Fewer Clothes, Better Life? Some Tips to Take Into Your Closet.

Sheri Reed

clothing closet hangers hangingJoshua Becker over at Becoming Minimalist is trying to tell us that our lives could be different IF we had less clothes. He goes on to elude that if we had fewer clothes in our closets, we'd have more money, more time, less stress, less clutter, and an easier laundry day.

Is he pulling the leg of our fifth pair of designer jeans or is this true?

It's the American way. More must mean better, right? However, if we're really honest about the clothes in our closet, we probably actually wear about a third of the clothes in our closets.

J.D. Roth of Get Rich Slowly did a paring-down experiment in his closet. He moved all his clothes to a spare room and only once he actually wore an item could it be returned to his closet. By the end of the experiment, he donated 37 shirts and sweaters.

There are a lot of reasons we don't wear the clothes in our closet: wrong fit, wrong color, too fancy, too low cut, uncomfortable, looked better on the mannequin or on the catalog model. My husband actually owns two pairs of the same exact Gap jeans but refuses to wear one pair because he swears they don't fit as well. But why do we hold on to these clothes even when we know we're not going to -- and shouldn't -- ever wear them again?

It's guilt. Guilt that you paid too much, guilt that it's a gift you never liked, guilt that you're not thin enough, guilt that you just can't seem to make the garment work (and magical thinking that a certain dress is going to someday look great on us even though it never will look great on us).

Personally, I need to really resist impulse buys -- cute, cheap clothes at Target (I'm a sucker for fresh seasonal prints and trends), sale items -- even basics -- online, and especially items not sized as Petites. These items hardly ever end up working out for me because I don't try them on and they're not made to fit my body type. But do I ever learn? No. I see that J.Crew model looking dapper in regular-sized, half-priced pleated crop pants, and my brain turns to mush and I think I can pull it off.

So now you know -- it's guilt. In essence, you're holding on to clothes you will never wear to punish yourself with the pain of guilt.

Now it's time to stop it! Forgive yourself for your part in all the ill-fitting clothing in your closet and move forward.

Thankfully, Joshua provides a wonderful Practical Guide to Owning Fewer Clothes in 10 simple steps. And I would add:

11. Try every purchase on before you buy. If you buy an article of clothing straight off the rack without trying it on, you may never get around to returning it even if you hate it. And if a garment is on sale, be aware that there may be a reason -- like a poorly fitting design flaw. Never ever buy a closeout item without trying it on.

I also still really really love the closet-cleaning tips from Gretchen Rubin's book The Happiness Project. With every change of the season, I apply these rules again. And now I'll add Joshua and J.D.'s ideas to my arsenal.

What's your closet philosophy? More is better or less is more? What is your biggest clothes shopping pitfall?


Image via Photopurtunity/Flickr

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