May is Mental Health Awareness Month. You may not have thought about keeping your wardrobe tidy as a method for clearing your mind and reducing anxiety. After helping clients create space in their wardrobes for 15 years, I can attest it absolutely does.
Your Wardrobe Tells a Story
Each piece had meaning and purpose as it entered your wardrobe. With any luck, you loved it and wore it many times. As an extension of you, your wardrobe is a space of joy and support. However, over time, the joy may dull as your wardrobe becomes a collection of items whose time has passed. Eventually, joy turns to chaos as your closet is stuffed with wardrobe orphans. Then, getting dressed is no longer fun but a CHORE.
Why Dressing Becomes Stressful
The three main reasons you feel anxiety when you walk into your closet are: (1) You have too many options, (2) Your wardrobe is creating too much noise, and (3) There isn’t enough time to wear all of it.
Why Too Much is Bad
You might be wondering why a lot of options is a bad thing. The reason is simple: the more that’s there, the more decisions you must make. “Yes” to this, “no” to that, and so on. Eventually, you reach decision fatigue and wear the same 10 items over and over. It is said we wear 20% of our wardrobe 80% of the time. We think we wear most of what we own. We don’t. Instead, the extra pieces are forgotten while we reach for the things we most enjoy.
You may not have considered your wardrobe talks to you, but it does. “Pick me,” “What about me?” “Remember me?” “You haven’t worn me in a while,” etc. It becomes exhausting as each item vies for attention. As with the “too many options” dilemma above, you begin to turn off the chatter and focus only on a small cluster of pieces. Eventually, items become forgotten with almost zero chance of ever being worn again.
It’s Simple Math
Don’t worry. There will be no quiz at the end of this. It’s quite simple. Once you have more than you need in your wardrobe, there are not enough days or occasions to wear everything you own. It begins to feel wasteful to have extra pieces that you never wear when there are likely others who would love to own it and wear it. The “not wearing” also triggers stress.
Wardrobe Anxiety & Guilt
Altogether, too many options, too much noise, and not enough time to wear all of it raises our anxiety levels. If your bedroom and/or closet are cluttered, this, too, raises anxiety. When you walk in your closet, your brain tries to identify everything it sees. If it can’t quickly and easily categorize everything there, your body releases cortisol, a stress hormone. Over time, these continual cortisol hits take a toll on your overall health. Furthermore, a cluttered closet is a reminder of things not done and pieces not worn, creating a major guilt trip.
Quick & Easy Solution
Luckily, there’s a simple solution! A wardrobe edit returns your closet to a state of balance. Rather than anxiety, you feel calm, happy, and excited as you look at your wardrobe. If you aren’t sure how or where to start, look at my blog post from earlier this year: The Quick & Easy Wardrobe Edit. I also dispense great editing advice in this post and this one, as well. Late last year, I got right to the point with this blog post, What to Ditch from Your Closet. Apparently, I am a big believer in wardrobe edits!
How To Edit
There are various methods for wardrobe edits. I don’t recommend Marie Kondo’s method of removing every item and putting them on the bed unless you have an entire day for it. If the thought of an edit is daunting, tackle one category at a time over the course of several weeks. Take one hour per weekend to look over and try on all your pieces. The trying on is very important. Don’t skip it. You will be surprised how the fit of a garment has changed if you have not worn it in a while. If it does not fit and cannot be tailored to fit, donate it.
Go through each clothing category in your closet until you are done. This includes tops, jackets, shoes, skirts, dresses, jewelry, scarves, socks, underwear and so on. Don’t pressure yourself to get it done in a certain time. Simply keep going until it’s complete. The farther you go, the better you will feel and the more motivated you will be to stick with it.
Nothing is Ever Lost
A big reason we do not edit is we feel like we are losing something by letting things go. On the contrary, by creating space in your wardrobe, you are gaining mental space, mental clarity and greater happiness. Trust me, you won’t need that unworn item “someday.” Someday is never most of the time. Remember, as long as it is in good condition and cleaned, others greatly benefit from your donations. Why keep a piece you aren’t wearing when there’s so much need?
As I mentioned in my January blog post, once you are done editing, take your donations to a charity right away. This is non-negotiable. Quickly removing them from your home is important. Otherwise, you might think about them, go through them and pull pieces out, chipping away at your edit and re-cluttering your closet and mind.
Where to Donate
Not all donation methods are created equal. Avoid the bins in the grocery store parking lots, for example. There’s a high chance your pieces wind up in a landfill. The same can be said of donations to bigger organizations like The Salvation Army & Goodwill. They are currently receiving unprecedented amounts of clothing donations. There’s only so much they can list and sell in their thrift stores.
One of my favorite methods for donating is through ThredUp, which is committed to keeping clothing out of landfills. They supply a pre-posted donation bag. It does not get easier than that! All you need to do is make sure your items are clean before filling the bag. ThredUp gives you credit to shop on their website. However, I have been using store specific ThredUp bags to get credit at Madewell and Athleta. Getting rid of unworn items and receiving store credit to my favorite retailers are huge wins for me.
The End Result
Ideally after an edit, you can see everything you own and you love everything you see. Once you’re done, I hope you feel accomplished! But more than that, I hope you feel happy and peaceful. Helpful hint: Once you are in the habit of editing, it takes much less time. So, keep up the good work and continually edit year-round.
I Can Help
If you want to edit your wardrobe but need help, I can assist you. My email is email@example.com, or you can message me here. I make wardrobe edits quick and easy. With me as your guide, you won’t fear losing something. If an item has possibilities, I’ll help you see it. If it doesn’t, I’ll help you let it go, knowing it won’t serve you.
Whether you live in Dallas or elsewhere, an edit is possible, and I’d be delighted to help you. Take care of your mental health by taking care of your wardrobe. You deserve to feel good and happy with your wardrobe. Tidy wardrobe = stronger mental health. You got this.