whittle down that wardrobe

One of the advantages of going on a lazy holiday just the two of you is that there is no urgency to keep anybody else happy or occupied, you can potter around at your own pace, you can visit the places you want to and stop for lunch whenever you want for as long as you want.  The other advantage is that you have time.  I have almost finished knitting a pair of socks, have had read  several books and have caught up on all those blogs I follow but often don’t get around to reading.

At this time of year (with apologies to my readers from the Southern Hemisphere) it would seem that the minds of many turn around to where and how to store their summer clothing and bedding.  This is a concept with which I have some trouble getting my head around.  Granted, I do wear more jumpers and scarves in the winter, I give up bare legs and wear woolly tights.  But I don’t have a separate summer wardrobe, I just wear more layers in the winter.  As for our bed.  We have one duvet, I’ve no idea of the tog value, it’s feather and down and if I am too hot I toss it off and if I am too cold I wear pyjamas and put a couple of blankets over the top.

Why on earth do we need separate wardrobes and separate bedding?  What shocked me even more was that many of the earnest discussions about the best way to store said belongings were on websites and groups dedicated to minimalist/low impact living.  Surely the essence of low impact living is to ensure that your belongings are multipurpose?

There are a few items that only see the light of day in summer or winter.  Bikinis, woolly hats, woollen long-johns.  I am struggling to think of any others, my standard summer footwear (Birkenstocks) become my winter indoor slippers worn with lovely thick hand knitted socks.  Those handful of season restricted items hardly need a drawer of their own let alone a purposed wardrobe or cupboard.

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So today I am still on holiday in the south of France.  It is warm but not excessively so.  I am wearing my birkies, navy leggings and a long floral shirt.    If I were at home in the north of England where I am reliably informed by friends it is somewhat cooler!  I would maybe wear a tee-shirt under my shirt, a cardigan or jumper on top and put on socks and shoes when going outside.  Likewise I have linen dresses that I wear in the summer and then in the winter layer up with tee-shirts and jumpers.

I do have some woollen skirts, dresses and trousers, but surprisingly few for somebody who lives in the apparently frozen north!

Before you start dividing up your wardrobe into Summer and Winter and thus consigning your clothes to be worn for only 6 months of the year, take another look.  If you are looking to downsize your wardrobe start looking at ways to wear most, if not necessarily all, your clothes all year around.  You can wear linen trousers in winter if you want, you just need a pair or tights or long johns underneath!

It also  makes packing for travelling a whole lot easier too if you can make your wardrobe work for two seasons instead of just one.

Love Gillie x

slippery slopes and mugs

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Not so much “how the mighty are fallen” (not least because I have never been mighty), but more “how easy it is to slip into bad habits”.

As we moved further on into our declutter process I managed to stick strictly to one in one out (remember this post ), but gradually I let a few more items in and didn’t get around to shifting out an equivalent number.  Then as that happened more than once or twice I stopped being so strict in the shop.  If you have a one in one out policy you have to (a) really want the new item and (b) know of an item you are prepared to donate in return .  There is no “whoops what fell into my basket” with one in one out shopping.

We were in Morpeth this weekend and as usual we had a wander around the charity shops (excellent by the way).  I bought two pairs of linen trousers.  I came home and as I hung them up I noticed that my small wardrobe was a little bit tight.

Today I went to make a cup of tea and had to tidy the mug shelf before something fell out.

Something had gone wrong.

The clothes issue had not got out of hand and I have caught it in time.  I like to declutter in summer because it’s easier to try on clothes and see if they still fit/I like them etc when I am not wearing enough clothes to keep Nanook of the North warm.  So I have programmed a clear out tomorrow.

The cups are a funny one, because I can’t remember the last time I bought a cup.  However, we are forever being given them.  They don’t match, I don’t particularly like them and they certainly don’t make my heart sing.  So today this lot went to the charity shop and were replaced with 6 of the beauties at the top.  I love them, they are beautiful and they serve their purpose.

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Decluttering is a forever process, because not only do you slide backwards sometimes (clothes) but you are not the only person who brings stuff into your house (mugs).  If you have a hiccough, don’t beat yourself up, just pick yourself up and start again.

