Why (And How) I'm Cleaning My Closet Again

Hello, I'm Daisy, a recovering hoarder who's finally decided to tackle her stuff in a big way.

And since bringing you all along for the ride helped keep me accountable, I started No Mess Mondays every last Monday of the month: a real honest "No, I do not tidy before I snap these photos." walkthrough as I go from hoarding to minimal living in my home.

It's been ugly. It's been funny. And ultimately, it's been all-around awesome.

February almost turned me into a basket case, friends.

Well, more of one than I already am anyway.

I've been jumping all over the place (two cities in Canada, two cities in the Philippines, and two cities in the United Arab Emirates - oh, the unintentional symmetry and the weirdness of going from -20 to 30-ish °C in one swoop [-4 to 95 °F for my American friends]), my four-year-old laptop decided to die in the middle of traveling, my nine-year-old car also had to go for some repairs, and some work things exploded in my face, among other things.

*deep breath*


I was lying in bed the other night, with all this running through my mind. I couldn't seem to sleep, not really worrying but my focus spread out in different directions and thoughts. Scatterbrained, I believe it's called.

So I did what any (in?)sane person would do when faced with insomnia at 1:30 am on a weeknight.

I got up and took everything out of my closet.

Uh-huh, perfectly logical thing to do.

Everything looks logical when you're desperate for sleep, right?

Insomnia aside, there was a method to my madness.


I've written a post before about the connection between a lack of focus and clutter. When I fall into "busy" and am not focused enough, clutter around me makes the stress worse. The stress makes me more frazzled, which leads to feeling like I don't have time to tidy since I'm busy, which leads to more clutter piling up and stressing me out. It's a vicious cycle.

 I've also found I function better when surrounded by just the things that I love and use everyday, no more and no less.

So when stress affected me enough that I wasn't sleeping, I turned to decluttering. Specifically, my closet.

Wait a minute, didn't I already declutter my closet? Like two years ago?

This is true.

But two years is a long time, and as life goes on, the things we need often change. Favorites wear out and are replaced by new favorites depending on what we've started / stopped doing.

The Reasons My Closet's Due For Another Cleanup

My style changed.

First, the hair. Earlier readers will remember I used to have a pixie cut 'til late 2016 / early 2017.

My hair is a shoulder-length bob now and it went from red to orange to brown to gray to maroon to brown to indigo to gray to purple in 2017.

People still don't recognize me sometimes. They walk by me looking for me, completely miss I'm right in front of them, then do a double take and say "It's you! Your hair!"


Yes, it's me! My hair!

And to a lesser degree, my makeup and clothes also changed with the hair. Which leads us to the next reason...

My work changed.

I'm still at my sales job for a multinational food manufacturer, but I've been doing a lot more marketing now.

This means more travel and more time in front of clients at work functions and shows. I've taken to wearing a wee bit more makeup --- pigs are flying since I wear mascara now --- and have had to expand my corporate business wardrobe a bit. That includes a suit, some dresses, and a pair of dress shoes.

I continue to dye my hair purple these days though. It's a fun icebreaker in meetings.

My travels changed.

Winter happened, friends. I so understand why "Winter is coming" à la Game of Thrones is a big deal now.

I've been experiencing chillier weather than I'm used to. Putting this tropical girl on an icy sidewalk with the wind blowing into my face and snowflakes sticking to my lashes has changed my idea of what cold is.

It also means I've had to buy a better winter coat and warmer wool things. I upcycled my old Doc Martens from college into winter boots for the city, so at least, I didn't have to spend too much in the shoe department.

I allowed gifts to complicate my closet.

The guilt of gifts we can't use, amIright?

Don't get me wrong, I love the people in my life and appreciate the thought behind the gifts they give me. I give things to the people in my life too when I feel they'd love the gifts.

But clothes as gifts... Well.

Sometimes, they don't fit, whether it's my style or literally the size of my body. (I think some people believe I'm a size bigger than I actually am when they buy me stuff.)

Sometimes, I already have that same thing.

Other times, I just don't wear it often enough 'cause it doesn't suit my everyday life. (Like being gifted evening dresses when I rarely go to black tie events.)

I am grateful people remember me and actually spend time, money, and effort to gift me stuff.

But I've learned to separate the thought behind the things I can't use from the actual things. I can remember the thoughtfulness of the giver without having to keep the items.

In fact, I feel their thoughtfulness means the gifts deserve to be used regularly. If I can't do that, I let go so other people can use them in better ways than I ever could.

I tried to feel better by going shopping.

The first half of 2017 was a roller coaster for me. Because of that, I picked up some habits to make me feel better.

Some were good (like drinking tea at night and taking naps on the weekends). But one in particular wasn't as great: the shopping I did when I had bad days.

Some of the things I bought I actually needed. But most of them, not so much.

