Do you have things in your closet that you can’t decide whether to keep or purge? Most of us have at least a few such items and sometimes we’ve been on the fence about them for months or even years. Perhaps you’ve already tried the “first impression test” and still feel stuck, but you’re not ready to undertake a full KonMari Process just yet. In today’s post, I’m going to share a quick and easy method to help you finally get off the fence and make a decision about those “maybe” pieces.
To use this process, you will just need one thing, a coin. That’s right, you’re going to flip a coin in order to make your decision, but there’s a twist. Which side the coin lands on is not nearly as important as how you feel about the outcome of the toss. Let me explain, and then I’ll give some personal examples.
Here’s a common scenario… You have a garment that’s been hanging in your closet gathering dust, but you’re not sure whether to keep it or let it go. So you decide to flip a coin and if it lands on heads, you’ll keep the item and if it lands on tails, you’ll pass it on (or vice-versa, if you wish). As the coin lands, pay close attention to your immediate reaction. Do you feel relieved at the outcome or does it lead to disappointment or remorse? Do you find yourself wanting to flip again and go for the best two out of three? Your gut feeling about the coin’s disposition will tell you a lot about how you really feel about the item in question.
If you want to read more about this method, here are two great articles that elaborate on it:
- “Flip a Coin to Decide Which Action You Really Want to Take” (Lifehacker)
- “Just Flip a Coin” (Tri-Peaks Life Coaching)
Some Personal Examples
In order to make things clearer for you – and in the service of my getting off the fence about a few items, I’m going to offer some personal examples of the coin toss decision process. I went to my closet and selected five questionable pieces (four garments and one pair of shoes) that I wanted to decide whether to keep or purge. Here’s a quick look at them:
Now let’s look at the items one by one. I first list what I see as the pros and cons of each and then reveal the result of my coin toss. Please note that I wrote the commentary on each item before I did the coin toss. I also show outfits featuring most of these items (the moto jacket was purchased last month and has not been worn yet). Many of these outfits are from a few years ago and do not represent my current style but do show the items in question, which is why I have included them here. I cringed at a few of these ensembles, but style evolves. I’m much happier with how I’m dressing these days, which is a testament to my hard work and the progress I’ve made (read about my style evolution here).
Item #1: Black Peep-Toe Sling-Backs
These shoes were given to me by my mom back in February 2013. The fact that they were a gift and were expensive is the main reason I’ve kept them despite their rarely being worn. Here are a few outfit photos which feature these shoes:
- They’re very comfortable.
- They’re black (and thus coordinate with much of my wardrobe).
- They look very dressy due to the glossy finish and velvet areas.
- They’re quite conservative in style.
- The sling-back style makes them difficult to wear with trousers (the pant legs gets caught in the straps).
Results of the Coin Toss:
I did the coin toss with heads for keeping the shoes and tails for selling them on eBay. When the result was heads, I immediately felt a sense of heaviness and burden. I clearly wanted permission to sell the shoes, which makes sense because I feel guilty every time I see them in my closet. I think of my mom spending her hard-earned money on these expensive shoes that I have rarely worn, but my style has changed and the shoes are really too dressy for my lifestyle. I’m going to sell these shoes on eBay. Case closed!
Item #2: Black Long Blazer
I bought this blazer over five years ago and have only worn it twice during that entire time! Although it has landed in “benchwarmer” territory each year since I started the blog, I’ve kept it as a “just in case” item for occasions such as job interviews and dressy events. The outfits below include the blazer, but I don’t think I actually wore any of them outside of my apartment. The look on the left is a recent idea, while the other two were from 2012 and 2013.
- It’s a good length to wear with pants and jeans.
- It can dress up a casual outfit when necessary.
- The ruched sleeves are kind of cool.
- The sleeves are somewhat too short (3/4 sleeves are often more like 2/3 sleeves on me).
- The material doesn’t include any stretch so it doesn’t “give.”
- I have a very casual lifestyle and don’t have much occasion for blazers.
Results of the Coin Toss:
I used the same designations for the coin toss as for the black shoes above and again the result was heads. Although I didn’t feel the same heaviness about the prospect of keeping the blazer as I experienced with the shoes, I was definitely disappointed at the outcome. I just don’t love this blazer, which is why I’ve rarely worn it. I think I would wear a blazer with longer sleeves and in a more comfortable fabric, but this is not the blazer for me. If a dressy event comes up in my life, I have other things I can wear, so I don’t need to keep this one around “just in case.” Since the blazer is in excellent condition and is a classic style, I plan to sell it on eBay, too.
