Since I started this blog last year, a large part of my focus has been on paring down my overly large wardrobe. Until now, I’ve spent very little time and attention on decreasing the size of my accessory collection. In fact, I didn’t even include all of my accessories in the three closet inventories I’ve done (most recent here). While I noted the number of purses and scarves in my overall count, I’ve done very little to address the excess in these two areas.
Addressing the Elephant in the Room
I now feel it’s time to make a strong effort to pare down my accessory collection, including the proverbial elephant in the room, my large assortment of jewelry. You may know me as a numbers and statistics “junkie,” but I have a confession to make. Until yesterday, I had never taken an inventory of the contents of my jewelry box! Seems like a glaring omission, doesn’t it?
After more than a year of wardrobe challenges and culling, I was finally ready to “face the music” with my jewelry. In today’s post, I share the outcome of my jewelry inventory, as well as how I did with my first round of purging in that area.
Goal – Reduce the Size of My Jewelry Collection
When I created my shopping and wardrobe goals for 2014, I almost didn’t include a goal pertaining to my jewelry. It was almost an afterthought for me to add goal #10, “Reduce the size of my jewelry collection by at least one-third.” However, I’m really glad I had the foresight to address my jewelry within my 2014 goals, as it’s really time for me to streamline what I own in that regard.
I’ve often written about the overwhelming feeling I would get every time I opened my closet. Fortunately, as I’ve made substantial progress in reducing the size of my wardrobe, that sense of overwhelm has decreased. I’d be lying if I said that I feel peaceful and serene when I look at my clothes, but I’m strongly moving in the right direction. However, I continue to feel intense stress when I open my jewelry box. There’s just far too much in there!
To call what I have a jewelry box is understating things a bit. In truth, what I have is more like a jewelry armoire. Yes, it’s basically a piece of furniture, with eight drawers, one top compartment, and two large size doors for additional storage. When I bought my jewelry armoire about ten years ago, it was the largest one available. Not too surprising from the “queen of excess,” is it? Of course, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that larger options are now available, but I’m not going down that road! Instead, I plan to de-clutter my current storage cabinet and potentially even downsize at some point.
Below are two photos of my jewelry armoire, one as it generally stands and another with the side doors and drawers open.
A Portrait of Excess
Part of my reason for not addressing my jewelry collection sooner was that I had a place to store it all. Even though my armoire stands about four feet tall, it fits nicely in an otherwise unused corner of my bedroom. Sure, it was cluttered, but I had bigger fish to fry and didn’t want to spend the time and energy to streamline my assortment of jewelry…
I used to feel the same way about my closet. As long as I could cram everything in there, what reason was there to pare things down? So I kept buying more hangers and adding new storage options in order to maximize the number of items that could fit into a finite amount of space.
I’m sure many of you can identify with this rationale and its accompanying behavior pattern. Why do you think retailers like The Container Store are doing such a booming business? Such businesses thrive in our climate of excess, as most people look to maximize their storage space rather than reduce their stuff.
My jewelry collection is like the final frontier of clutter that needs to be conquered. Well, that’s not entirely true; I still have the information overload in my physical and computer files to address, but that’s on my list for this year as well. It’s all part of my simplicity and joy theme for the year. It’s amazing what a difference it’s made just to declare these words as my focus for 2014. The more the words permeate my consciousness, the more compelled I feel to reduce the number of possessions I own.
Why Not Dive Right In?
Last night, I found myself feeling melancholy and unable to focus on writing the blog post I originally intended to publish today. I just couldn’t motivate myself to write and my thoughts felt like a great big ball of confusion. As I sometimes do in such situations, I took a few moments to capture my thoughts on the screen through a stream of consciousness. What resulted was a desire to address my jewelry collection. We just never know where our thoughts are going to take us!
I had little energy for much of anything, yet I felt excited to inventory my jewelry. I counted what I had in each category and gathered the cold, hard facts. Here are my initial jewelry numbers:
- Watches: 5
- Rings: 17
- Brooches: 13
- Pendants: 9
- Necklaces: 65
- Bracelets: 55
- Stud Earrings: 11
- Standard Earrings: 101
- Purse Hooks: 3 (to hang purse on in restaurants)
- Key Chains: 3 (counted here because they were in the jewelry box)
- GRAND TOTAL: 282
That’s quite a large number, isn’t it? Remarkably, that’s almost the same number of clothes I had (272) during my initial closet inventory last January. I have to admit I felt a sinking feeling in my chest upon completion of my jewelry tally. Although I knew I had too much jewelry before taking an inventory, seeing the numbers really drove the point home.
