The Year of Living Minimally – Week Eight

My husband and I bought our first house in 1995, a few months after we married. I’d lived in at least six apartments before I met him, and each time I moved, I hauled boxes and bags full of my stuff to the new place.

At one point during the unpacking, I pulled a pair of size 7 jeans from a box of clothes. I held them up, staring at the tiny waist, reluctant to put them in the bottom drawer of my dresser, where they’d resided for over ten years.

“Whose jeans are those, hon?” he asked. 

“They were mine. I used to wear them.”

He walked over to me, and in the kindest voice said, “Oh, honey, you’ll never wear them again.”

And he was right! For the one year that I could fit into those jeans, I had poor eating habits, was at times bulemic, and I was 25 years old. But I held onto them, as if keeping the jeans were magic and could make me skinny. 

We keep clothes for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you spent a lot of money on that dress, and even though you haven’t worn it in seven years, you can’t let it go. Or the jeans that would fit great if you lose just ten (or twenty) pounds. The shoes – oh, the shoes. We buy a shirt because it’s on sale, even though we have nothing to wear with it and don’t even really like it. But it was 75% off!

And sometimes, we keep clothes for the memory. Your wedding gown, preserved because you hope your daughter will want to wear it. Your baby’s christening gown. Your college sweatshirt. 

Still, we don’t have to let everything go. In 1994, a month before we married, my husband and I took a day trip to Martha’s Vineyard and he bought me a beautiful Irish-knit sweater. I don’t think I’ve worn it in twenty years. It still fits, but it’s bulky, and I prefer layers. There is emotion and the memory of a wonderful day tied to that sweater, and I want to keep it.

So, here’s what’s going in the donation bin this week:


After I ended my full-time job, I boxed up most of my professional attire and donated it, keeping a few pairs of slacks and two or three blazers. I haven’t worn a dress in over six years. I kept this one, thinking I’d need it for a funeral, but I’ve been to plenty of funerals in the past six years, and dressy slacks are perfectly acceptable.  


I bought this sparkly outfit when my friend Fr. Brian Shanley, who I’ve known since fifth grade, was named president of our alma mater, Providence College. I think it was 1995, and I’ve had no reason to wear the outfit or the shoes again.

A pile of scarves, never-worn t-shirts (Austin, Montreal), dressy tops, belts. Off they go, hopefully to folks who can use them.

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8 thoughts on “The Year of Living Minimally – Week Eight

  1. I love the feeling that comes after a good clear-out! I did something similar last August, and it was amazing to see all the things we’d collected in our two-bedroom. Before my in-laws visited this July, we did another purge, and the space and mental ease that came with it totally worthwhile. You had a Montreal t-shirt! That’s close to my neck of the woods, haha! 🙂

  2. My goal is to have ALL of my clothes (summer, winter, casual and dressy, including coats, shoes and boots!) fit into the one large closet in the bedroom. It’s a goal I haven’t yet achieved, but I’m working on it. Who really needs so many clothes? Maybe when I retire I’ll be able to do it.

  3. Goodness, I did the same thing: kept an outfit (dark pants suit) for a funeral, just in case. I’m in the fortunate position of not having had to attend any, but I recently tried on the suit and it looked totally awful. I’ll cross that wardrobe bridge when I come to it…
    I’m pretty ruthless at purging clothes which no longer work for me, but I’d still love my closet to be more streamlined.

  4. Great post. Since we’ve been downsizing a little at a time, we’ve been culling our closets about every six months. That way things I’m not sure about become more apparent the next time around. Seems silly, but it works!

  5. You are so right that emotion comes into play, as well as the unreality of “when I lose the weight.”
    I have a number of scarves that belonged to my late mother. Not all of them are my style, but I wouldn’t part with those for the world. Like Michelle above, though, each season I purge and purge and purge. My closets are still full. Gotta work on that.
    Now that I plan to retire at the end of academic yer 2019 I need to stop buying business clothes!

  6. Well said Martha. Twice a year when I switch my clothes for a new season I purge my clothes but there are still a few items I can never part with. When I reach my goal weight, 13 more pounds, I am definitely purging trying to eliminate my bins of change of season clothes. You are inspiring.

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