Spring Forward: Cleaning All the Clothes and Clutter
BY SARA FABIAN
Springtime is often seen as a time of growth, renewal, rebirth and of the cycle of life starting once again. The signs of change are all around us. Flowers illuminate parks, the days are longer, brighter, and warmer, and our emotions are lifted by the raised temperature. It is seen more generally as the start of better times. At this time of year we begin to feel less sluggish, and become more open to inviting changes—both big and small—into our lives. After the cold and dampness of winter is left behind, spring’s warmth feels like a friendly welcome. As spring approaches, the warmer temperatures add an element of relief and richness, which many long for.
Upon spring’s arrival, many receive a feeling of exhilaration and a burst of energy. Like many, we fully engage in spring cleaning and set the body and mind to go out and enjoy the warmer weather. It is during this time that the dark, cold, and dreary days feel like nothing but a distant memory; the time has arrived to enjoy the outdoors and what it has to offer. On a deeper level, we can purge out the old, bad, and exhausted and spring clean our lives.
But with this new spring, comes the inevitable task of making room for those coveted items in your already overflowing closet. For some of us, the realization is that you have accumulated a plethora of stuff that you don’t currently wear, have never worn, and probably never will wear, ever. There’s only one thing to do: yes, the closet purge. The closet purge can be exciting, relieving, overwhelming, and stressful—all at the same time. But I’ve got some tips for getting the job done and de-cluttering your life. (Leave your excuses at the door.)
As college students, most of us don’t have the luxury of a walk-in closet, so getting rid of clothing is not only exhilarating, but necessary. Sometimes getting rid of clothes is an emotional battle just as much as it is an organizational problem. We grow emotional attachments to certain pieces of clothing or tell ourselves that we’re waiting for the perfect occasion to wear it. Most of us, who have suffered through the dreary winter months, have emerged from hibernation ready to spring clean.
Want to do some spring cleaning in your life? It can be broken down into three simple steps:
Before You Begin:
1. Make yourself a killer playlist: This one may go without saying, but a bit of background noise goes a long way when you’re cleaning. If the idea of the purge gives you anxiety, opt for something serene. I recommend Songza for some mellow playlists. On the other hand, if you need that energizing boost to dig through boxes on boxes of unadulterated crap, may I suggest a good throwback? The Madonna radio on Spotify will satisfy all of your inner ‘80s and ‘90s child needs.
2. Hijack a friend…and some wine: Go through this process with your friend or roommate whose opinion you trust. A second pair of eyes will be handy when you’re debating over keeping or tossing a “maybe” item that you think you might wear, but “just haven’t gotten around to.” Not to mention, you’ll probably have a lot more fun doing it. Add a bottle of Vino into the mix (I suggest Rosé since it is as light and breezy as summer.)
3. Have a Fashion Swap Party: I’ve done this a couple of times, and it’s always a surprising success. The concept is simple: invite a few of your friends over of all shapes and sizes so everyone and anyone can benefit from this gift giving. Lay out all of your clothing. Label each person’s clothing and start trading.
1. Open the windows first. Things might get dusty. If it’s been forever since you last saw the back of your wardrobe (Exciting! Maybe a portal to Narnia has opened in the interim) and you have a lot of stuff, you might want to put a dust sheet over the bed so you can sleep without sneezing later.
2. Take everything out. It’s much easier to leave crap in there than to elect to put it back into a pristine shell.
3. Make three bags: Don’t just throw things out. Separate unwanted clothing into three piles: toss, donate, and sell. It’s easier to let go of clothing when you know that it’ll go to someone in need, or that you’ll be getting a good buck in return. If items are no longer in wearable condition (rips, stains, etc.), add them to the toss bag. If items are wearable, but don’t have much personal value, you can add them to the donate bag, drop it off at a charity or used clothing store (Dumpster Values, Value Village, Plato’s Closet, Goodwill, and The Salvation Army). For everything else, there’s always the online marketplace. Sites like Etsy, Ebay, Dig n Swap, Poshmark, Copious, and Bib + Tuck are just a few to trade and sell your goods.
4. Put the maybe pile with the no pile: that idea about altering/fixing/sewing it? It is something to contemplate. Do you have enough to afford new clothes? Are these clothes truly salvageable? Take a moment to decide based on your habits and financial situation if “maybe” really means “no” or “Keep, and let’s get to work!”
5. Follow the “One Year” Rule—oldie, but perpetual goodie: If you haven’t worn it in a year, what makes you think you’re going to wear it now? Don’t hoard items under false pretenses. Let your experience dictate your actions—if it’s been a year and it still has the tag on it or if you can’t think of at least three ways to style it, it’s time to let go. If it looks good on a hanger, but doesn’t hug you in all the right places, I suggest you move on.
6. Invest in organization: Gone far enough? Restock your ‘drobe now. Having hangers (I suggest colored) can make your closet look lovely and save space. Also, boxes, even ones with dividers, are a cheap and easy way to separate your wardrobe by color, texture, occasion, etc. The Dollar Store, Grocery Outlet, thrift stores are great places to go to find storage pieces on a small budget. You can only go so far bridging the gap between your European (college)-sized closet and spatial reality. Consolidation is crucial. Slim hangers, those little canvas shoe compartments, hampers will all make your life a thousand times easier, promise.
The Reward: Lifestyle Renewal
1. Rekindle old friendships and resolve any lingering issues or problems with family and friends. Life is too short to allow feelings of resentment or bitterness to come in the way of relationships and the opportunity to share rewarding memories.
2. Start a journal and fill it with all of your goals and dreams for the future. Don’t censure what you write. If it pops into your head, write it down. Putting a goal in writing is the first step toward making it happen. Even if you only achieve a fraction of your dreams in your lifetime, you will be further ahead than many who never attempt to try.
3. Begin a new hobby that you have wanted to do, but have never gotten around to. Sign up for a class, join a club, or get together with a friend who shares your interest in this new hobby. You will find yourself making new friends while learning something new. I find the creativity that comes in learning a new hobby really inspires me and just makes me feel better inside.
4. Volunteer for a cause that matters to you. Even if you’re swamped with school, social obligations, and a job, you can find an hour or two a week to do something to help others in your community.
5. Always have a book to read and read something new continuously. If you read one book a month, over 10 years, you will have read 120 new books. Think about all you will have learned that you would have missed by not continually reading something new.
Life is filled with all kinds of new beginnings, and they are there for the taking if we just reach out and grab them! The entire world is starting anew and we can never resist joining in. Now is the time.