I Made Over 13,000 Dollars Decluttering My Closet & Became a Sustainable & Ethically Conscious Fashion Consumer

We live in a “more” society. We are tirelessly chasing the next best thing and think that more is better, but it isn’t.

I used to shop a lot. I would spend money on fashion items that didn’t hold much value to me and didn’t serve me.  I owned more than I could properly store in my closet. My items would hang pressed tightly against one another which would make getting ready in the morning a messy task. I couldn’t sift through my many unappealing, money draining options without pulling out several items before deciding on an outfit for the day.

Pairing items should be a fun and creative process that promotes self-expression, not a stressful and time-consuming process. After all, style is all about self-expression, so I should love what I wear and feel free to express myself through my clothing, not be bound down by it. But, I only came to learn the difference between fashion and style by decluttering my closet. In decluttering my closet, I made over 13,000 dollars by reselling my original purchases on the online secondhand market.

Life Revelation #1  – In order to clean out your closet, you have to be willing to go into it.

The mere thought of going into my closet used to overwhelm me. My closet evidenced that I was easily influenced by seasonal trends and other fashion industry marketing gimmicks. Cleaning out my closet was a lot like therapy. I had to be willing to go into it to be open to discovering the reasons for my past consumer behavior. I had to be honest with myself in order to change and develop healthy, sustainable, and ethical consumer behavior.

Life Revelation #2 – You over-consume to fill a void or several. 

The biggest problems facing the world today are not at all beyond our control, rather they are all of our own making, and entirely in our power to deal with. – Jared Diamond

I’m sure that you are familiar with the term “retail therapy.” Retail therapy is when a buyer shops with the primary purpose of relieving stress or in an effort to mask feelings of sadness in hopes of improving their mood. They shop to feel happy.

I used to enjoy retail therapy until I came to realize that I didn’t enjoy it all. It made me feel worse because it only provided a temporary high and usually resulted in buyer’s remorse. So I would shop because I was sad, but later regret my purchase which would only make me sadder. Wonderfully frustrating! If I had purchased the new item to relieve stress, I would later have to face the stress producing agent, so I should have just dealt with the real issue, to begin with, and saved my money.

It wasn’t until I began my “less stuff, less stress” journey did I realize that I used to confuse the excitement of a new purchase with happiness. Impulsively purchasing something that I told myself in the store that I liked never made me happy. I learned the difference between buying something you love and something you like. The items that I loved were usually well-tailored, quality, timeless pieces that I didn’t have duplicates of in my closet. I rarely found items that I loved on my retail therapy shopping trips. Truth is I am incredibly picky with pretty refined taste. My retail therapy purchases were usually trendy or cute pieces that I thought I liked in the store, but later never wore because they were not my style. On the other hand, the items that I love are usually well-researched, long-desired, timeless pieces that add value and style to my closet.

Retail therapy never really solved anything and never proved to be the quick fix to any circumstance. Instead, it was a cycle of behavior that produced additional problems. My impulse purchases produced clutter, noise, and distraction, rather than emotional relief and mental clarity. So I decided to purge my closet.

Life Revelation #3 – No matter how much you spent on a fashion item, if you don’t use it, it is a waste. 

I have to be honest, the closet decluttering process is not easy. You will likely feel bad once you realize just how many of your purchases you don’t gravitate to–be sure to make mental note of them so that you don’t purchase similar items in the future.  The reality is that the items that you seldom wear or have never worn, weren’t your style, to begin with, especially the ones that still have tags attached. You will likely feel worse when you create a rough estimate of the total cost of everything that you plan to donate, swap, or resell.

It is also important that you consider the depleted resources and labor expended in the production of the garment–so don’t let it just hang in your closet, that’s a waste. Don’t hold onto something merely because you won’t make back what you originally paid for it. It is better to make a portion of what you spent than to hold onto what does not serve you. Post it on the online secondhand market and present someone else the opportunity to enjoy it.

I recommend the online secondhand market because I find that it is more convenient. All you have to do is take a clear photo of the item, preferably in natural lighting, properly title and accurately describe the item, making sure to provide the current item condition, and price.

To ensure that your item is reasonably priced, research what the item has recently sold for on sites like eBay as well as what other sellers are selling it for on the online marketplace that you plan to post it on. If you want to sell the item fast, price it competitively lower than what others are selling it for elsewhere. Also, you may come to realize that you have an item that is high in demand but completely sold out. If you purchased that item on sale or brand new at a significantly lower price point than suggested retail, then you can likely flip the item. The term “flipping” is commonly used in real estate to describe when a buyer purchases a revenue-generating property to turn a profit. But flipping can be applied to any asset, even fashion. You can even turn a profit on a fashion item that was sold years ago because it is not so much about how old the garment is, but rather the demand for the item and the condition of the one you have in your possession that matters.

I made 8,808 dollars selling on Poshmark, approximately 4,000 dollars selling on eBay, and about 300 dollars on another site that I do not recommend. Please note that, though I was able to turn a profit on some of my sales, for some of the pieces I was not able to get back the retail price I had originally paid. My primary goal was to declutter my closet and extend the lifecycle of my clothing by making my new or lightly used fashion items available on the secondhand fashion marketplace.

As it stands, 84 percent of all unwanted clothes end up in landfills, according to Newsweek. In New York City alone, this comes to about 400 million pounds thrown away annually — 6 percent of the city’s waste stream. – Nell Durfee, scienceline.org

In my experience as a fashion reseller, I have had the most success selling on Poshmark. I suggest that you use Poshmark to sell your items because I find it easy to use, convenient, and secure. It is ranked the number one application to buy and sell fashion in the United States. Poshmark provides shipping labels and tracking for every transaction. You can enjoy peace of mind on luxury purchases as the Poshmark Concierge will authenticate the item for you. Poshmark deducts a flat fee of $2.95 from your listing price for sales under $15 dollars. For sales $15 dollars or more, Poshmark will take 20% percent of the listing price. You can also withdraw your earnings at any time completely free of charge. You can “deposit your money directly into your checking account, request a check, or use the balance to purchase directly on Poshmark.” I like options, don’t you? If you would like to join Poshmark, sign up with the code BRAVETHEBLOG to receive a $5 dollar Posh credit.

Life Revelation #4 – Purging your closet will reveal any history of poor consumer behavior, improve your money management skills, and progressively transform you into an ethical and environmentally conscious consumer.

My closet no longer overwhelms me instead it highlights who I am. I love my clothing as they accent my personality and character. My closet is no longer jammed packed and I can easily spot all of my options. In fact, I know everything I have. I only have items that I use and love now, aside from a few pieces that I have posted on my Poshmark account for sale and keep in a separate closet. Also, I have become a better steward of my money because I am conscious of marketing and sale generating strategies. I have learned a lot about the business of fashion and fashion resale. I use the money generated from my sales to invest in things of value.

I discovered my style in my closet purging process, so I shop far less often and focus my purchases on quality pieces from ethical and environmentally conscious companies and markets.

Fashion is what you buy, but style is all about expressing yourself and feeling good in what you are wearing. So express who you are and wear what you love. I hope that you will choose to be stylish rather current on all the latest trends. Style doesn’t seek to fit in, but rather, style seeks individuality. There is no substitute for you. Dress for self!

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You can’t buy cool. Cool is what you see every day in the mirror as you are getting ready. Style is personal. ~ Brave

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