My clothes collecting came to a head when I had my first job out of grad school. Three things merged to make clothes shopping and hoarding a very fun - but very bad - habit:
- I had money in my pocket
- I needed clothes of the professional type (I had to wear a suit)
- I lived across the street from a Marshall's (like a TJ Maxx, to those of you East of the Mississippi)
What my closet used to look like
Photo from corbis.com
Over the past 10 years (yes, it's taken 10!), I've learned some strategies to curb my inner clothes hog. I'll share them below. But here's the real magic of this work: I feel so much BETTER with fewer clothes, fewer shoes. Seriously! When I open my closet, there is breathing space - I can easily see my clothes, and I see things I like. I continue to struggle with the wanting, but I am happy with my progress and continue to work toward a closet like the one here. (OK, this may be a wee bit extreme, but you get the idea.)
My dream closet
Photo from realsimple.com
My Strategies for Curbing the Clothes Collection
- Keep only clothes that I really like. This was a tough one for me because I had a tendency to save my favorite clothes and never wear them. They might wear out, of course! So they sat in my closet for special occasions only. Some pieces went out of style. I'm sure you can see the issue with this behavior. These days, I try to ensure I wear things I like and get rid of things I don't. Not an easy task, but one I continually strive toward.
- Continually cull the closet. I've given up hope that I'll be ready to let go of everything at one time. My process is more one of continual culling, continual letting go. Just last week, the DH (dear hubby) took a big box to the thrift store. The very next day, I had more items ready to go. I keep a thrift store box always near the closet, ready to fill and make other people happy for a good price.
- Avoid retail therapy. A lot of people shop to fulfill some other need or to relive stress. I could see this tendency in myself. I try to live a conscious life, and now I ask myself these questions before giving in to the pressure to go shopping: "What is the trigger for this shopping need? What else is going on here?" When I can deal with the real issue, the need to shop for clothes subsides.
- More goes out than comes in. When I do find something new (or recycled) I want to bring home, I find an item (or two) to release back into the clothes-recycling stream. No exceptions.
- Know my triggers. Target and sales racks. I love to sift through a sale rack and Target is like one big store of eye candy! To avoid this shopping sport, I avoid the sales rack and Target unless I am really looking for something specific or extremely committed to a major closet clean-out. This should also be a no exceptions rule, but it's probably the one I struggle with the most.
- Find alternatives to new stuff. I have had so much luck (and fun) recently shopping at thrift stores! For example, I recently found a brand new Express dress - in my exact size - for $5 at Goodwill. Original tags still on it. Sweet! This doesn't cut down on the amount of stuff I get, but it does cut down on the dollar amount I spend. And it cuts down on the contribution to consumerism, which I really dislike. If I find something at a thrift store, I hold myself to the rule of letting something else go.
Another great way to get new clothes and recycle gently used ones is a clothing swap. I've attended several of these and have had an absolute blast! I spent zero dollars on clothes, gave away many more items than I came home with, and supported excellent causes (recycling; not spending/being a consumer; supporting a local thrift store; girl time).
- Refocus that energy! I realize that shopping is fun and a source of stress relief for me. I've found a great replacement for it! The public library! I can roam the stacks and find shiny and new books. I can check them out - and as many others as I want - take them home, and then take them back! I get that same "new thing" rush at no cost and no closet-cluttering, permanent ownership. Yahoo!
What are your secrets for managing your clothes addiction, if you have one?