How I found the unexpected relief of streamlining my wardrobe and clarifying my identity.
It had been four years since I’d really cleaned out my closet. I was a master at pretending that one day I would suddenly pick up a dress I’d abandoned two years ago and throw it on as if it were brand new. Maybe that floral printed shirt would come in handy for a luau-themed party one day?
And then the typical transformation narrative descended on me; I watched a documentary and decided to clean up my act. Burdened with an impending move to a small apartment, I decided to tackle my clothing collection first.
I learned from a good friend that choosing a consistent color palette was a way to ensure your clothes would always match—that you wouldn’t have stray neon leggings lying around with no partner to accompany them. So I chose my very favorite (and neutral) colors for this new commitment: black, white, gray, navy blue, olive green. And maybe a splash of red when some boldness was needed.
I took to the shelves, ruthlessly tossing (read: donating) cherished pieces that I hadn’t worn in months or did not conform to my color scheme. My chest lightened with every addition to the garbage bag beside me. My head wondered if I would find myself in a store, not two weeks later, watching a cashier scan the barcodes of my newfound clothing.
I had no reason to wonder. Months since then, I find myself relaxed in the morning, rather than tensely hoping to find a suitable outfit for the day. The clothing purge even spread to other parts of my life. I often notice myself attempting to rationalize the elimination of a crucial kitchen gadget or book in the name of de-cluttering. And though this can teeter on the edge of foolishness, the freedom to let go of objects and items that I no longer feel are needed to maintain my happiness is more valuable than anything I’ve owned.