Stay Strong: Sorting Shoes & Bags

published Sep 15, 2015
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(Image credit: Alysha Findley)

I love shoes. You love shoes. Everyone loves shoes. Which is why maybe we just might own too many pairs. (Shocking, I know.) And, I’m pretty sure that some of you might be in the same boat when it comes to bags. These are the fun, fashionable yet practical items that are so easy to add to your wardrobe, they seem to magically multiply on their own. Well, it’s time to channel your inner sorting superhero and stay strong: today is the day to tackle the hard-to-let-go-of shoes and bags.

(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

Today, you are going to go through the sorting process (copied again, down below) but this time you have to pull out all the shoes (a somewhat terrifying thought for some of us) followed by all the bags.

Share your counts below to add to our ever-increasing celebration of cleared closets and overflowing donation bags and remember, if you aren’t going to wear it or use it, passing it on to someone who will is so much better than storing it for a “someday” that most likely will never arrive.

Say goodbye to the pinchy, the too small, the too big, the just-make-you-feel-dorky pairs (into the donation bag with them!) Also bid adieu to the wonderful workhorses that you loved a little too much: the holey ones and the ones that are simply too worn out to be revived by the shoe guy (sad, I know, but they’ve gotta go!). And, for those pairs that you are really on the fence about, there is always the “maybe” box.

For today, instead of a dry cleaning bag, you’ll want a shoe repair bag. Taking favorite pairs in to the shoe repair shop to be revived and repaired is totally worth it. It’s an investment, for sure, and can be pricey, but for the pairs that you love and wear, a little preventative attention and needed fixes now can really extend the life of your shoes by years. I take my two favorite pairs of boots in once a year and they come back looking fantastic and feeling better than new (broken in shoes: the best!).

Bags are a similar story, but I’ll add one big note: the bags that you thought were great but just didn’t really get much use out of (aka in good shape, nearly like new) are great candidates to sell or consign or swap – one size fits all, after all – so you may want to consider going that route in this case, even if you didn’t choose to do it for your clothes.

Ok, you all are experts at the sort process by now, so I won’t hold you up any longer. Have an extra cup of coffee (and maybe a cookie or two) and then go for it. Getting rid of shoes and bags is tough BUT they also take up lots of room; keeping your eye on the prize of less clutter and more space should keep you going and no question, you’ll be happy with your results by the end of the day.

(Image credit: Adrienne Breaux)

The Closet Cure Decision Tree

To decide if something is a “keeper”, ask yourself the following:

  • Do I wear it regularly – and if not, why? If the answer is because its fancy and formal, but you wear it when the occasion is right, then that’s ok. If the answer is “I’m not really sure” then move on and ask yourself the following:
  • Do I feel good, confident and comfortable when I wear it? Be realistic and extra picky here. Would I wear it on a date? To a job interview? To a class reunion? Yes? Move on to the next step. Meh, still not sure? Put it in a “maybe” pile for now – no stress, just don’t put it in the yes pile just yet. No? Put it in a “no” pile.
  • Does it fit well (for real, right now, not a year ago or a year from now) – and if not, can it be altered? (Not sure? TRY IT ON. The few minutes will be worth it, I promise. Look in the mirror, turn around, put on the right shoes, take a selfie, be SURE.) Is it now a Yes? Move on to the next question. No? Put it in the “no” pile.
  • Is it damaged or stained – and if so, can it be repaired or cleaned? Yes? Move on. No? Put it in the “no” pile.
  • If something makes it through all of these with “yes” as the answer, then KEEP IT. Now you just have to either put it (neatly) back in the closet or the drawer OR into a bag for the dry cleaner, a bag for alterations or a bag for shoe repair.

Ok! So now that you’ve figured out what you are going to keep and have either put them back or in a bag for cleaning or alterations, you should deal with your other two piles.

If you have some “maybes” that’s fine – we’re going to deal with those later – just put them in a “maybe” box or bag for now and set them aside.

If you have discovered some “no” pieces, that is 100% FINE, too. (Actually, it’s good!) Everyone has things in their wardrobe that are perfectly fine, but just don’t work for them. You can let them go. Someone else (who it does work for) is going to be so happy with it and you’ll feel great when you open up room in your closet and your wardrobe (and your life) for things that suit you. Don’t feel guilty, don’t beat yourself up, just recognize that there are things that you thought might be good for you at one point but now you know better and are simply going to pass it on. It’s all good.

Everything in the “no” pile should be sorted into one of the following bags or boxes by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Is in good repair? Yes? Move on to the next question. No? Put it in the rag bag or trash. (One exception: if its a high quality item that is repairable that you think a friend might like to have, it’s ok to hang on to it until you ask them about it.)
  • Is it clean and unstained? Yes? Move on to the next question. No? Put it in the “no” laundry bag/basket.
  • Is it high quality, still in fashion, in good shape? If the answer is no, move on to the next question. If the answer is yes then consider what you’d like to do with it. If you are interested in trying to consign, sell or trade it, put it in a bag for “selling”. Are you considering hosting or attending a clothing swap with friends after the Closet Cure? Then start a bag for “swapping”. If you are happier to donate directly to a shelter or other community service organization or plan to drop it off at a thrift store, start a general bag for “donating”.
  • Is it in reasonable shape, warm, clean and totally wearable, but maybe not anything that will fetch enough of a price to make the selling, consignment or the swap with friends process worth it? Then into the “donating” bag it goes.

Previous Assignments & Decision Tree printable pdf:

Good luck and let us know how it goes below!