There are a number of reasons a good number of us struggle to get rid of stuff, and those reasons aren’t as straightforward as they seem. First there is the need for security. “You may think, ‘I’ve used this tool one time and I may never use it again — but what if I need it in the future? I want to be able to have that thing at that time to address that need’,” social scientist Frank Niles tells NBC. Then there is the warm feeling we get when we see something that sends us down memory lane, particularly since Niles says we’re built to view the past through rosier lenses. “When times get tough, we’ll look at pictures from that trip to Europe or senior year of high school and only remember the good pieces. We tend to forget the bad stuff,” he explained.
While mementoes have their purpose, they may not be as practical if you’ve got limited closet space. Still, if you’ve got the will, there are ways to get through the decluttering process without generating too much trauma.
Take a page out of Marie Kondo's book
The best way to go through your closet is to go through each and every item and be honest about where it fits in your life. We won’t lie, because if you think this sounds overwhelming we’re here to tell you that it is. But facing everything you own is the only way you’re likely to come to terms with what you have — and how much of it there is (via Bustle).
Then comes the hard part. In her book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” anti-clutter queen Marie Kondo suggests handling each item to see if it “sparks joy” — a phrase that might have come into fashion some years ago, but is as true today as it was then. Clothes that make you feel or look good are those you keep. Items you aren’t sure about go into a “maybe” pile, while items that made you wonder what you were thinking when you bought it can be discarded or donated (via Life Storage Blog).
Be honest with yourself
Sorting clothes into the “want” and “discard” piles may be easy, but the most challenging pile to tackle could well be the “maybe” pile. To do that, Bustle says you might want to ask yourself when was the last time you wore that item, and if the answer is “over a year ago,” it might be time to let that item go (this rule probably applies to other stuff in the “keep” pile, too).
Another thing to do is play dress up with your old stuff and give yourself an honest once-over. Does it make you feel or look good to wear something? Or is this a clothing item you’re not dead keen on? If the piece of clothing elicits nothing but a meh response, it’s time to move it from the “maybe” to the “definitely not” pile (via PopSugar).
There are things you'll likely want to discard
If you’re still on the fence about deciding which pieces of clothing you might want to drop or keep, The Every Girl says there is a list of things that you really shouldn’t be hanging on to. These include items you might have purchased in different colors; things that don’t fit because they are either too big or too small; underwear that is so old they are worn through; items that you might have loved but you no longer wear; as well as freebies like shirts and totes that can — and do — accumulate. Bustle also says you should consider clothes damage — if you love that item but if it is discolored or has visible damage, it’s not likely you’ll be putting that piece on again.
The act of cleaning out a closet and decluttering is a daunting, monumental task, particularly if you’re a sentimental person. There’s the outfit you wore when you and your partner went out on a date for the first time. Oh! And there’s the first really good coat you bought with your first paycheck. If it all gets too much, Bustle says there’s no reason why you can’t take a break, and return to the task later. After all, stress and fatigue may be reasons why our closets are stuffed to begin with.
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