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The Detachment System: When and How to Downsize Your Closet



In the last couple of years, I have moved from three different apartments, one house, and gotten married. Moving and combining life possessions were all wonderful times to declutter and downsize my clothes.  As I was packing up a box or a bag of clothes, I found things that I hadn’t seen in months and things that I wasn’t sure why I still had them. This is the PERFECT time to declutter because it creates the mindset for getting rid of as much as you can.  It is amazing how motivating moving from one third floor apartment to another can be.

Keeping the above timing in mind, there are plenty of people who are settled into the home that they will have a family in and grow old in.  If that is you then declutter and downsize your clothes as the seasons change.  For instance, as you are bringing out your spring and summer clothing and putting away your winter clothing, declutter and downsize.  Or vice versa.  This is an especially good time to downsize and declutter clothes because you are losing your attachment to your winter clothes and you haven’t yet formed any attachment to your spring/summer clothes (see more about my attachment issues below).  Seeing as the weather has just turned in Colorado, Spencer and I just decluttered our clothes last week.  Make sure to set aside time to do this. It doesn’t have to take forever but it is not something that you want to rush through. Let’s get started!!


With males, it is easier (stereotypically) to clean out clothes.  For Spencer, I asked two questions: (1) does it fit? (2) do you wear it? If the answer was no to one or both of the questions, it went in the pile to take to Goodwill.  It actually was as easy as it sounds!

Now for the hard part, a female and her attachment to each piece of clothing. Since I have cleaned out my closet before and I know my attachment issues, I developed a new system.  I started with my dresser and then moved to my closet, and I took out EVERYTHING that wasn’t: one of my favorite pieces, an absolute basic, or something brand new.


This made for a rather large pile on our bed. I like this system because it started the detachment process.  Instead of seeing the shirt or dress hanging so pretty and nice beside all my favorite things, it was now in a pile on our bed. Plus, much like the motivation of moving, the piece of clothing was already out of the closet or dresser so in order to keep it I would have to put it back. SUPER HELPFUL! Who would have thought merely walking a piece of clothing back into the closet would be such a deterrent to keeping it??

Anyway, once the clothing pile was on our bed, I asked myself three questions (obviously, more complicated than the male process): (1) does it fit? (2) do I wear it?, (3) is it my style or the style that I want? The first question is easily answered. The second question is where I catch myself lying. Something like: “Yes,  I wore that shirt once in the last three years, but this summer I will probably wear it once a week.”  I never really fool myself but it definitely takes more self-reflection than the first question.  My advice on the second question: be honest with yourself. Having only clothes in your closet that you actually wear is a freeing feeling AND it makes the decision of what to wear each day SO much easier.

Finally for the third hurdle…I mean question…weeding out clothes that are not your style or the style you want. This question is key.  The reason that this question means so much is that there are clothes that you wear frequently and that fit but were more appropriate for a different time in your life or a different style you once had.  A great example is a couple of dresses I still had from my college days that are…ahem…a bit short and skimpy for an attorney who is WAY closer to 30 years old than 20 years old. These things are hard to get rid of but not a part of the style that I want for myself.  Similarly, there are tops that I have purchased because they were cute and I really, really, really wanted them to be my style, but they just aren’t.  At this point in my life, I am building a wardrobe – not just buying and wearing clothes that are cute and trendy. Obviously, you have to know what your style is before you ask yourself this question, but that is exciting to think about so have fun with it!

All the clothes where the answer to one or all of the three questions is “no” go straight to Goodwill or a consignment store. Get them out of the house fast! Or they might somehow make it back into your closet!

What do you think of my system? Will it work for you? Do you have attachment issues too?


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