Home » Personal Style Part II: The Closet Cleanse

Personal Style Part II: The Closet Cleanse

Last week, we started the process of establishing personal style by cleaning out the clutter of our minds and becoming clear about our self-talk and where it’s rooted. This self-awareness and control of our mind chatter is crucial as we get ready to dive into part II of establishing our personal style.

Unless you’re a professional organizer, the last thing you likely want to do is clean out your closet. But, I encourage you to remain open to the process, who knows what you might learn about yourself.  

Let’s review my recommended steps for a closet cleanse that will not only help you get another step closer to establishing your personal style, but will set the groundwork for a closet that will be easier to maintain going forward.

Step 1: What’s your Aesthetic Inspiration? 

Take a moment to think about the energy you want to communicate to the world. Only once we know what that feels like can we really begin to establish what that looks like for you. In part I, you developed a list of words that describe the energy, tone, and vibe you want to communicate to the world – now imagine, what does that look like? Do bold colours, patterns and prints bring you joy, or do you find yourself more drawn to neutral tones playing with textures. Take a moment to let your mind wander. Resist the urge to allow your ego to tell if you if I was more like *this* then I would wear *that*. We are styling the body and the soul you encompass now and using clothing to help communicate the self love, respect and confidence that you have for YOU. No one can tell you what that looks like but you. So sit with your heart and imagine what your unapologetic soul would love to wear.

Before you edit your wardrobe, you must edit your mind. It’s the most critical step to complete when beginning the journey of establishing your personal style. Trying to purge your closet without understanding yourself first will likely have you feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and defeated. 

Remember, you aren’t trying to fit into a box. There could be aspects of many styles that you love. Have an idea in mind of the items, aesthetic and vibe that resonates most with you. Be confident in your choices and remember you can always choose again. This will not only help you to make more efficient decisions when looking at the pieces in your closet; but you will feel more self-assured, clear and focused on the ultimate goal of establishing your personal style and keeping only the items that ring true to you. Ah, we love this!

Time to take the plunge. 

Step 2: Closet Plunge 

The personal attachment we create to our clothing is fascinating. But remember, the stories you begin to tell yourself as you look at the clothing in your closet are often just that, stories. Before we cleanse, let’s explore some of the most common excuses that might come up when cleaning out the clutter of your closet. 

Excuse #1: My weight has changed or will change.

Don’t live or dress for the body of your past or future self – approach life and your closet with love and appreciation for the body you have right now. Does keeping the pants that will fit 10lbs from now motivate you each time you open your closet or does it remind you of what you haven’t yet achieved? What about those maternity clothes. Do they really need to be there considering your youngest is now 3? Accept and love yourself for where you are in this moment. Take inventory of all that your body has helped you move through to get to this point and show yourself some grace. If that’s not enough, ask yourself, if you had a child or dear friend that spoke to their body the way you speak to yours – how would you feel about those words then? Learn to manage your personal perceptions and expectations and show yourself a heck of a lot more grace and appreciation. You are absolutely worth it. 

Now, if you are adamant that the extra sizes are a necessity to your life and well being, put them in a separate storage bin and store it any place other than your closet or bedroom. Out of sight, out of mind and they will still be there for when you’re convinced that you’ll need them – if you choose to still have them at all.

Excuse #2: I spent X amount of money on it and it’s hardly been worn.

100% frustrating, absolutely. But, is the guilt you’re carrying around making the item more valuable? The money you spent is already gone and the unworn clothing is holding space in your closet that isn’t a reflection of you. Not to mention, it’s bringing you some level of guilt each time you open your closet and see the item. Keeping these items will not bring your money back. You’ve merely created guilt ridden clutter and we are cleaning that up – literally and figuratively. 

If it’s in good condition, sell it! I see half used bottles of foundation on FB Marketplace so I believe you can sell just about anything these days. Find a local consignment boutique that is looking for labels that you’re hoping to move through your closet. And of course donate, donate, donate! There are so many incredible non-profits that are always looking for new or gently worn items. Find one local to you and support. 

Just keep the pipeline flowing and the guilty clutter free of it.

Excuse #3: It was such a good deal, how could I resist?

Just because something is on sale doesn’t mean it’s a necessity. Don’t make the sale your justification for buying something. In the moment it may feel like you’re saving, however unless it’s something you’ve had your eye on for ages, you’re not. How many items have you purchased because they were on sale but still have the tags on? Those will very easily go into one of the purge piles that we talk more about below. Let’s not feed into the now or never competitive mentality that’s created during sales. We have more psychological control than that, friend.

Excuse #4: I’m keeping it for *insert any human here.* 

Unless it is an extremely sentimental item, heirloom-quality, or a classic & timeless luxury item, I can almost assure you that the special human will not know what to do with/want the item you give them or that it will likely smell of moth balls when you finally do. Unless you are absolutely certain that the item will be adorned when it’s received or that it is appreciating in value while taking space in your closet, let it go. 

Excuse #5: It’s going to come back in style.

Parachute pants in 2023 are similar to those in 2000 only they don’t smell. Seriously speaking, clothing items that make their way back to the runway and into our closets have had some tweaks made to them making them more current and likely more flattering. Embrace the modern interpretation with an open mind. I promise you, the classic tailored pant in 2023 is even more flattering now that it was 10 years ago. 

Excuse #6: It still fits me. 

Did it also fit when you were in high school? Just because the shoe fits doesn’t make it right shoe for you. We aren’t living in an outdated fairytale. Keep the clothes in your closet that fit but are also an extension of you.

Excuse #7: Just in case.

