Top Drawer Mysteries

Something has me mystified. 

Life has many existential questions that have been pondered down the ages… 

What are we doing here? 

Why is the sky blue? 

Where do we go when we die? 

Does anyone know the secret to not spilling something on a white top? 

I’d like to add a couple of my own big questions to this list. 

Well, more than a couple, but I’ll try and stay focussed. 

Why are my top drawers harbouring items that are clearly past their prime? 

In my wardrobe, the top drawer is where my undies live. (Turn back now if you must, dear reader, I will understand.) 

In my grandmother’s chest of drawers, which now lives next to my bed, the top drawer is home to my pjs. 

Both these receptacles of everyday attire share an odd habit. They refuse to let go of anything; well, not without one hell of a fight. 

Were I to go to either top drawer right now, I know that I’d find holey undies, undies with frayed seams, pj pants whose elastic has changed its metabolic composition, threadbare sleep tees and other former garments that have no business taking up precious space among their newer, fully intact neighbours. 

Why? 

Why aren’t the holey undies and decades-old pjs in the bin? 

Whhhhy? 

I did a month long clear out of my wardrobe at the start of 2015 and culled a massive amount of clothing. You can read about my #hoistthehangers adventures here, here and here

The first thing I did was take every single item out of my wardrobe, and hang it on the trusty Hils Hoist. It nearly collapsed under the weight of everything I had stuffed in there! Over the next month, I ditched almost half these hangers. 

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I remember counting my undies collection and being utterly stupefied by the total. 

I had FIFTY PAIRS! (Why is it that we call underpants pairs? So many questions!) 

Who needs that many pairs of jockettes? 

Not me. 10 would be admirable, 14, more than sufficient, but 50, that’s over six weeks’ worth, without doing any laundry…. ay carumba. 

I culled from 50 down to a still ridiculous 30 if I remember rightly. 

You’d think I would have learned my lesson by now. 

As I type, I am wearing undies with a severely tattered waistband. The culprits survived the 2015 cull, but they probably shouldn’t have. They are from Target. They are light grey. Got ’em in a five pack. 

Directly in front of me, there is a pile of freshly washed, folded clothing. At the bottom of the pile, there is a pair of pj pants with the elastic literally hanging out of disintegrated waistband, and at least two pairs of undies that have seen better days. Yet there they sit, waiting to go back into my top drawers. 

Mysterious stuff. 

Will I ever conquer the top drawers? Or ditch the things still hanging in the wardrobe that I don’t wear? I want to, at least I think I do. So why don’t I? Why haven’t I? 

Maybe my grandma’s chest of drawers is imbued with her Depression Era hoarder’s spirit? 

Stuff. We have to own it, not the other way round. 

For now, I think I’ll try the one in-one out strategy, which means two pairs of holey undies and two formerly intact pj pants need their marching orders. 

 

Have you solved the mystery of your top drawer? Tell me how you did it, please! 

 

Annette xx 

 

 

Day 19 – Hoist The Hangers

It’s time for a Hoist The Hangers update. We’re almost two-thirds of the way through the month, and progress is good.

Here’s what I’ve discovered – I had too much stuff. No ifs or buts about it, just too much.

Let me pose you a question. How many pairs of undies does a girl need?

I tell you this, it’s NOT 50.

Oh, for shame, I discovered 50 pairs of jockettes in my top drawer. FIFTY! Not 15, which would be eminently reasonable. I still can’t quite believe it.

Let it go!
Oh, for shame!

And you know that stereotypical thing about some bachelors hanging on to jocks that are more holey than garment-like…. I’m here to tell you, this single gal was guilty of that too! Well, not quite to the same extent as some bachelors I’ve seen (ahem!), but there were some ‘favourites’ in there that grandma would have been MORTIFIED over if I’d been hit by a bus in them. They’ve now been binned. Sorry grandma.

The fruit box that I’m pitching hangers into as I cull my wardrobe is now overflowing. Here’s an art installation I created on the weekend with the spares.

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Proof positive that decluttering and heightened levels of creativity go hand in hand. (Falls down laughing.) Care to count them up? I’ll save you the trouble dear readers, that there is 44.44% of the #99hangers I started with. Woo hoo! I’m really happy with  my progress.

The boot of my car is now weighed down with two very hefty bags of recyclables for the op shop, which I’m hoping will be useful to somebody.

Part of the process of decluttering included venturing into what I had thought would be land mine strewn enemy territory – under the bed – but I’m pleased to report that I found only a few forlorn items hiding under a thick layer of dust, and they all went easily into the designated donations bags, even though I momentarily considered holding on to a long forgotten nana-chic (not in a good way) cardigan. I resisted, and it is in the bag with everything else unworthy of being in my space.

