The Urge to Purge

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been helping a friend of mine clean-up her closet. Packed with eye-popping dresses and bursting with black hoodies, this space has gotten a bit out of control. You know you need to start the purging process when you can no longer slide your hand in between your hanging clothes. Our little purging parties have inspired me to discuss the organization of one’s wardrobe.

I want to start off by acknowledging the fact that we all get attached to certain articles of clothing. Whether it’s your favourite shirt that you won’t give up but is turning translucent, a sweater you despise that your mother gave you that you feel too guilty to give away, or those “skinny pants” that you are hoping to fit into one day again, we all need to accept the fact that these things are taking up space that could be used more efficiently.

It’s time to break the psychological ties to objects that no longer have a place in our lives. Clinging to clothes long past their expiration date – or those that cannot be parted with for reasons of sentimentality or guilt – are a burden, psychologically and materially!

You might be asking: how does one get past this anxiety over purging? How can I throw away the top that my mother, who has passed away, knitted for me 20 years ago? How can I donate the hat that my best friend bought for me but I really can’t stand? Why would I toss my favourite pair of jeans that are perfectly formed to my body (despite the fact that there are seven holes in them)?

Sit down. Calm down. Be logical. Take the emotion out of it! Go through each item piece by piece, and have a friend there to help you in the decision process. Ask yourself: When was the last time I wore this? Have I ever worn this? Should I be wearing this? What are the real reasons I am holding on to this? If you haven’t worn an item for over a year, it’s time to consider chucking it. Also, if you are wearing something that is literally hanging by a thread but are too attached to let it go, think about how it looks to other people. Is this an image you want to project? Set it free and find a new favourite.

If you are simply storing clothes that you are not interested in wearing but are feeling too guilty to part with, think about why you feel guilty. It was from someone special. Well, that person doesn’t become any less special just because you didn’t want a shirt they gave you. You will have memories, photographs, and other gifts that will remind you of them.

A wonderfully crafty idea that my aunt came up with was to cut up a blue sweater her mother had made for her years prior and sew a piece of it into six quilts she was making, one for herself and each sibling (pictured below). This way, it was turned into something functional (a blanket), space was made for more appropriate items in her closet, and the sentimentality was preserved. Creating something new out of something old is a great way to retain the item while still opening up space in your wardrobe.

Sentimental Quilt

Once you try these things, you might be surprised to find how easy it is to purge. You might not even be able to stop! I find myself constantly reevaluating things and making changes to my clothes collection. Once the urge to purge takes over, you’ll never cling to clothing clutter again.


5 thoughts on “The Urge to Purge

  1. Great post. Completely relate. I sometimes take things a bit too far when doing a purge… have regretted tossing a few things…. but the regret only lasts a few moments. The world hasn’t ended yet. 🙂


    • I know exactly what you mean. Some people can’t let go, while others, like ourselves, sometimes go overboard on the purging. However, they are only material things and can usually be replaced if they were really needed. Often, though, you’re right. A moment of regret and then it passes. Overall, opening up space opens up new possibilities. 😉


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