This week, we’ve been moving out of our beautiful but HUGE 4-bed Victorian house… into a boat.
Admittedly, the boat has 4 bedrooms too, but it’s not quite the same.
We’ve lived on boats for 14 years and only lived in the house for 18 months, yet you would not BELIEVE the amount of stuff we have.
Seriously, it’s borderline terrifying.
18 months ago, it took us precisely 4 car loads to move off our boat (yep, the same 4 bed one) and into a house. I’ll admit, the house was rented complete with furnishings, so we didn’t need all that and we did buy a television and TV stand.
That’s it. That’s all that was needed in the house. Oh, and a bookcase. Because … well… books.
So how, HOW has it taken me a week and about 17 car loads (I stopped counting after 14) in the SAME car to move back onboard again. As well as 7 trips to charity shops. Seriously, I’m having to go further afield because my local shops are starting to give me the stink eye!
I could blame Mr WB. In fact, I can blame him for the increased number of motorbike parts which are now in the house and require moving. Turns out, he’s been stealth buying vintage nuts & bolts and other tools (are there official addiction meetings for that?!)
I could blame Baby Bird…. but her stuff fits into 2 binbags- and not the largest size ones either.
Nope, I am heartbroken and a little embarrassed to admit that I am the culprit of all the STUFF. My wardrobe has doubled (the clothes… not the actual wardrobe) and you should see the number of shoes I have! For a girl with big feet, it’s impressive.
So now, I need to simplify. Minimise. Frugalise. Whatever word you want to call it, and whether you spell it with an ‘s’ or a ‘z’, I need to half the amount of STUFF I own. At least. Honestly, I probably need to quarter it. I need to be strict with myself, because I really don’t want to keep all of this on the boat or in the motorhome. Not only that, it doesn’t all fit!
So for anyone else out there in the same boat (ha- see what I did there!) here’s how to reduce & minimise your wardrobe. Sorry.
How to minimise your wardrobe- first steps
- Immediately and without any conditions, impose a NO BUYING ban on yourself. Seriously. If your wardrobe is already busting at the seams, stop buying stuff to make it worse.
- Pick a day when you have time. A lot of time. At least a couple of hours. Do not start this project at 10pm.
- Take every piece of clothing out. EVERYTHING. From every wardrobe around the house, garage, tent, shed, motorhome, any other vehicle you might own… EVERYTHING! Prepare to say ‘I’d forgotten I had that’ at least once.
- Feel free to crack open a bottle of wine and drown your sorrows as you stare at this pile from hell and wonder how you will ever put it all back/ find somewhere to store it/ hide it from your significant other.
- DO NOT QUIT NOW. Seriously, I tried but my stuff was all over the bed and Mr WB refused to let it stay there. (Such a spoilsport.)
- Split things into piles. For example, shoes, boots, coats, hats, t-shirts, jeans etc
How to minimise your wardrobe- the hard bit
Sorry, but there’s absolutely no way to avoid this part. I should know- I tried everything I could think of!
- Pick a pile. Any pile. It doesn’t matter which one.
- Start looking at it critically, as if you’re seeing it for the first time.
- Put everything that makes you feel bad/ fat/ frumpy or any other not-good emotion to one side. This is your unwanted pile. There is no point keeping a dress which you never wear because you feel horrible when you wear it.
- This also includes the jeans you’re ‘going to fit into one day’ or the shoes you bought in 1999 but are really painful! Life is too short for sore feet.
- Do you really need 7 white t-shirts? Really? How about all those pairs of jeans/ shorts/ gym tops you never wear?
- Anything still with a tag on that you bought more than a year ago goes into the pile too.
- To be clear, you can keep your wedding dress or any other sentimental outfit. Let’s not be crazy here.
- Have a check for rips, holes or blemishes which can’t be removed. If you can’t/ don’t want to fix it, what’s the point in keeping it?
Ok, you should now be left with a few items left in the ‘keep’ pile. I found it easier to go through pile by pile but you might prefer to pull out all the unwanted clothes first. Most of these should be clothes you wear regularly and enjoy wearing.
At around this point, I faced a difficult dilemma. I had clothes that I didn’t LOVE, but I knew I wore when I needed to and I couldn’t afford to replace everything in my wardrobe. I also had things which I’d paid a lot of money for, but I never wore. (I’m looking at you, itchy designer cardigan!)
Here’s how I battled this problem. Anything itchy, uncomfortable or too small (be honest!) went in the unwanted pile, no matter how much it cost (yep, bye bye cardigan. Let’s face it, I was never going to wear it anyway!) Then I was left with things which were serviceable, that I wore occasionally, but which weren’t always flattering. A couple of these I kept, such as my over-large sweater which is so easy to just pull on, but I know it makes me look about 6 months pregnant. I promised to never wear it anywhere outside the house!
It’s up to you how strict you are with yourself. No one can force you. I won’t be there watching over your shoulder (although I am spectacularly good at clearing out other people’s stuff- it’s just mine I struggle with!!) But if in your head you know it’s not right, let it go to a nice new home. A couple of my hardest decisions were stuff that other people had given me. I remembered the gift and how nice it was to receive it, but for whatever reason the garment was no longer right for me. So I was strict with myself and made myself pass it along. It was surprisingly freeing.
How to minimise your wardrobe- nearly there!
Phew. That is NOT easy and if you’re still with me then go give yourself a massive smile in the mirror. It’s difficult working through years of belongings, especially when there are emotional attachments to them. But the hard work is over now. Promise.
Before you put everything back, have a look at your storage space. This is a great time to give it a quick clean out, dust & hoover. I also assessed how the storage was working for us. On the boat, Mr WB and I share a wardrobe in our bedroom, we have a couple of drawers each, then there is a full length wardrobe in the spare room (yep, we have a spare room onboard) which is great for longer dresses and coats. This solution is still the best for us, but I did move around where we hang shirts & skirts so that the shirt sleeves weren’t resting on the floor anymore. I also moved jumpers and warm gear to a different shelf so I could get at them easier. (As it’s still snowing here in the UK in March!)
Once you’ve done that, put everything you’re keeping back into place. Fold everything neatly and hang hangars facing the same way. (This is a military thing and we’ve never broken the habit. All of our clothes face to the right in the wardrobe. Always. It feels so wrong to do it any other way but I admit it looks so much neater.) Feel free to add scented sachets or perfume. (This is not a military thing!)
And you’re done! You have minimised your wardrobe. Hopefully, you’ll find getting dressed each morning a little easier and finding what you want will be a breeze!
Now, the challenge is going to be NOT buying anything. I haven’t bought any clothes since Christmas 2017- that’s currently three months & counting! Next time we’ll look at ways to deal with this problem so that your beautifully minimalised wardrobe can continue that way for a long time to come.
Have you minimised your wardrobe? Do you need to? Let me know any other tips you have below.