I woke up around May last year and realized I'd let things slide because I was feeling crummy. Shopping might make you and me feel good for a while, but shopping for shopping's sake leads to owning stuff we don't need and even into debt when we shop way above our means.

I still shop when I need things but I think intentionally about each thing I allow in my life. I no longer shop to self-medicate --- there are better ways to do that --- and it's healthier for me and my wallet.

Some of that unnecessary shopping did creep into my closet though.

Lots of reasons to go through my closet again, and these reasons were often in the back of my mind. I figured if I could make my closet less of a stress factor in my life, I could focus on other things better.

How I Cleaned This Time Around

So I took all my clothes out of my closet at 1:30 am. (Thankfully, there weren't as many pieces as the first time I went through my closet!)

I separated them into Keep and Give piles like the last time I decluttered my closet.

The Give pile quickly went into the boxes for selling and donation while the Keep pile was deferred 'til I'd had a few hours rest. All that sorting had (finally!) made me sleepy.

Over the weekend, I tried everything in my Keep pile on. Every. Single. Thing.

Yes, it was tiring. But it definitely gave me a clearer idea about what was worth keeping.

Because let's be honest, part of the reason I was redoing the closet was because I hadn't been honest about what I was keeping in it.

A part of me knew I'd never wear this shirt, but I kept it anyway because it was a gift / a good deal on sale / fun to imagine wearing but completely impractical in my daily life.

Though I said I'd lose the weight that kept me from wearing that pair of pants, two years had gone by. When (not if, I'm positive here!) I lose the weight, that item won't be in style anyway.

I forced myself to honestly answer questions like

  • Why haven't you been wearing this?
  • What keeps you from letting go of that?
  • Why are you wearing those pants when you feel frumpy in them?
  • Yes, you're a frickin' Star Wars fan but do you really need five Star Wars shirts?
  • Do you solemnly swear you're up to no good to lay that shirt flat to dry just to keep wearing it? (The answer was surprisingly yes, by the way!)

 I ended up exiling almost half of my Keep pile.

The Results

*drum roll*

What Stays

What Stays

What Goes

What Goes

What's Getting Repaired

What's Getting Repaired

And here's my original closet as a hoarder then the first declutter in 2016 then last weekend's effort:


*fireworks and cheering*

Like I said, I ended up redoing my closet because I hadn't been honest about what I was actually wearing. So I wouldn't have to repeat this exercise in such an extreme way again, I have to be ruthless about what I allow in.

When stuff I don't need or use doesn't come in, I won't have to weed them out.

What will I do differently from now on?

Be crystal clear about my style.

Creating criteria about my style helps me see if something really will fit my life or not.

I did this (and you can too!) by looking at similarities between what I kept and between what I didn't keep. And I summarized it all into one statement that described my style just right.

So, I've found:

  1. I generally love solid earth or jewel-toned colors and don't like prints (unless they're East Asian-inspired and, rarely, striped).
  2. Fabric is a big factor. If they're itchy and not breathable, I won't wear it. I also care a lot about how it drapes on my body.
  3. Fit is another deal breaker. I either like my clothes loose and flowy or cut just right - nothing in between.
  4. I don't like low necklines or too-high-for-me hems. I believe I don't have to have everything out for everyone to see to look attractive.
  5. I like quirky asymmetrical details like a diagonal hem or a design that's been deliberately stitched left of center. (Or as my friends would say, clothes that look like a tipsy person sewed them.)

My style in a nutshell: a Jedi walking through modern Tokyo.

(Star Wars reference, if you have no idea what a Jedi is.)

A friend actually just told me last week that my clothes give him "the Jedi feels" so that statement is just about right.

So anything that doesn't fit my style doesn't get a place in my closet. I'm not going to feel good wearing it anyway, so what would be the point?

I now feel lighter.

Opening my closet to decide what to wear is fun again. Seeing everything I own in one sweep has become a simple thing to do. Everything matches at least five other things and that makes dressing easier.

I'm ready to face my To Do list now without going crazy.

I'll get back to you next month with another decluttering update!

Curious about exactly how I sorted through everything?

You can get my notes on how I dealt with 4 things in this closet purge.

I show you a photo of each thing, hash out exactly what my problem with the item is (especially the items I never wear!), and what my decision ultimately was. (You also get to see my terrible handwriting. It's readable, I promise!)

We're probably not wearing the same things, but I find seeing exactly how someone else does it helps me figure out how to do it on my own. You might find the same true.

Just click the button below and I'll email you my detailed notes.

You'll also become an email friend when this happens. This means I'll pop in your inbox twice a month with a behind-the-scenes look on going from hoarder to minimalist (it's still ongoing), a roundup of my favorite things on the internet, and more besides.

So click on that button; I really believe you'll enjoy it.

'Til next time!