Whether you follow basketball or not, college ball is an exciting sport and March Madness is the be-all, end-all competition among collegiate teams. I am always inspired by the players’ drive, athleticism, and winning attitude. Borrow this enthusiasm and plan your own decluttering plays for a Spring-ready closet.
March Madness has become an annual springboard for me to declutter. I love the NCAA’s single-elimination process as a framework for purging my wardrobe.
The tournament always starts in March and concludes in April — as we warm up to Spring. I appreciate the build-up to the ultimate winner; each week there are winners (and losers). Borrow this approach and discover the winners and banish the losers in your closet.
• winners – clothes that are versatile, stylish, and flattering
• losers – anything stained, ill-fitting, or in need of repair
If you like following play-lists, here’s some quantifiable advice to help you keep score on your efforts:
• Trim 16 (Sweet Sixteen) bulky sweaters and jackets from your closet to make room for Spring styles. Scarves are typical accessories that you can rotate each season. Footwear is another category that deserves attention: pack up your heavy, weatherproof boots.
• Remove at least 8 items from your hanging space to create room for bolder colors and lighter-weight outfits. What you remove may end up in off-season storage, or may need to find a new home. Can you find an Elite Eight to donate, thrift, or E-bay?
• Final Four Here’s where the tournament makes its biggest splash and reminds me to focus on the basics. Make sure you have what you need to enter Spring, well dressed in the appropriate clothes that suit your life and lifestyle. This may mean creating a short shopping list for your foundation pieces, or a to-do list for the winners before they go on court.
• shine your shoes to clean and preserve their leather
• alter any investment pieces so you continue to enjoy them
• dry-clean items that you have enjoyed all season but are packing away until next year
The hardest lesson March Madness teaches is one-and-done. The Final Four teams play two games over three days to determine a national champion. Culling collections down to a single winner is unrealistic (I couldn’t survive with only one pair of black slacks!) Selecting winners — of a reasonable quantity — based on proven criteria is a good play.
Look around everywhere you turn is clothing
It’s everywhere that you go [look around]
You try everything you can to escape
The pain of piles that you know [piles that you know]
When all else fails and you long to be
Something better than you are today
I know a place where you can get away
It’s called The Container Store, and here’s what it’s for, so…
Come on, vogue
Let your body shop to the muzak [shop to the muzak]
Hey, hey, hey
Come on, vogue
Let your body go with the flow [go with the flow]
You know you can do it!
-By Madonna, and slightly tweaked by me! ☺
So…the holidays are over now. You’ve probably returned some clothes that you received (perhaps an ugly holiday sweater) but still kept some as well. Problem though…your closet is packed and there’s no room for even one more thing!
No worries, let’s take it step by step, so you don’t get overwhelmed! Do one step a day if you need.
Step 1 – Grab a trash bag and skim through the shelves and rods, and look for any items you obviously know that you don’t like to wear anymore, even if they fit fine. Put all the items in the bag(s), which you can take to consign (if you have expensive pieces) or donate. Immediately put the bag(s) in the trunk of your car. If they stay nearby, the level of temptation to put things back will be high. That’s why many Professional Organizers will offer to take your bags for you! Well that, plus we are just nice people who like helping others!
Step 2 – Shelf by shelf and with sections of hanging, bring the clothes out and set them on your bed. You are now going to look for items that are stained or ripped and beyond cleaning or repair. Again, if you have some expensive pieces, try your hand at a dry cleaner and a tailor. Otherwise, break out another trash bag and let those items go. Temptation isn’t nearly as high for this bag, right?!
Step 3 – Aside from the clothes that you like to wear left in the closet, there are bound to be many that you still hold onto for nostalgia’s sake or because you want them for when you can fit into them again. Perhaps you’ve heard the statistic that people wear only 20% of their clothing 80% of the time. Don’t worry…I’m not going to be too hard on you here! Purchase some clear bins (perhaps at The Container Store!) that can sit on the top shelves of your closet. Those clothes will be going in there for now. You’ll still be aware that those items are there, but they won’t be taking up your valuable space. Every few months, or at least in another year, pull the bins down to gauge your feelings about the clothing inside.
Step 4 – Now’s the time for some fun! Put those new clothes on and dance around (perhaps doing the Vogue!) as if it is your own small fashion show, and celebrate the fact that you now have room for these new pieces!