Love Gillie

P.S.  Since I posted this the Father Christmas mug has been given a reprieve on the grounds that it was abducted by The Boss and Singer 1.

 

decluttering changed my life

One year on.  Remember this?

 

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and this?

 

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Well now it looks like this.

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In fact that is a mere fraction of what has gone.  As I write I have six more bags to go to charity and the Singers have been dispatching some of the Boss’s clothes on Ebay.  So what next?  What have I learned?

What next?  Well there is still a huge amount to go.  The Boss is slowly working through his wardrobe and I will have to work at his pace.  The study still has far too much in it and there are a few black holes around the house to which we have been turning a blind eye.  The videos and CDs are a case in point.  But as the house has emptied we have begun to turn our attention towards the garden.  I have plans to turn our garden into a mainly physic garden where all the plants are either medicinal, edible or have other practical uses.  Meanwhile the Boss has finally got on top of the meadow and is planning the wild flower border around it.  Currently it’s mainly vetch, poppies and cornflowers, but give him time.

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What have I learned?  How long do you want me to go on?

Don’t give  up  Like learning to play a musical instrument it is hard at first.  You can see other people knocking off a snazzy sounding concerto whilst you are still struggling to coordinate your left and right hand sufficiently to get three notes out in the correct order.  But everybody has to start at the beginning.  Everybody has to practice, practice, practice before they are a master of the art.  Decluttering is no different.

It does become easier.  Trust me, you will come to a point when you are instinctively picking up things that you don’t want or need and putting them in the charity bag or recycling.

Let go of guilt.  Just because it was a gift or a family heirloom does not mean that you have to keep it.  Offer the latter to somebody else in the family to caretake if it will cause a ruction.  So you bought a dress and have never worn it but keep it because you feel you must.  Don’t.  Let it go.  Sell it on eBay BNWT!

Space is beautiful.  The things you love can shine when they are bordered by space, space in itself is something to love and cherish.

Don’t clutter it up the space.  My entire summer wardrobe fits in less space than my shirts used to take up.  My bookshelves contain books I want to read.  I know every shoe I possess, I no longer open a shoe box and look at the contents with surprise.

As I decluttered my belongings I decluttered my mind.  Now I can’t promise that this is true for everyone or that the two were actually connected.  I suffer from acute  and severe depression, the kind where all is well and suddenly for no apparent reason the lights are all turned off.  I made an active decision after a particularly nasty attack that I was going to think differently.  Thus it is quite possible that  my mind declutter is down to that.  Either way.  This year  I have gone from unsure what to do with my life stay at home mum to published author with a second book in the works; professional tarot reader; workshop facilitator and have plans for a small handmade toiletry collection.  As I decluttered I became more focused.  The things I focussed on were not those that I had expected but I am loving life and have big plans for the future.

Not everyone likes it.  A bit like losing weight and discovering that not all your friends are as keen on the new you.  I have been told all sorts of reasons why “they” can’t do it; why “they” could never let go of books (heaven forbid!) and so forth.  Maybe they really can’t or maybe they are jealous.  Whatever the reason it has nothing to do with me so I shall continue my path.

I have discovered my own style.  As I have let go of things that I didn’t like, need or want I have discovered a style that is mine and I like it.

I have made some amazing friends and some incredible business contacts.  I have discovered crossovers and potential joint projects with people I probably would never have met had I not started, and gone public with this journey.

I have more time.  I can’t explain this one, I still live in the same house, I still have the same family.  Perhaps it is more that I am more mindful of my time, I don’t fritter it away.  As I am only keeping things I cherish I am learning to cherish my time as well.

And finally, I did it because I wanted to.  You have to want to.

 

 

 

 

 

101 things you could let go of right now

I love lists.  Don’t you?  That immensely satisfying feeling as you cross off the things you have done.  Decluttering is perfect for list makers.  You can break up the clutter by room, by cupboard, by person, by subject area.  Oddly enough, I have done none of these things.  I have just started in one part of the house and worked my way round, over and over again.  Then I came across this blog by Joshua Becker 101 Physical That Can Be Reduced In Your Home .  Oh the joys, I am so doing this today.  I have already crossed off those things I have already reduced to the bare minimum or we don’t have.  But so much more to go.  I’m all fired up and ready to give the remaining clutter the heave ho.

