In this case, less is less. I’m seeking simplicity through a smaller, smarter closet. -Ellie Roscher
Ellie writes about her strategy for simplifying her wardrobe by overhauling her closet in Acquiring Too Many Clothes Just Because They’re Free. She concludes that even though her clothes originate from someone else’s closet, instead of directly from a rack at Target or Nordstrom’s, she has more than she needs, and it doesn’t fit with living simply. The closet is too full. For her, it’s time to downsize and truly use those items that genuinely fit into her life and style.
Ellie’s wardrobe story got me thinking about my own. I also hate shopping – at least, I hate shopping in the typical American fashion that includes malls and department stores. Farmer’s markets I can handle. But since there are not many clothes to be found at the farmer’s markets that I frequent, I haven’t gone shopping for new clothes in years. As a result, I haven’t been supporting poor conditions for factory workers or infinite economic growth on a finite planet, and I have spent zero time and used no gasoline to get to a mall just to be bombarded by advertising campaigns. Great, right?
In theory, not going shopping and purchasing no new clothes in the last 4+ years seems to be consistent with a lifestyle that is built on embracing principals of simplicity. Why acquire new when what you already have is fine? Alas, here in lies the problem with my wardrobe story. What I have is no longer fine.
This winter, I find myself wearing essentially the same 4 shirts and the same 3 pairs of pants (2 yoga, 1 pain of jeans) week after week. Occasionally, the rotation incudes some other items as the weather or activities of the day dictate. “What’s wrong with that,” you say? Well, what’s wrong is that those 4 shirts and 3 pairs of pants are either 1) totally faded/frayed 2) have lost their shape 3) should not be worn in public or 4) are no longer comfortable. Wearing the same things all the time has simply worn them out. Turns out clothes – even well-made clothes – just don’t last forever. In this case, less is not more. There are occasions when less isn’t quite enough. (Those who do not have what they need for daily life and would celebrate having 4 worn out shirts and 3 pairs of pants is a topic for another post)
I need to balance my aversion to shopping and how it doesn’t fit with the principals I strive to live by with acquiring enough functional clothes (that I will actually wear-did I mention I have hangers and drawers full of clothes that just don’t fit right, or that are even OLDER than the ones I wear currently?) to move through my days in comfort and confidence. And without the soundtrack of my 2 year old saying “Mom, hole” while pointing at my sweater.
Perhaps there is a clothes swap in my future. Anyone need some worn out jeans?
Or, perhaps, until the day my farmer’s market starts a locally grown clothing line, or I learn to sew (want to make your own scandinavian work shirt??), I should probably just see what the local thrift store has to offer and shop wisely – so the next time I have a clothes swapping opportunity, I’m ready to contribute. And I should probably turn those 15 year old T shirts into rags.