ice. Keep in mind your location and vocation.

            When the final step comes – putting it all back into the tiny closet – I am AMAZED. And a bit anxious. Can I really make this work?

            I want to make this work.

            Since I’m a novice at this whole simplifying-your-wardrobe thing, allow me to share Courtney’s valuable lessons from dressing with less since 2010:

  • I need way less than I think to be happy.
  • No one cares what I’m wearing.
  • Deciding what to wear requires mental energy better spent on other things.
  • A simple closet is the gateway to a simple life.
  • Simplicity is the way back to love. Imagine what would happen if you invested most of the time, money, and energy you spend on your clothes on the person underneath them. (“Soulful Simplicity” 2018)

I’m on my way. Will you join me?

“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow He will certainly care for you.” (Matthew 6.28-30)

under the mercy, Lucinda

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity & Strength”

©2018 Lucinda Secrest McDowell

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About Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Author ~ Storyteller ~ Speaker ~ Teacher "Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity & Strength"
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11 Responses to How to Purge a Full Closet

  1. Peggy Knight says:

    This came to me at just the right time! Thank you!

  2. I forgot to mention that it really helps during the purge if you play the soundtrack to The Greatest Showman! Loudly….

  3. maggierowe says:

    I am doing this with our entire house over the next two months. I thought it would be overwhelming but it’s actually fun to purge, divest and donate. I am working clockwise around each floor and just do an hour or two whenever I have a free evening after work. As my grad school advisor used to say, we get big projects done “poco a poco” – little by little, Thanks for this fun read, Cindy.

  4. Stephanie Gaddis says:

    Well done!! I discovered capsule wardrobes back in the spring. Life changing!! As a homeschool mom of 6, I do NOT have the mental energy or time to spend on deciding what I should wear! I have found a limited wardrobe to be very freeing. Funny thing… not a single person has commented about me wearing the exact same outfit to church every week. I’m pretty sure no one notices or cares. 🙂

  5. Jim Douglas says:

    Great blog, even for guys….how about the, “ well, I will keep those slacks or that suit that are too tight , because I paid good money for them and I MAY LOSE the required weight to comfortably fit into them again!”…not a chance…give em away!

    Keep bloggin’ Cindy Lee!


    James O. Douglas
    Partner | ASLA

    landscape architecture | planning | urban design |

    120 29th Avenue South | Nashville, TN | 37212
    T. 615-327-4447 | F. 615-321-3004

    • We all do this, Jim, thinking one day they will fit. Problem is, by the time they do, they are out of style. Let’s get rid of now and IF that day ever comes, reward ourselves with something new! Thanks for reading. Lucinda Lee

  6. Fabulous! When I get home…😘💕…I have a rendezvous with the closet!

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