Could you take this list round your home?  How much could you cross off today?

  1. Glassware
  2. Cookbooks
  3. Kitchen gadgets
  4. Kitchen appliances
  5. Pots / pans
  6. Mixing bowls
  7. Tupperware
  8. Water pitchers
  9. Magazines
  10. Newspapers
  11. Books
  12. Over-the-counter medicine
  13. Make-up
  14. Barretts / hair clips / ponytail holders
  15. Cleaning supplies
  16. Personal beauty appliances (hair dryer/curlers, electric razors)
  17. Bottles of shampoo/conditioner
  18. Photos
  19. Photography supplies
  20. Sewing supplies
  21. Craft supplies
  22. Scrap-booking supplies
  23. CD’s
  24. DVD’s
  25. Decorative items
  26. Candles
  27. Figurines
  28. Crystal
  29. Vases
  30. Audio/visual components
  31. Audio/visual cables
  32. Computer equipment
  33. MP3 players
  34. Furniture
  35. Video game systems
  36. Vdeo games
  37. Video game accessories
  38. Shirts / shorts
  39. Pants
  40. Coats
  41. Dresses
  42. Hats
  43. Clothes hangers
  44. Shoes
  45. Winter gear
  46. Jewelry
  47. Purses
  48. Coins
  49. Pillows
  50. Towels
  51. Linen sets
  52. Candle Holders
  53. Televisions
  54. Items on your bulletin board
  55. Magnets
  56. Artwork
  57. Mirrors
  58. Home office supplies
  59. Pens/pencils
  60. Old batteries
  61. Tools
  62. Hardware
  63. Rolls of duct tape
  64. Coolers
  65. Manuals
  66. Phone books
  67. Coupons
  68. Sporting good supplies
  69. Sports memorabilia
  70. Aluminum cans
  71. Glass bottles
  72. Automobile fluids
  73. Automobiles
  74. Scrap pieces of lumber
  75. Brooms
  76. Rakes
  77. Shovels
  78. Garden tools
  79. Plant containers
  80. Empty cardboard boxes
  81. Board games
  82. Puzzles
  83. Decks of cards
  84. Unused wedding gifts
  85. Baby clothes
  86. Baby supplies
  87. Old schoolbooks/papers
  88. Army men
  89. Bath toys
  90. Toy balls
  91. Toy cars/trucks
  92. Toy musical instruments
  93. Stuffed animals
  94. Plastic toys
  95. Childrens’ old school papers
  96. Suitcases
  97. Soda
  98. Alcohol
  99. Processed foods
  100. Christmas / seasonal decorations
  101. Cable channels

the statistic in the wardrobe

When I was at university (back in the Dark Ages) I had to take a statistics course.  I knew it wouldn’t go well and it didn’t.  I had a book by Derek Rowntree called Statistics without Tears.  I remember throwing it across the room and crying “You lied!” You can still get the book, it is actually very good and as I had a  maths A-level under my belt you would have thought I would be have been fine with stats.

I now realise it wasn’t the stats that were the problem but the subject matter.  If there was less talk of X and Y and more of skirts and dresses, or curly kale and sprouting broccoli I would have been top of the class.  So today I bring you wardrobe statistics where SD stands for Silk Dress not Standard Deviation and Chance Variation refers to the oppotune discovery that the pink scarf looks fantastic with the lime green jacket 🙂

You may remember that I took up the challenge of Project 333 last summer.  This year I have decided to reverse the project.  I am keeping a tally of the clothes I wear over a three  month period and then restricting myself to those clothes only for the rest of the summer (I am optomistic that it will be a blazing hot day on St Swithun’s day).

