Today's mission is to declutter your wardrobe of excess and unworn dresses and formal wear. To help you this article includes general instructions for this task, plus tips for getting rid of sentimental items and donation ideas for what you choose to get rid of.
This mission is designed to be done while we're focused on the Organize Master Bedroom Closet Challenge, which is one of the 52 Week Organized Home Challenges here on the site.
It also follows the more general mission we had yesterday of decluttering hanging clothes from your closet, since this mission gives you an extra day to get this task done, and also addresses some of the unique challenges you may face when trying to decide which of your dresses, skirts and other formal wear to get rid of when cleaning out your closet.
As always, when decluttering any type of clothing, make sure to use these 9 questions to help you with the process, so you can feel good about the choices you make.
During this Declutter 365 mission I want you to evaluate whether to keep or get rid of the following types of clothing items in your closet, including dresses of many varieties, such as:
There are some special challenges that occur when you're trying to declutter the types of clothing items I've listed above, and they can include one or several of these challenges:
Let's take each of these concerns in turn, putting it into a helpful perspective.
Dresses and other formal wear often cost a lot of money, so it's not surprising that it can feel hard to part with something we paid so much for.
In fact, feeling like something cost too much to now let it go is one of the most common emotions chaining us to clutter.
Ultimately, just because you keep something doesn't mean the money will come back, it's still spent whether you keep it or get it out of your home. That's a hard truth, but sometimes we need to accept that fact to help us move forward.
In addition, you also have to think of how much it's costing you, both emotionally, because you've got a cluttered closet, and in time and energy to keep moving that clothing item around, or dusting it off, or whatever upkeep it requires, in making your decision about something's true cost.
Because we often wear formal clothing to important events in our life, such as to prom, our wedding day, the wedding or celebration of a friend or family member, etc., the clothing items themselves begin to take on a special meaning for us.
They can feel like a physical reminder of that special time and place in our past, and that can be a lovely thing.
Check out my article on how to get rid of sentimental clutter for more tips on dealing with this issue. Basically, the article explains why you don't have to get rid of everything sentimental (and in fact, you shouldn't), but you definitely can't classify everything as sentimental or nothing really is.
The article also provides tips and strategies for how to get rid of some items without losing the precious memories, such as taking a picture, or saving just one or two things that represent the memory, etc.
Finally, one of the main questions you can ask yourself, when decluttering, is "when was the last time I used this?"
Often, if you haven't used something in six months to a year it may likely be clutter, so you should think hard about whether to keep it or not.
For many of us formal wear is not something we're going to wear or use frequently, so this question can get tricky. It might seem to be reasonable to keep it "just in case" you need to go to an event in the future.
Be careful with this "just in case" way of thinking, especially as it relates to clothes. Unfortunately, time and fashion move forward while things sit in the closet, and we also may change sizes.
Therefore, if you don't go to formal events frequently by the time such an event does come back around again, how realistic is it that you'd want to wear that item again anyway? Will it still fit? Will it still be in fashion? Be honest with yourself to make the best decisions.
As I've talked to many Declutter 365 participants over the years, I've been able to see a pattern. The special combination of the high cost of these clothing items, and how special the memories are that surround them, make it difficult for participants to part with these items, but once they pass that hurdle they've got another one -- what should they do with it?
Assuming the items are still wearable you've got to main choices -- sell or donate.
Trying to sell formal wear and dresses can take up a lot of your time, so you want to consider the rewards versus time costs before choosing this way to get rid of these items.
Make sure whatever you're going to sell is in excellent condition, and also still fashionable. This typically requires you to re-sell the item within a short time period of wearing it, instead of a decade or more later.
On the other hand, I know some people who are dress addicts, and have an annual sale of older dresses to make room for the new ones they keep adding to their collection. The money they get back helps them offset the costs of all those new dresses, and keeps their closet from getting cluttered.
Places to consider selling dresses and formal wear including at high-end consignment shops, buy-sell groups, and even on places like eBay.
Some people don't want to go through the hassle of finding buyers for their used clothing and would rather donate.
Or they may choose donation because they want to give someone else the chance to have their own special memories in the dress or gown, or other formal wear, like they had for themselves.
Along with donating these items to your local donation shop, such as Salvation Army or Goodwill, there are specific charities that specialize in taking prom dresses, and wedding dresses, to give to those in need.
Here are ideas for where to donate wedding dresses, or other ways to get your bridal gown out of your closet if you decide to get rid of it.
In addition, here's my article on ideas for where to donate prom dresses and other formal wear from your closet.
As always, there are no right or wrong decisions when it comes to what to get rid of versus what to keep in your wardrobe and closet.
Ultimately, you've got to decide what's right for you.
So if you do decide to keep some of these formal pieces, but you don't wear them frequently, or don't plan to wear them at all in the future, make sure to keep them properly stored.
You can learn lots of clothes storage rules here, to keep these items looking great, but for sure put the formal clothes you decide to keep into a garment bag.
A garment bag keeps the clothes from getting dusty, and also can deter pests. That way whenever you want to get the items back out to admire, or to wear again, they'll still be looking great!
After all, if you decide you'd like to keep them, you should take good care of them.
I hope these instructions have inspired you to get rid of old formal wear and dresses from your closet.
When you begin to declutter the feeling you get is contagious, so if you're loving the results you're getting I would encourage you to keep going.
I've got a whole series of 15 minute decluttering missions (eventually 365 of them!) that you can do.
Just pick and choose the ones you want to do, that will make a big impact in your home. But if you want someone else to tell you the order you can also grab the 15 minute daily decluttering mission calendars and follow along as we all get our homes clutter free together!
Top image courtesy of Roberto Trm, from Flickr Creative Commons, and image of the garment bag provided by a reader, Dany-el
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I would love to hear from you, sharing your thoughts, questions, or ideas about this topic, so leave me a comment below. I try to always respond back!