29 January 10 • MAV

When I moved from Chicago to Maine six years ago an addiction grabbed hold of me. It’s an addiction that lives with me to this day and I call it — THE CLEAR-OUT.

I am addicted to giving things away.

I remember one of my best friends saying to me, ‘I know one of these days I’m going to come visit you in Maine and you’ll be sitting on the corner in your underwear!’ And while that has not quite happened yet … the possibility happily lingers.

Now, it just so happens that I have had the occasion in my life of late to indulge in some major clearing-out. In fact, I have given over the last several weekends to this line of work.

A dream come true! Liberation at last!

There are always a few items that automatically make ‘the cut’ (some of which you see photographed throughout this dispatch). These are items, that for either sentimental or love reasons, I won’t hesitate to put right back into their spot in the closet. ‘The Rules’ don’t apply to them and they never will. Everything else, without fail, is taken out, looked at, considered and either tossed into the Salvation Army bag, into the letterpress-ink cleaning bag (the item has to be quite scrappy for this bag) or put back in the closet … saved by the bell.

Here’s a peek into my thinking about the closet/dresser clear-out. Get ready for some serious hard-line tough love goodness! You’ll thank me for it, I swear.

MAV’s CLEAR-OUT RULES

Notes: Give yourself a few hours to go through your clothing; don’t be in a rush. Take out every single item and throw it on the bed or the floor. Make your way through the pile using ‘The Rules’ below as a guide for your decision-making. You will have one hell of a mess on your hands but you’ll feel amazing afterward and the Salvation Army (and thrifters alike) will thank you!

1. Ask yourself, ‘have I worn this in the last six months?’ For me it’s ‘three months’ but let’s say six for non-clear-out-addicts. Obviously this does not mean that seasonal clothing should be gotten rid of. What I am trying to say is that if you have not reached for it in the last six months you’re not going to reach for it. Trust.

2. Ask yourself, ‘does this fit?’ and ‘does this make me feel like a million bucks?’ Don’t save clothing that is the wrong fit/size. Whether it’s the huge sweater you used to wear in middle school (although perhaps this falls under sentimental value, of course) or the skinny jeans you bought on sale because you figured you’d fit into a 29 someday soon, if it doesn’t fit, it just doesn’t fit. Clothes that fit make you feel like you; why wear anything else?

3. Ask yourself, ‘do I really need another t-shirt?’ Feel free to swap out the word ‘t-shirt’ for ‘tank-top’ or any other basic item you might have too many of. T-shirts and basics are major culprits for clogging up the closet or dresser. Why bother? Trim down and try having just a small stack of basics. You can rotate them in, take care to wash them well and love on them all the more. Also consider the case of your t-shirt from Disney Land circa 1979 … you don’t wear it anymore but there is something sentimental about it. Why not trim/rip out the graphic (and that of any other t-shirt you feel this way about) and make a nice stack of worn cotton swatches that can sit nicely with your photographs? A great way to remember those trips/college days/boyfriends/girlfriends without having those memories taking up so much space!

4. Ask yourself, ‘how often am I really going to go to a black tie New Years Eve party?’ Feel free to swap out ‘NYE party’ for any fancy event of your choosing. My point? It’s great to have some fancier items in your closet, everyone needs them, but don’t keep that horrible bridesmaids dress that your friend made you buy for her wedding and you’re still hoping you can talk yourself into wearing at another event someday, maybe, hopefully?! Nah. You’re not going to wear it. Ladies, keep your sexy dresses and men, keep your swanky ties but just keep ones you LOVE. It’s all about the love when you’re going through your closet/dresser to be sure.

These tips should help you trim down and pep up about your clothing. And the best part is seeing in front of you only what you need and what you wear quite often. It will help you layer creatively and come up with interesting, and complimentary, ways to wear your clothes. It will also help you appreciate what you have … and we certainly could use more of that in the world, don’t you think?