One of my favorite things about our family’s trip around the world last year (besides, well, seeing the world)? Living out of a backpack.
I loved having just a few things to keep up with for an entire year. It was glorious. When we came home, I wanted to keep it up.
I had already decluttered quite a bit before leaving on our trip, but I donated another half of my clothes when we returned. I found I just didn’t need or love them anymore.
This past year I’ve been great with what I have, and I plan to keep it this way.
It’s been a years-long journey for me, actually, parting ways with only what I love, so be encouraged if your personal belongings feel overwhelming. (Remember the question to ask when decluttering: Is this beautiful or useful?)
Here’s what I worked on this week.
(Also, apologies in advance for the dark, yellowish, grainy photos. Our current bedroom has terrible natural light. It’s one of the things I miss most about our Oregon house.)
When we moved in to our rental at the end of last summer, I applied the good ol’ standby method of gauging what clothes I wear: turning around the hangers.
Almost a year later, several items still haven’t been turned around. I’m pretty sure I won’t flip them in the next few months, so—out they went.
Here’s my closet in its entirety. Nothing fancy, but there’s plenty of room:
Makes it much easier to find stuff.
Two things that have helped me over the years:
1. Better understanding my colors. I didn’t do a formal test, but I did start paying attention to which colors made my skin look better, what brought attention to my eyes, what made me feel better, and what colors I wore when I was complemented on my appearance.
I’m an “autumn,” so rich, jewel tones work better on me than pastels—I avoid those now (though I do wonder if I’m becoming something else, now that I’m letting my hair go gray). And it turns out, navy blue is a better neutral for me than black, so I keep my eyes open for those pieces.
(Also, I’ve heard eggplant is the only color that looks good on every single skin tone. Would you say that’s true for you?)
2. Not going so baggy. Early in on our travels last year, I realized something: the clothes that made me feel frumpiest and sloppiest were also too big. I know, that’s kind of a “duh.” But it showed me that all this time, I thought I was a bigger size than I was.
I was going the loose route in order to hide what I felt were flaws, but instead it made me look unkempt. I started replacing items in a smaller size, and it’s made all the difference.
To smooth out bumps, I wear this under most tops. Miracle worker!
(First off, let me say for the record that I hate the word toiletries. But, it’s the best one-word to describe beauty products and things used to take care of my body. Moving on.)
Before—here’s my one drawer for everything:
I’ve been going shampoo-free since 2009, with occasional bouts of return—namely, pregnancies and travel that’s longer than a weekend. (Yep, for me it’s more compact to just bring a decent bottle of shampoo than to bring a thing of baking soda and a container for mixing. Here’s more on how I travel.)
And after—just a sprucing up and a light tossing:
Many of my other things are fairly basic as well: coconut oil for my moisturizer, hair butter for both my hair and body. I’ve also started using Moroccan argan oil on my face at night, and it has made a world of difference in keeping my face better moisturized and evenly colored. I also like using coconut + organ cleansing towelettes when I don’t feel like dealing with my usual oil-cleansing method.
I get most of my stuff through Grove Collaborative now—they’ve got great prices.
Like the kids’, I keep my books out in the open. And? I don’t declutter much in this department.
Oh, I did a few years ago—I got rid of anything I didn’t think I’d read again, I wouldn’t want to lend to a friend, or that I flat-out disagreed with. Now, I like everything on my shelves.
I also get most of my books on Kindle now, what with how much I travel. I prefer paper books, but you can’t beat an e-reader’s take-anywhere convenience.
One of the perks of my job is loads of free books, but I often accidentally get two (or more), and sometimes they’re unsolicited books I’d rather pass on to someone else.
That’s what most of these are—I’ll share them with friends and family, then take the rest to a used bookstore where they can be loved.
Coming soon: my personal summer reading list (it’ll be based on my friend Anne’s upcoming guide), plus summer reading lists for my 11-year-old girl and 8-year-old boy. Get your libraries ready, my friends.
I hope you’ve got a little bit of decluttering fire under you (here you go, if you need more). If it’s almost the end of your kids’ school year, think of how nice it’ll be to get this crossed off before they’re home and you’re busy not being busy.
What personal areas are you going to tackle this week? I’d love to hear from you.