Six unexpected benefits of de-cluttering

It’s now three months since my wardrobe was downsized by Clear The Clutter. I continue to be astounded by how much I still appreciate the impact this had on my life, way beyond the obvious benefits of having more room. Since July, I’ve identified the following six additional advantages of Cath’s work.

I’ve kept it going, effortlessly

After thirty years of clothes-hoarding, it is now a daily pleasure to open a wardrobe and be able to enjoy its neatness; immediately find what I want; and discover it doesn’t look like the dog’s blanket as it hasn’t been jammed-into a space so packed you couldn’t get a credit card between the garments. The pleasure is so powerful that I have not been tempted, for even a moment, to lapse from the hang-it-up-in-the-right-place regime. That has quite literally changed the habit of a lifetime.

I can self-de-clutter

Obviously, as an inveterate clothes hoarder, I have two complete suites of clothing – summer-ish and winter-ish. Cath worked with me to de-clutter the summer, er, “collection”. At that point, the winter set was in the loft. But the weather changed in October and it was swapover time….

I doubted that I’d be able to replicate what Cath had shown me under my own steam, not expecting to be as thorough as she had been. But as each case came down from the loft, I took her mantras(especially “do I really love it?”) and addressed the heaps. It was astonishing how easy it was to discard what Ididn’t need/love, even by myself. I packed nine binbags for the charity shop in half an hour, utterly painlessly.

And interestingly, although my project with Cath was concerned with clothes, the technique is infecting the rest of the house. We have a very small house with no room for anything non-essential. Yet it stillcontains books I bought in 1992 and haven’t read yet… Clearly, just as I am never going to wear the bought-in-the-sale purple velvet evening dress, I am never going to read a cop thriller from before thedays of mobile phones… The Sue Ryder shop was again glad to have it.

I’m better dressed

Three reasons for this.

First, stuff is easier to find, to put together a roughly-co-ordinated outfit. Just call me Trinny.

Second: I threw out all the rogue garments that I’d bought on a whim, but which didn’t really go with the rest. Interestingly, it left a three-colour palette for summer; and the same, but with different colours, for winter. The permutations of what can be put together to make up an outfit have suddenly become much more interesting. NB. Cath will laugh if you talk about outfits and things that go with other things. But you know what I’m talking about…

Third: I also got rid of all the stuff that was past its sell-by date/had had its fashion-moment. I now don’t feel obliged to use it up and wear it out – because it’s not there to reproach me any longer…

I buy better

I absolutely don’t want to go back to where I was. Obviously, the fast-track route to re- creating my problem is to buy more stuff.

Consequently, this experience has changed how I buy. Yes, I’d seen the lovely Gok Wan explaining the capsule wardrobe and understood this on a logical level. But no, I’d done squat-diddly about it.

However, protecting the empty space in my cupboards; and maintaining easy access to a co-ordinated outfit… well, yes, that has made me a born-again capsule wardrobe shopper. I cannot bring myself to clog the space up with unlikely-to-be-worn-much stuff. So everything has to win a legitimate place in the line up before it gets bought.

And guess what? This has had a further and unprecedented benefit. I’ve gone posher! So because I know there is little available room, there is no space for random bargains that I don’t 100% love. Therefore, I haven’t bought any of those, and saved my money. This means I can afford the French Connection navy jumper that I know I will get a million wears out of. And the expensive cashmere from France. And therefore, the price tags don’t seem un-risk-able – I know I’ll get my money’s worth, because these jumpers will become mainstays. Get me, designer labels next!

The guilt has gone

My wardrobe used to reproach me every day for all my indecision; poor impulse control; self- deceiving retail therapy indulgences; planet-destroying wastefulness; and self-definition-by possessions. It’s not terribly healthy to have to beat yourself up for your major shortcomings before you’ve even got dressed…

All these have now gone to the Sue Ryder shop. That’s not to say there wasn’t a Big Guilt to go through when things I’d never even worn were sent away… But at least they’re not here to prick my conscience daily.

As long as I continue to work on how I buy things, happily this guilt can never come back…

I’ve even got a Santa Shelf

And finally, this week I got one delightfully unexpected benefit. I realised that, in the time- honoured tradition, I now had a top-of-the-wardrobe place to hide what Santa’s elves have been making. And so de-cluttering means I’ve even arrived at proper parenting!