If you dread picking out your clothes each morning, you’re not alone. So many of us have closets that threaten to explode if we try to shove in one more item. Taking the stress out of getting dressed is a wonderful reason to declutter and get organized. And because I know not everyone is ready to tackle this job all at once, I asked my organizing colleague Susan Terkanian to explain her unique system for dealing with runaway closets.
JS LLC: What is it about our closets — why do we have such trouble organizing them?
MWG: It may be a matter of not knowing how or not having a clue what system would work for you. Perhaps a well-meaning friend or relative has attempted to “help” and that turned into a stressful disaster. “You haven’t worn that in ten years! Why don’t you just get rid of it?” Translation: “You are hopeless.”
JS LLC: Some of my clients have pretty much every item of clothing they’ve ever had. I half expect to see their own baby clothes tucked away at the very back of the closet. Why do we hold onto so many clothes that we don’t wear?
MWG: I call this the Bear Family Syndrome and is based on the characters in Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Only they live in our closet. However, some extended Bear Family members have also moved in. When you open the door you can hear them laughing at you (or at least it feels that way).
- Papa Bear (the fat clothes): “You want that bowl of ice cream and three donuts? Aw, go ahead. You deserve it. We’re the clothes you can grow into.”
- Baby Bear (the skinny clothes): “You’re never going to fit into these again. Give up. You’re never going to lose that weight.”
- Mama Bear (the clothes we settle for day after day): “There, there. You can always wear this — again. You look okay.”
- Aunt Guilty Bear (those hideous things you received as gifts but hate and will never wear): “What do you mean you don’t like this? I made [bought] it just for you.”
- Uncle Sen T. Mental Bear (trophies from long, long ago): You’re afraid that if you get rid of something that holds a memory, your memory of the event will evaporate just as though it never happened.
- Cousin Retro Bear: “I just know it’s going to come back in style if I save it long enough.”
When we physically hold on to something, our brain creates a connection in the anterior cingulate cortex and the insular cortex, and when someone tries to take it away (or we try to throw or give it away), there is a pain response, much like a paper cut or drinking a cup of coffee that is too hot. Relate that to clothes you have worn. Instead of just holding something with your hands, your body, in essence, “holds” onto the item. Since the skin is the largest organ in the body, that creates an even bigger sense of “holding on” to a piece of clothing.
JS LLC: Tell us why we should use the Wardrobe Genius rather than just pull everything out and go through it all.
MWG: The short answer is: My Wardrobe Genius helps you decide which garments you keep, donate, or discard one item at a time. Or if you are so inclined, you can do more. You just don’t have to tackle the entire closet all at once.
When you install My Wardrobe Genius, you have well-defined, visible zones that give your items a home:
- Spare hangers;
- Clothes that need ironing;
- Clothes that need mending or altering;
- The 20% of your clothes that you wear 80% of the time are clearly identified.
The goal of My Wardrobe Genius is that you have only clothes in your closet that
- Fit you right now;
- You like;
- Make you feel great; and
- Fit the life you are living now.
My Wardrobe Genius provides a guided process to help you decide if you will keep, donate, or discard an item. But we take it one step further. We have language built into the process that actually helps you say “goodbye” to an item whether you are donating or discarding it. Just as we need to say our “goodbyes” to a loved one who has passed, we need to do the same for stuff for which we have an attachment.
If what you’re doing works for you, bravo! Keep on keepin’ on. But if you need help breaking it down, My Wardrobe Genius takes the stress out of getting dressed.
Massachusetts-based Organizer Susan Terkanian is the creator of My Wardrobe Genius, a hands-on tool that helps people get their closets under control. To learn more, go to http://mywardrobegenius.com.
Do you feel like you missed the day they taught Organizing 101?
Call Lucy Kelly at (720) 526-2114. I’ll help you get organized and stay organized!
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