Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Cottage Life - Living Intentionally and the Closet Purge

For three decades I've been on a quest to simplify my life and to live intentionally. What do I mean by living "intentionally"? For me, the best description I've read to date is summed up in this quote by Mandi Ehman, blogger at Life Your Way:


"Living intentionally means defining your values 
and making choices that reflect those values."


One of Dennis and my core values is being content with less. When we designed our cottage we intentionally planned for a small closet in our bedroom. This has forced us to keep our wardrobe fairly simple because we don't have room for a lot of clothes. Of course, it takes discipline to stick to a minimalist wardrobe. The easy thing to do is just keep adding storage somewhere in order to accommodate more clothing. But that defeats the purpose of our building a 670 sq ft cottage for simplified living. At some point you have to decide to stop the accumulating and increase the purging

During a snowstorm earlier this week I was struck by the idea of tidying up my closet. While it howled outside, I got to work inside. 

Now mind you, I had already done a major wardrobe clean out last fall. However, after several months I realized there were still pieces that could be eliminated.

There are all sorts of ways to complete this task, but this is the method I used:

1. I examined my wardrobe and determined which articles I wear the most. In doing this I discovered I favor three colors: black, white and blue. 

2. I pulled out all the clothes that didn't conform to those (three) colors and put them in a give away pile.

3. I tried on all the pants left in my closet and eliminated any that didn't fit. No matter if they were just a little snug or could fit if I lost a couple of pounds, they went in the give away pile.

4. Next I looked at all my remaining tops in the closet and removed any that didn't fit, or that I hadn't worn more than twice in the last year.

5. Exceptions. I kept a few articles of clothing that are outside the three most often worn colors because I like them and wear them often. But, they are exceptions and if it gets to the point where I notice I'm no longer wearing them -- out they go.


Just to show you how much space I gained in my closet, here's a photo showing what I gave away and the hangers that were freed up.




Now my closet is tidy and organized. I can see everything clearly. 



If I'm tempted to buy a new article of clothing in the future I'll ask myself these three questions:
  • Do I really need it?
  • Is its color one of my favorites (black, white or blue)?
  • Will it work with other items in my wardrobe?
If I can say "yes" to these three questions the purchase would most likely be a good one. If the answer to any of these questions is "no" I should walk away.

I'm not saying this is right for everyone, but I believe it's right for me. It's another step toward simplicity and intentional living.





26 comments:

  1. I like what you're trying to do, Nancy. And with tiny 1935 era closets here I want to do the same thing. I've filled 2 bags with good clothes to give to my son for the Angel House they support. And I need to do more so that things are left will have room to breathe.

    Now if only I could be as ruthless with dishes. That's so much harder for me.

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  2. Dear Nancy ... We have been going through so much in our little home and it feels so good to simplify. Thank you for sharing. Evening Blessings ♥ Teri

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  3. I've been traveling again but when I get home this weekend, I'm going to be doing something similar. I like the idea of limiting my colors because that makes it so much easier to choose what to wear each day. It also makes packing my travel bag easier :)

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    1. I absolutely agree with you about how limiting colors makes it easier to choose what to wear. I'm glad you pointed that out because it's one more reason why this is so meaningful to a simple lifestyle. Thank you.

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  4. I have been doing the same with my clothes, Nancy. I recently realized that I had pieces in my closet that I hadn't worn since I was teaching...20+ years ago and I have a very small closet! It was hard to say goodbye, although I'm not sure why, but I feel much freer now!

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  5. I need to purge my closet, too. I have a tendency to purchase items at the thrift shop but rarely wear them.

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  6. Wonderful tips. I need to get a little more focused and give stuff away.

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  7. Hi Nancy,
    This is great. I am planning on purging through my closet this week and getting things for Goodwill. I want to live with less too especially in the closet!!! I basically wear three or four sweaters but probably have 20 in the closet and I have my two favorite pairs of jeans but have about 6 prs. in the closet. So I am motivated now by your post to get rid of the stuff I am not wearing and let someone in need use them. Thanks for the motivation.
    Hugs,
    Krsi

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  8. You did a great job, Nancy, and you inspire many of us to narrow down our clothing. I do it every season and I can be brutal. I give myself the go ahead to purchase things I like only if I've done my fair share of donating.

