How to Clean Your Closet

Close your eyes, slide the door open, and pluck 12 items randomly from left to right. Ignore the weight of your choice. You touch it, you pluck it. Ignore texture, too.
Make no conjecture about your selection. You don’t know if that silky feel is real or synthetic. This moment is your emetic. Commit to the decision at your fingertips.

Turn 180 degrees, eyes still squeezed shut and drop the garment on your bed. Use the dog’s snores as echolocation and, if you’re wrong, he’ll move, possibly on top of the discarded article. He’ll scent it with his scruffy dog odour, make it easier to give away.

Turn 180 degrees again and swish your hand along the row to the next target.

Refuse emotional attachment. No “What if it’s the dress I wore to my niece’s wedding and danced past midnight throbbing in a giant ball of 30-somethings, loosened by their exuberance and youth?” If chosen, it must go too.

Raise each piece carefully, respectfully. Remember, you bought it with the fruits of your labour. It represents your hourly wages. Gently rest it in the crook of your arm. Smooth your worry with your hand.

Be a hound. Sniff it if you want. Is that a whiff of bacon from last night’s Spaghetti Carbonara everyone groaned over? Satisfaction and success at the dinner table is a rare occasion. A pot lid lifted. “Is there more?” Oh glorious encore here on a hangar, how can I let you go?

Shove the hangars to the left. Hear the scrape of hubris. Clothes make the woman. Clothes make the woman what exactly?

Have I filled my closet to fill me? If my closet is empty what will I be? Keep going, even in the dark.

Step inside. Feel the crush of cloth, the metal rod across your throat, the danger of suffocation. There is only one way out. Take the first thing you touch and toss it over your shoulder like spilled salt into the face of the devil lurking behind you. Banish fear. Banish vanity. Banish the past.

Open the green garbage bag. Drop everything into it with your eyes closed. Take it to the nearest charity recycler. There are no serious consequences to your action. So what if nothing in your closet matches? It means this: You are matchless.

Note: I have too many clothes and a small closet. To convince myself I don’t need any more new or second hand clothing, I decided to wear a different ensemble every work day in November. I call the challenge No More Clothes November. #NoMoCloNo

Good for the planet, good for my wallet, good for another blog post or two.

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32 thoughts on “How to Clean Your Closet

  1. You’ve got the poses! NoMoCloNo is every month for me. I don’t shop for clothes, it’s the worst thing after hairdressers. Well, probably some things are worse. If I was to do you wardrobe trick, I’d need to simply remove all the things under the things. I’ve got a small space so I hang what I wear over what I don’t wear. Some of my things are OLD. Most of the new things comes by way of an older and heftier relative. I know there is a lesson in there somewhere.

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  2. Thanks for another chuckle, Susanne! For a number of years I was good about annual purges of clothes, books, and knick-knacky gifts that I’d been given and always felt guilty about getting rid of; but, this year I have managed to procrastinate all year😩!

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    • The year isn’t over, Leslie! I recently went through 30 years worth of costume jewelry and gave that away, too. It was quite an unsatisfying task, because it didn’t really take up a lot of space. I hope somebody else will enjoy it for another 30 years and keep it out of the landfill.

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  3. That’s quite a rich life your clothing has! Or at least your memories and nostalgia for the clothing are rich. And fun! I am inspired to go and purge, even though I already have three large garbage bags ready to go to the charity shop!

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  4. A couple of months ago I entirely emptied my wardrobe onto the bed (and dogs) just before bedtime (I’m being a bit bonkers and menopausal this year). I really wanted to go to sleep, so I got a couple of black sacks and very quickly decided what could go back on the rail and what could go in the sacks. Things that I had been dithering over for years were rapidly ditched and I was in bed 20 minutes later. The next morning the bags went to the charity shop and I have not missed a single garment.

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  5. I live in a bungalow. LOL
    I have had two large homes, one with an enormous closet — once I even had two closets all to myself. Nothing good comes of this for me. I’m big on the purge.
    Ya did good!

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  6. Love this! I desperately need to do this with my closet, but just the thought of choosing randomly with eyes closed and tossing everything unseen give me heart palpitations! Which shows how attached I am to things that should not matter at all. And how much I should do this. I might modify: throw clothes unseen into a bag and put aside. If in a month I do not “miss” something that’s missing in my closet, it all goes to Goodwill. That gives my heart some ease. Maybe I can do this.

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    • Full disclosure, Deborah. I did not do this but I did have to sternly lecture myself about letting items go, like you, that I hadn’t worn in a year or more. But in my defense, I think I could randomly grab things and toss them and I bet I’d never miss them. I tend to wear old favourites over and over so why on earth do I have so much?

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  7. This made me laugh. Today, totally coincidentally, I am cleaning out my wardrobe! It is small, like yours, and it is full. I have a kind of uniform I wear that consists of jeans and black top, augmented by a colourful cardy or sweater or vest according to the weather – for as a retired artist there is no need to dress smartly any more. Yet I keep on acquiring clothes. And I have no desire to spend hours sorting through to find different, exotic arrangements. I’ll keep my eyes open but out they go!!

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    • Your retired artist uniform sounds wonderful. Someday, when I retire, I hope to have a wardrobe of soft, lycra rich garments. No zippers, buttons or snaps. Loose and flowy, indistinguishable from pjs.

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    • Not too long ago I saw an article in the NY Times fashion section about the “man uniform” for the office. Would there were such a thing for women. It would simplify life and free up so much space, both mental and physical. In fact, why AREN’T there uniforms for office workers?

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"The river flows both ways." (Margaret Laurence)

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