May 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Less Is Not More, Less Is Enough

I grew up in a small ranch house in the suburbs of New York City. I shared a tiny bedroom with my sister, Suzanne. We had a very small closet that was deep enough for two bars of clothing to be hung. We split the front bar and our mother hung her off season clothing in the back. We also shared one bureau and a desk and we each had shelves hanging over our beds and headboards with room to display a small number of books, and in my case, my stuffed animal collection.

When I went to college, I brought my small bedroom and closet mentality with me. I never realized how tiny my closet was until I experienced my first dorm room at the University of Denver. The closet was at least two and a half times the width of our communal closet at home, and the dorm room was massive compared to the digs that Suzanne and I shared.

I brought a small selection of clothing with me that was carefully and lovingly purchased with my mother. She was always interested in quality over quantity and brought us up to honor that philosophy. I remember hanging up my minimal volume of clothing in my large dorm closet and enjoying that each item had room to breathe. I still talk about clothing breathing today when I consult with clients.

My roommate moved in and she brought her entire closet of clothes from her home in Denver. She took over her closet to the point where you could not remove anything because the hangers were so mashed in. As we began to learn about each other, I came quickly to the conclusion that I probably had more quality/value of clothing in my little piece of the closet than she did in her entire closet. I loved my clothes and wore them proudly. Simply said, I had far less clothing but much nicer choices. And guess what happened? She began going to my closet for the quality pieces. I got more enjoyment out of my small selection of clothing than she did from all the quantity of clothes that she brought with her.

Now as a grown up and a professional organizer, so much of my time is spent in client’s closets, sorting through clothing that is hanging, thrown on the floor, piled on furniture or stacked up in laundry baskets. In some cases, the clothes are still in their original shopping bags or shipping cartons. What are my observations? We have too many clothes!

A closet filled to the brim with clothing that you: Didn’t know you had, does not fit, you don’t wear, you never needed in the first place but bought it on sale, you purchased because you liked it but did not need it, or it requires mending since 1999. What is the point?

That jacket that was marked down from $449 to $79.99 – tags still on it and it’s been out of fashion for five years, what value does it bring to your life? None. From the moment the sales clerk rang up your sale, your interest in that jacket waned. You invited it into your home and stuck in in a corner or on a pile, and allowed it to take up space without offering anything in return.

At some point in our lives we will look around our closet and say, “What was I thinking?” How will you feel when you begin sorting through your closets and find all the clothing that you never wore, never removed the tags, never enjoyed and calculate the money that was spent to purchase it and to house it in your valuable and costly real estate.

The volume of clothes in our home does not define us. Unworn/unused clothing does not bring joy to anyone except the company where you purchased it. Cheap clothing that pills or looks old after one season is not worth the initial savings. Now is the time to embrace the philosophy that less is not just more, less is enough! Happy organizing!

By Eileen Bergman


Eileen Bergman is a professional organizer, a proud member of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) and the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD). Eileen is listed in the resource directory for the Hoarding Disorder Resource and Training Group. Eileen may be reached at 973 303 3236 or [email protected].

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