Getting Rid of All My Clothes Was One of the Best Things I've Ever Done

Me. Just kidding.
I recently did a massive editing of my clothes. I got it in my head that I wanted to be the kind of person with very few articles of clothing -- only some timeless staples -- and I went for it. Well, the clothes are still sitting in garbage bags in my basement, waiting to be brought to Goodwill, but, for all intents and purposes, I got rid of pretty much all of my clothes. At the time of writing this, I think I have about eight pairs of pants (all of which I wear); a bunch of shirts; a few dresses; and some pajamas and workout clothes. I haven't gotten to my shoes or bags yet, though I don't expect that to be hard. Everything I wear fits, extremely comfortably, in a small closet and a couple of drawers. It's great.

Except now I don't have anything to wear.


Okay, I take that back. I have eight pairs of pants, a bunch of shirts, and a few dresses to wear. Pajamas or yoga pants if I'm feeling lazy. And getting dressed in the morning has become fantastically easier than it was when my closet and drawers were vomiting out Forever 21 shirts I only wore once. And I get dressed more, too! I work from home a few days a week, and where I used to just stay in my wide-leg cotton pants and pit-stained Coach Mo's basketball t-shirt all day, I find myself quickly throwing on a pair of pants and a sweater before my daughter gets up. I feel good. I feel like a grown-up. And I like changing into pajamas before I park myself on the couch at night to watch a few hundred episodes of Breaking Bad. It felt strange to just ... get into bed without ever switching clothes.

I've found myself running into problems when I have somewhere to go. Somewhere other than work, the store, my daughter's music class, a casual lunch, or the gym. I went to a wedding shower this weekend and I, quite literally, had nothing to wear. I wound up buying a romper that I think (okay, I know) I'm going to return. The plight of the minimalist, I guess. I'm thinking in a few years I'll have three or four options to choose from in my closet when an event like that arises. And that's a big part of this "only timeless staples" thing: It takes patience.

Most of the clothes I've bought myself over the past few years have been from H&M, Urban Outfitters, Zara, and Target. Save for a nice coat and pair of pants I bought at Zara, and a thick sweater I bought at Urban, mostly everything else is disposable. Not disposable in the sense that the clothes disintegrate if they get wet or anything. Disposable in the sense that the clothes aren't well made and I don't wear many of them often. Some never at all.

I hated this. It made me feel kinda gross. I don't have the money to stock my wardrobe with Paltrow-approved cashmere leggings and $350 Alexander Wang t's, but my goal is, over time, to buy one to two nice pieces of clothing per season -- things I really want; things I have to save for -- as opposed to on-the-whim shirts and sundresses that are the cost equivalent to a couple of burritos. Because 9 times out of 10, I wind up getting more use out of the burritos. My style has also evolved over the past few years due to big life changes -- a cross-country move, becoming a mother. I'm finding myself gravitating more towards neutral colors and, of course, comfort. My multi-colored maxi dresses don't seem to fit in with my life as well as they did when I was single, childless, and partying my way through Southern California.

It's a test of wills, though, this whittling thing. Especially when you're in New York City a few days a week. After a shit day, I really want to pop into H&M, because I know I'll find something cheap and quick, and the instant gratification will definitely cheer me up. But I can't! Patience, remember? That's part of this. Maybe the main part. I'm hoping that by slowly and steadily building a small wardrobe that I like, that I could pass down to my daughter some day, something bigger and more important will happen. External change begetting internal change, you know?

That's my silly platitude, anyway.


Image via Frank Rothe/Corbis

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