Saturday, March 09, 2013

Taking Stock of Our Closet

Week Three of our Lenten series on "Taking Stock" was all about our clothes closets. Talk about a place where most of us have so much abundance that it is more of a curse than a blessing! Matt started his sermon with a scene that is all-too-familiar to most of us: bleary-eyed, coffee-drinking, freshly-showered, staring into our closet with the inevitable but illogical lament, "I have NOTHING to wear!"

Since I've been working from home, this has been less of a problem, since I really can wear the same five outfits over and over and be comfortable and content. But if I'm headed to church or a meeting, that familiar angst comes right back. I had been looking forward to this week's challenge ever since Matt told me about it. (I last purged almost a year ago, when I read the No-Brainer Wardrobe ebook—I highly recommend it.)

The scripture for the day was Jesus' admonitions against worry, including worry over our clothes, and Matt challenged the congregation to take stock of our closets, purging the items that we don't wear or need, that are nothing but clutter, and bringing them in to donate. Our church collects items for a store called ThriftSmart, which is like a Goodwill, but they have an excellent model for collections with local churches. We have a large bin in the commons area, and when it is full, ThriftSmart comes to pick it up, weighing the donations and giving the church gift cards in the amount of $1 per ten pounds of donations. The gift cards can then be handed out to people in need who come to the church seeking assistance (often, our food pantry clients, when they need more than just food).

As with last week's pantry challenge, there is both a personal and missional element. Yes, we are donating to people in need, but also, by assessing our own abundance, we come to a better understanding of what we need, what is excess, and the joy of simplicity. Clearing out my closet was fairly easy, since I already had a box in the back of my closet, full of stuff I was considering giving away anyway. (It was sort of a "if I don't miss it while it's boxed up here, I won't miss it when it's gone completely" thing.)

I also found that so much of the excess in my closet consisted of things that might come back into style or I might be able to fit into again. As for the fitting issue, I tossed my "fat pants" and kept things that were just a bit snug, that re-joining the Y (as I am about to do) could take care of. The style issue was a little more difficult. It's aggravating how styles ebb and flow, and as sure as you toss your flared pants, the skinny jeans fad will end and you'll buy wide-leg stuff again.

Since I was staying home all day the day I first started going through things, I put on some things I hadn't worn in a few years, just to see if I could get any use out of them again. Matt commented, "Those are some big pants..." I assured him they fit exactly as they were intended, but yes, the style was so much looser than things are worn now, I felt completely dumpy and had to change. I wore about six different pairs of pants that day, I think, as I tested out different pants and found most of them intolerable.

I hate to be wasteful, so if there is a chance I'll wear something again, it seems silly to give it away only to buy something similar a year or two down the road . . . but how often do I really do that? I did keep some things that I doubt I'll wear much, but I managed to fill two large boxes with things to give away. Here are my before and after shots:

Before: messy, cluttered with tons of things I don't wear. (We have a very long, narrow walk-in closet, so these are three views of my side.)

After: I don't feel like I purged that much, overall, but taking stock of what's there, organizing and simplifying, made a big difference in the look of our closet. I hope it has a similar impact on the way I view my clothes, appreciating what I have and not constantly feeling I need more, newer things to be in style. 


Lisa H said...

We are constantly purging in our house and have a constant donation pile going in the garage. Since we don't have a ton of storage space anyway, it's maybe a bit easier for us to go through things and toss, toss, toss. My feeling is that when things come back in style I'll want to buy whatever it is new again so I feel good about wearing it and not like I'm wearing something old, so better to donate and let someone enjoy whatever it is now than let it sit in my closet collecting dust for years. I love that the church gets gift cards for the donations--yay for donating! :)

Kim said...

Love purging! I met a home organizer once who recommended putting clothes that don't fit or "might" come back in style in a box with a date on it... say 9-12 months down the road. On that date, open it up, see if anything fits again or is back in style and if not, the box is "expired" and needs to be donated. It's such a heelpful way to become unattached to certain wardrobe items that we hang onto for no reason!


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