The Four Types of Discards

Readers,

The Kondo effect has reached me even though I haven’t watched any of the Netflix shows yet: I recently examined everything in my wardrobe.

I pulled coats, hats, and gloves from the coat closet; raided the laundry basket and to-be-ironed pile; unearthed shoes waiting to be polished since last summer; retrieved skirts from a pile of mending; and emptied my dresser drawers and closet. Nothing escaped my scrutiny, not even the eyeglasses perched on my nose.

Everything got categorized as a Keeper, a Placeholder, or a Discard.

Keepers I broadly defined as aesthetically and functionally the best stuff I own, what I would like to incorporate into new outfits and plan into wardrobe capsules.

Placeholders had fatal flaws in fit, color, style, or function but would stick around till I bought or sewed replacements, at which time they would be demoted to Discards.

Discards: I don’t really have to define them, do I?

Well, the interesting thing I realized last week is that there are four types of discards. I know this because–and this will show you what an organizing nerd I am–I created a table analyzing all 67 of the items I was discarding and noticed behavioral patterns and situations unique to each type.

Then I wondered how I would explain my discovery to you, Readers, and came up with this:

For extra credit (awarded by me to myself) I came up with a facial expression representing the emotion of each category.

We’ll start with Liked and used. Items of this type were enjoyed and worn till they were worn out or no longer needed. They were part of an active wardrobe and ordinary turnover.

Next, Liked but didn’t use. Items of this type were wardrobe orphans. I hoped and believed that someday–soon!–I would be wearing these things I liked. And yet, there was something lacking: the right occasions for wearing them, or accessories, or most likely, knowledge. I often didn’t know whether the color or the lines  really were flattering on me, or lacked the technical knowledge to sew coordinates for the pulled-together look the item deserved.

Next, Didn’t like but used. Items of this type I would describe to myself with a sigh or a frown, “It was the best I could do.” Pants that fit relatively well but had a lower than ideal rise, warm sweaters that were scratchy, a purse with lots of compartments great for travel but not stylish were all adequate without being satisfying. You can’t have everything, right?

Last, Didn’t like and didn’t use.  Items with this designation may have been clothes I wore in my job that I haven’t touched since retirement, gifts not to my taste, or souvenirs I liked until I brought them home and realized I’d have to change my personality or lifestyle to wear them.  There was a mismatch, but as long as I hadn’t clarified what a really good match was, in fit, color, or style, I wasn’t highly motivated to edit out these pieces.

Readers, I am so glad I took an extra step to see beyond the general category of discards to classify them by type. I noticed how I had tolerated mediocrities, defaulted to outdated styles because I didn’t take the time to come up with better ideas, and perpetuated bad habits that would carry my petty dissatisfactions into my future if I didn’t clean up my act.

But I also saw where I had enjoyed a garment or accessory and discarded it only when it had reached the end of its lifespan.

This is the model to follow for my future wardrobe: buy or make, wear and use with satisfaction till worn out. Repeat.

That’s an approach I would call a keeper.

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2 thoughts on “The Four Types of Discards

  1. Paula, you are quite an inspiration! I just may attack my closets, drawers, etc. this Spring. May I use your organization method? Although, since I retired my wardrobe has shrunk considerably so it won’t be that difficult to weed! I am always amazed at the items that do become the “favorites” that become rags with so much wear. And yet I never seem to learn from that and continue along those same lines. Oh well, I’m off to inspect at least one closet…

    • Be my guest, Marguerite–I hope you improve on my ideas! I am writing this while in my chore clothes, having just packed up a bunch of discards for a local charity pickup this week. (Now, back to sorting, organizing, and discarding…)

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