Your Guide to a Scary Closet Purge

My phone rings.

Me: “Hello?”
Client: “Oh, I’m so excited! I’ve got a gig tonight!”
Me: “Well, cool! Sounds like fun. Whatcha gonna wear?”
Client:  “I thought I would wear my blue skirt but now I can’t find it. And then I thought I’d go with my silver bedlah but I’ve lost some weight and now it’s too big and I have no time to take the hooks in and (wailing sounds emit from phone)…and can you tell me why I have four pairs of holey, tomato red harem pants?”
Me: “Uh oh. Um, what about your blue and purple set?”
Client: “Hmmm, that might work. If I can find it (laughs).”

I get these phone calls occasionally. I’m happy to be a good listener yet I am often hired to help a client through what I call a Scary Closet Purge. A SCP is not just about getting rid of the holey harem pants or passing along the hip scarf that looks better on your daughter, it’s an overhaul of the Black Hole for Wayward Garments. A cleansing makeover of Closet Land. A pruning of the Wardrobe Forest, if you will (ok, that was pretty bad–sorry!).

The effect of a SCP is potentially life changing. You will feel more focused and free. You will rediscover the “gems” in your closet that you love and want to wear (but couldn’t because they were buried beneath a pile of shoes)!  You will create more space in your closet for the items that you actually want. You’ll know exactly what you have and where it is. More importantly, it feels amazing and can happen during any time or season.

Do you want success every time you reach into your closet? If the answer is yes, keep reading.

You can do it! Eat a good meal, put on some tunes and go for it. Here are some tips for navigating a Scary Closet Purge:

Get a workout buddy~Pick a companion who has respect for your personal style and can be firmly decisive. Lock all the pets/kids out the room and procure some grocery sacks. Write on them: Charity, Friends, Seamstress, Sell, Nostalgia,Trash. If you have a friend named Charity then she is either a very lucky (or unlucky) gal, ha ha.

Separate worlds~If you can, devote a separate rack or closet to belly dance costumes and use the other space for your casual/work clothes. Remove anything from these spaces that is not supposed to be there.

Start with the “never evers”~Pick out the stuff you’ve never worn, ever. There should be no guilt in putting well-meant gifts into the discard bags. The thought was in the giving, not in the gift. A lime green hip scarf that was a gift from your teacher? If it hurts to look at it, put it in a bag.

Remove the broken stuff~Ask yourself, would I wear this if the zipper was fixed? If you’re like, “Girl, that’s my favorite beaded skirt and I would cry if I had to get rid of it”, put it in the bag for your seamstress. If you’ve got a caftan that’s missing a couple of buttons but you have other caftans you like better, give Mr. Buttonless Caftan to Charity (sorry, Charity). Those choli tops that stop smelling fresh no matter how many times you wash them? Out I say!

Remove the stuff that doesn’t fit~I’m talking about 4 sizes too small or too big. Be realistic. It’s tough, I know. Be kind to yourself. Don’t keep smaller sizes as a promise of what you get to wear when you lose weight, because every time you see the garment you’ll be tempted to self-criticize. A lot of ladies’ weights fluctuate, so it’s ok to keep a realistic range of sizes so that you won’t be nekkid! I keep my Small Jazz Pants and my Medium Jazz Pants.

Eliminate Nightmare Projects & Lemons~Seemed like a good idea at the time (and the whole mess was only $20! Coughcoughtruestorycough) but be honest with yourself–do you grit your teeth doing beadwork? Does the costume need alterations past your comfort level? Did you lose steam right after getting started? Move it on out! You could farm it for parts or give it to a classmate.

Some costumes are lemons. If you don’t like how it fits or if it’s not flattering, move it along. If you’re not sure, put it in the Seamstress bag or consult your closet workout buddy.

Expiration Date Reached~Haven’t worn it in a year? Maybe the time for the style has passed? It’s ok, just get rid of it. Don’t be afraid. The Universe will not let you be nekkid. I guarantee that more clothes will come your way. The Universe is full of clothes and wants you to bestow upon you fabulous things.

Streamline~Stuck in a rut? Do you really need 6 pairs of tomato red pants? Giggle at yourself and then keep the best pair.

Nostalgic clothes, sigh~I will never get rid of my velvet star pants. Those get to live with my West German wool army coat and my black silk Dementor costume from two Halloweens ago. Take those nostalgic clothes and put them in a box. Wrap in acid free tissue paper and keep in a cool, dry place.

When you feel your eyes start to cross, it’s time to stop purging. By now you should have some stuffed grocery sacks and oh my goodness, what is THAT! Is that…space in your closet?

Congratulations. You did a fabulous bit of work.

This advice can be applied to any closet, regardless of its content or owner! Can’t face a Scary Closet Purge on your own? I’m here to help. Please contact Kim Sakkara, quick!

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