Has your ‘just in case moment’ happened in the past year? Unless you own a clothing store, you do not need five back up white tees or tanks. Invest in or keep a couple good quality items of a particular nature and say good bye to the rest. Remember, the goal is to keep clothing that is a reflection of the person and energy you want to communicate to the world.

Do you stay at home with young kids with no plans of going back to corporate life? Maybe you don’t need 10 little black office dresses. Keep the few that are the most versatile and compliment your personality best then donate or sell the rest (if they’re in still good condition). 

Excuse #8: I was told this was a must-have piece.

When looking at the especially trendy pieces that might be in your wardrobe that you maybe wore once if at all, take inventory. What were you really buying and why? Was it another person’s opinion of what was needed right now to be on trend and accepted by the fashion stylists of the world? I promise, anyone who really appreciates true style would support you playing and having fun with trends but never committing to a piece just because you were told to. Especially if it doesn’t make sense for your personal style. Stop comparing your closet to another’s. Figure out what items feel true to your life and style and wear those with the energy and love we all know and understand, your confidence. 

Excuse #9: It’s too overwhelming, I don’t know where to begin.

There can be many psychological and financial emotions that arise when doing a thorough closet cleanse. You are likely reliving a moment or past memory, trying to create a future moment, or fabricating some justification to keep the item. Bottom line, you’re doing anything to avoid the present moment. You have the ability to quickly decide whether or not the particular items adds any value to your wardrobe and sense of style today. 

To help keep yourself in check, give yourself a time limit. When that time expires if you’re still feeling inspired, give yourself another hour and keep going. Go into your closet with the understanding that’s it’s completely normal to feel mixed emotions when going through items and potentially parting with them. It will be worth it; and with a modified mindset, it will be rewarding to see your progress along the way.

Excuse #10: It’s just too cluttered, I don’t have time.

Understandably, most of us don’t have the luxury nor do we want to commit an entire day to closet cleaning. If tackling the entire closet seems like a daunting task, break it down into smaller sections (ie, tops, bottoms, dresses, activewear, outerwear). Sort through one section at a time with the promise that you will not purchase anything new until you have gone through everything you currently own. Remember, we don’t break promises to ourselves. If you’re willing to break an oath to yourself you will break it with anyone. If this is you, re-visit part I of establishing your personal style here

Excuses begone, it’s time to purge. 

Knowing the items you plan to keep will remain in your closet or dresser, you will start with three basic piles. We can tackle organization hacks another day; today, the goal is to move through the items in your current wardrobe. 

Pile 1: Donate / Sell – This might be two piles for you. No matter what you decide, just ensure these pieces of clothing are in relatively good condition.

Pile 2: Recycle / Trash – These items are stained, well worn, unsalvageable pieces. Look for a textile donation centre local to you.

Pile 3: Undecided. – Radical self-honesty though, right? If there is an item that you really aren’t prepared to make a move on, put it in a storage container that will be removed from your bedroom under the oath to donate/sell it if the items that are not worn within six months to one year (depending on the season). If you are willing to go through the effort to retrieve the item during that time frame, you keep it. If not, you let it go and move on. Repeat after me, you will not open the bin unless you are looking for a particular item.

You’ve got the piles prepared; lets quickly cover some key questions to consider when looking at each piece of clothing in you wardrobe. As you get more confident with the purge, this process will happen instinctively. Trust your gut decisions and don’t waste precious time trying to convince yourself anything otherwise.

  • Am I aligned with these items or was i influenced to purchase these items? 
  • Does this item help express who I am or was I told it was what I should I like and wear it? 
  • Am I keeping an item for the memory or for function and purpose?
  • Does this item fit me today? 
  • Does it smell? I’m serious. If you can’t smell, ask someone who can. Clothes that smell like moth balls are not needed. If you have a sentimental item that will be passed down for years to come make the investment to have it properly cleaned and stored to avoid any potential damage. 
  • Can you think of at least three different ways of styling the item? If you don’t have an immediate idea of how to incorporate the item into your lifestyle, it’s perhaps not the right item for you. If you really love the item but need to inspiration, look up some ideas online but be sure to type the current year. If research doesn’t inspire a minimum of three style ideas or feels like you, pick a pile for the item and keep moving.

By the end of your closet cleanse, you will have looked at every single clothing item you own. This includes clothes that you have stashed away in other closets of your house or bins that are in storage. Take the time you need to properly do this and do not buy yourself anything new until you have.

Ky, should I do this with a friend? This will vary depending on who you’re talking to; but not only do I think this is something you should do on your own, I think it’s essential considering we are trying to develop your personal style. Although your friend might be the kindest soul ever, you could have very different styles of dressing. Take the time to do this for you.

A good closet cleanse can be both a psychologically and financially rewarding process when you take the time and make the commitment to do it thoroughly. My intention is to always provide you with the tools and inspiration you need to feel confident to approach your closet on your own. 

Does this mean I don’t like to go shopping with friends? Absolutely not; but be mindful of the opinions you let influence your closet and your mind. Personal power is just that – yours, don’t ever give it away. 

Through unapologetically cleaning out your closet you make way for the new energy and clothing to enter. You will go shopping with a very clear inventory and intention in mind ultimately curating a wardrobe that will be a more accurate reflection of you. You will begin to find less clutter in your closet and more confidence in your clothing.

The most essential component of personal style is self-confidence. Get to know yourself and cleanse your closet and your mind of anything that is not of your highest alignment. You are worth the effort to confidently cleanse and express both.

Friend, it’s all energy.

Get ready for Part III, we’ll finally go shopping!

 Published: February 8, 2023

Kylee Jacobsen-Nadji
Kylee Jacobsen-Nadji

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