It has been a really interesting process, from seeing how much stuff I had as it flapped on the Hills Hoist, to thinking about why we have so much, what our stuff means to us, the power we give to inanimate objects, and what emotional comfort we draw from our things. Bringing those musings down to a personal level, and considering why I had so much, has been really valuable.

I have been pleasantly surprised to see just how much that was lurking in the back of drawers or shoved in the deepest recesses of my wardrobe or storage room, gave me no little or trouble when it came to discarding things. I think a lot of that was helped by setting my mind to the task before I began. I knew I needed to have a good declutter, and turning it into a bit of a game and hopefully moderately entertaining blog fodder, has made me enjoy it more and feel accountable about following through. I think that’s really important when it comes to a hoisting. Make yourself accountable to someone, set yourself a deadline/goal, whether that’s a time frame or an amount of items.

I had #99hangers and I’ve ditched 44.44% of the items that were hanging on them (special thanks at this point to Clare, my percentages and fractions support guru).

I’ve taken out and examined every skerrick of clothing from my wardrobe’s built-in drawers, and ditched plenty of stuff that was taking up space there.

I no longer have 50 pairs of undies. I think I’ve ditched at least 20 pairs, if not more. I have noticed that it feels like I’m pulling ‘new’ pairs out of the top drawer each morning, now that my holey old faves are in the bin. I don’t think we need to talk about that in any more detail. Sorry again, grandma.

I have found it so encouraging to have a few people comment here, or on Facebook or Instagram, that seeing me hoist my hangers has motivated them to consider their own hoisting. I thoroughly recommend it, especially if you’re suffering from ‘jam-packed wardrobe, nothing to wear’ syndrome. Hoist away!

I’m not done yet though. I still have to face my shoes! I’m confident there are less than #99pairs, but there are plenty that I don’t wear or had simply forgotten about. Again, I’m a favourites girl – the shoes I’m wearing right now are old, old, old Colorados and probably should have been binned years ago… so that will be another challenge.

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I’d love to hear from anyone who has started their own decluttering, hoisting, or has been thinking more about their possessions lately. We can so easily be defined by our ‘stuff’, don’t you think? I for one, do NOT want to be that kind of person. I want to be defined by the stuff in my head, the stuff in my heart, and most of all, the stuff of my actions.

Send me your ju-ju for the shoes chapter of #hoistthehangers please. I’m afeared.

Have a great week. Leave a comment, pop over to my Facebook page or Instagram and say hello, I love hearing from you.

Cheers,

Annette x

 

 

 

Bonds, Lilac Bonds

Do you see what I see? I see a wily bad girl, bent on throwing a spanner in my hoisting project, cleverly disguised as a ratty Bonds top. The name’s Bonds, Lilac Bonds.

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Don’t be fooled by her bedraggled appearance, Lilac Bonds is alternating between scathing mockery and alluring seduction from the hanger.

Bonds top
Bonds, Lila Bonds

There’s no explaining it. I love this ratty old Bonds top. I think its provenance is Myer at the illustrious mecca of Melbourne’s south eastern suburbs, Knox City, circa 1990-something. She’s practically vintage, right?

I think my ideas about having too much stuff being related to a sense of comfort are encapsulated completely in this one item. Oh Lila.

Can a piece of clothing simply be a sweet Velveteen Rabbit, or it is destined to be a Trojan Horse of Hoarding?

While I ponder that, I think I will tackle something else, like the boxes under the bed, and see if I can ignore the alluring ‘Bonds girl’ pull of this battered old lover.

Have you been hoisting the hangers? Sorting your shoes? Culling your cardis? I’d love to hear about it.

I need some encouragement! Have you ever slayed a Bonds bad girl?

Yours in wobbly-midway-hoisting-slumpiness,

Annette x

First round picks

After all that hoisting to get Hoist The Hangers launched, I needed a little rest!

I hope you got to start the year with a rest, some time with friends and family, that you’ve managed a sleep in, and it has been a relaxed January so far. Going back to work seems to have kicked off for a lot of people this week, so I decided it was time to get to work on Step Two of #hoistthehangers – the pondering & the start of the sorting!

I’ve been contemplating some of the reasons why we hang on to stuff we don’t need – that’s lead to googling, asking about that in a few Facebook groups I’m in and getting some links to some interesting articles and reading people’s responses. People have mentioned control, and having a Depression Era mindset (which if you’re my age, means the generation of our grandparents) and I think both those things come into it. People also talked about materialism, consumerism, keeping up with the Joneses, and I agree on all those fronts too.

