Wednesday, June 7, 2017

What I Like About Owning Fewer Clothes

Purging my closet

I made the decision that I only want to keep clothes in my closet that I actually like to wear and that (in my opinion) look good on me. I had a bunch of clothes that I didn't like for one reason or another, but felt I couldn't throw them away because I felt guilty about having spent money on them and barely having worn them! So I would keep them and tell myself I'd wear them one day... Anyway, the result was a closet filled mainly with things I didn't even like. So I purged it and I think out of all my purging experiences this is the one I appreciate the most.
I read something that really changed my mindset about the guilt we can experience when we think about getting rid of something that we spent money on but barely used. It was that the money was wasted when we bought the item, not when we decluttered it. Also, having the thing sitting in our closets (or wherever) isn't making it less of a waste of money... I realized that I'm probably never going to start wearing those clothes, I'm just going to keep telling myself I'll wear them one day and feel guilty that that day is never coming.

There is also the whole fear of getting rid of it and then needing it, and wanting to keep it just in case. For instance, "What if someone invites me to an eighties dance party and I regret giving this dress away!" I decided that those "just in case" items weren't worth keeping. Nine times out of ten said situation never comes up, and I decided I either wanted to get into this whole decluttering thing and experience the freedom from it or just not do it at all (I chose the first option), and I decided that the lightness I feel with a bit less stuff was worth those few times I might regret giving something away. Of course times will come up when I kick myself for getting rid of a certain item, but it's worth it in my opinion. If I kept everything just in case, I would have waaaay too much stuff! With more expensive items it's completely different, but in the case of the 80's dress, I could get a replacement at a thrift store for $10. So far I haven't regretted giving anything away and honestly can't even remember what was in all those garbage bags.

As a little side note, there are also clothes that I kept that I don't necessarily love, but that serve a specific use. I like having clothes I don't care much about for camping and mowing the lawn, for example. Being a stay at home mom allows me to have fewer clothes because were I to be out working, I would need specific clothes for my job. It's not about a certain number of clothes or anything like that, for me it is just about not being overwhelmed by my clothing options and shifting my mindset away from "more is better."

So anyway, I got rid of a bunch of my clothes and was left with a fairly empty closet. Instead of looking at my closet with that dreaded feeling of, "What do I wear?" I experienced a sort of relief as I looked in and saw my few (but all desirable) options. It is so funny how our society tells us that if we feel that we don't have anything to wear, we need to go out and buy more so that we have more options. Really, though, the opposite is going to lead to a much easier decision of what to wear and is actually the answer we're searching for. It's so counter-intuitive and counter-cultural, though. We are always told that having more will solve all our problems (duh advertisers want us to think this so we buy more of what they're selling), when really having less would most likely be a much better solution. It is tough though.

I went through each item of clothing and tried to be really ruthless about what I kept and what I gave away. I was surprised by how much of my closet I didn't like. It took me a long time to actually get around to going through it all. It felt so daunting and it took me a while to work up the motivation. It took a while to do as well, especially because I had to try some things on and I had to make a decision in regards to each item. I didn't put pressure on myself to get rid of anything I liked (that would be weird), but I also didn't want to be left with a big "maybe" pile at the end, so I did make myself make a concrete decision about each piece of clothing. It was so worth in the end, and refreshing to look into my closet once I was done!

Full "before" closet!

The process...
The benefits of fewer clothes

I love looking into my closet and only having choices that I think are flattering on me, fit me well, that look nice, and that I'm comfortable in.
I also tried to keep clothes that match well with other stuff (I think this is what a capsule wardrobe is). I am just going for minimal effort and decision making here. Some people have such a gift for being so creative and unique with their outfits and I so admire those people! Simple and easy is my jam. Whenever I buy a shirt in hopes of becoming a super stylish person who has these unique and awesome outfits... I grab my favourite jeans and a black shirt instead every time. I think for a long time I was trying to up my style game and be one of those people when it wasn't something I enjoyed or that came naturally to me. I didn't even realize I was doing this, but I'm glad the whole capsule wardrobe concept has freed me from that pressure I was subconsciously putting on myself (pressure that was costing me money on clothes that I didn't wear). I still want to make sure I put effort into looking nice because I think that's important, I'm just going to be fine with it being simple and not super creative or out there in any sense.

