The idea of living with less has become more and more attractive over recent years. Maybe you too have been swept up in the decluttering buzz of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up? It’s a welcome reminder for us to only hold onto items that bring joy, and let go of everything else.
Last year, during an experiment to curb my spending (see how I avoided cash registers for a whole year), all new clothing purchases came to a sudden halt, and I felt it was the perfect time to address my wardrobe situation.
Even though my wardrobe was exploding with options, I had an extreme case of nothing-to-wear-itis. How was it possible when I still had clothes with tags attached, or had only been worn once? I had more choices than ever before, yet each morning I’d suffer from analysis paralysis when deciding what to wear.
Turns out, more choice = more stress and anxiety.
So, taking my cue from the 100 Item Challenges out there, I reduced my number of choices by cutting my wardrobe down to just 100 items. Anything that wasn’t bringing me absolute joy would be banished forever. (One day I might want to cut everything in my house to 100 items. But let’s start with the wardrobe first!).
Staring at my overstuffed wardrobe felt overwhelming, but once I got the hang of saying goodbye to items that I wasn’t completely besotted with, decluttering became almost addictive.
Once I’d pared down my wardrobe, I had filled 6 HUGE bags of clothing I really didn’t need anymore (and could sell or give to charity). I ended up with 100 items in total – including shoes – which was A LOT less stuff.
One year on, learning to live with less and be happy with what I have has been hugely liberating. If you too want a large slice of liberation, read on!
THE TWO BIGGEST BENEFITS OF LIVING WITH LESS
This is the obvious benefit. I immediately stopped buying things I didn’t need or would only wear once. Committing to living with less meant the temptation of impulse purchases or buying things because they’re on sale pretty much disappeared.
Now when something’s worn out, I may spend a little more to invest a high quality replacement, but I know it will last longer and get plenty of use. When you are selective with what you buy, you realize how much crap is out there: cheap fabric, subpar construction, clothing that falls apart after a few washes.
Have you ever been to a restaurant with 50+ food options on the menu? How long does it take you to look through and settle on one? Now compare that to a menu with 3 options. You make the decision quickly and get on with life. Same applies to the wardrobe. With fewer options, getting dressed in the morning became a breeze. I didn’t even need to look in the mirror. I loved everything I had in my wardrobe. Each item was high quality, matched my other pieces, and I felt great wearing it.
My precious free time was no longer being sucked into a black hole (i.e. the mall). I had freed up my weekends to spend more time with my husband, kids, and myself (plus a good book!).
TIPS FOR DECLUTTERING YOUR WARDROBE
- No need to nitpick on the actual number. 100 items may seem like too many for some or too few for others. The basic idea is to make your life simpler by paring back what you have. Pick a number you’ll be happy with, but will make a noticeable difference in your life.
- It’s up to you whether you only include clothing in your 100 items, or shoes and accessories as well.
- Spread all of your items on the bed or floor and ask one by one: Does this item bring joy to my life? Or is it just ‘meh’?
- Make a YES/NO decision on the spot. If you have to think about it, it’s a NO.
- If you haven’t worn it in a year, NO.
- If it needs repair, repair immediately, otherwise NO.
- If you’re keeping it for when you lose weight, NO.
- If you rarely wear it because it itches, is uncomfortable, or needs ironing (and you hate ironing), then NO.
INVESTING IN HIGH QUALITY REPLACEMENTS
Occasionally you’ll need to replace worn out shoes, or invest in a warmer coat. When buying new items:
- Invest in high quality fabrics and classic styles that won’t date.
- One-for-one: If you add something new, get rid of something.
- Ensure your purchase matches other items in your wardrobe.
- Instead of buying, ask your friends if you can borrow an outfit or accessory.
- If you’re on a budget, peruse thrift stores.
- Buy items that fit your body shape perfectly and you feel amazing in.
If you’re more hardcore than I am about decluttering your wardrobe, check out Project 333 (a minimalist fashion challenge to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months). I’m not quite there yet, but if you’ve tried it, let me know how it went and if you’ve kept it up!
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