The First Round of Culling
Originally, I had just planned to take an inventory and leave it at that, but I felt a surprising burst of energy coupled with the desire to start the culling process last night. So I spent another hour or so making some hard decisions around what to keep and what to pass on.
In order to decide what would remain in my jewelry box, I asked myself two simple questions about each item:
- “Do I love this piece?”
- “Can I see myself wearing it within the next month?”
Considering the “love factor” enabled me to release quite a few items that no longer fit my current style aesthetic. The second question allowed me to evaluate the remaining pieces related to my present lifestyle.
On Sentimental Pieces and Expensive Items
Now what about sentimental pieces or expensive items, you might ask. I actually don’t have many pieces with stories and emotions attached to them. I have a maximum of fifteen items in this category, including my grandmother’s bracelet and some pieces given to me by a now-deceased friend. My sentimental items occupy just a small corner of one of my eight armoire drawers, so I decided to keep these pieces even though I never wear them.
In regards to cost, we might feel tempted to keep some jewelry pieces simply because they were expensive. As is the case with clothing, it’s difficult to recoup the value of jewelry when sold on consignment or via Ebay, but that doesn’t mean we need to hold on to it. I usually opt to pass on jewelry pieces I no longer love to family members or friends who might enjoy them (I tell them these are “pre-owned” items rather than “re-gifting” them as birthday or Christmas gifts). However, this isn’t always an option and we’re then left wondering how to deal with our costly excess jewelry.
I have yet to decide my plans for the few expensive jewelry pieces I still have that I don’t love and wear. I’ll likely sell most at a substantial loss while keeping anything I feel I might love again one day. But I don’t plan to keep anything simply because it cost a lot of money at one time, as holding on to things doesn’t bring our money back. I try to remember that what I don’t love may be adored and appreciated by someone else, and take comfort in that knowledge.
Results of Initial Jewelry Purge
I’m pleased with the progress I made during my initial jewelry purging session. When all was said and done, I released the following items from my collection:
- Brooches: 4
- Pendants: 1
- Necklaces: 15
- Bracelets: 15
- Earrings: 28
- Purse Hooks: 1
- Key Chains: 1
- TOTAL ITEMS PURGED: 65
Here’s a photo of all of the jewelry pieces I purged last night. It looks like a bit of a jangled mess, doesn’t it? You can’t tell from the photo, but most of these items are perfectly good and some were rarely or never worn. But they aren’t things I can see myself wearing (they don’t feel like “me”), so it’s time to pass them on…
My Plan to Meet My Goal
I managed to let go of 23% of my jewelry collection in just one hour! In order to accomplish my goal for the year, I only need to release another 10% (or more) by the end of the year. That seems quite doable to me.
I plan to tackle my jewelry excess in much the same way as I’ve approached my overloaded closet. I’ll aim to wear and evaluate as many items as possible in the coming weeks and months. I won’t force myself to wear anything, but I will try to broaden my horizons. As one example, I will aim to wear my necklaces more often. In recent years, I’ve gotten into the habit of wearing earrings and bracelets and not necklaces. I actually enjoy wearing necklaces, but it just doesn’t come as easily for me to incorporate the necklaces into outfits. So I’ll be making a conscious effort to do so this year.
If I find myself passing over a particular item time after time, or if I wear a given piece and don’t like it for some reason, I’ll add the item in question to my consign/donate box. This method has worked very well with my clothing, so I believe it will also help me to reduce the size of my jewelry collection.
Closing Thoughts and Suggestions
I’m glad I took the time to inventory my jewelry and do an initial culling last night. When I peer into my jewelry box now, it still looks full but I’m happy to have made a sizeable dent in the pare-down process. I now have a better sense of what I have and I feel motivated to shop my own jewelry collection rather than adding new pieces to the mix.
If you struggle with jewelry overload, I highly recommend that you take a good, hard look at what you have. If it feels right for you to do an inventory, do it. Otherwise, just survey your pieces and organize them in such a way that it will be easier for you to grab them when putting outfits together.
We often buy new things because we aren’t fully aware of the treasures we already possess. Taking an audit of our clothes, jewelry, and accessories can help us to better appreciate and utilize what we have, and can decrease our desire to acquire more. It really can’t hurt and it’s far more likely to help you, so I recommend that you give it a try!
Over to You…
Do you struggle with “jewelry overload”? Have you ever taken a jewelry inventory? What has been helpful for you in managing your jewelry collection? As usual, I welcome your insights, feedback, and questions. In a future post, I’ll ponder the question of how much jewelry is too much. Of course, there isn’t a definitive answer to this question, but I have some thoughts to share which might be useful to you.
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