Rather than just philosophise about these things generally, I want to examine why I have too much stuff. It’s something that I’ve pondered repeatedly, especially in the past year or two; why so much stuff? How does it serve me? Does it serve me at all?

That’s lead me to think about comfort, and question whether that has anything to do with my more than full wardrobe – for others it might be about keeping magazines, or shoes, or every piece of art their children drew in kindergarten, or tripping over accessories or updating electronics with every new version of a phone/tablet/laptop that’s released.

I think maybe comfort has been part of what has kept my wardrobe overflowing. Somehow, I think I’ve equated feeling protected and secure, and therefore comforted, with that overstuffed wardrobe of things.

For me, it goes a bit like this – when I go to my wardrobe, and see so many things to choose from (even if I only regularly wear 10 or 15 of them) somehow that makes me feel good.

Likewise, when my pantry is well stocked (read, unnecessarily overly stocked), and my fridge has mayonnaise, cheese and vegies in it, I feel good. This has been especially true in this season of unemployment. (You can read about how running out of mayonnaise last year felt here!)

(Bloggy note: writing those few sentences makes me think, oh quick, edit that because you’ll sound shallow. It might be misinterpreted that that’s all I care about. My response – deal with it ego! You know yourself better than that and your readers are kind and smart; trust them.)

Having pondered the whys and wherefores, I decided to make a start last night, at about 11pm. Night owl, much?!

I found the last big green garbage bag in the house, hiding under the now empty hangers from my last clear out, and I set to work.

I took on the easiest things first, the stuff that was hanging on my pathetic little lopsided rack in my storage room, and then I moved on to the tops in my wardrobe.

I used a tip from Nikki of Styling You, the queen of the wardrobe edit. She suggests playing good music while you’re tackling your closet, so I pumped up the volume on the original cast recording from SMASH, and I was away.

I’m pleased to report that I’m now 16 hangers freer!

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(By the way, do you like my busted trellis fence? I’ve been calling the agent about that for almost 12 months. Sheesh. Renting.)

Now 16 hangers may not seem like a lot, but it was just the first pass, and of those 16 items, two of them made me wonder if I really should put them in the recycling bag.

There was a top I bought quite a number of years ago, a tee with a cool overscale flower motif, that’s really now a little clingy, and I haven’t worn in over two years, and a pair of 3/4 length linen pants that I’ve really never worn. I talked myself down from putting my arm back into the bag with the top – it went like this – umm, hello, you’ve got PLENTY of other tops, my dear. As for the pants, I wavered, so I quickly tried them on and now know why they were on that lopsided rail, they don’t fit! I could hardly breathe. Into the bag they went, in really good nick, ready for someone to find them at the Salvos or wherever I take them, and wear them gleefully. You’re welcome!

I also ditched a top I wore to a really good friend’s wedding about five years ago. That colour – what was I thinking? Their union remains strong, so I don’t think me holding on to that top (which I can’t recall wearing since their wedding) is the key to their marital bliss.

As I sorted, a few tops I’ve been given made me pause, so I’ve hung them on a rail in my bedroom and I’ll try them all on over the next few days. Whatever works will stay and whatever doesn’t work is destined for the recycling bag. That doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate the friends that gave me the clothes, far from it, but they were in the process of culling their wardrobes too, so if the things they gave me end up on a rack at Vinnies, they’ve just gone there the long way round. Holding on to something just because it was given to you, even though you don’t use it, makes no sense at all. It really doesn’t.

There’s one blouse that I think may just need an alteration, so that may get a special exemption to stay until I can afford to get that looked at. Blouse is such a creepy word, don’t you think?

I’m claiming my first pass at the racks as a victory. I had 99 hangers, and now I’m down to 83.

There’s no final number in my head, but I would like to push myself to really examine everything I’ve got.

I’ll keep reading and thinking about what’s behind getting to 99 hangers, and we haven’t even started on what is under the bed or in my chest of drawers. It’s a good process, and I’m so happy to read that a few people have been inspired to have a look at their wardrobes too – hooray, go you good things! If you follow me on Facebook, I may post some other questions and photos there, to keep the conversation going.

So, that’s where I’m at with hoisting the hangers, I’m feeling lighter already, and I know I can count on you for encouragement if I get a bit stuck.

I had 99 hangers, now I’ve got 83. Progress!

Have you read anything that’s struck you about hoarding, wardrobe culling, materialism or consumerism that you’d like to share? Got any tips for getting from 83 to 60? Do tell!

