Clothing and someday

At a recent workshop, a woman asked about cleaning out closets and letting go of clothes. Specifically, items she had worn and was fond of from previous seasons. She wasn’t wearing them currently, because she had new favorite pieces. But she might want to wear them again ‘someday,’ although there’s no clear understanding of when someday would occur.

As we talked, it became clear that it was more about sentimental attachment than practicality — about her feelings about the clothes rather than a real sense she would ever actually wear them again.

I suggested it was like keeping an old boyfriend around — you don’t love him anymore, but on a desperate Saturday night, if no one else is free, you might go out with him as a last resort. But probably not.

Several things about this situation are noteworthy.

The first is:

Once you’ve gone through your closet and made your determination of what stays and what goes, and then fill in any missing pieces to create a comprehensive wardrobe for yourself, you should have enough clothes for any occasion.

What that looks like will be different for each person, but reaching ‘stuff equilibrium’ and having enough of everything that you need and nothing that you don’t, is the goal.

Whether you have a 1000 SF walk-in closet, live in a studio apartment with one tiny closet, or rotate seasonal clothes in and out of your closet, enough is still enough in each of these cases.

So rather than buying things randomly that strike your fancy, which is perhaps how you have historically shopped, you should now be shopping with some deliberateness.

Shopping becomes about filling out outfits, not creating wardrobe challenges for yourself, i.e., “I love this sweater, it doesn’t go with anything I own, but I’ll get it anyway and eventually I’ll find the perfect … whatever … to go with it.”

That would be similar to buying a crepe pan if you never make crepes, but you figure, it’s on sale (surprise!) and eventually you’ll pick up all the ingredients and start making crepes.

When you’re tired of a particular outfit and you’ve swapped out pieces from it with other outfits and you’ve played every card in your wardrobe hand and can’t imagine putting on those tired old clothes one more time, that would be the time to head out to replace items.

No one has surprise formal weddings and you’re unlikely to receive a call that you’re needed at a state dinner tonight.

The point is you’re not going to have a sudden clothing emergency where you wake up one morning with nothing appropriate to wear. I promise.

You may have nothing clean to wear, but that’s another situation that has a simple and easily identified solution: do the laundry.

We’ll talk about the other noteworthy part of this question tomorrow.

4 thoughts on “Clothing and someday”

  1. Thanks for this piece Andrew! I struggled with an overstuffed closet for years. When I finally started making the really hard decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of it transformed my life. When I got through the hard part (letting go of emotional connections) I was wearing better looking outfits, taking less time to get dressed in the morning and my closet was no longer overstuffed, I could clearly see all the clothes and every piece fit me, didn’t need any repairs and I loved each and every piece!

  2. Hi Andrew! I wanted to share something with you! Have you heard about “” In case you haven’t, it is a great place where you can get rid of stuff that people are looking for. Someone recently posted that she just started a new job and she couldn’t afford to shop for some needed blouses and dress pants. That was just the kick in the butt that I needed. I emptied everything (on my side of the closet – since my husband maintains his side with no problems). Then, I only put back the items that fit and look o.k. on me. I told her that she would need to take everything (so that I didn’t need to sort). I asked her to donate whatever didn’t fit or that she didn’t like. I kept two items for sentimental reasons – that hang in my closet… they inspire me in a weird way. There were three – but I gave one of them to a sweet girl at my church on Easter… she loves vintage clothes… I told her she could get rid of it if she doesn’t like it… or use it for a Halloween costume even… but I thought she might actually like and wear it. Thanks for your inspiration! I’ve still got some work to do, but I am making amazing progress!

  3. Tina,

    Thanks for this comment. I DO know about Freecyle and use and recommend them often!

    They are a great resource and you’ve nailed it in that you can get rid of a whole lot of stuff, as in a ‘lot’ of stuff and make it a condition of the gift that everything must go together as one lot, and the recipient can be responsible for the further releasing of what s/he doesn’t want or need.

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