Live Rich with Less Stuff Pt. III: First Steps

In our last installment of how to Live Rich with Less Stuff, we discussed the benefits of embracing minimalism and learning how to Live Rich with Less Stuff. Today we’ll discuss some first steps you can take on the road to relieving yourself of excess stuff and freeing up your closets and your life to focus on what truly adds value and meaning; in short, finding the path to the stuff that really matters.

As you may already know if you’ve been following our series, the concept of minimalism isn’t just about getting rid of excess material stuff, but that’s a great place to start. By getting rid of excess stuff you can make room for what really matters to your happiness and adds quality to your life and get rid of everything else. Minimalism involves keeping only those things you actually use on a regular basis, enjoy, and need.

Step One: Evaluate your wardrobe. One of the easiest first steps you can take on the road to living with less stuff is to pare down your wardrobe. We all have those items in our clothes closet that we never wear, but just haven’t gotten around to tossing for one reason or another. As a first step to getting rid of excess stuff, take inventory of your closet and answer these questions honestly:

1. Have I worn this item in the last 12 months?
2. Does this item feel good when I put it on?
3. Do I like the way I feel/look when I put this item on my body?
4. Does this item evoke good memories?

If the answer to one or more of these questions is “no”, put the item in a box or bag for donating to a local homeless shelter, thrift store, or disaster relief organization. If an item in your closet hasn’t been worn, is uncomfortable, doesn’t make you look or feel good, or is associated with bad or negative memories, it is not adding value to your life. If the answer to questions 1, 2, and 3 are no, but the answer to question 4 is yes, consider taking a picture of the item and then donating it. If you really cannot part with the item because of the memories it evokes, ask yourself if you can (and will) recycle it into something useful, such as a pillow or quilt, but be honest with yourself. If you know you will not have the time to recycle the item, think hard about whether you really need to keep it in your closet.

Step Two: Donate, Store, Toss. In addition to the “donate” box for the items meeting the above criteria, add a “store” box and a trash bag. If you have anything you’re not certain of, or that holds sentimental value, store those items in a separate box so that it isn’t taking up valuable space in your closet. Put a label with a date six months in the future on the front of the box, and mark the date on your calendar. When that day comes, pull the box out and re-evaluate the contents, asking yourself the above four questions once again. Place items that are stained, ripped, or damaged in the trash bag and when it is full, take it to a dumpster or put it out on the curb with the weekly trash. Don’t look back!

Step Three: Group your clothing into clusters. Did you know that most women only wear 20% of their wardrobes 80% of the time? Do you realize how much money that represents, just sitting in your closet collecting dust? Do you really need a dozen pairs of jeans, four suits, or six pairs of work slacks in various shades of black? Probably not. A clothing cluster is a group of items that work together to form more than one outfit. Neutral colors will multiply your choices and are a great place to spend your money getting quality pieces that fit well, look good, and will last. A navy blazer, for instance, can be paired with solid or print tops, slacks, and skirts, which can be mixed and matched.

Neutral doesn’t just mean beige; the neutral palette includes:
• White
• Cream
• Denim
• Navy
• Black
• Charcoal
• Tan
• Olive green
• Taupe
• Chocolate
• Grey
• Beige

Are you starting to see the endless possibilities? Creating clothing clusters will allow you to greatly expand your outfit choices with just a few coordinating items, since each item in the cluster works together with the rest of the items.

Applying minimalism to your wardrobe will not only free up a lot of closet space, it also makes dressing in the morning infinitely easier. You’ll be amazed at how much faster you can get ready, knowing that whatever you choose from a given cluster will look good with any number of items in the same palette. You’ll have less clothing to care for, and you’ll only be putting those things on your body that fit well, make you look and feel good, and that you really enjoy. We hope you have fun taking these first steps on the road to minimizing your stuff. In the next installment of our series on how to Live Rich with Less Stuff, we’ll share with you what to do with what’s left after you get rid of everything that constitutes “excess stuff” for you.