I've been spending most of my spare time over the last week going through every closet, drawer, and cupboard in my house and cleaning, organizing, and purging everything I could find. Most of it was easy and satisfying but the really hard part was the clothes. Every inch of my closet, dresser, and the drawers under my bed were practically overflowing and I wanted to keep it all. But, after careful deliberation, I ended up with a beautifully clean bedroom and nearly ten bags of stuff to donate. Here are the tricks I picked up along the way to figure out what gets to stay and what has to go.
1. THE ONE YEAR RULE: Have you worn it in the last year? If not, it goes. Period. I always think I'll rediscover a magical piece of clothing and start wearing it again, but that never happens. If you haven't worn it in the last year, you're extremely unlikely to want to work it into your regular wardrobe. Deep down, you probably don't like it all that much for some reason, no matter how much you may think you love it. The exeption to this rule is for specialty pieces such as formal dresses that are reserved for events that don't come around all that often. (e.g.: weddings, galas, new year's eve, dates with prince harry etc.)
2. THE FIT RULE: If it doesn't fit right, it goes. I can't tell you the amount of things I picked up on sale or for free at clothing swaps that almost fit, but that end up making me look kind of shabby. I've held on to them in the past because they're nearly perfect and they were such a good deal but it's time to make way for pieces that actually suit me. Someone else will enjoy them much more, and I've learned that it's better to have a few things that make you look really great than a hundred things that make you look only kind-of-okay.
3. THE BROKEN RULE: Does it have a hole in it? Are there buttons missing? Does it have a stain? It goes, goes goes. If you really loved it, you would have mended it by now. Don't keep something in the hope that one day you'll take the time to make it wearable. I've noticed that if I lose a button on a jacket I love, I immediately get it fixed. I do the same if I tear a seam or stain something special: it goes immediately to the tailor/dry-cleaner. But if you haven't gotten around to mending something after, let's say, one month, you probably don't want to be wearing it anyway.
The final product! Doesn't it look pretty and organized? The bags in front are just half of what's being donated to charity. I got rid of all that stuff just by following those three simple rules, nothing more.
Now that you've got your pile of donations, here are a couple places that will gladly take your used clothing off your hands.
KIND EXCHANGE: With 11 locations across downtown, Kind Exchange is a used clothing shop that accepts donations and, in some cases, will buy certain pieces from you or arrange a trade. Simply drop off your bag(s) at one of their locations, fill out a form, and wait while they sort through your stuff. They'll call you once they've finished, and will let you know how much they're willing to pay for which pieces. At that point you can also decided to take cold-hard cash or trade for store credit. Anything they're not interested in buying you can still leave behind as a donation. For more information and locations visit www.kindexchange.ca
CLOTHESLINE/CANADIAN DIABETES ASSOCIATION: Clothesline accepts donations, not just of clothing, but of all kinds of household items. 100% of the proceeds from the donations go toward supporting the Canadian Diabetes Association for research, education, and advocacy. The great thing about Clothesline is that a representative will come right to your door to pickup your donation. The only downside is that your bags have to be on your stoop by 8am and that's a little early for the likes of me. Contact clothesline either by phone (1-800-505-5525) or online (www.diabetes.ca/how-you-can-help/clothesline) to find out when they'll be in your neighbourhood and schedule your FREE pickup.
OASIS CLOTHING BANK: Oasis is a support network for individuals recovering from addiction. The Oasis Addiction Recovery Society programs provide housing, job placement assistance, life skill preparation and more. All clothing donations first go to program participants who can't afford necessities and the remainder are sold to support their programming. The great thing about Oasis is that they'll come directly to your door to pick up your items whenever it's convenient for you. The only downside is that you must have a minimum of three bags to donate in order to justify a home pickup. Call 416-751-0553 to schedule a pickup or find out more.
There you have it! Now you've got everything you need to know to successfully clean out your closet for the fall season... and all that extra closet space is a great excuse to go shopping ;)