Skeleton Closet

I just finished The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. If you are a fan of historical fiction or enjoy learning about the English royalty this is an excellent venture. It’s the story of King Henry VIII and the Boleyn family rising to power culminating in Henry’s marriage to Anne and its subsequent downfall. Scandal, intrigue, and salacious stories about the cost of rising to power confined me to the couch until I turned the last page.

King Henry VIII was known for his ostentatiousness, spending outlandish amounts of money on jewels, tapestries, and entertainment. One of his many passions was women. He had five wives, multiple mistresses, and all were lavished with bejeweled gowns and precious jewelry. I can only imagine opening the doors of the closets of these women. I picture the gowns gracefully adorning the hangers, flowing down in rich beautiful colors. I see fabrics of silk, linen, and velvets, along with delicate embroidery and jewels garnishing each piece. Then there were petticoats, kirtles, hoods, and headdresses, all to match each gown specifically. My mind soars thinking about the layers of clothing and accessories required just to get dressed to go to dinner.

I can’t help but compare my closet to these ladies of royalty and see the contrast that presents itself. I have just completed a project of simplifying my closet, a concept that I’m sure was quite lost on these ladies of royalty. This past year I’ve had an overwhelming urge to clean out my old clothes. I feel I have a new me that new me deserved a new wardrobe. Let me back up.

For the past three years, I’ve either been pregnant (done times two!), post baby (done!), or breastfeeding (pending…). Prior to this I was working full-time so most of my clothes were business attire for the outpatient clinic or scrubs at the hospital. Add to this the fact that I’m skinnier now than before having kids and it’s no wonder my closet had fallen into disrepair. And no, I haven’t figured out the reason for the weight loss but I won’t go asking many questions since I have nothing to complain about.

If you’ve been following my blog you know that I’ve been making an effort to simplify my life. This has been a slow yet very satisfying process of de-cluttering my possessions which has served to calm my lifestyle. I’ve experienced the immediate relief of organization as well as unexpected fulfillment of enjoying experiences rather than materials. I couldn’t help but look at my closet these past few months and see a sea of neglect and unnecessary clutter. Old t-shirts, jeans that were too big, and dresses from college stood like stiff ghosts on the hangers. Why was I keeping all of this?

Thus began the purge. It started small with just the items I haven’t worn in years. I collected them and donated to local organizations. Then I re-aproached. I realized that there were so many pieces I missed. Another bag filled and was off to be donated. Then another. And another. It was almost addictive, as if I was challenging myself to find more. I started to ask my husband if I really needed to get rid of certain items. I wasn’t trusting myself that I would keep what I needed.

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The 92 hangers I cleared from my closet.

After the initial purge I gave myself some time to experience my closet with what was left. This was very insightful. I realized what I actually needed. I kept the words of a fellow blogger in mind: only keep or buy clothing that you love. This was such a simple rule but so hard to follow. If I didn’t feel great in the clothing and it didn’t fit perfectly then it wasn’t worth having. How enlightening!

I had some inspiration and help along the way from a blog called Little Dutch Wife. She was clearing out her closet around the same time as me and shared some good ideas.  She also shared a link to this adorable flowchart from a blog called Small Notebook. The flowchart helps you decide if you should buy a piece or not. Mostly I just followed my own senses keeping that one simple but, oh so hard rule, in mind.

After I figured out where the gaps were in my closet I gave myself permission to shop where I normally wouldn’t. The places that were always too expensive and I didn’t dare spend the money. It was the clothing I really wanted but never allowed myself to have. For me, this was Althropologie, Boden, and J. Crew. The additional rule I gave myself when shopping was that I wasn’t allowed to go unless I had an item I needed. That way, as I became drawn in by all the adorable clothing, like a moth to the light, I could remind myself what I was really looking for. It seemed to calm me. As much as I enjoy shopping, it overwhelms me and I actually get shaky trying to make decisions and thinking about the money I’m spending.

This entire process has taken about six months. At the moment, I love my closet. Like a little girl excited about her tutu, I am an adult woman giggly about getting dressed each day. My clothes take up approximately one-third the space they did before and there’s not an outfit I don’t like or an item that doesn’t fit. One of the goals in reforming my closet was to create more texture and color and I feel satisfied with my choices. I may not have the extravagant gowns of an English queen or a lady in waiting but it’s a closet that exemplifies me. We are all more confident when we feel good in the clothes we wear so spend the money on the right items and there will be no need for a closet choked full of unnecessary and neglected items.

A few samples of my new purchases.

A few samples of my new purchases.

Have you ever revived your closet or changed the way you buy? I would love to hear your experiences and ideas.

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