Item #3: Black Woven Moto Jacket
I just bought this jacket last month, with the idea that it’s a different silhouette and would pair well with jeans. It hits me at around hipbone length, which looks nice with boot-cut jeans as well as slimmer fits.
- The silhouette is flattering and looks good on me.
- The fabric includes some stretch, which leads to increased comfort.
- The jacket will work well with many items in my closet.
- The jacket doesn’t look good worn open, so it needs to be zipped up all the time.
- When zipped, I can’t really see my top underneath the jacket.
- Even with the added stretch, it’s a woven fabric which isn’t as comfortable as a knit.
Results of the Coin Toss:
For this jacket, I designated heads for keeping it and tails for returning it to the store. My result was tails and I felt at peace with that. I would much prefer to find a jacket that can be worn either open or closed. The fact that this jacket can only be worn closed is a liability in my eyes, as I’m someone who wears my jackets and coats open most of the time. I will return this jacket in favor of an alternate style, perhaps a field jacket or anorak that will pair well with jeans.
Item #4: Black and White Print Top
I’ve had this top for almost eight years, as I purchased it in June 2008. However, it has only been worn once or twice per year since I started tracking my wears in 2011, so it’s still in excellent condition. It’s a jersey material with some stretch in the fabric. Although I’ve worn it with skirts a few times, I prefer it with jeans and trousers. The outfit on the left was from a few weeks ago, while the one of the right was from last June:
- I love black and white prints and the turquoise piping is a nice special detail.
- The tie at the waist is flattering.
- Most of my short-sleeved tops are ultra-casual tees and this top is a bit dressier.
- The sleeve style may look somewhat dated.
- The top is a bit shorter in the back and I wish it was longer.
Results of the Coin Toss:
Since this is an older top, I wouldn’t try to sell it on eBay, so I indicated that I would keep it for heads and take it to a local consignment store (or donate it) for tails. The coin landed on heads and I felt okay about it. I will give the top at least one more try within the next month or so and see how I feel about it then. I might like it better with boot-cut jeans or perhaps my black skirt that I had shortened last fall. If I try it again and am not happy with it, however, I’ll be fine with letting it go at that time.
Item #5: Grey Tank
I’ve had this tank for four years, but have only worn it one to three times each year. I think I’ve only ever worn it with my burgundy open cardigan, as shown below:
- The tank is a soft, comfortable fabric.
- The fit and length are good.
- The color isn’t all that flattering for my skin tone.
- It doesn’t look very good on its own, so I must wear it with a bold colored topper or else I will look washed out.
Results of the Coin Toss:
I proceeded with this coin toss as with the last item, with tails indicating that I would sell the tank on consignment or donate it to charity. When the coin landed on heads, I was disappointed. I think that I had already decided I wanted to pass it on after writing the pros and cons above and seeing that I’ve only ever worn the tank with my burgundy cardigan. I would prefer to pair the burgundy cardigan with my cobalt, black, pink, or red tanks instead. I just don’t love the way I look in grey anymore and feel that I have better options in my closet. I’m going to take the tank to my local consignment store and will donate it if they don’t accept it. I feel at peace with this decision.
This was a very helpful exercise and I’m glad I did it. The end result is that I’m keeping one item and selling or donating the remaining four. The decision was quite clear each time the coin landed and I saw the result. In truth, I think I had already made up my mind after writing down the pros and cons for each item before tossing the coin. I’ll admit that I was a little surprised at how I felt about keeping the black and white print top. I fully expected to be okay with passing that one on, too, but I think the fact that it’s a black and white print and an alternate style from my other short-sleeved tops motivates me to give it one more chance.
I may do a part two of this post, as I found the process of formulating my thoughts and tossing the coin very beneficial. Even with the shoes, about which I had the most emotion, I felt a release after seeing the result and noticing that I wanted the opposite outcome. Somehow, the clarity I gained through the process has helped to alleviate some of the guilt I’ve been experiencing at the thought of letting go of the shoes. The same thing was true of the blazer, jacket, and tank. I had already been thinking about purging these three items, too, but the coin toss gave me the added push I needed to go from pondering doing so to actually making a commitment for action.
Now It’s Your Turn…
I highly recommend that you give the coin toss method a try. It’s quick and easy and you don’t need to precede the toss with listing pros and cons like I did. You can simply think of the item in question, decide what heads and tails mean, and toss the coin. Notice how you feel immediately upon seeing the result and you’ll have clarity on your best course of action.
If you do opt to take try the coin toss, I invite you to share your experience in the comments section of this post. I hope the process will be as helpful to you as it was for me. Life’s too short to feel guilty and flog ourselves over shopping mistakes (as long as we learn from them, of course). Freeing yourself from negative feelings can be as simple as tossing a coin!