Step 5 – After regaining your composure and your breath (ha ha) you can put your clothing on the many empty hangers that you have made available.
Here’s to you and a happy and clutter-free New Year!
Typically in our society, we acquire items, things, and stuff. We use our valuable time to acquire these so called treasures. It may have felt good to collect and accumulate. Yet, when it’s out of control it appears as clutter and usually those feelings change. Overwhelm shows up. That’s the signal, the “red flag”, that it is time to take some action. One action could be evaluating and accessing the reasons you have what you have. We are not talking about items that serve a purpose, are useful, and make your life better.
Are you holding on dearly to the “stuff” that:
1. Represents “Who” I am, or “Who” I was, or “Who” I want to become
Do you like any of these “Who’s”? Sometimes they don’t align with who you are presently, or they are reminders of the past, or even reminders of in-completions. If you don’t feel energized or happy with them, then why keep them around?
2. I may need this someday
Future thinking that could keep you up to your eyeballs in excess stuff. It could be said this indicates a lack of trust in the future. Our thoughts can create our reality. If unconsciously your thoughts are coming from a place of lack, you will create that. What do I mean? If you trust that you will have all you need , you will have it!
3. I got this as a gift
Just because your favorite person bought this doesn’t justify saving space for it if you don’t need, want, or like it. Re-gifting or donating gives it a new life from gathering dust or buried in a pile. Using places for unwanted items takes away your precious space.
4. Family relics that have been passed on to me
So maybe you have inherited these things that have no meaning or sentimental value to you. If you feel you want to memorialize the people, choose a few items and get creative. Make a shadow box or a special area to display them. If you will have joy and feel happy seeing these items in your home, then that’s what counts!
5. I feel secure having this/ Can’t have empty space
No matter how many possessions you acquire the need for more will occur. Remember to keep what makes you happy, and give away what you don’t like. If you don’t like empty space, look at why. Also keep in mind that no matter how much you have, keep these areas safe and accessible. This is your home and a place to retreat to from the outside world.
6. It cost so much/got it for free
It’s all relative to how you look at value. Whether you spent more on an item or got it for free it comes down to how you view this. When looking at an item in this category to purge or keep, check out if your beliefs or values around the money are holding you back from making the decision. This awareness may open you up to making a decision based on what you like regardless of the cost.
Looking at these categories and evaluating brings self awareness and conscious choices. This awareness can lead you to taking another step; recognizing what’s behind your decision making. If you choose to recognize these things it might set you free. One being mental clarity and then giving yourself the freedom to make a choice. The choice of physically letting items go that you don’t really want, or keeping what you truly treasure!
Ok, we’ve all heard that we should keep our bodies active in order to lose weight. We’ve also heard that we should keep our brains stimulated so we can keep our minds sharp and therefore, remember where we left our keys! But how does “use it or lose it” relate to clothes? Well, I will tell you now!
Clothes are tied to sentiment, self expression and comfort, so it’s no wonder why closets can become overloaded. Sentiment, for clothing we wore at meaningful events in our lives and also times when we were a couple sizes smaller! Self expression, for clothing we buy to show off our different sides. And comfort, for those days you just can’t deal with constricting buttons and zippers! Often though, these items don’t fall into your everyday wardrobe. Did you know that there is actually a statistic created for that? You wear 20 percent of your clothes 80 percent of the time. So what can you do with that 80 percent that is rarely worn? Here are some options:
1) Consign …for formal gowns or cocktail dresses (yes, those bridesmaid dresses too!) that you don’t know if and when you will wear again. Interview some consignment shops and let someone else appreciate and enjoy them for their special occasions!
2) Host a clothing swap…for friends that have been eyeing items in your closet. Beware of taking in more than you have put out and aim to use those items in your day to day 20 percent.
3) Donate…if there are items that you know you will never wear again (maybe they’ve fallen on the floor and got pushed to the far corner!), or haven’t worn in a year. Give them a gentle wash and bring them to your favorite charity collection site.
But maybe you’re not wearing some clothes because they are missing buttons, have ripped seams or you are just plain tired of them. Here are some options for these dilemmas:
1) Head to a tailor…for items with the quality to last and take them in to repair seams. If you are missing a button, look to the stash of buttons that come with the shirts you buy – that’s what they are there for! I store all mine in a small decorative box.
