I’ve always prided myself on being a stylish New York woman, donning the latest trends with unapologetic confidence. My closet, crammed with an eclectic collection of clothes and shoes, felt like my secret treasure trove full of flares, straight legs, minis, maxis, and everything in between. But recently, I changed my hair from red to blonde (loving it), and suddenly, my style was all shaken up. Because in my midlife years, I’ve realized that it’s time to make space for something new — not just in my closet but every facet of my life.
So, this year, as I got my cold-weather wardrobe out of storage, I was trying to whittle it all down. The decision wasn’t merely about freeing up physical space; it was about liberating myself from the burden of possessions and making room for expansion in all areas of life. I am a lifelong manifester, but with that energy comes a lot of stuff. There is a big difference between abundance and expansion. Abundance feels rich, complete, and satisfying, but the endless quest for it can be toxic. That’s why “expansion” started to seem like a better mindset for me. From expanding my network to expanding my mind to the possibilities of life to making way for “more” by having “less.” Still with me?
As I ventured into this closet-cleansing, I felt a bit like a psychopath. I had no emotion about any of those extra black turtlenecks. Nor did I care about that pair of Nili Lotan leather pants that never quite fit. And suddenly, bold prints no longer made sense. Because when I set my mind to something, I am relentless in terms of success. And for me, success was all about less. Something about the hair color change sparked a need for more restraint and less wacky things. Talk to me in a few years, but that’s where I am now.
And here are some rules I employed to help the cause that may help you, too:
- Phone a friend. It’s tough to declutter when your biased mind calls the shots regarding what stays and goes. I work with a fantastic duo who helps me organize my closet and whittle it down.*
- Good is good. Though you don’t have to save designer or premium pieces exclusively, hold on to those pieces that were investments and will go the distance in your wardrobe.
- Put time on your side. This is a cliché, but it’s quite true. If you haven’t worn it in a year, it has to go. Unless it’s a special occasion piece, of course; but if your everyday life or once-a-week dinner date hasn’t seen that chiffon something or other, toss it.
- Purge with confidence. If you lament releasing your tenth version of a v-neck sweater (I am a repeat buyer when I like something, so I get it), don’t. You can always buy another one in the future should you need one. I am sure all of you live near a Gap or Wi-Fi connection. You know what to do.
- Don’t save for a rainy day. And by that, I mean your rainy-day body that looked great in that sheath dress 20 pounds ago. Dress for your current body, and maybe save one pair of jeans as a motivator, but please, get rid of clothes that don’t fit, big or small. Period.
- Stow by season. If you live in a small space or are lucky enough to have extra storage like a garage/basement/attic, keep your closet stocked per season and store the rest. It will make getting dressed much more effortless.
Each item in my closet held memories, stories, and sentiments. That leather jacket I wore to countless events, the quirky vintage print from my favorite thrift shop, and the cocktail dress that made me feel invincibly sexy — they all seemed like remnants from a life that no longer suited me, particularly anything polyester. Because polyester and hot flashes are not the vibe. At all.
Hot flashes aside, I knew that the weight of excess possessions stifled my ability to grow, and it felt deep. My closet had become a symbol of the baggage I carried not only in the form of clothes but also in my life’s responsibilities, expectations, and even the desire to be forever young. It was time to let go.
The process was like shedding an old skin. I started with the clothes that had been collecting dust for years, items I’d outgrown both in size and style. Then came the pieces that, despite their sentimental value, no longer resonated with the woman I’d become. Slowly, I made space for the current me, for the aspirations and dreams I’d shelved for too long.
As I donated, sold, and gave away items, I experienced a profound sense of lightness and clarity. I could see the potential for expansion in my life as I released my attachment. The idea of downsizing was about more than just my closet; it was a symbolic gesture toward decluttering my life from unnecessary obligations, toxic relationships, and unrealized dreams.
My closet cleanse became a life cleanse. It made me ponder the things that truly matter and ignited a renewed sense of purpose. I felt freer, lighter, and more prepared to take on new adventures and challenges. I realized that I could still be super stylish without being weighed down by too much stuff. It’s about the quality of the experience, not the quantity of possessions. Also, as someone starting a new chapter as a personal stylist, shopping for others gives me the same satisfaction as shopping for myself.
Also, and most importantly, I know who I am. More than ever before. I know that as we get older, we can often get a little lost; but that’s not happening to me. I’m grateful for the discernment that comes with age. I know exactly what works for me and what doesn’t, and if that means a classic blazer over a wacky print, then so be it.
The transformation happened over time, and I am still far from a minimalist. But the process of self-discovery mixed with a bit of anxiety was worth it. By letting go of the old, I’ve made space for the new. And now, if I steer clear of “buy now” buttons in favor of just being here now, I can embrace the future in style, with an open heart and a closet that breathes with the promise of expansion.
*If you are looking for a closet/style consult, let me know. I’m all about helping you find your voice and get some clarity on your wardrobe and your life.