The Banks family has embarked on a journey of creating a house of order in 2016. The first category to tackle was clothes. I started my thorough examination and culling of my clothing last summer. I knew I wanted to make real changes, but I wasn’t sure how. I considered why I had so many clothes. Here were the categories I identified:
- Clothes I love.
- Clothes I wear every day.
- Clothes I wear to the office.
- Clothes I hope I can figure out how to wear to the office.
- Clothes that I like but can’t figure out how to wear.
The first two categories were easy. I have clothes I love. I get excited to wear them. (My super fuzzy bathrobe may top this list…) Then I have my everyday wear: jeans and long-sleeve shirt. I wear this outfit every single day for nearly 9 months. During the summer, it becomes jeans or capris and a short-sleeved shirt. Yes, I’m awesome like that. The reason this is my daily ensemble? I’m comfortable, I’m warm, and I don’t stand out as a fashion faux pas (“Clueless” anyone?).
Clothes I wear to the office – I go to the office 1-2 times a year for a few days. This means I need, at most, 6 outfits per year for the office. I have three pairs of dress pants, so those are the standard. The tops are different. I have a few that are simple that look good. I keep those. But when it comes down to it, I have no sense of fashion. I also live in Alaska which doesn’t help the lack of fashion. In 2012, Anchorage was voted as the #1 Least Fashionable City. I once saw a guy wearing only long-johns in the grocery store! Because of my lack of fashionista qualities, my infrequent trips to the office stress me out when it comes to clothes. I don’t want to show up and be the weirdo that lives in Alaska. Since I come so infrequently, I’m often making a first impression on several people at the office each time, so I have several tops and accessories that I don’t know what to do with, but hope I can turn into something impressive for work.
I am a vintage clothing girl. If it were up to me, I would live in bright-colored bell-bottoms on weekdays, and wear elaborate 1950s cocktail dresses to church every Sunday (the dress for my junior prom was one of these. For senior prom, I went with a chartreuse 1960s dress). Most of the crazy awesome clothes I never figured out how to wear already left the closet long before this year, but I still have some crazy stuff in there–the stuff I really want to make work because they’re so awesome. (Mr. T still has his leopard print tie AND his shag carpet tie, for the record… those are what attracted me to him…)
So, I had my categories defined. What to do next? What any sane 30-year-old would do: Invite teenage girls to breakfast! At the end of the summer, three girls from my church were just about to leave for college. I invited them over for a graduation breakfast and told them I planned to have them go through my clothes. They were super excited! (“That crazy lady at church is making us food and letting us go through her closet! What a treat!”) True to promise, I pulled ALL my clothes out of the closet and set them on my bed. I told them their mission was three-fold:
- tell me what to toss
- tell me what is awesome
- and put together 3 outfits for my upcoming work trip
They were harsh and hilarious. (One had previously told me: “Gap is kind of an old lady store. You would like it!” I do, thankyouverymuch!) It helped having three different girls there because they each had a different style and they argued over a few pieces. (“This is hideous. Definitely get rid of.” “No no no. I saw her wear that last Sunday with this skirt and it looked really good.” – these were my favorite comments!) At the end of the afternoon, I had a large pile of rejected clothing, three outfits (with accessories!) put together for my work trip, and some surprising pieces of clothing that were “so cool!”
Obviously, after they left, I rescued a few things from the reject pile (grateful they were headed off to college and wouldn’t see me wearing them!). I also added a few things to it that I didn’t like wearing. Then I organized my closet so I could see everything at a glance and lived with it that way.
This month, Mr. T and I started our home organization year with our clothing. After doing the first wave of culling last summer (thanks to the teenage girls), I had a good sense of what I needed. Anything I hadn’t been able to combine into an outfit since last summer left the closet.
What About the Socks?
I have a history with socks. I love socks. When I turned 12, my mom said I had two choices for my birthday party: I could invite 6 people and have them bring presents, or I could invite as many people as I wanted, but I could only ask for one pair of socks (this is genius, by the way, because when you say “no presents,” people still bring them or feel guilty not bringing them… when you ask for a pair of socks, people actually just bring you socks!). As the super extrovert that I am, I chose the latter option (did I mention I love socks?). That first year, I had an awesome party and ended up with probably 50 pairs of socks. They were awesome. I had socks for every holiday! I had toe socks with spiders on the big toe for Halloween, Christmas socks, Hanukkah socks! The next year, I still had probably 35 pairs of socks left, so I asked for socks to donate to a shelter. This was also a great idea.
Before I left for college, I had one last sock party for myself. I knew socks intimately at this point. I was spoiled from having so many options. When I was actually down to only a few pairs of socks about 8 years ago, I bought a pack of basic, white socks because they were cheap. And they were depressing. When I actually set out to tackle my sock box this month, it felt good to rid myself of the socks that I hated. I bought myself a set of new, super soft socks at Costco ($5.99/6 pairs), threw out all the socks that depressed me (or had holes), and put in the new pairs. This simple change helped my closet feel so much better.
The downside is that the new socks aren’t perfect, but they’re very cozy. They do, however, double as a Swiffer because they pick up everything (and after several washings, don’t ever get clean again). Lesson: don’t buy new stuff just to bring you joy. Getting rid of the other socks are what felt better. But I replaced them with new socks that I also don’t love… so I’m back to where I started essentially. The difference is that I know how great it feels to allow myself to let go. And after wearing each pair a few times (and they get unwashable), I will happily let them go.
I realized during this process that socks are something I care about. Maybe more than my shirt and pants. It’s weird, I realize, but when I stopped forcing myself to wear socks that I hated because I had them, I immediately loved the rest of my clothes so much more. Yet another way knowing yourself makes a big difference! I’m still going to continue my search for the perfect socks, but not right now because I have about four pairs I still absolutely love and these new pairs to wear for awhile.
I bet you didn’t anticipate half of this post to be about socks! Me neither. Now we know where my priorities stand.
Next Category to Tackle: BOOKS! Update coming next Wednesday!