2) Head to a low cost retailer…for items that you’re bored with. Look for accessories like belts and broaches that can enliven and refresh what you own. You can follow the color trends without having to buy clothes. Plus accessories are much smaller and easier to store!
3) Head to an art center…for shirts that have faded or just can’t be fixed. They make great smocks for kids!
Now, with all that done, how is your closet looking? Have you gotten to 70/30? 60/40?
Take it one day at a time and know you are not alone! Strive to make your closet a place that you can enjoy going to, filled with items that make you happy, are flattering, and reflect your personality. Then go out into the world, smile, and know that you look fabulous!
Babies don’t stay babies for long. My babies have grown out of baby bug rattles and hundreds of adorable, cute outfits. ‘Tis the season for fall consignment sales, especially for childrens’ clothes. My clients are often tortured with the idea that by donating their goods, they are somehow losing money. Is selling on consignment, eBay, or Craigslist any better? I decided to run the math on my own involvement in a community consignment sale and see how it compares to donation values.
Let’s set aside the emotional distress tied up in pawing through teeny tiny clothes, hand-knitted sweaters and beautiful booties. Look, I’m a professional, and even I did a mini fashion show for my husband as I tagged items for sale. (Aaaaw, remember her in this cute little outfit? It hardly looks worn!)
Let’s examine facts. I had about 250 outfits, shoes, and baby gear that were consignable: in good shape, no stains or tears, matched in complete outfits, and looking like-new or lightly-worn. I signed on to be part of a local one-day only sale, but working with a consignment store is similar.
First came the scramble for child-sized hangers. Clothes on hangers tend to sell better. Every dollar I spent on prep would reduce my profit, so I scoured Freecycle and hit up friends and clients, but it was tough coming up with enough extra hangers.
Using straight pins to attach sale tags is a no-no. One DollarTree package of safety pins cost, yep, just one buck. Sale tags were provided by the event host, but some sales require consignors to print tags at home, adding paper and printer ink costs.
Then came the real cost. Little outfits had to be checked for condition, put on hangers, steamed in some cases, grouped and priced. I spent at least 10 hours, maybe 15 hours or more. At minimum wage of $7.25 my “cost” for time spent would have been at least $73 bucks.
Last came the trip to the sale site for drop off. Loading items and delivering to the sale site took a little more than an hour, so rack up another roughly $10 in opportunity cost and aggravation.
Now comes the fun part. Each sale works a bit differently, so read up on what’s available in your area. This sale gave 60% of the proceeds back to the consignor. I opted to volunteer at the sale and earn a higher percentage of the earnings, in my case 75%. I donated two hours of volunteer time for greater profit and an additional shot at end-of-day markdowns. I scored big, getting an all-wood three-piece play kitchen for just $10.
I priced nearly all my items at $2. Price items to sell, for sure. Remember, folks, pricing something unreasonably high at a consignment sale actually lowers your chance of earning any profit at all. Most people come to these sales for deals, so play along or don’t play.
I’m not surprised that $61 is just about what I spent at that very same sale. My check came in about two weeks. Unsold items can be donated by the host, but I picked up mine to take to another sale or perhaps donate for the tax deduction. That means I dragged home 150 outfits, which was no easy haul back out to the car, but they are still worth another roughly $75 back on my taxes when properly documented.
So was it worth it? People who itemize deductions, about one-third of us, can use charitable donations on Schedule A. If I had bagged and dropped off those same 250 items at my local Goodwill, I would have been able to assign a thrift value to them of the same $2, and taken the deduction on my taxes next April. My donation would have reduced my taxable income by the value donated ($500), and reduced my tax bill by about $125. (Note: Please check with your tax advisor regarding your situation.) Hmmm, that is suspiciously close to my net, but without the time that I spent prepping, delivering and retrieving my unsold items, and volunteering at the event.
So should you or shouldn’t you? If you enjoy consignment sales, if you absolutely need the cash more than the time, or if you have some current, quality items that you know people are willing to pay top dollar for, then go the consignment route. I appreciate it, because I’ll probably be buying your stuff. Just remember, the longer you wait to send items to consignment, the less likely they will be trendy and desirable. If, however, time is more valuable to you, then donate your goods to a charity like Goodwill or any local charity that will provide a receipt for tax purposes, knowing that the financial outcome to your bottom line will likely be similar.