The Happy Closet, Part 5 (some thoughts on my recent purge)

While the boys were enjoying a sleepover at their grandparents back in January, I finally made the time and effort to give my closet its yearly purging. To my surprise, I only ended up with a small bag of items to give away. Before I began, I’d been under the impression that I would be purging at least half my closet. But as I looked through every single item that I owned, it dawned on me what a thorough job I did the last time. Almost every item I came across was one which I’d worn in the last couple of years and/or something that I knew I would wear at least once in the next couple of years.

(The one exception are these pair of Levi jeans that I used to wear every day some fifteen years ago. For some reason, Rick refuses to let me give away these jeans, even though there is no chance that I will ever fit into them again. But what is a wife to do? Anything to keep the hubby happy.)

It wasn’t like this when I first started to seriously purge my closet a few years ago. It took me an extremely long time to work out that it’s okay to let go of clothes that I used to love wearing. The reality is that as your life changes, the type of clothes you wear will change. In my twenties, I wore a lot of pencil skirts and fitted tops for my corporate role. Now, as I look after three little boys at home, my daily uniform (second/third trimester excluded of course) tends to be jeans paired with slouchy tops and oversized garments, or a loose dress with stockings and a cardigan (and sometimes just my PJs, but that’s another story). It took me a long time to let go of those old clothes – I guess I kept thinking that my body would somehow go back to what it was, and that I would one day wear exactly the same outfits again and look just as smashing as I once did (or so I like to think anyway!). If I had to be honest, it was really quite hard to accept that my body had changed (permanently) and that my life had also changed. But about two years ago, I finally saw the light. I let go of all my clothes from my early to mid twenties. I’m not kidding – there were bags of the stuff. I gave them away to friends whom I knew would fit the clothes, enjoy wearing them, and (hopefully) take good care of them.

Quite frankly, it was one of the most liberating experiences of my life.

But back to the January just gone by, it wasn’t just the clothes that I went through with a fine-tooth comb. I also took stock of all my jewellery, bags and shoes. But again, there was very little to get rid of. Since I knew that I wouldn’t be buying anything new for a while, I was happy to hold on to a number of things which I “might possibly use or wear” in the next ten years or so. I didn’t mind adopting this rather loose criteria, since it wasn’t actually all that much stuff at the end of the day. Plus, I wouldn’t have to worry about making room for extra stuff anyway, so it was all good.

Whilst going through the motions of working out what to purge and what to keep, I found myself becoming re-acquainted with what I had in my closet. This was such a great thing. It meant that I was reminded of items which I had – and loved – but had momentarily forgotten about. In a way, it was like re-discovering qualities about one’s partner which we are sometimes guilty of losing touch with or forgetting about. In re-acquainting myself with the actual contents of my closet, I was once more truly thankful for what I already had.

In addition to the purging (and the re-acquainting), I also took the opportunity to re-organise certain items like my scarves, and also to make everything tidier and neater – for example, folding my basics properly so that they fit properly in their compartment without overflowing. Somehow, this itself made the clothes seem… nicer. I guess that’s why they iron and fold everything so neatly in clothes stores!

All in all, it was totally worthwhile taking the time to purge, get re-acquainted, re-organise and tidy things up, because at the end of the day, my closet truly felt like a happy closet.

Tell me, have you done any purging recently?

* * *

Other posts you might be interested in reading:
The Happy Closet, Part 4 (on not buying anything for a year)
The Happy Closet, Part 3 (my tips on buying less)
The Happy Closet, Part 2 (the basic principles)

You can read all of The Happy Closet posts here.


