I was in Exeter this week and decided that clothes shopping has been officially ruined for me as I left empty handed.
To be honest I was never a big shopper anyway. I was brought up where pennies were tight and the most excitement I had was a black bin liner of clothing coming from my bigger cousins. I sported a fetching pair of magenta leggings for most of the late 80s that I am sure I may not have chosen myself, but they were in one of the bags.
When I could make my own choices, I wasn’t that wise at that early age either. I insisted on a pair of those fashionable pointy toe shoes that then forever moulded my young growing feet into a triangle shape. I think I realised early on that fashion was not comfortable, and so a bit silly.
Then I came into this line of work, spending 4 days a week for at least the last 3 years assisting people with overwhelm, and pretty much every client has an issue with an overload of clothing. I have sorted over 150 wardrobes in my estimation.
Studies show that about 45% of our clothing hanging in our wardrobes is no longer worn, and the average Brit buys nearly 60 new items of clothing a year, with some of it never worn at all.
This I have seen, with tags on countless hidden items of amazing clothing buried for years, 15 new labelled T-shirts in every size, and duplicates of outfits forgotten about in the depths of cupboards. But we are all a bit partial to the odd unnecessary purchase. We are one click away from a spontaneous buy online, which is shown not to give a high as a hit as buying something physically from a store, plus we have then bypassed the key questions:
- Do I have something like this already? (stock control)
- Are there other reasons I am treating myself to this item? (retail feel good hit – short lived)
- Could I use the monies in another way? (financial priorities)
I spend my week asking these questions in a courteous and kindly way to clients who want to break out of a cycle of overwhelm and want to be more mindful in their purchases.
Clothing is so intricately involved in our sense of identity; work clothing, social outfits, our changing size. It documents our journey in life, and so I tread carefully in any advice if indeed its appropriate to give any. Many are already on that route, hence they are sorting out the wardrobe with me. I would never say how many clothes someone should have. My mantra is that if you are falling over clothing, it is time to do something about it!
But I will tell you here what I have in my wardrobe, and you can feel free to share in the comments:
- 50 hung items of clothing, which includes jeans, trousers, leggings, tops, jumpers, dresses, and jackets.
- A rail of workwear (old jeans, my blue Change Your Space tops)
- One large drawer of smalls; the usual, but includes all vests and socks
- One drawer for PJs and occasional outerwear stuff (for when we go camping)
- One drawer with 3 x gym wear (I am a sweaty runner)
Have a little count yourself, if you wish, but the main thing is that I sift my clothing every 6 months so that I can keep all clothing in that existing storage. Some items don’t suit me after a while, some clothing deteriorates over time these days. 20% of my wardrobe has been bought from a charity shop as I am a great believer in reuse and recycle.
What you no longer wear is not destined for the bin, but ideal for the warm glow of donating to charity, or asking your friends or relatives. Have a spring clear out so that the real you – in clothes you really want – can shine.