Confession: I am a clothes hoarder.
I’m a 20-year-old college junior and I still have clothes from middle school.
I think I’ve pretty much gotten rid of all of my elementary stuff by now… except, of course, the really important things like these killer bellbottoms I wore to the school dance in FIRST GRADE. Not a joke. I will cherish them forever.
I’m pretty good about getting rid of most other things, but my thought process when trying to get rid of clothes often looks a lot like the 5 psychological stages of grief.
Remember, these stages can happen in any order. Which is why cleaning out my closet is usually an emotional rollercoaster from my begrudging beginning to the exhausted (and relatively unsuccessful) end.
1. Denial : “I do not have too many clothes! It’s fine. Look at all these pieces I’ve been able to wear over and over again… What an accomplishment that I’ve been wearing this floral dress from Francesca’s since middle school. Not weird at all. Plus, think of my future kids! They’ll think all my old clothes are cool & vintage. I wish my mom had kept more of her clothes. Might as well just keep it all forever.
All I really need is a walk-in closet. Maybe I can keep my clothes in my bedroom and sleep in my tub?
It’s fine. Everything’s fine. ”
2. ANGER : “I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR! I hate everything. I am so basic. I’ve been wearing this same damn Hollister tank top since middle school! AM I INSANE?! Throw it all away. Burn it. I’m going to figure out how people make money and like play the lottery or the stock market or something so I can buy a completely new wardrobe.”
3. Bargaining : “Ok I can get rid of this weird Goodwill denim dress covered with tiny Winnie The Pooh characters, I’ve never worn it! . . . But I really should give it another chance. I spent money on this. Can’t let that go to waste. I’m basically a fashion failure if I’ve never managed to work this into my wardrobe. TRY HARDER SARAH.
Look, it sort of goes with this Madeline-style sunhat I never wear either. I’ll make lots of outfits I’ll never actually wear to procrastinate on getting rid of anything. I can TOTALLY wear this. This is fun! It’s like shopping in my own closet!”
4. Depression : “Great, now I’ve picked out 20 new mediocre outfits and cannot get rid of anything. Actually, if I wear this I’ll need to buy more accessories to complement it. This all looks like crap. Why don’t I have a perfect, minimalist capsule wardrobe! This never happened to Audrey Hepburn. She never bought anything questionable.”
5. Acceptance : Back to square one. I now start making Keep, Maybe Keep, Sell, and Donate piles & basically everything goes into the Maybe Keep pile. Revisit Anger, Bargaining, and Depression a few times. Then I’m really tough with myself as I force myself to get rid of 5, maybe 10 things, mostly free t shirts that I got at random events on campus and never wore.
Phew, that was rough.
Feel free to share your sad spring cleaning stories with me so I feel less alone in this world.