Sonya March 8, 2013 at 10:44 am

I dress really differently since I’ve moved from sydney to wagga and for awhile, I was confused and kept wanting to buy the kinds of clothes I wore in the city. and then I went to the other extreme and thought about buying super practical things like waterproof/windproof jackets! I think I’ve found a happy middle ground, it helps that there aren’t so many places to shop here so I end up thinking really carefully about the things I’m buying. I think realising that your life has changed and your clothes kind of have to reflect that can be a bit confronting at first!


eek! March 8, 2013 at 10:49 am

You inspire me in so many ways. Last year I tried my best to buy less clothes and donate at least 2 items for every 1 that I bought but that goal eventually fell by the way side. So hard to let go!

Loved reading this series of posts.


rachel del grosso March 8, 2013 at 3:21 pm

being 37 weeks pregnant tomorrow i have definitely been doing some purging – nesting, the term is for us preggers folk! – and i’m feeling great. last night my husband and i tackled a couple closets in the house and feel SO much better this morning. we’ve also been selling anything we don’t need or want anymore on craigslist (like old shelves, and the patio set his parents left here that we never use). it feels so great!


Noelani March 8, 2013 at 5:15 pm

I love this series of yours! I am all for purging and living a simple life. The closet (as well as accessories, shoes, etc.) is my favorite thing to sort through and re-organize :)


Kirsty March 8, 2013 at 10:44 pm

I love this post! I had a big purge of my clothes recently and it was so good to see everything fit nicely in the wardrobe. Now I need to go through the kids clothes and get rid of all the summer clothes that won’t fit next year… luckily the heatwave is giving me an excuse to put it off for a bit until Summer really ends… it’s so hard letting go of the cute little things – my clothes are far easier to cull!


Alli March 8, 2013 at 11:08 pm

In the last 6 months I have purged a lot. Two big boxes of clothes to the Salvos. Clothes that I’ll either never fit into again or are just too young for a 30 something year old mum or things I just never really wore to begin with. It felt great & I am trying to only buy new pieces I really love that are good quality clothes that will last more than one or two washes.


Elizabeth March 9, 2013 at 12:09 am

Love this! I’ve been working on weeding out my closets and drawers lately…feeling like I just have too much “stuff”. It feels so good to drop bags of things to goodwill, hoping that people there will find something useful. I’ve also found that my style is changing on it is hard to let go of things but then I have to remember they’re just things. I loved what you wrote: “In re-acquainting myself with the actual contents of my closet, I was once more truly thankful for what I already had.” So true, and there is so much to be grateful for.


Martha March 9, 2013 at 8:41 am

Getting ready to change seasons has made me consider what I really need. For me, I need to finally let go of a few pieces I used to wear to the office, I have worked at home for almost 2 years now!


Stephanie March 9, 2013 at 11:34 am

In January, we donated bags of clothing and assessories, household items, unused gifts that were just cluttering our house, which we were in the midst of renovating. We’re about to move home shortly. I’m thinking I might have another go at purging as we unpack.


Rick March 9, 2013 at 11:42 am

Darling you looked smashing back then, and you still look smashing now.



erica @ expatria, baby March 9, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Funny, isn’t it, how tightly we cling to the past, in whatever form that takes. I also have a closet full of clothes that I will likely never wear again, but I don’t really want too accept that I won’t be in meetings wearing silk shirts and pencil l skirts or at fancy parties in long dresses. Life’s different now. I’m all summer dresses and cut off jeans. Which, really, as mum uniforms go, is not that bad? I mean, perpetual summer!!! That fact alone about trumps any complaint I could muster.


Aki! March 9, 2013 at 8:14 pm

I had the same things happen to me. I started cleaning my closet a few days ago, thinking I was going to clean out everything when I realized that I had already given away a lot of my clothes. I don’t have as many body changes (no kids) but a lot of the stuff I was holding on to was from before puberty.


Kaylan March 10, 2013 at 2:13 am

I am SO doing a closet purge! Been so inspired by these posts. I’d really love to try something like not buying for a year… not sure I could handle it, as sad as that is. Maybe I could do something like only buy clothing that is handmade and that I know the artist- or that I make myself? Or something that is only thrifted/used already? Either way, I’m inspired and thankful to see a blogger talking about important issues like this.


