The Clothing “Stuff” Journey

A commitment to have a more intentional closet and sense of style.

A dramatic reorganization of the home causes correspondingly dramatic changes in lifestyle and perspective. It is life-transforming.

Marie Kondo

Yes! I had to include an opening quote from the Queen of Declutter, Marie Kondo. But in all honesty, we all know this to be true. Once we let go of our “baggage” (both physical and emotional) we all can attest to the feeling of freedom that comes along with it.

Like many people who were stuck at home during the pandemic, I began to assess the years of clothing and clutter I had accumulated. Years ago, I used to pride myself on how little I was able to keep and let go of. In 2005, when Hurricane Katrina destroyed my home and left my family and I with little to no possessions, minimalism was an easily adjustable minset. It was just easy at that time. After the storm, I moved to North Carolina to attend college and literally had a carryon suitcase to my name. Living in a small dorm-room didn’t allot for much stuff and after experiencing something so traumatic, the need for “stuff” just wasn’t there and the value of it, escaped me.

The Shift

I think my need uh, ahem, addiction to stuff happened when I moved to LA and began walking red carpets and attending events and having a multitude of weekly auditions. Not always being able to hire a stylist or rent from showrooms, I began accumulating pieces that could be worn for auditions and red carpets or interviews. There was a rush of finding unique things that sparkled and dazzled at these public outings. People would compliment my wardrobe and inquire where I got them from. I was always happy to share the knowledge and just loved dressing and impressing. Also, not to mention, the fashion of it all was FUN! The red carpets, the photoshoots…And honestly, it still is fun or will be once our lives get back to semi-normal.

The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life. is a way out of every box, a solution to every puzzle; it’s just a matter of finding it.

Marie Kondo

However, this pandemic has challenged me to take a better approach at shopping and fashion. I must admit, I’m not one who has a closet full of high-end luxury named brand items. On the contrary, most of my fashion finds came from fast fashion empires and goodwill along with some obscure second-hand clothing stores from back home in New Orleans. My shopping splurges felt justified because I could buy bags of fun items and keep them all affordable. No harm. Right? Well…

Shopping this way not only was piling up my closet and living spaces, but it also had/has adverse affects on the fashion industry and the environment. A topic I will discuss in a later post. Simply put, there needed to be a major detox and a new way of looking at my personal sense of style.

Yes, like many others during the pandemic, I devoured all eight episodes of Marie Kondo’s Netflix series, Tidying Up. My boyfiend, Aaron, who is a real minimalist, and I took about a week to clean out our closets (mainly my stuff) and go through the things that sparked joy and let go of the things that didn’t. Ahhhh I felt so refreshed!

Now, a year later, diving back into the same storage bin of clothing, I realize I can do better and be more intentional with my clothing. During my latest clothing haul, I was sad to see, even still how challenging it was to let some things go, even though they were tucked away in a bin or stuffed in the back of my drawers and closet. There was this dying feeling of what if I need this for an audition or virtual event? Aaron would laugh at me and then have compassion for my dilemma, because that was a legitimate fear. In the past, anytime, I had let go of unique items days later I’d get that magical email for an audition indicating that the character wears a red dress or something like what I had just thrown out. Then I would agonize over the hot red dress I dropped off at the clothing donation bin and wish I never let it go.

My New Method: The How

But as I clear out my clothing and think of more intentional ways to dress, those fears become more and more elusive. For auditions, perhaps I can make better clothing choices that would make my performance stand out more instead of blending in with all the others. I now affirm to myself, that:

  • I have everything I need and more for my wardrobe selection and they all benefit my career.
  • No clothing item will stand in the way of me getting a role.
  • If I love what I wear it’ll feel great no matter what!

Thinking in this way is indeed a challenge but it is forcing me to release my thought correlation that my work depends on my wardrobe. Instead, I am starting to minimize my wardrobe down to basic items that can be dressed up or down and mixed up to look great no matter what. Thinking in this way helps to liberate my hold on stuff. I’ve been following and learning also from Tess Montgomery who helps her Instagram followers think about the quality and value of their clothing while keeping in mind that you do not need more.

Using some of Tess’s online guidance, multiple YouTubers, Marie Kondo, and my own personal assessment it’s been fun narrowing down and organizing my wardrobe to pieces that have more meaning. These various sources talk about identifying neutral colors that work for all seasons such as White, Black, Tan, and Gray. Then find those one or two wildcard colors that work well on your skin tone. Finally, find one or two pieces in those colors that can be switched out.

Again, I am by no means saying this is easy. I mean, I am the one who still has a bright orange dress just screaming to me, “please wear me, Ciera!” But it is refreshing to try this new approach. To think about having items that can be worn for all seasons and switched up to look new or in style. As for the red carpet, appearances, and auditions, this is where I’m grateful that this last year has been key in limiting those sort of gatherings AND that there’s a new emerging consciousness that limits fashion expectations on artists and actors. I could never get with the “wear-once-and-never-be-seen-in-it-again-notion”. That rings true for the majority of celebrities we love and watch. Most hire stylists who rent and borrow pieces. Although that is my favorite route to take, it does become pricey and so to better budget, I like having re-wearable pieces and keeping things virtual so that I’m not accumaliting stuff.

Chilling at home in my favorite jeans, white sweater and wrap.

Currently, I feel like my closet is at 40% of where I’d like it to be. Letting go of those lingering pieces, ahem, the orange dress, is a challenge. But I’m giving myself grace and disciplining myself to halt the Poshmark buys and block the fast fashion social media accounts. My goal is to commit to evolving myself and how I define and/or place my identity in things. Clothing is the first mental hack for me and I’m proud of the progress I’ve made so far.

Can you truthfully say that you treasure something buried so deeply in a closet or drawer that you have forgotten its existence? If things had feelings, they would certainly not be happy. Free them from the prison to which you have relegated them. Help them leave that deserted isle to which you have exiled them. of every box, a solution to every puzzle; it’s just a matter of finding it.

Marie Kondo

So, here’s my challenge to you. Can you identify how and why you hold on to stuff in your closet? Can you shift that perspective and possibly…let go? Can you evolve your stuff?

Check out some of the online resources I mentioned in this article, below:


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Actress & Creator of The In Trive

Welcome to The In Trive!
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The In Trive is a lifestyle brand founded by actress Ciera Payton. We are here to help inspire and motivate you by sharing commentary on unique finds; from personal uplifting stories to nutrient-rich recipes to fashion buys to non-toxic beauty products. We cover it all and by doing so we hope to help you thrive. Welcome to our tribe!
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