Editing your wardrobe sounds a lot better than purging

photo courtesy remind on sxc

A year or so ago, I was watching an episode of HGTV’s Design Star. (I like home decorating reality shows. Don’t be judgy.)  They were staging a kitchen for a photo shoot for a catalog, and one of the judges mentioned that one of the designs “showed no editing ability whatsoever.”

A little bell went off in the back of my head. It was the first time I’d ever really thought about editing as something that extended beyond writing, and out into the three-dimensional world.  The judge was right; the contestants had just dumped everything they could think of into the design, and had never gone back and pulled anything out that wasn’t working.

I was thinking about this a couple weeks ago, because I’m going through the process of editing my closets. I think editing sounds much nicer than “purging,” which sounds like something unhealthy and gross. Unless you accidentally consumed some hemlock, in which case, purging is absolutely the right thing to do.

So in editing my daughter’s room, we sorted everything into:

  1. Outright trash (of which there was a disgustingly large amount.)
  2. Clothes she’d outgrown that were bound for younger cousins or Goodwill.
  3. Clothes and toys that she simply didn’t really like.
  4. Things that were broken, had pieces lost, or were otherwise probably unusable.
  5. Clothes and toys that fit, were fit to use/wear, and that she liked.

And this is how I ended up toting 11 garbage bags of stuff out of her room over the course of about 2 weeks. It was EXHAUSTING.

After that, I tackled my own closet. My issue was a little different. I didn’t have a ton of clothes or shoes, and most of the things I owned I liked and fit me. I just didn’t have any “outfits.” There was no organization or forethought; I just tend to buy pieces I like, and that often doesn’t translate to a wardrobe of workable outfits.

This was where the editing metaphor really served me well. Because I understand editing isn’t just cutting out what isn’t working. It’s often reorganizing and adjusting what might work, if it were just presented in the right place.

This was also kind of exhausting. I started with the same sorting I did in Maddy’s room, although it was much faster. There was no trash or toys, and only a few things that outright didn’t fit or weren’t fit to wear. I also culled a few things that I will put down to bad judgment.  And then I started building outfits, in the same way you start pulling coherent scenes and chapters together from random characters, situations and bits of prose.

I think at one point Chris thought I was nuts, because I had literally every item of clothing I own except underwear and heavy coats pulled out and covering every surface of my bedroom. I even matched shoes, belts and jewelry. It was a little crazy.

But at the end, I had 5 really nice professional outfits, a couple of nice church outfits, and of course, several sets of t-shirts and jeans. I knew what went where.  I knew EXACTLY what two or three items I really needed to buy complete a couple of outfits, and I went shopping and got exactly those items.  It was pretty spectacular.

It will take some work to keep things organized, but in exchange for two days work (counting the shopping), less than $100 in purchases made me feel like I had an entire new wardrobe.

What about you? What are some other areas of life where editing skills could be of use?


  1. ·

    Now that you’ve got your wardrobe where you want it, you can switch your terminology from “editing” to “curating.” Fancy!

    Seriously, though, I’ve gone through that process and it does feel great.

  2. Kat French

    “Curating” makes me think of bacon. I know that’s actually “curing,” but I really don’t need a logical reason to think of bacon.


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