No matter how often I clean out my closet, I always seem to accumulate more clothes than I ever need. Some old, some new, and most that I know I will never wear. Every time the season changes, I set a new goal of clearing out the excess but find myself in the same situation just a few months later.

I have tried so many different techniques – trash or treasure, what I haven’t worn in six months, and even turning the hangers in the opposite direction – all with no luck. Now, as we are heading into autumn, I would like to accomplish this once and for all. So, I have decided to devise a new method. One that I know will work for me.

The Benefit of Years of Travel

There have been several times when I have moved out of state and even out of the country for up to a year at a time. During these trips I stayed in hotels, B&Bs, holiday homes etc., all with very little to no storage.

One apartment I rented had two very small dresser drawers and a tiny wardrobe for all of my belongings. I was happy that I hadn’t packed too much, or I would have spent the next eight months living out of my suitcase.

What I discovered is that, even for my longest trips, I didn’t need much more than what my largest suitcase would hold. After traveling for the past 20 years, I have become accustomed to packing very efficiently and as light as possible. Now, it is time to put that experience to use, here at home. `

I Really Just Need the Essentials

When I pack to go away, I usually take the same basic items and only what is absolutely necessary. I do like to be comfortable and flexible for the conditions, so I always take that into account. Everything in my wardrobe needs to fit properly, be easy to mix and match with the ability to layer for different climates.

If I think about clearing out my closet in the same way as I think about packing for a trip, it should help with some of those iffy items that I always end up keeping instead of getting rid of. I don’t ever take a pair of jeans that don’t fit on a trip when I know I will need to wear them. So exactly why would I stash those back in my closet for later?

8 Steps I Have to Take

To get to my essential wardrobe, I will need to consider several factors, so here are the steps I’ll need to take:

Severe Emotional Attachment

Part of this will require severing the emotional attachment I have to so many items. I love the pattern or how I looked or what I was doing when I last wore it, are my typical excuses for keeping something that no longer suits me.

Acknowledging that my life and my body have changed is an important first step. That is why the packing mentality feels right for me. It keeps me limited to what I actually love and can wear right now.

Forget Seasonal Packing

I used to try to pack away seasonal items as the weather changed, but I live in Colorado and we can have 90-degree temperatures one day and snow the next, so it’s not practical. I need a year-round wardrobe that I can keep ready anytime for home or away.

Get Rid of the Numbers

Aside from actual clothing items, I have amassed a tremendous collection of shoes and undergarments that rarely, if ever, get used. Packing is a great way to minimize those things as well. I wouldn’t think of taking 15 camisoles when I need one or two.

Go with Multi-Purpose

I also like to use pieces for more than one purpose to keep things light (most of my tank tops can be used to sleep in or under a blouse or sweater).

Pre-plan Weather Conditions

I always begin my packing process by planning my itinerary – where will I be going, what are the weather conditions and what activities will I be doing. For me, that usually involves a variety of situations – wet, dry, hot, cold, work, dinners, dances, dates, casual loungewear, and outdoor activities.

Create Combinations

Next, I pull out the main items that I think I will want to wear for each of the scenarios. Then I begin grouping by color and separate the tops from the bottoms, making sure all items in a color group match each other.

I usually stick to solid colors for bottoms (black, blue, brown) and add 3–4 print tops that go with each color bottom. Usually, I eliminate anything that I don’t want or really doesn’t go with any of the others. Since I’m doing this for home, not travel, I will keep special one-offs that I really love.

Think Accessories

Then I add the shoes, sweaters, scarves, jackets, and accessories for each group of outfits. Looking at this all laid out really helps me to see what I have and how the items go together.

I don’t like having to choose from 20 individual pieces before I decide what to wear for the day. Most of that comes from traveling for work and needing to keep my options simple and my luggage to a minimum.

Pack Up!

The last step is to pack it in my suitcase. Depending on how far you want to take this, you might decide to use several suitcases or containers for what you are keeping. You can store the excess in boxes in case you have second thoughts about getting rid of it all.

So, there it is, my new suitcase closet organizing system. I’m getting started on it right away and see just how low I can go and free up my time and space from all of this physical and emotional clutter.

Is decluttering and organizing a pleasure or a pain for you? What methods have you used that work well for you? I would love to hear your comments and whatever tips and tricks you may have to share with others.

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