When I was 15, I remember working a few days stuffing mailing envelopes and making close to $100. At that age, that was a HUGE amount of money. And as soon as I got that money, I turned around and spent it on one pair of Lucky brand jeans. Looking back, I have no idea why I just had to have them. Like most teenage girls, I liked to look pretty and buy new clothes, but it wasn’t the only thing that mattered to me by any means.
Since then, I’ve slowly learned that just because because something is on sale and I sort of like it that it should come home with me. Over the years I’ve gotten more and more discerning about what clothes I do purchase, but I always seem to find plenty to get rid of when I decide to purge my closet. It almost seems like they must breed back there, because I KNOW I’ve given away more than I’ve purchased. Apparently not.
Six months ago, I decided I really really REALLY didn’t need any more clothes and mostly had stopped buying them. Except for that really cute shirt at Ross. About this time was when I had put dollar limits on my work lunches and pulled myself out of that habit, and I realized that I need really strict boundaries for myself if I’m going to stick to something.
I realized I needed a full stop to really tackle this problem head on. I had already gone through my closet numerous times and had gotten rid of anything I truly didn’t wear and my closet and dresser were still stuffed full of clothes. I wanted badly to have a minimal closet but couldn’t justify getting rid of more clothes when I knew I did actually like (and wear) them all.
The only way I was going to shrink my closet further was to completely wear my clothes out and not buy any more to replace them. And so I haven’t bought a single piece of clothing for myself in 5 months now (my kiddo somehow keeps growing, so I don’t have much of a choice there) – no shoes, jewelry, sweaters, pants, skirts, dresses, nothing.
At first telling myself I was not going to buy any more clothes, period, felt really restrictive. I would go past clothing racks and want badly to look in order to update my wardrobe. I looked in my closet and felt limited by what I saw, knowing I wouldn’t be supplementing it at all. But then a couple of months passed, and I started looking at my clothes differently.
Limiting my choices eased up getting dressed because there were only 10 or so shirts I could chose from for work (I know, compared to a truly minimalist closet I still have a TON of clothes – I have a tote full of sweaters and winter clothes tucked away as well). Not only that, but there were no longer clothes that I would put on just because I owned them and felt they needed to be worn. I felt good in any shirt I picked out and was comfortable wearing it during the day.
And then one of my favorite cardigans (the only colored one) got a hole in the armpit. Normally, that would be when I would donate that piece of clothing as textile scrap in order to pare down my closet. Instead, it is now sitting on my dresser to be mended.
Without the option of replacing an item when it begins to wear, I’ve started to look at them with new eyes and see how important it is to mend what I already own. As the saying goes, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” In the United States we have completely lost this concept, especially in the face of fast fashion, and it only takes a little internet research to see what that wastefulness is doing to our planet. It might be a small gesture, but I want every part of my life to be done with our environment in mind, as well as the money in my pocket.
*It turns out that apparently I’m not original here. Another few years before I’m in the awesome no-buying-clothes category like Mrs Frugalwoods.