Pink Ronnie March 10, 2013 at 3:09 am

I like all those ideas! I guess it’s just about setting a goal that you feel truly committed to (and comfortable with) working towards. Let me know what you decide and how you go.
Ronnie xo


Amanda March 10, 2013 at 2:23 am

I can SO relate to this post Ronnie as back before Christmas one day, I was complaining to my friend about having nothing to wear and after she looked in my wardobe and was seriously shocked, I decided then and there that everything had to go. Like you, all my clothes from my 20′s and my old working days just weren’t ‘me’ anymore. My body shape had changed and my role had too. Many clothes were from pregnancies, many were old and due to be tossed. I literally left myself with about nineteen items of clothing (including two pairs of PJs!!) and since then have been SLOWLY re-building my wardrobe. Things are getting pretty desperate now though as I’ve got the same six or so outfits on rotation and with the seasons changing, am running out of clothes, so my new wardrobe transformation is becoming a serious priority :) And also, like you said, this process was SO liberating :)


Maya @ House Nerd March 10, 2013 at 2:20 pm

I do a big clutter clear of my things perhaps every two months – not just my wardrobe but sometimes books, magazines, kitchen things, music, DVDs. The hollow thunk of the bag hitting the bottom of the Good Sammy bin always makes me feel lighter and refreshed somehow! With clothes I now only try to keep what I really love, what I really feel good in, and I even must admit to even tossing the odd item of clothing that I associate with a bad memory -anything that brings my energy down when I look at it, let alone wear it! I know that probably sounds really terrible, but I don’t spend a lot of money on clothes as I buy most of my clothes secondhand, so that cuts down a lot of the guilt than if I were regularly clutter-clearing things I had paid full-price for :)


Tracey@chalkboard living March 11, 2013 at 1:35 am

I have just given away 7 bags of stuff and the worst of it is…it doesn’t even notice. I think that tells me i have a lot more to throw out but one step at a time I guess. Happy mothers day lovely, from England. x


Diane March 11, 2013 at 3:40 am

how I love your happy closet….maybe someday I’ll be inspired enough to make mine happy too.


Amy April 11, 2013 at 12:57 am

Thank you thank you. I just did it! I purged my closet and I’ve never felt better! It’s like I have a whole new one. Less choices… just do laundry, duh! Thank you for being my inspiration — I’m going to write a post about it when I have the time and will definitely be crediting you ♥


Hannah October 5, 2013 at 3:57 pm

I just stumbled across your blog through a post from a friend on FB and I must say it was just what I needed today, very inspiring. I am smack-dab in the middle of moving to a new place and I thought I had very little to bring with me but I have been overwhelmingly surprised at how much stuff I had stuffed around my parents place. It has made the task of moving seem insurmountable but it has also brought up the reality that I need to purge again… even though I thought I had done a great job of it… a year and a half ago. Your comments about life changing, your clothes changing and that they are just things was just the push I needed for today. I’m very sentimental but its ok and I just need to be reminded that things are just things and I LOVE where my life is today so why not embrace it. :)

Thanks again.


Pink Ronnie October 6, 2013 at 7:07 am

Oh Hannah,
It’s lovely to have you here and I’m glad these posts could be of some help. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to leave such a sweet message. I hope your move goes well!
Ronnie xo


Davina February 22, 2014 at 7:29 pm

I just remembered that you were the one my friend told me about that did a shopping halt! I recently finished my shopping challenge this past year, and I must say it was quite challenging at times. I definitely agree with the fact that a lot of times, blogs cause us to want and covet what we do not have, which causes us to feel discontent with ourselves. I have already made some purchases this year, more than I had intended to, and I realize it is because I hadn’t limited the amount of time I spend looking at fashion blogs, magazines, things that feed the need for material items. I feel that perhaps I need to take a break from all that! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, as always!! : )


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