You Don't Need All That Stuff

Okay, I'm just going to say it. And please don't take it the wrong way: you have too much stuff in your closet. I know -- I've never even seen your closet. But chances are you're like me and have WAY too many options for clothing and shoes. Seeing too many choices gives me some major anxiety. Add in a time crunch or an important meeting, and the overthinking and outfit changes increase. It's so frustrating to have ALL those clothes and still feel stressed about what to wear.

The first real decisions you have to make in your day are all related to how you present yourself to the world. Personal hygiene and personal style are a direct reflection of how you feel about yourself and how you will conquer your day. Getting dressed shouldn't be anxiety-inducing, but clutter and chaos in your closet will definitely make things more difficult when you're trying to start your day. Author, lifestyle expert, and decluttering queen Marie Kondo explains the value of minimalism in her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Kondo tells USA Today, "[people] are now feeling the need to possess only what is necessary and lead a simpler life." Wouldn't it be great if you only owned what you love and need, and let go of what you don't use or don't even like? That's what being liberated is about: being free from anything that doesn't serve a positive purpose in your life. 

Over the past 3-4 years, I've had to have many talks with myself about clothes-hoarding, becoming slick addicted to shopping, and the need for a change in the way I get dressed and ultimately start my day. I've moved around to different cities and had adventurous times where I couldn't take everything with me, so my lifestyle definitely affected my need for "stuff". Then I realized that I've made it this far, having everything I need, and have clearly never run out of clothes to wear. Of course, there's no cure-all for every person wanting to simplify their day and organize their space, but I'll point out a 3-step exercise that has helped me keep my closet/clothes organized.

1. PURGE: get rid of the stuff you don't use. Go through your closet and make a pile of  clothes you don't wear. This includes your beautiful, cherished clothing that sits in your closet for those "just in case" occasions. If there hasn't been an occasion in the last 4-6 months for you to wear something, that piece of clothing is just taking up space that could be filled with items that are more practical and meaningful for you. I'll go through a closet clean-out session with my mom almost every season, and I'll say, "Alright now, you haven't worn this since the last time we cleaned out your closet," and she'll (reluctantly) toss pieces into the giveaway pile. So you might need an accountability partner that can tell you what you need to hear (and who will actually help you take said giveaway pile out of your house). Out of sight, out of mind. 


2. COLOR CODE: The former retail salesperson and OCD in me has a hard time not grouping together like-colors or like-items in my closet. But you don't have to be obsessive to be organized. Colorizing and merchandising isn't just something to be done in a store -- it actually makes getting dressed a lot easier. Keep all your black pieces together (and towards the front, if you're a black-on-black fiend like me). The same goes for every other shade you have in your wardrobe. You won't be scrambling around for an extra 10 minutes looking for that one blue top that looks awesome under your blazer. It just makes sense.


3. PARE DOWN: Like I said earlier, you probably have many more clothing options than you need. After purging my closet and organizing what's left by color/style, I'll take time to go through and observe what I love, what I need to update, and what still might need to go. With each color/style, I'll try to take away at least one more item that I can do without. I've condensed my working wardrobe into 40 (or so) pieces that are all versatile enough to be mixed and worn for almost any occasion, day or night. It's taken a few seasons to really build a solid capsule wardrobe, but I'm happy with the progress that I've made in applying a more minimal and painless approach to getting dressed. 

These steps are part of a cleaning exercise I like to do every quarter, but you can apply it more or less often, depending on the amount of clothing/accessories you have.

I'm also inspired by style icons and moguls who embody minimal fashion and express it in their attire. There's a smart set of artists and thought leaders who take the decision-making process of dressing and make it easier and "on-brand" for themselves. Janelle Monae (bae), in black and white, Michael Kors in all black, Mark Zuckerberg in his signature grey tees, and the late Steve Jobs and his turtleneck & dad-denim uniform, all point to the same idea: minimizing the small decisions you make (what to wear, eat, watch, etc) frees up space for heavier mental lifting.

I made a commitment to myself to keep my personal style more uniform and cohesive, and that all comes down to my color scheme. Aside from special occasions or when I'm feeling funky, I can typically be seen wearing a concise range of colors: black, white, grey, navy, blush/nudes, olive, and the occasional cobalt blue or fire red. This also keeps me disciplined with shopping -- I don't buy items that aren't in those colors, and everything that I have, I wear -- A LOT. I'll repeat outfits or items no matter if it's something I just wore last week. You should get the most out of your clothing, especially if you're investing in high-quality, staple pieces. 


Taking a minimal approach to dressing isn't for everyone and it takes discipline to make the switch, but it will allow you to reach new levels of confidence and ease in your day-to-day. Next week, I'll be posting a shopping guide for Minimal Capsule Wardrobing, so you can get an idea of how to do more with less. You don't have to hide behind your clothes or experience FOMO by not having the latest trends. Your clothing should compliment your best traits, and minimizing your clothes allows your overall persona to speak for itself. Try some Spring cleaning in your closet and prepare yourself to live a more simplified life!

(Photography: Jer'Maine Jones