    Jane x

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  9. Oh Nancy, you are SO right. I purged out my closed a few months ago, and it felt soooooooooo liberating. I organized my clothing, got rid of a lot, and it just felt good. I do however, need to attack a dresser drawer. It feels good to know that you are organized and that the house can breathe! GOOD JOB!

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  10. I love to do this. Clear it out! :-)

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    1. It's a good feeling, Sandi. Now I need to attack my cupboards!

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  11. Good for you Nancy! I need to go through my closet and drawers again myself.

    Thanks for the inspiration ~ FlowerLady

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  12. I'm going to follow your lead...less colors and if it doesn't fit, out it goes, hangers too!

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  13. Oh boy, I wish I was as determined as you are in giving clothes away. I too have a small closet but that does not stop me from getting new things. I have the fear that the minute I give something away, I will wish I had it (which has happened!) I admire your ability to make those decisions and stick with them!

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  14. Nancy I envy your discipline. I tend to look at things in the give away pile and remove it. "Oh those are the wool pants that are so warm" even if I don't think it's fit me very well. Indeed your closet looks organized.

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  15. I read the Marie Kondo book last year and had a massive purge. It was wonderful for a while but over time stuff has been creeping back in. Darn that love of shopping.
    Amalia
    xo

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  16. Oh, I need to do that too . . . but it's a chore that I find easy to put off. It is always a wonderful feeling when things become less complicated and a clean and tidy closet is a blessing. You are very disciplined and organized, I admire that . . . wish some of it would rub off in my direction :)
    Have a lovely weekend.
    Connie :)

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  17. I need to follow your example and do the same thing in my closet - and dresser drawers! Simplicity is a goal I strive for but it's been a bit elusive for much too long. There's no time like the present, I guess!
    ~Adrienne~

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  18. Awesome Nancy! Love that quote - it is one thing to define your values, but harder still to stick to them! I routinely go through my closet too, and get rid of clothes that haven't been worn, don't fit right, or I have more than one similar of. It feels great to be able to continue to live minimally. Less really is more!

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  19. I have been working at minimalizing my closet as well. I decided to go through all my clothes and wear everything once before I re-wore something. It has been interesting. As I go through them I have gotten rid of quite a few clothes because I just didn't really care for how it fit or looked on me. I also really stopped to think about what I truly like in clothes. I like natural fabrics (cottons, wools, linens...) and clothes that look fairly feminine and natural/organic. So if I go to add any clothes to my collection at any time I am going to think long and hard about whether it really goes along with the look that I truly like. Yesterday I had some extra time in town (my boys were skating with friends) and I knew I had some credit at a 2nd hand clothing store. I went there to look for jeans for my son but they didn't have any in his size so I looked around for a while in the womens' clothes. I didn't truly need anything but since I had come up with those new quidelines I wanted to see if I found anything that fit it. I didn't find anything to buy for me though I did think about one cute wool sweater but it ended up fitting a little tighter than I like and was dry clean only so I left it behind. I did find a cute cotton sweater for my eldest daughter. It was fun to walk away from that store feeling perfectly content with what I already have and no desire to buy anything for me at all.

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  20. I just did this, too, Nancy! I had been putting off the task for at least a year and I found I couldn't stand it any more. It felt so good to get rid of the excess (some clothes I hadn't worn since before we moved over three years ago). Now everything is so neat and organized and easy to find.

    I know some people who have a policy that whenever they bring one new thing into their home they need to get rid of one old thing. It makes sense as a way to keep from accumulating too much stuff.

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    1. I approve of that policy. . .just wish I could live it! I'm working on it, though. xo

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  21. I really find that not shopping helps. Generally when I do go than I am looking for what I truly need. I agree with the colours - although sometimes I wonder if people wonder if I have any clothes!

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  22. I admire your discipline. I have given away a few clothes but somehow I just end up putting most of them back because I like them. I have a fairly large walk in closet so at the moment it can accommodate them!

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I appreciate every comment I receive and try very hard to reply to each one, as well as return the visit. I reply by email unless you're a "no-reply" blogger. In that case I'll respond directly below your comment on my blog. Thank you for making my day with your comments. ~ Nancy