The benefits that I have experienced from having a lot fewer clothes than I used to are:
  • Less decision fatigue. I think the more decisions we can cut down, the better. The way I imagine it is we each have a quota for the number of decisions we can make in a day without using up our decision-making-energy. Starting the day with an easy decision is a good way to cut one decision out. You look in your closet - you like it all, it will all match easily with other things, viola! Now I don't know if this applies to people who get joy out of shopping and wearing outfits that they think through. I think this concept works better for me as a person who is not that way, hahaha.
  • Not feeling pressured (by myself) to wear outfits I don't like or don't feel comfortable in. I bought it so I better wear it! Or, it's in my closet so I put it on but I don't feel comfortable in it and I'm constantly adjusting it. I would say that being a mom has also made me focus more on the practicality of my clothes. Only very specific ones worked for nursing, for instance, and now that Rose is older she is constantly pulling at my clothes so I prefer wearing ones that work with that! So getting rid of the clothes that I don't feel comfortable in or that aren't practical for my life right now has been really nice.
  • A sense of freedom and relief. This sounds dramatic but it was true for me (also, I'm kind of dramatic with my explanations...) I seriously look at my closet and feel relief. I used to look at my stuffed full closet and feel dread (but didn't realize this until after clearing it out). I can't explain why I get a feeling of freedom having fewer clothes, but it's just the truth of the matter. I find less stuff to be freeing, like a weight is lifted off me. Maybe there is some psychology behind that, or maybe I am someone who is bothered by clutter, too much stuff around me, and too many choices.
  • Less of a need to shop. Having fewer clothes means I don't need to go out and buy more near as often because I just don't think I need as much as I used to think I did. This means more money saved and less time spent shopping (not something I enjoy). Also, when I do go shopping, I've raised my standards in regards to what I buy so when I do buy something, I actually like it and wear it. It is fun to have new clothes sometimes, though, and when I do get new clothes I like to use it as an opportunity to give away a few things that I don't like as much in my closet but feel I need (kind of like a one in, one out thing but not strict at all).
Keeping my closet simple into the next season (aka SUMMER!)

So when I initially decluttered my closet, I had so many clothes that getting rid of half left me with more than enough to wear - all of which I liked. However, as it warmed up and I dug out my summer clothes, I looked at it and the pickings were sparse. If I only kept things I liked I would be left with... not much. This lead to me grabbing my super-stylish sisters (I miss the days when we all lived together and their closets were available to me) and going shopping. I told myself that I was only going to buy clothes that satisfied my checklist and that I would actually like, be comfortable in, and wear.

I didn't have much luck finding things and surprisingly found what I was looking for at Old Navy. I used to write off Old Navy as the store I shopped at when I was a kid (and didn't care one bit what I looked like), but I found that their clothes were simple, affordable, and exactly what I was looking for. They were all super on sale so I got everything I needed for the summer there. I am now free to give away the tank top that I bought 5 years ago and replace it with one that I like more :)

For interesting articles on simplifying your wardrobe:

How to Declutter Your Wardrobe (& Love Everything In Your Closet) - Allie Casazza

Project 333 - Be More With Less

And a podcast episode because I love podcasts...

Say Goodbye to Laundry Mountain With a Capsule Wardrobe - The Purposeful Home Podcast

Also a couple youtube videos from youtubers that I like to watch:

Minimalism: 3 Ways to Declutter Your Closet - Lavendaire

My Minimalist Clothing Collection - Sarah Nourse

As a little side note, I just want to make sure that I'm not coming across as this extreme minimalistic person who has barely any stuff. I have a totally normal amount of stuff, and my intention with decluttering obviously isn't to deprive myself or get rid of stuff to be "more minimalist" or anything crazy like that.

My intention is to fill my house with things that I actually find useful or love. I'm trying not to keep stuff out of guilt (because I spent money on it, because it was a gift, or any of the many other guilt-related reasons for keeping things) because I think those things aren't just neutral things in our homes. I think they take something from us in small unnoticeable ways, whether that be the overwhelmed feeling of what to wear to a certain event because of so many choices (none of which we seem to like), or in the background clutter that causes a small amount of stress every day (it adds up, especially for someone like me), or the time and energy spent cleaning, organizing, washing, and maintaining the item (or procrastinating on any of those things...).

I think the effect the excess stuff has on us is revealed when we get rid of it - it's like a weight is lifted off! At least it was that way for me. I'm also trying to change my mindset about stuff, trying to be happier with what I have and not buy into the concept that I always need more more more to be happier (it's a lot harder than it sounds). Just putting less emphasis on the constant desire to have more material things. So I hope that is the way I am coming across - not preachy or anything!

Anyway, I  hope you enjoyed reading my take on the benefits of a more simple closet :) Here are some other posts of mine on simplifying:

How Learning About Minimalism Has Improved My Life

Bullet Journals & the Art of Simple List Writing

Smartphones & Lent

One more side note - that was my first time doing a title graphic thing like that and I'm so proud of it! I mean it was just a template on Canva that I put words into, but still!

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