“I have absolutely nothing to wear!”
This is a cliché phrase not infrequently uttered by yours truly, yet my wardrobe is full of clothes. To have lots of clothes and yet nothing to wear is a phenomena that is all too common for many women. So why is it that despite a wide variety of clothes, I genuinely struggle to find something to wear?
I’m starting to wonder if it’s not the overwhelming number of choices that leads to the difficulty in deciding what to wear. I’ve always thought that quality is more important than quantity, yet I have still bought a number of “bargains” of less than satisfactory quality. These bargains seem like a great idea when I’m getting a new dress with change from twenty dollar note. Yet sooner or later I realise the quality is sub-par, or it doesn’t quite fit perfectly, or isn’t really my style, or I have nothing else in my wardrobe that goes with it. So it gets banished to the back of my closet, never to see daylight again.
Lately I’ve been feeling challenged to be more disciplined and more intentional with my purchases. No longer will I be seduced by a bargain only to regret it later! Matt and I both decided to clean out our closets as we are both rethinking the way we approach fashion. We seek a simpler approach. An approach whereby, over time, we build a small, but well edited collection of quality pieces. I desire to develop a better understanding of my personal style, what suits me, what doesn’t, what I like, what I don’t like, what I already possess in my wardrobe, what the gaps are and how I can develop a simple wardrobe of essentials.
So, back to cleaning out my wardrobe full of clothes (even though I claim to have nothing to wear). I figured the first step in my new approach is to assess what I already have. It wasn’t long before I started to realise why I feel like I don’t have anything to wear. Some pieces don’t fit. Some I don’t like. Some I don’t like AND they don’t fit. Or they’re just not really my style, although sometimes I’m not even sure what my style is.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t actually go shopping very often at all. I don’t really like shopping. I used to, but not so much anymore. I certainly don’t go out and buy new clothes every season to keep up with the trends. I guess I just don’t throw much out. So I’ve got a closet full of clothes, many of which I’ve hoarded for years. So what’s with this attachment to old clothes, many of which I don’t like? I think it comes down to a fear that if I throw them out I’ll be left with little to choose from and then I’ll really have nothing to wear. Yet the more I think about it, the more foolish it seems to keep heaps of clothes that I don’t like, just so that I can have heaps of clothes! The idea of a small, well edited wardrobe is growing in its appeal.
I went through my closet and thoughtfully assessed each item. I asked myself two questions about each garment. Why should I keep it? Why should I get rid of it? If the only possible reason for keeping the garment is that it’s in good condition, yet the reasons for getting rid of it include that fact that it doesn’t suit my figure, I don’t really like it and I only bought it because it was on sale, then there’s no point in keeping it. I found myself feeling guilty because I’d hardly worn some items, I’d just bought them because they were on sale and I thought they might come in handy one day. I decided there’s no point in dwelling on my past sartorial mistakes and there’s no point in keeping something out of a sense of guilt for not getting much wear out of it. Instead of feeling guilty I chose to see each regrettable item as a reminder to be more thoughtful about my future purchases.
My weight fluctuates just a little bit, so allowed myself to keep things that were just a tiny bit loose or tight, but anything that absolutely doesn’t fit had to go. There are some garments that I had held onto, even though I’ve never feel good in them. You know how there are some pieces of clothing that make you feel amazing every time you put them on? Yet there are others that make me feel unattractive, uncomfortable and a bit yuck. For some it’s because they aren’t really flattering for my figure, some are in a colour that doesn’t suit my pale complexion and others just because they remind me of a job I didn’t like. They all had to go too.
One of the reasons I wish to simplify my wardrobe with fewer, but better quality pieces, is to reduce the amount of cheap clothes that end up needing to be thrown out after only a season (or less) of wear. So I should mention that very few of these clothes were actually thrown in the bin – only those that were completely worn out. The vast majority are still in quite good condition and we are donating them to an op shop run by some friends of ours. The shop is called Reactivate and it raises money for underprivileged people locally in Adelaide, as well as in Cambodia and Congo. If you live in Adelaide and don’t know where to send your unwanted clothes that are still in good condition, I would encourage you to take them to Reactivate. Oh yeah, and they serve great coffee too!
I felt like I was being quite brutal getting rid of so many clothes, but I’m sure that in 6 months time, I’ll be able to go through my wardrobe again and simplify it some more. Both Matt and I were somewhat surprised at the feelings of relief and lightness that came with getting rid of some of the clutter from our closets. I felt like I was letting go of baggage, in the form of clothes that I’d held on to for no particular reason, sometimes for years. It was a good feeling.
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