At the end of month one there is a definite trend appearing.  I am wearing almost entirely jersey (bamboo and cotton) and the colours are generally muted with bright accessories.  I am wearing more earrings (I used to just put a pair in and leave them) and have discovered I rather like big dangley ones.  I rarely wear trousers other than leggings with tunics and I almost  never wear a coat.  I am usually barefoot or wear Toms or Fitflops.  This a big reveal as although I have culled my shoe collection quite severely I still  never wear many of them.  Regardless of the weather I tend to wear summery light clothes and just layer up if it gets cold.  I haven’t worn socks or tights all month.

For those of you who would like the figures they are as follows.

  • Tops:  I have worn 10 different tops 16 times in total
  • Bottoms: I have worn 6 bottoms a total of 15 times.
  • Dresses: I have worn 7 dresses a total of 15 times
  • Cardigans:  I have worn 6 cardianas a total of 16 times
  • Scarves:  I have worn 5 scarves a total of 15 times
  • Shoes:  I have worn 6 shoes a total of 30 times, the fitflops 18 times!
  • Coats/Jackets:  I have worn one coat twice and one jacket once.

Colours are very blue heavy.

  • Blues: 27
  • Pinks: 12
  • Grey: 11
  • Neutrals: 9
  • Teal: 8
  • Purple: 7
  • Black: 2
  • Green: 1

I recently had my colours done and I think I am pretty okay with the ones I am wearing but apparently should be wearing more yellow and orange.  I hate both of them on me so I can’t see that happening soon.

In the meantime it has been an interesting look at how I use my wardrobe and you will be delighted to know you will be getting another update at the end of May.  Bet you can’t wait 🙂

 

ten top tips for letting go and decluttering

Reading Camilla Long in The Sunday Times I came across this gem  “…I may never be as tidy as my mother, whose Christmas afternoon treat is a full assault on the downstairs loo.”  I wondered briefly if Ms Long’s mother and I share similar genetic make up.  It is a standing joke that my idea of the perfect Mothering Sunday is to be allowed to gut my entire wardrobe from pyjamas to coats and everything in between without anybody mentioning the word “obsessive” once.

The reason for the outing of Mrs Long was the discussion of Marie Kondo a Japanese organisation and decluttering expert.  Always keen to see how other people approach the process I duly googled said expert.  I am now convinced that I share genetic backgrounds with both Mrs Long and Ms Kondo.

Her top ten tips are:

1. DO IT ALL AT ONCE, AND DO IT NOW
I have never subscribed to the slowly but surely approach to decluttering.  It has never worked for me for the simple reason that it is too slow.  I want to see results and I want to see them now.  Clearly if you live in a  house the size of ours you can’t do the whole thing in 24 hours but you can do a whole wardrobe or even a whole room.

2 DISCARD FIRST, SORT AND TIDY LATER
Empty out the whole cupboard sort it out and only put back what you are going to keep.  Put the rest in the bin/recycling/bag for the charity shop IMMEDIATELY and put them in the car the same day.  So long as it stays in the house you will be tempted to retrieve something you don’t need.  I find the pulling it all out and strewing it across the floor very satisfying, it is also an excellent shock reminder of how much rubbish you have.

3 START WITH THE EASY STUFF
Don’t start with the box of unsorted photos.  Start with something you know is due a serious clear out.  For most of us that’s the wardrobe.  Once you get into the swing of things letting go becomes easier.  I speak from experience, we are almost one year into our declutter and now hardly a day goes by when I don’t fill at least one small bag, if not a bin bag every day.  This is the result of a quick sweep this afternoon.

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4 PUT EVERYTHING IN EACH CATEGORY IN ONE PLACE FIRST
You cannot sort your wardrobe if half of it is in the dirty washing basket/ironing pile/dry cleaners/back of the sofa.  Get everything together at once.  This is the only way you can spot duplicates or a disturbing fondness for electric orange tee-shirts.

5 THROW AWAY EVERYTHING YOU DON’T LOVE
You’ve heard it before a million times.  If you don’t use it (don’t throw out your toothbrush) or love it then why is it taking up space in your house?  It is hard at first, I know.  But it really does work.  I finally got rid of three sarongs today.    There is nothing wrong with them but I don’t wear sarongs anymore, I prefer to throw  kaftan over my swimming costume (I think this is something to do with age and size 🙂 )  I kept them because they were perfectly good and quite pretty.  But I don’t need them and they certainly don’t make me smile when I see them.  Well they didn’t until I saw them in the charity pile.

