Enough Clothes Already
Enough clothes already! No, this is not a post about nudism or nudists. Also it isn’t about Never Nudes (which you’d know about if you giggle at “Arrested Development” like I do way too often on Friday nights). This is about clothing of all varieties and materials and how I have too many and so do you.
What? How can I accuse you of having too many clothes? And what is too many, really? And who is measuring? And who gives a rip? “But wait,” you say, “we’re all on a spectrum, Claire…we’re all at different places in life….we all make different incomes and choose different paths and make choices based on very different values!”
So true. And you’re right. And I’m right.
I was inspired to share some of my secret ways of pretending like I have a handle on clothes when I read Kris Woll’s great piece on how she culled her closet recently.
Okay, so I’m not in your closet or rifling through those bins you still have stored in your dad’s basement labeled “Winter” (that includes your high school track sweatshirt with the “If you’re reading this I’m ahead of you” slogan printed on the back) and I’m not trailing you at Nordstrom Rack to see how much you actually spend on faux leather leggings. But I am with you in the spirit of excess because that’s the American way, after all, isn’t it?
Oh come on, just join me in the cynicism for a second, it will be fun.
I have put in to practice three different clothing downsizing efforts that have each worked brilliantly AND were hard AND were easy AND you can actually do these.
#1: The Super 7
One afternoon I was folding laundry and I realized I had just matched 15 pairs of running socks. 15. There were 30+ socks in my laundry basket (because there’s always the rogue sock there to mess with you while it relishes in its solitary float through laundry basket after laundry basket). I thought to myself: “Why do I have so very many socks for running?” I run or lift or workout 6-7 days/week. So my next thought was: “I need 7 pairs of running socks.” So right then I culled my best 7 pairs and they became my Super 7.
Then I moved on to shorts: 7 pair of shorts, please, not 13.
Then bras: 7 good bras that I actually wear, not 12.
Then jeans: Super 7!
Then sweaters: 7
Then running shorts: you guessed it: 7.
Jackets (um, I had 26).
Flipflops (now I only have 1 pair which my husband cannot stand because they’re almost 10 years old)
T-shirts: Super 7!
RESULTS: I got rid of tons of stuff. Okay, not an exact ton. I didn’t weigh it all. But six grocery bags off to Goodwill is significant. I love the simple and perfect number 7 and The Super 7 really helped me steer my culling. Sometimes I’d get one of those wild hairs and want to do a big GET RID and then I’d look at all my clothes, get a little dizzy and immediately find a scientific report on the layers of sediment in an Uzbekistan lake wildly interesting and never actually get rid of anything unless it had holes.
After The Super 7 my drawers weren’t packed, my clothes hung freely (with space to spare).
In 2011 I didn’t buy a single piece of clothing. Here’s what I learned:
Time. The time I’d put in to hunting around thrift stores was significant. By not buying any article of clothing for an entire year I essentially created more time for myself to do other things I love like write, sleep, eat, run, meditate, cook, practice yoga, roll my eyes, etc.
Money. Even though I am a bonafide Thrift Shop Queen and like to flaunt how little I spend on clothes…it adds up, yo! I saved lots of money by not buying anything for a whole calendar year. Then I got to use those savings to invest in things I love like writing, sleeping, eating, running, meditating, cooking, practicing yoga, rolling my eyes, etc. Just kidding–rolling my eyes is totally free.
Realization. I realized I have lots of clothes–lots of nice clothes. Not one day during 2011 did I go without clothing. There were no nude days. I have enough, I realized.
Appreciation. Just going without the bother of purchasing clothes for an entire year gave me such appreciation for all the abundance I have–and all the lack in our world. Not just clothing. My fast from buying new additions to my wardrobe helped me pay attention to the power of my dollar, to the places where there are gaps in abundance.
Gratitude. I have much more gratitude for the things I do have…and not the material things. Health. Love. Family. Neighbors. Creativity. Friends. Accessible Food. Good Water. And on and on.
#3: Add 1, Subtract 2.
Just noticing now that these culling techniques are very number-centric which for me is key to sticking with a new way of undoing old habits. This last one is pretty simple: If I brought one piece of clothing into my house, I had to get rid of two pieces of clothes already here. This can really start to spiral for you if you like to shop a lot! Bringing home 3 new shirts and 2 pair of pants means saying bye-bye to 10 things you already own.
This is so great because I ended up only buying things I really wanted or really needed or were high-quality to replace a couple of low-quality items.
I like all of these approaches to winning the war on excess because they don’t have to be forever. A single year. A single setting. A single mindset. Most things in life are a game (which I can talk about in another post) and to take on excess you just might have to play a bigger game than you’re playing right now.
Here’s what I know: choosing to participate in these various practices has transformed my thinking about how I shop and what I buy. It has me thinking: “Enough clothes, already!