Until next time,

I remain, yours in hoisting…

Annette x

 

Hoist The Hangers!

The countdown is over, it’s time to Hoist The Hangers.

The first day of a new year seems like the perfect date to kick off  this project.

What is Hoist The Hangers you ask? Excellent question, dear reader. Hoist The Hangers (#hoistthehangers) is a focused plan to get rid of some of the excess stuff I’ve got hanging around.

The realisation that I’ve got too much stuff isn’t new, I’ve had a few clear-outs in the past couple of years, but there are still far too many clothes stuffed into my wardrobe, shoved in boxes under my bed and hanging on a sad little lopsided clothes rail in my storage room.

Enough!

Time to actually hoist the hangers.

Step One – to literally hoist all of the clothes that I keep on hangers outside and on to my trusty Hills Hoist, so I could take a visual inventory.

Ready?

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Oh my goodness, that’s a lot of hangers. I could not capture a shot of everything, there was just too much, and no wide-shot-assisting ladder on hand. I tried climbing the fence, but didn’t want to have to change the post title to ‘hoist the sling’.

That my friends, is every item of clothing that I usually keep on a hanger, weighing down my clothesline in a quite worrisome manner.

Actually, it’s not every stitch of usually hangered clothing, as there was stuff in my laundry basket and a few things thrown on a chair in my bedroom when I hoisted, but this is practically all of it.

It took me about an hour to #hoistthehangers , and I think I developed a very effective and soon-to-be patented upper arm workout while I was at it. Feel the burn – hoist, hoist! (DVD available for pre-order shortly.)

Once I had everything out on the Hills Hoist (sorry Hilly), which meant hangers were strung and straining on every line from the outside to the usually neglected inner line, and on the rods, I decided to count up what I had. Here’s the tally (deep breath):

12 pairs of pants (not including jeans)

52 assorted tops – from basic tees to fancy-pants tunics (yes, you read that correctly, 52!)

5 dresses

20 cardigans and/or jackets (When does a cardigan become a jacket? Is it about length, material or cut? So many questions.)

5 hoodies (I seem to have picked up 3 in the same style, in various colours. I never wear those ones.)

5 skirts

That’s a staggering 99 items! What the what now? (Can someone make the appropriate Jay-Z joke here, I can’t get it to work properly. Leave it in the comments, please!)

For me, having 99 pieces of clothing is utterly excessive. I’m a favourites girl, I reach for my trusty go-to items, the things I wear over and over, which means the majority of those 99 items hardly ever see the light of day.

It’s high time they came out of the closet – for good!

Without a word of a lie, I pulled things out of my wardrobe that I had entirely forgotten I owned. I pulled out items I don’t like, that don’t look good on me, that are only hanging in there because they were given to me, and things I no longer wear but which I’ve steadfastly hung on to for years (actual human years – thousands of days!). I rediscovered things I do like but hadn’t seen for a while, old favourites, and things that have seen better days, but are still hanging in there, for no good reason.

The point of Hoist The Hangers wasn’t just to weigh my Hills Hoist down, almost to breaking point. That was merely step one.

I was hoping seeing all of it at once would stun me, and it really did.

So many clothes, flapping in the summer breeze. Sheesh.

What I want #hoistthehangers to be is a process of paring back, and an examination of why I’ve been hanging on to so much stuff.

Over the next four weeks (or however long it takes) I’m going to post at least a weekly Hoist The Hangers update  – from sorting to ditching (which will include donating), to what I discover as I discard stuff that’s just taking up space, to the battle to let go of that ‘just in case’ thing, and I’ll be answering the greatest mystery of all: what the heck is stashed under my bed? Dust masks at the ready!

2014-12-31 16.17.27I hope you’ll come back and see how I’m progressing with Hoist The Hangers, I may need some encouragement not to just shove it all back in the wardrobe and pretend I never took step one of the hoisting process.

Aside from the spatial benefits I’ll gain, I’m hoping that hoisting the hangers will shed some light on what’s behind the keeping of all the stuff, and what it feels like to let it go. And it’s not just about clothes on hangers, not on your Nellie (poor lass), but that’s where I’m starting. You never know, this might even prompt a hoisting revolution. (Look, a girl can dream can’t she?)

For now, I think I’m going to go and give my Hills Hoist a hug, I really gave it a workout!

Yours in hoisting,

Annette

 

PS Feel free to share your stories about clear-outs, clean-ups, minimalism vs  maximalism (Is that a thing? Should it be maxing out?), culling and curating in the comments. We’re in this together!