Spring Clean: When Letting Go is Too Hard

Remember when I said I was going to purge my belongings and get enlightened and file my documents and fold my shirts until they looked like this?

Well last week I hit a road block when, while sorting through my closet and creating the requisite piles of keep, toss, donate, I noticed another pile forming over in the corner. A pile of things that I love, but have never worn, and am not ready to get rid of. The problem pile.

It stands to reason that if you have had something for five years and you have never found an excuse to wear it, that there is no place for it in your life. Right? Donate it to someone who will take it out and show it a good time, the way it deserves to be treated.

But when faced with the prospect of donating this rather large pile I realized, I wasn’t ready. Sure, I haven’t worn this pineapple pencil skirt in a year and its bright yellow pineapples are a little garish, and no I have never not once worn that bright vintage party dress, and no in the past 5 years I haven’t found an occasion to wear the long-sleeved tropical bird printed Miss Frizzle dress, not even on Halloween. And I know full well that if you haven’t worn it in a year then it belongs in the donate pile. But yunno what? I’M NOT READY to bid them farewell and it’s MY LIFE and I’ll DO WHAT I WANT and STOP TRYING TO CHANGE ME.

See what happened there?

It wasn’t pretty. So around midnight when I was feeling very sleepy and emotionally worn out I decided to take that pile, hang it up on the garment rack next to my bed, and commit to one week of wearing all of the unloved clothes one last time – and in some cases, for the first time – before giving them the boot (ugh don’t even get me started on boots).

So I spent a week wearing polkadot dresses (why do I have so many polkadot dresses??) and skull printed dresses and bird printed skirts to work while my stripes and neutral button downs hung sadly in the closet. And I’ll tell you what, I have never gotten so many compliments from my coworkers. I have also never felt so uncomfortable. I hated every second in that dress covered with sugar skulls. I cringed when someone said “that is so you” and I couldn’t wait to get out of it when I got home.

I learned three things that week:

  1. I can confidently say that I don’t dress for other people, if I did I would obviously keep wearing these crowdpleasers.
  2. I felt like an impostor in costume wearing these things, and I was finally ready to let them go.
  3. I need to stop buying printed skirts and dresses, no matter how cute they look on the hanger.

So then I took that garment rack and a whole trash bag full of skirts (no exaggeration) and divvied them out to my friends and my coworkers. The Miss Frizzle dress and my Polynesian print skirt went to Nancy, who has already worn them better than I ever could. The vintage blush Mexican dress that I still kind of love went to De, whose favorite day of the year is Cinco de Mayo but still wears Fiesta-purchased dresses year round. The embroidered skirt that was way too small even the day I bought it went to Blair, who is the size 0 that I never will be. And the list goes on and on.

nancy miss frizzle
Pictured: Nancy rocking Miss Frizzle

It is fun walking in to work and seeing my beloved clothes again, I get to think fondly of the memories and places I wore them, but at the end of the day I don’t have to store them in my closet. I truly have the best of both worlds.

I also donated 5 full bags to Goodwill, and I took a few of the pricier items to Buffalo Exchange and got store credit which I plan to save for a day when I feel a strong urge to shop without spending any money.

I’m still not done with my purge. I have plans to do a final sweep in which I touch everything in search of joy, Marie Kondo style, so stay tuned for more misadventures in minimalism.

Have you done a spring (ok summer) clean this year? How did you feel afterwards?


Cristina V. Cleveland

Cristina V. Cleveland is a senior beauty editor based in Austin, TX. She has been exploring personal style and decor on Fuji Files since 2009. Her work as a writer and editor has appeared in publications like Refinery29, Birchbox, TradHome Magazine, To&From Magazine, Coco+Kelley, CamilleStyles and ads in Glamour, InStyle and Lucky.

SHOWHIDE Comments (2)
  1. I had the same realization about avoiding printed dresses! I have a cat print dress and a feather print dress in my bags of clothes I still need to donate. Not quite sure what I was thinking with them…

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Rather than pushing up-to-the-minute trends and products, Fuji Files is about discovering a lasting, personal aesthetic and the journey to feeling your personal best. 

Fuji Files was started by Cristina Cleveland, the Managing Editor of NaturallyCurly, the largest hair and beauty content platform. Her work as a writer and editor has appeared in publications like Refinery29, Teen Vogue, CamilleStyles, Blavity, Birchbox, TradHome Magazine, Coco+Kelley, and ads in Glamour, InStyle and Lucky.