I realised I had a lot of clothes, but I hadn’t fully accepted the volume entirely! I had accumulated a lot of clothes over the past 5 years due to major life events. 5 years ago I was fit and sprightly. I was in fitness training and had completed many runs. I’d just got married and was the slimmest I’d ever been. I’d bought a new wardrobe to match my newfound physique. Not long after marriage I was pregnant. This, of course, needed a whole new maternity wardrobe. Many old clothes were stored in vacuum bags in the loft. I was determined I’d get back into them not long after the birth of my baby. Of course this didn’t happen. When my first was just 3 months old I discovered I was pregnant again. It was a good job I hadn’t even had chance to get back into my old clothes. My body expanded once again. No longer fit and sprightly, but a body in shock that it was having to grow yet another human. I bought more maternity wear, this time in bigger sizes. More clothes were confined to the loft.
My kids are now 2.5 and 3.5 and until recently, my clothes were a weird mix of new stuff I’d bought, maternity wear (which made me feel rubbish) and oddly fitted old clothes. My wardrobe and draws were literally over-flowing. I could barely shut any drawers or doors. I only wore what was the top layer of drawers, hardly daring to dig down any deeper. Partly because it was all so overwhelming, but also because I was scared I’d find yet another thing that wouldn’t fit and make me feel rubbish. My husband had tried to sensitively mention a few times that perhaps I had too many clothes (probably because he was living with the dregs of space…about 2 drawers left for him!). I’d bite his head off “NO I don’t!” Of course I did. It was just the thought of sorting it out myself was too overwhelming.
I met Helen at a business-networking event. I was immediately taken with her very warm and calm personality. I was intrigued by her business, which I learnt was in de-cluttering. I’d recently learnt about the de-cluttering phenomenon at a fabulous BelongCon event, where Frit Sarita Tam’s talk “Get rid of your sh*t” really seemed to make sense. Although sadly, with my 2 preschool kids at home, and a business to run, I’d not managed to implement any of my learnings from it.
When Helen spoke to me about her business, hspace, I immediately thought of my house and realised I was definitely someone that could do with her help. She told me how she had helped a lot of mums recently, struggling with their wardrobes since having kids. It was a relief to hear I wasn’t the only one with their clothes in such a state!
Helen came round for an initial free consultation, which took about 30 mins. She assessed my wardrobe in a brilliantly efficient and yet friendly, non judgemental manner. Saying “oh yes, it’s not too bad at all….there’s plenty we can do here”. She filled me with confidence. We popped a date in the diary for her to come back and de-clutter in half a day. She assured me I didn’t have to get rid of anything I didn’t want to, and there’d be no pressure. I felt really reassured by it all.
The day came around and Helen arrived with a smile. In she came with her props – a Brabantia clothes folding board (which I’d never seen before in my life!), several black bin bags, velvet coat hangers, and some folded down coloured baskets. We had a cup of tea while we discussed how it would work. Firstly, we emptied ALL my clothes into a big empty space and sorted it all into categories……dresses, trousers, skirts, T shirts, jumpers, leggings, sports wear etc. Now it was easy to see I had far too many clothes. The idea was to show me in one easy step how much of any one thing I had. It was a real eye opener. Next, category by category we sorted each individual category into 3 piles……’YES’, ‘NO’ & ‘MAYBE’. This was done on a very instinctual basis. If it wasn’t an immediate yes or no, it meant it was a maybe. Helen’s gentle questioning really helped with this. Did it make me feel nice? How often had I worn it? Does it make you feel confident? Helen made me reassess my attitude. There were some things I was keeping because I liked them….yet I knew they didn’t fit. Helen made me realise how much of a mental drag items like this were. Her philosophy is that everything in your wardrobe should fit and make you feel good. This is a philosophy I have now totally adopted. Helen also made me realise that it didn’t matter if some clothes didn’t fit….because I could buy stuff that DID fit. “Life is too short for clothes that don’t fit. If it doesn’t, let’s go out and buy a top that does fit”. My god she was right! Why hadn’t I thought like this before?? Helen also helped me see I only need a certain amount of stuff. Black leggings for example. Why on earth did I need more than 3 pairs? And socks? Surely 10 pairs was adequate? She was so right.
Once we’d sorted, I was gob smacked at how much stuff there was in the NO pile. Quite a fair old amount. I was really getting into the swing of it now. Next we went back to the ‘maybe’ pile for a second go. Was it still a ‘maybe’? Was some of it now a yes or a no? I soon realised a lot was a ‘no’. Anything remaining I tried on to see. Anything that didn’t fit or make me feel good was now a no. Before I knew it we’d sorted my whole bloody wardrobe. Most of it while I sat and had a cup of tea while stuff was held out in front of me. It was really cathartic! There were a couple of items I couldn’t get rid of despite not fitting – a top I was wearing the day I met my husband, and a dress I bought on my honeymoon. Helen said I should of course keep those, but perhaps in a special place, not my wardrobe. They are now kept in a special cupboard out of sight. Brilliant!
Next we had to get rid of the bin bags…….which were now piling high! It felt GOOD to get rid of this stuff now, because I knew it was all a NO.
Next was the fun bit. We completely rearranged my wardrobe space, and Helen taught me how to fold. I’d only ever seen clothes folded and put away like this in shops and hotels…surely I could never do it like that, could I? Oh yes I could! The folding board was absolutely genius. Helen helped me see that by doing it like this, you can always see what is in your drawer or wardrobe in the blink of an eye, and everything is accessible. It was a revelation!
I was utterly gob smacked to realise that I could neatly fit everything in what was once my “overspill” wardrobe. Helen also brought along some lovely velvet hangers, which are now the only hangers I use. They are really great quality and the clothes can't slip off. It was all neatly categorised and on view. I now have nearly ¾ of my chest of drawers totally empty so my lucky husband can spread out from the measly 1.5 drawers he currently occupies.
The best thing about the process is that instead of feeling like I’ve got rid of 80% of my clothes (which is what happened), I actually feel like I’ve been on a shopping trip. Everything now in my wardrobe actually fits! I can’t tell you how good that feels. I also unearthed loads of clothes I’d forgotten I had that are actually really nice and fit brilliantly. I was so scared of trying anything on that wasn’t in the top layer I’d totally given up trying! The de-clutter has put a stop to that. I can now see all my clothes so can plan outfits easily. I can see new combinations of outfits I hadn’t considered before and I feel confident in everything I wear. I am so chuffed with it. Mentally, it’s been such a freeing and cathartic exercise and I can’t recommend it more highly.
The added benefit I hadn’t appreciated is that I’ve given away a lovely amount of stuff to the charity shop, and my husband is so happy that he has some wardrobe space back!
The only down side to the whole experience is that I am now so on board with de-cluttering it’s making living with the rest of my house a little unbearable. I don’t think it will be long before I get Helen back to tackle the rest!
If you are interested in de-cluttering your house, business or wardrobe (or anywhere else!), then do contact Helen at hspace for a chat about how she can help.
This blog was written by Sally Bunkham, CEO and founder of Mum's Back – providing luxury gift hampers for new mums focussing on the yummy stuff not allowed in pregnancy, whilst raising money for PANDAS Foundation.