Decluttering: Clothes, Shoes and Bags


It’s only been one week since I announced my plan to embrace minimalism, as well as get rid of everything I don’t use/need/love. Would it surprise you to know I’ve already gone through all of my closets? Well, I emptied them all and only put back the things I knew I wanted to keep, anyway. There are still boxes and bags of stuff stacked in my dining room waiting to be reviewed at a later date.

Before tackling anything else in my apartment, I first wanted to go through all of my clothes, shoes, purses and other bags. I thought it would be the easiest stuff to start with, because I’ve never been a huge clothes or accessories shopper, and anyone who knows me can vouch for how empty my closets and dresser looked as they were. However, throughout the process, I was still surprised by just how much “stuff” I’d been holding onto.

Let’s start with shoes, as they were definitely the easiest to part with. My entryway closet always looks a little empty, so the after pic below isn’t really an indication of how many items I removed from it. In fact, I only donated 6 pairs of shoes: 2 pairs of flip flops, 2 pairs of black heels/wedges and 2 pairs of (seriously) cheap boots. The flip flops and boots were no-brainers – they were too big, too cheap or just not my style. But the black heels/wedges were tough at first. I definitely had to ask myself: When was the last time I wore these? The answer for both was “at the bar”. I don’t go there anymore and haven’t been in a couple years. On top of that, neither were my style. So, into the bag they went! From this closet, I also removed 2 jackets: 1 jean jacket that never fit right and 1 winter jacket I’m going to try and sell.

minimalist front closet

Onto purses and other bags. I have no pictures, I’m afraid, as this was another easy one to tackle. Actually, what made it so easy was the fact that I didn’t even know I had any purses other than the one I recently bought! There are four bags I use often: my new purse, my hiking backpack, a small duffel bag that’s a great weekend bag and my one big piece of luggage. So, why – hidden deep in the back of my bedroom closet – did I find an unpacked box full of old purses and duffel bags?

There was a ginormous black purse, back from when it was cool to carry bags the size of your torso. There was the $30 hockey bag I bought to pack and move all my clothes to Toronto with. And then there was a bag I bought in California when I was 19 and haven’t used since around that same time. When I first looked at it, I thought: I can’t get rid of this. It’s the bag I move my toiletries with, whenever I move. Umm, hellooo! This is not a reason to keep a purse. Considering I’d forgotten about all of these and more, I happily donated 6 purses and bags.

Finally, my clothes. I hate to sound like a broken record, but the fact that I was able to pare down my wardrobe even more than it already was has kind of blown my mind. I think, because I don’t shop for clothes often, I just assumed I had a fairly minimalistic wardrobe already. As it turned out, I was holding onto a lot of pieces for sentimental value or because they were goal items. I took a tip from Kathleen’s books and decided to take everything out of my closet and dresser and throw it all on the bed. From there, I picked up each item and asked myself three questions: When was the last time I wore this? When/where could I wear it again? Do I feel good in it?

As you can imagine, I tried on a lot of clothes that night and, unfortunately, did not feel good in many of them. But you know what? It’s actually a good thing I finally acknowledged that. Consider how many times you look in your closet or dresser and see items that make you sigh and think: Maybe one day, Why did I buy that? or What a waste of money. My wardrobe was full of negative thoughts. Now, they’re all gone (I tossed/donated 51 clothing items) and everything I own is something I would actually wear. (And if I ever reach that goal weight, I want new clothes – not old!)

minimalist closet clothes

In total, I removed 63 items from my apartment – and they’re already all gone! I dropped off the four black garbage bags pictured above at a donation box on Saturday morning. So long, stuff!

On top of the fact that I was successful in removing a large number of items from my home this week, what was even better about tackling my clothes, shoes and bags first is I feel like I understand myself a little bit better now. I’ve always been someone who only wears one jacket each season, carries the same purse for 3+ years, lives in one kind of shoe (currently TOMS), and favours one pair of jeans and a few tops. I like to look presentable, but fashion is just not my thing, and this challenge helped me come to accept that. I’d rather have fewer options to choose from each morning, but love each of them the same. (In this area, I think I’d already embraced minimalism to some degree, without realizing it.)


As I began to purge my wardrobe, I decided to keep track of not only the number of items I tossed/donated but also what was leftover. When I started, I had 190 clothing/shoe/bag items. Now, I’m left with 127, which means I decreased the size of my wardrobe by 33%. In case anyone is curious, here’s what’s left:

I can’t decide if it’s a good or bad thing that I only own 54 items of clothing (not counting bras, underwear, socks, scarves, etc.). Is that too little? Too much? Could I pare down more? I think I’ll leave it as-is for a while, and see if I actually wear each item in the next 12 months.

Approved Shopping List

One thing the inventory did help me do was come up with a short list of items I think I’ll need to lift the shopping ban for this year. I mentioned this when I wrote the shopping ban rules, so I won’t consider purchases made for any of these items a failure of the challenge, as long as they are in the budget:

  • 1 nude bra (ladies know the importance of having one of these and mine is trashed)
  • 1 hoodie (only 1 of my 2 are thick/suitable for fall and it’s also pretty trashed)
  • 1 pair of workout capris (I only have 1 pair and they’ve seen better days)
  • 1 outfit for two weddings I’m attending this year (I’ve been a bridesmaid in the last few, so I don’t actually have an appropriate outfit for a wedding)
  • potentially 1 pair of ballet flats (but only if I have some kind of meeting or event where I’d need them)

And that’s that! Next week: my bookshelf and desk area.

When was the last time you purged your wardrobe?