friendship

'To declutter properly I needed to let go of one special item ...'

I have a lucky dress. Actually, let me rephrase that:  I had a lucky dress.

As of yesterday, I no longer have that lucky dress.

I do however, have a very organised wardrobe.

For a long time, I thought I was the only weirdo who thought a “lucky dress” was a normal thing to hold on to. It turns out I’m not.

I might, however, hold the record for longest-keeping-of-a-lucky-dress. I had it for more than 20 years. There was no chance I will ever fit into it again or, given the state of it, that it would ever even be wearable. But still, I clung onto it.

Until the weekend. I called in some ‘professional’ help – my friend, Louise, who declutters for a living.

Classic 'Floordrobe'

Louise is a professional organiser, but she also loves me like a sister, which means she is one of very few people in the world who can say things like: "Why is your room SUCH a fucking mess?" without offending me.

She  set her sights on my closet first. Particularly the 'dresses' section. I admit I buy a lot of dresses I've never actually worn, but they look SO cute in the shop. She threw them onto my bed, one-by-one, making noises that signified deep disgust.

"When and where did you ever expect to wear this???" she scoffed, pointing to a lime green taffeta number.

It took some effort to get me to admit it was from my formal and now almost 30 years old. I cried, I interpretively danced, I tried to convince her that it couldn't be culled. She was hearing NONE of it.

Binned.

Ruthless doesn't begin to describe Lou. Item after item was shoved brutally into a bright yellow garbage bag. Outside I was nodding, eager to please. Inside, I was dying.

But slowly (very slowly) I realised it she was right. Everything she was binning was surplus to requirements. (Except for my old Doc Martins. Lou THOUGHT she saw me throw them out but in reality, they were put under the kitchen sink. Well, I thought that was what she thought. But she was an old hand at this kind of thing. Before turfing them, she gave me a chance to make my case. Besides wearing them to schoolies, I couldn't give her a reason to keep them. They were a lovely reminder of simpler times, but I was an adult now and, as she pointed out, I needed to behave like one.)

You might not have a friend like Louise to be totally ruthless and unforgiving help you cull, so I'm going to help you out. Decluttering your wardrobe is easy. But first, take this key piece of advice on board:

Remove the one piece of clothing you've been holding onto for sentimental reasons.

Once you do that, the rest will just fall away.

Then gather every item of clothing you own and put it all on top of your bed. Resist the temptation to leave some of it hanging up in the wardrobe. Then sort into piles. Dresses, coats, shirts, pants, shoes etc.

It will probably, temporarily, look a little like this. Don't freak out.

Then to really get into the mood, have this song playing on repeat in the background:

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Okay, here we go. This is going to be brutal but necessary, so prepare yourself.

Start by grabbing an item and asking yourself:

1. Am I going to fit into this garment ever again?

If your answer is 'one day' GET RID OF IT. If you do lose weight and get into those jeans/dress/denim shorts again one day, aren't you going to be loving yourself sick? And won't you want to go shopping for NEW clothes? Look, I understand why we do this: it's to motivate ourselves. But sometimes it's better to just embrace the fact that we're never going to look like this again:

decluttering my wardrobe
Image via iStock

And that this is okay. Because cake is delicious. And much more satisfying than fitting into skinny jeans.

2. Am I holding onto this for sentimental reasons?

If your answer is 'yes' GET RID OF IT. Maybe it's the dress you wore to grandma's funeral or the one you wore home from the hospital after giving birth to your first child. Lovely and all, but probably ugly as all hell. Just ditch it, have a good weep and move on. The past is the past and your wardrobe shouldn't be a museum of fashions of years past.

Cloaked in good times but nothing is forever. Sorry.

3. Do I own multiple examples of this item?

If the answer is 'yes', leave yourself with the two you love best, then TURF THE REST. Seriously, how many pairs of tan boots can you wear at any one time? I speak from experience here: I had 14 identical black t-shirts. FOURTEEN. Why? At what point did I convince myself I needed ONE more generic black t-shirt?

It can feel difficult, but you have a sickness and I am your quasi doctor.Trust me.

One pair of these was more than enough.

3. Is it broken?

Are you holding onto 15 bras in various states of decay? WHY? Just THROW THEM IN THE BIN. Ditto knickers. If they are aren't pristine and or/spanx, DITCH. Functional day-to-day undies are cheap. There is no excuse to hang onto them if they aren't in good - nay GREAT -condition. Don't make me tell you the story about skin necrosis to convince you how important this is.

If it is missing one of these, THROW...IT...OUT

4. Am I only keeping it because it was expensive?

If the only reason you're keeping that jacket is because you were talked into it on a girl's weekend away and it cost a bomb, it's time to gift it to some other lucky soul and donate it to Vinnies. I told you this would brutal.

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Am I am guilty of this? Sure. On one particular trip I spent a ridiculous amount of money on an outfit. Sure, it looked GREAT in those trick mirrors in the overpriced boutique but when I got it home I realised I had been in 'girls weekend stupor'. I've held onto it, waiting for the perfect event to break it out, yet in 5 years I'm still to find the moment that calls for a leopard print catsuit.

You live and you learn.

declutter my wardrobe
Stop. Collaborate and Listen. (Image via iStock)

5. Is it lucky?

I recently parted with my 'lucky' dress. It was, by 2015 standards, quite hideous but it really did accompany me on some fun and very 'lucky' times. I met my husband in it. I scored my best job wearing it to the interview. It had great memories and felt like success.

And I'm not saying you should get rid of it if you still wear it.  But when it becomes nothing more than a monument to the good times, it's time to release it back into the wild and let someone else catch the luck.

6. Am I  keeping this for my children?

Don't. I'm not saying you shouldn't keep your wedding dress for your daughter but beyond that, everyone has their own fashion journey to undertake. Sure, your children will want a part of you, they will want to understand who you were ... but your everyday clothes will not be where they find your essence.

7. Have I worn it in the last year?

If the answer is 'no' DITCH IT. You think you'll wear it again but believe me, you won't. You've been through four seasons since you last even came close to needing that thing. Time to say goodbye.

How does your pile look now? If it was anything like mine, it will be half the size. HALF.

And it feels so...damn...good.

My floordrobe is nothing but a distant memory. I have eliminated chaos and restored order.

And remember, op shops and charity stores across Australia are always in need of good quality clothing to sell. If you can, please pop them into your nearest charity bin.

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