Friday, September 7, 2012

Repairing the burst seams in my wardrobe

I have over 100 items of clothing in my wardrobe.   

This doesn’t even include underwear, swimwear, or my maternity clothing.  

More than one hundred.  I counted them after I did a cull recently. 

Please don’t laugh.  Or judge.   (Especially not before you’ve counted the items of clothing in your own wardrobe.)   

I know I own far too many clothes.  It’s more than I can reasonably wear (there ARE only seven days a week, and I wash on at least two of those).   My whole adult life I have had too many clothes.  Conventional decluttering wisdom says if you haven’t worn it in a year, get rid of it.  Yeah, but I’ve got clothes that I have only worn once in the last year, but I still love them.  Or, worse, I haven’t worn them in over a year because I have more clothes than I could have worn in that amount of time.

Here’s the surprising thing:  almost one-fifth of my wardrobe has been introduced in the last year-and-a-half, while I’ve been trying to gain control over my impulse shopping.   Only about 10% is over six or seven years old.  And given that I’ve either given away or worn out a large number of items of clothing, it means that I’ve bought or sewn a lot of clothes over the last five or six years.  

This is the alternative decluttering wisdom that I need to hear: stop buying more clothes.  Wear the clothes you already own.  Don’t even bother looking at the shops if you have plenty already.   Just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean you need another shirt: there will be another sale.  

I would like to get down to just 30-odd items of clothing - a third of what I own now.   Does that sound crazy?  Sure.  But I don’t think it is unreasonable, either.   Have you heard it said that we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time?  Looking at the clothes I have, and the clothes I wear, I would say that it’s true enough of me.   It means potentially buying nothing new for a year.  Or four.  But it also means that when I do need to buy more clothes I need to be more intentional.    

I’ve started out by identifying my style: a-line skirts, simple t-shirts or blouses, sandals or mary-janes, a chunky necklace. No tiny prints, no stripes, no ruffles.  A little bit hippy.   If I must buy more clothes, they must fit with my style. 

Then I’ve chosen a colour palette. I only buy clothes in colours that suit me: browns, purples, berries, olivey-greens, creams.    I don’t buy colours that I know to not look good on me, or that I tend not to choose to wear: white, blue, red, yellow, black.  (I used to wear a lot of black, but as I have gotten older it doesn’t look so good on me and is being phased out of my wardrobe.)  

Then I consider my lifestyle.  At this stage in life I spend most of my time home with young kids, and my choice of clothing needs to reflect this.  And given that most of the time it’s too hot to wear long sleeves, so I don’t need to own winter attire. 

Sticking to a style and palette, everything should go together, and with a selection of shoes and accessories, there is still plenty to keep it interesting. 

I’m thinking about putting everything but 30-odd items of clothing away in a box or another wardrobe, and when something needs replacing I’ll go ‘shopping’ in my box first.  

To fix my clothing clutter problem, I need only buy clothes when necessary and be intentional about what I do buy. Don’t just get rid of clothes you don’t wear, break the cycle by not buying them in the first place. 

 What about your wardrobe?  Too many clothes, or just enough?  Do you wear everything you have?  Are you intentional in what clothing you buy?


  1. I feel like I have too many clothes, but every time I try to cull, I can't find any I want to actually part with.

    I wear most of my clothes. There are a couple of pieces that I cherish but am worried if I wear them even just once more, they will fall apart (which happened to my absolutely favourite top of all time). So I know I need to let go of this silly bond with them, since I can't love a piece of clothing that isn't actually clothing anymore (ie because I won't wear it). I really do need to just wear them till I can't anymore and then say good bye, for good.

    I also find it hard knowing which clothes to keep and which clothes will definitely not fit me in the near-enough future. There are some staples that while I'm pregnant, can't fit into, and I'm not sure if I will again. But I don't want to get rid of them, only to have to buy the same things, in the same sizes in 6 months time. Have I lost all the baby weight I'm going to lose? Only time will tell me that answer.

    This is something I often struggle with. And when I see others' wardrobes, I realise that I actually don't have as many clothes as other people. But I think they've got too many clothes, and it doesn't even matter if I have less than other people, I still FEEL too cluttered with what I have. It doesn't help that we're in such a small bedroom, without a proper wardrobe until our house has been renovated to the point we're in our new room, with a walk in wardrobe too.

    I recently moved my winter clothes to the back rung of our mock-wardrobe and brought the summer clothes to the fore rung, so that kind of felt like getting new clothes. And I don't expect to lose much more weight at all from my top half so I should be able to go through them again and find SOMETHING to get rid of.

  2. I have a LOT more items of clothing than that. Recently I took 3 garbage bags of clothing to the St Vinnies bin and I've still got a chest of draws, wardrobe and shelves filled with clothes. I hate throwing out clothes. I've only just managed to get rid of my high school sports shirt. I'm not sure how much more I'd like to get rid of..but I know that I don't need to keep buying more. How many singlets do I need, really?

  3. I definitely like buying clothes and I've been thinking recently I should go out and get another work-type shirt. But I don't think I tend to buy a lot. A key point is what you said about identifying your style. I think I've only in the last year or two really identified that and so I have loads of clothes in my wardrobe that I never wear because they don't look good on me and are not my style... or because they require ironing and I hate ironing haha. And many of them I didn't actually buy. I still have a lot of clothes from when I was a teenager and lived at home, and mum would buy me stuff when she saw things on sale and I'd take them thinking I might wear them at some point - and rarely have. I also have hand-me-downs from friends and relatives which I've taken thinking I might wear and again, don' really. And some things I've bought - like shirts for work - and then rarely worn them because I can't be bothered ironing them before work in the morning. I just re-wear the same few that don't need ironing. So any work clothes I buy in future need to be iron-free as much as possible!

  4. (I actually don't really hate ironing. I just don't have time to do it before work and would rather do something else aside from iron a whole pile of clothes at once!)