Kristin Booker • August 15, 2009

The Breakover Diaries: Cleaning Out The Closet

You’ve had six bad mornings where nothing fits you, nothing looks good and you’ve almost called in scared (as in “I’m afraid I will not show up because I could kill a co-worker today and that would be wrong.) It’s Saturday night and since you’re at home by yourself, instead of diving into the bottom of a pint of Haagen-Daazs, why not plunge into cleaning out your closets and drawers? You’re already getting rid of things that aren’t working anymore, why not give that wardrobe a workover? You will need the following to get started:

  • three bins or large garbage bags (more if you have a really big closet)
  • one iPod or computer with speakers
  • one glass of wine, a cocktail or herbal tea/seltzer water if you’re not drinking.
  • a full-sized mirror

If don’t have a breakover mix on your iPod (which, you should, you know), crank up the one I’ve embedded on the right-hand side of the blog, then get ideas for your own. Crank up the speakers and throw open the closet doors: Mama’s got work to do, people.

Now that you’re ready with tunes and a tasty beverage (throw in snacks if you want, this could take a while), make three labels on your garbage bags: donation, menders and trash. Anything that’s a keeper goes on your bed or out of the room.

One note: do NOT touch the underwear drawer yet. I’ll come back to the underwear in another post.

I want you to throw those closet doors open and turn a cool, discerning eye to that closet. This is how we will play this game: take your angst out on the clothes that aren’t working for you anymore. Here are the rules:

  • Every item that you’ve been holding until you get into “that size” again. You cannot wait until you get into “that size” to have style and holding onto these items is slowly eating away at your soul. They’re mocking you and they’re counterproductive. Get rid of them.
  • Anything that someone gave you after they lost weight because they were “being nice.” This was someone’s back-handed way of telling you they’re glad they aren’t your size anymore. Give them away and, while you’re at it, you should throw the relationship with that person right out with the stuff they gave you. This person is an assclown.
  • Anything that’s too big must go. If you’ve lost weight, you deserve new clothes for your effort. You’re not hiding under all of that fabric, you’re drawing attention to your frame and it’s not a good picture. Buh-bye.
  • Old t-shirts and decrepit sweatpants are a touchy subject. If your house caught fire and you ran out of the house in it, would you want a photo of you in this outfit to be splashed across a newspaper? No? Then don’t wear it in the house, either. You never know. If you must, save three t-shirts, two pair of sweatpants, pinky swear you will never leave your home in them, and then promise you will cover yourself in a blanket if that fire thing happens.
  • If you haven’t worn it in two years, chances are you’re not going to. Out it goes.
  • Anything that belongs to your ex goes either in this category or in a box to go back to them, including gifts they’ve given you IF they’re really bothering you. The only caveat to this rule is obvious accessories: if they gave you a pair of Balmain sandals, jewelry, or something rare and precious that you will enjoy later, I’m obviously going to tell you to keep it. Be angry but let’s not get CRAZY, here. Just hide them somewhere for now.


  • Anything in your closet or drawers that looks good and has function but could use mending or tailoring. This is everything from a good classic suit that just needs to be altered or a dress that with the right cuts could be drop-dead dazzling.
  • This also goes for torn linings, buttons that have fallen off, and hems that need to be reattached. If you have shoes that sound like tap shoes when you walk, they go in this pile as well.


  • White items that have yellow stains under the armpits
  • Clothing with stains that will never come out
  • Denim with ANY kind of pleating at the waist (the dreaded “Mom Jeans”)
  • Smock dresses or any kind of oversized, shapeless dress
  • When it comes to throw-aways, I’m giving you carte blanche to do something really fun. If you own a pair of shoes that looks even remotely like either of these:

I’m not only telling you to throw them in the trash, I give you permission to take them somewhere where no one will get hurt and burn them. Those shoes are the root of all evil in the world and the only way to eradicate that evil is with fire.


  • This is very simple: if you love it so much you would literally wear it every day, you feel like a million dollars in it and, pay attention to this, people compliment you every time you wear it, keep it. This is a good piece and is an amazing foundation. Put it somewhere safe so you don’t accidentally throw it out.

When you’re done, make sure you clean up the mess. Any keepers go back where they’re supposed to go, and any menders go into a bag that you will immediately schedule a meeting with a tailor, seamstress or cobbler to fix. Your donate/sell items are either photographed immediately and put on eBay or put into your car/near the front door to take to a consignment shop or to donate them to a worthwhile organization.

You’ll accomplish a lot of things with this exercise: you’ll get a heck of a workout and you’ll be rid of yet even more items that don’t love you back. Sounds like a win-win to me!


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