Do you have too many clothes?
There’s a very good chance that the answer is yes. That’s just because in the Western world, we’re bombarded by the fashion industry’s combination of manufactured desire (short-term styles) and cheap prices.
When I was a kid, it was generally considered to be cheaper to make your own clothes, but then again that was in Barbados, where clothes were (and still are) expensive. In the UK, there’s no way to match the cost of a garment from a store like Primark with the cost of making it yourself, once you factor in materials and time. It’s just too easy to end up buying lots of clothes you don’t really need, just because you can.
Add to that the proliferation of charity shops, where you can get things even cheaper… this is generally a good thing, but what if you find yourself buying more than you need from charity shops just because it’s so cheap?
Should you limit the amount of clothes you buy, and cut down on the amount of clothes you own?
The problem with buying too many clothes
The problem is, the more clothes you keep, the more space you need to store them, and space comes at a cost; we pay mortgages or rent on our living spaces, so think about how much of that space you are paying for to store your clothes.
When you have too many items of clothing, you also tend to spend more time agonising over what to wear! I’ve always had more than enough clothes available to me, but I’ve always ended up feeling as though I didn’t have anything to wear. Recognise the feeling?
How to avoid going overboard with buying clothes
Keeping it simple, one way to avoid ending up with too many clothes is to skip the fads and trends. If it’s all over the magazines this summer, chances are it’ll look stale by next summer. If you need a highly visible item, like a coat, then choose a style that’s either a classic or that you’ll absolutely love for years to come.
Basically, what you need is a capsule wardrobe. That doesn’t mean that you can only wear five things ever again, but it does mean that you have the basics that you can team up with other seasonal items. Makes sense, right?
It’s a tough one to sell to most people, but hiring an outfit for a special occasion might just be the best way to go. That way, you can skip the guilt of not wearing your expensive outfit enough or of being seen in it twice (if you care about that kind of thing!).
Hoarding clothes and fabric
There’s a lot of emotional attachment to clothing. Our clothes carry a lot of memories with them – they are the closest things to us, and we’ve chosen them to reflect who we think we are at a certain point in time.
We like to hold on to those clothes to remind us of the people we were… but you’ll never be exactly the same person, even if you keep that item of clothing forever.
Regardless, you don’t need those clothes to remind you of the person you were or the person you wanted to be.
If you feel like you need to keep the textile for sentimental reasons, try cutting out a square and pasting it into a scrapbook, or turn it into a stuffed toy.
Choose one baby item to frame and give the rest to a family who needs them.
Sorting out your clothes
Look at your old clothes. If someone offered them to you right now in the condition that they are currently in, would you want to accept them? Would you be offended, or would it take too much time to repair them?
Go a bit further – would you buy those items, even if for 50p?
Try this challenge: hold your clothes to ransom. Would you pay a 50p ransom for that item of clothing if it was taken away from you?
Where should you draw the line with being frugal or thrifty with your clothes?
Making do and mending is commendable, but is there a point at which we should throw things away and start over? This will be different for everyone, but try to keep your clothes appropriate for the occasion – no-one’s going to give you a frugality medal for turning up at a family wedding looking like you’re dressed to do a tip run.
It does take me years to give up on an item of clothing, because for me, the issue isn’t as simple as keeping clothes to wear; I also tend to keep hold of clothes for fabric to use in craft and sewing projects.
Sorting out your fabric
I do have the skill to make clothes and patchwork items, but right now I don’t have the time or the inclination.
If you tend to keep hold of clothing for projects like me, ask yourself:
How likely am I to turn this into a project within the next 6 months? Within the next year?
Still can’t decide?
Buy some vacuum bags and use them to store the things you think you can’t live without. Then look at them 6 months or a year later and ask yourself if you missed them. You might be surprised how you feel.
Get your wardrobe streamlined
I’m following all of my own advice and now have a capsule wardrobe made up mostly of black, grey and white, basically because I love grey and I don’t care how boring that makes me sound! Nicola from The Frugal Cottage has written a really interesting post about how she got rid of 85% of her clothes, and another about starting a capsule wardrobe.
Even though I’ve been working on this for a while now myself, I still think I have too many clothes. I’m not yet truly ruthless and whilst I don’t buy much, I definitely don’t get rid of the things I should.
So now I’m going to work on that aspect and clear out the clothing clutter… and stop saying “yes” to all the clothes!