My friends and I used to joke that I have enough clothes to wear a different item every day, without ever having to repeat an outfit.
While it’s true that that was (is) a joke, the reality is that I have far more clothes than I need. The reason for the glut of garments relates to my need for possessions, and the link to self-worth. While I used to buy things to make the house beautiful (to make up for the fact that my body was never going to fit into designer jeans or trendy dresses), I used to buy clothes to emphasise the fact that you didn’t have to be thin to look beautiful.
I have quite a good sense of style; I know what looks good, and perhaps more importantly, what looks good on me. But wearing it more than once wasn’t an option. OK, I would think to myself they already know I look good in that outfit, now I have to show them I can look good in something else. Occasionally, if I was going to events, parties or gatherings where the people would all be different from a previous event, party or gathering, I might deign to repeat an outfit. But more often than not I would just buy a new one. And new jewellery to go with it.
The end result was a bulging wardrobe and chest of drawers, despite the fact that I frequently donated clothing to charities. I shudder to think how much money I have spent on clothing that I have only worn once or twice (or perhaps not at all).
I have known this for quite some time, but I’ve never really felt ready to let go of the self-worth that comes with being able to rock 365 different outfits. And then, one day, I was reading a blog post about Montessori. I love Montessori (and Steiner, and Reggio) and one of the things that I love about it is its sense of space. There’s no clutter, everything has space and clean lines. I was hoping to replicate this in the decluttering of my house, but it’s a slow, slow process (the Rumpus room is cleaner than it was, but not as clean as I would like it to be eight months later).
From that blog post I found a blog called Unfancy. This blog (currently on hiaitus) extolled the virtues of something called a capsule wardrobe. While I don’t think that I’m ready for a capsule wardrobe (partly because I don’t think that Melbourne’s weather is extreme enough to warrant vastly different outfits between Summer and Winter), I was inspired to take stock of what I owned and to consider how much of it I really needed.
Surprisingly the answer was not a lot. I began by removing every single item from my wardrobe. I returned 40 items to it. I didn’t do a before count, but by examining how many count hangers I had left over, I guesstimate that I remove approximately 80 items of clothing from my cupboard. It wasn’t easy; I loved a lot of those items.
I got rid of a beautiful lightweight dressing gown that I bought a few years ago, and only wore on a handful of occasions. I originally purchased it thinking I could wear it on Christmas Day when the kids were opening presents. That way, if I accidentally ended up in any of the photos, I would look nice. The reality is that if there’s photos of me in a dressing gown then it means I have horrible greasy bedhair. No amount of gorgeous dressing gown can save that. So it went.
I got rid of two black pleated skirts that I had never worn. I love pleated skirts. I especially love back pleated ones. But these just did not sit right on me and so instead of hanging onto them for when I lose weight, off they went.
I found a skirt I purchased more than ten years ago and wore to a wedding once. I love that skirt with a passion (it had moved house with me multiple times because I loved it that much). I loved it so much that I didn’t wear it in case it got wrecked. But it didn’t fit any more, and as I looked at it, I realised that what I loved about it was the belt, so I rescued that but the skirt got ditched. I suspect that very soon even the belt will be gone.
The same thing happened in my chest of drawers. Everything came out and only 16 items went back in. Approximately 30 items got the chop.
That also included items of which it was not easy to let go. I still remember buying these tshirts more than 15 years go. I had lost a whole bunch of weight and was rocking boots a denim skirt and these tshirts and feeling oh-so-fab. No matter how much I loved these tops and how much I enjoyed reminiscing when I looked at them, they’d done their duty and it was time for them to move on. As an added bonus not only do my drawers close easily, but I have space! Space! For years I have been bemoaning the fact that we need a bigger house, or more storage or SOMETHING but the reality was that I just needed fewer things.
I originally decided that I would try to pare my possessions down to 150 items. This would comprise of:
15 bottoms (pants/shorts/skirts)
40 tops (t-shirts/blouses)
25 jumpers (including cardigans)
I have to admit that I think this is going to get a shake up once I finish my purge (even after getting rid of something like 25 pairs of shoes, I still have 19 pairs and I’m not ready to let any of those go yet) but even if I don’t quite make it, I still think that I’m much closer to having a wardrobe under control than I was before.
Have you embraced a minimalish wardrobe?