Creating A Lean Closet: Progress Report

September 23, 2014

In February I shared Creating A Lean Closet I by this point I had already culled my wardrobe a fair bit. The first few culls are the easiest because there are usually a lot of things that you don’t like any more, haven’t worn, or that just don’t fit your lifestyle. I had done a significant cull in November/December, moved countries, lived out of a suitcase for over a month.

Eight months on and my progress jumped at me during one crucial moment – I was preparing for 6 weeks away. Six weeks of living out of my suitcase, five different countries, a variety of events. And for the first time each piece that I was setting aside to pack worked beautifully with everything else. I didn’t have any of those “I can’t take these because I don’t have a top for it”, “I want to take this but it’s just too…difficult to wear and to travel with” or “This is so pretty and would be perfect for this trip but I haven’t had it altered so it doesn’t fit.” None of that.

Each item I put aside I was familiar with. I knew how it felt against my skin, I knew how it felt in the cold, and in the warm. I knew how it looked on me and what combinations worked. I knew how each piece would travel, through experience and interaction with the item. No second guesses. I didn’t worry about taking too little because I know the combinations are endless. I didn’t worry about over packing because I don’t have a lot any more. The most pleasant surprise was that a lot of what I packed was local, handmade and ethical. The dress and skirt (below) were custom made for me in Timor Leste. The fabric is naturally dyed and handwoven on traditional Timorese looms.

I’m now saving up for quality replacement pieces. These are for items that I have had for a while (such as my ankle boots that were a cheap buy but have lasted an entire season and are serving me well) but perhaps aren’t the best quality or the most ethically made. I’m not going to throw them out just because I’m now being ‘conscious’, that is wasteful. I’m going to wear them with love until they need to be replaced (this might not be for another year or two and that’s fine). My lean closet is not ever going to be a fully ‘ethical’ closet, but it’s going to be one that represents conscious decisions and a conscious effort to be ethical. Acknowledging that there are so many factors to consider and be realistic about – your lifestyle, your career, your finances, your location and so on has made this process easier.Creating and maintaining a lean closet is a slow, intentional process that respects what I have, who I am, where I am at in my life and where I want to go.

What sort of a relationship do you have with your closet?
Have you done a cull lately? Has it taught you anything?

Related posts: Creating a lean closet ICreating a lean closet II | Lean closet travel edition | Creating a lean closet the shoe edition |


  • Iliska Dreams

    Mine would fit in one large suitcase. First I try to make it, second option is to get second hand, third is retail. However, if I buy a retail item my trade off is I have to give away one item from my wardrobe. I find the less I have the less I want

  • Rita

    Ah, you know this is a post after my own heart 🙂 I am just about to write about my tips to travel light/not overpacking, and having a functional wardrobe is just where it all starts. It's such a great help!

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