6 DITCH YOUR PAPERWORK
There are some things that you have to keep.  Legal documents (birth, marriage, divorce certificates)  Insurance polices, tax returns and supporting papers for 7 years etc.  You do not need to keep your credit card statements and bank statements for the past 10 years or more.  You really don’t need to keep all the paperwork that comes with electrical goods.  If  you don’t know how to use something there is more information on the internet than there is in the multilingual pocket sized guide that comes with your phone.  Where and how you keep them is up to you.  Marie Kondo says keep them in upright containers to avoid the collection getting too big.  Having seen the size of some magazine files I think it is possible to let a collection get to gargantuan proportions.  My preferred method is to put the paperwork loose in a dropfile in a filing cabinet.  You can’t fill a dropfile to bursting point.  It just falls apart.  Find what works for you but do not EVER use box files or magazine files.  You can get far, far too much in them.

7 LET GO WITH LOVE (GIFTS AND KEEPSAKES)
Why?  Why are you filling your house with guilt?  Do you like feeling guilty?  Yet every time you see that vase, or that book or that scarf you never wear you are filled with a huge sense of guilt that you hate  something that a loved one chose for you.  Hey, we have different tastes, that’s what makes it interesting to meet new people.  Just because your mother loved the purple Angora stole doesn’t mean you have to.  But somebody else will.  On that basis surely it is more wrong to keep something that is never going to be loved or used than to give it away and let somebody who really does love it use it on a daily basis.  I let go of a shoulder bag that my father brought back from Australia  THIRTY YEARS AGO!  Today I finally looked at it and knew that my father would be laughing his socks of if he knew how long I had been carting that bag around the country.

8 DON’T BUY EXPENSIVE OR COMPLICATED STORAGE EQUIPMENT
Because you will just fill it up.  You already  have cupboards, drawers, coat hooks.  Use them.

9 LEARN HOW TO FOLD CLOTHES – THEN STORE THEM ‘STANDING UP’
This is the first time where Kondo and I part company but that may be because in our house I have far more hanging space than drawer or cupboard space.    I’ll leave this one up to you.

10 TREAT YOUR POSSESSIONS LIKE PEOPLE
If you have followed the rules and only kept things you love then treat them well.  If you only have three handbags it’s easy to keep them clean, polish them and put them back in their dustbags.  If you have 23 handbags you’ll never manage that.

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S to M declutter will be coming soon.  I can’t believe I just typed that 🙂

In the meantime a quick wardrobe update.  The wardrobe has been my main focus of attention since the big stuff went off to auction/charity/skip earlier this month.  The Gin Gan is wonderfully empty and I am really beginning to feel the day to day difference.  I think psychologically even though I had removed so so so much from our house the fact that it was still on site was a big issue for me and I am glad it’s gone.

Living out of one medium sized suitcase for a month focuses the mind and on my return from Australia I was able to take a look at my much depleted wardrobe and  cull another 30%.  This afternoon I had an urge to do a bit more.  It is interesting that once you really get going it is much, much easier to keep going and become more purposeful.

This is what was left after the Singers and Dancer had picked out the few items that they wanted.

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I now have three full bags of clothes in the back of my car ready to be taken to The British Heart Foundation shop in town.  I was talking to a friend today who is at the beginning of her declutttering process.  She is at the overwhelmed stage.  Remember the Gaussian normal distribution bell curve?  It looks like this.

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Ignoring the statistical use of the bell curve and just looking at the shape for a moment and I think it represents our approach to decluttering.  We start with high hopes and approach the issue head on.  Then we realise just how big the job is, how overwhelming it can feel and we are tempted to give up.  Assuming we keeping going then we plough through the really hard times.  The times when we have got rid of the things that were easy to get rid of because we didn’t really want them.  Now we are faced with the things that we don’t need but somehow we still want.  Finally we get to the top and like the helter skelter rider we come racing down because now it is easy, we “get it”, we want to be unburdened.

So wherever you are on the curve, remember there is a helter skelter ride at the end and it is worth it.