I spent the past six years having babies. Granted, there were short breaks interspersed in there, but I spent most of my time focused on pregnancy, infants and nursing. Not exactly an ideal time to start buying up a bunch of clothes, what with my weight bouncing up and down 40 pounds every other year. With the arrival of our third son last summer, I took a baby break and looked around my much-neglected closet.
As I was sorting through my long-lost wardrobe, I realized how much I hated some of my clothes. Between the clearance finds and the outdated duds, I was long overdue for a serious overhaul, but it felt needlessly indulgent to donate half my closet to charity. After months of chronic indecision, I finally got fed up enough to do it. I gave away over half of my clothes.
We are so conditioned to hang onto stuff in our materialistic culture. In our society that glorifies quantity over quality, it's a point of pride how much stuff we amass. We fill our homes with things that, in the end, make us miserable. All those possessions require care, maintenance, and space, and yet so many of us give in to the compulsion to buy.
Clothes are an especially sticky situation. As I looked over the clothes I accumulated, I realized how bad I felt in many of my outfits. In an effort to fill up my closet, I had clothes that made me feel awful about my body and even more clothes that didn't suit my personal style. If you looked in my closet a year ago, there was no sense of who I am as a person.
Following the crowd
I asked myself the difficult question, who am I dressing for? How much influence do magazines, media and friends have over our clothing selections, both for ourselves and families? When faced with a decision, I chose to curate my closet based on what made me feel good about myself, not what someone else told me to wear.
Really, clothing does have a powerful influence on our sense of self. In an ideal world, we would see people for their intellect, intelligence and unique contributions to society, but instead we live in a world where appearance matters. Like it or not, people judge us on our clothing choices, for better or worse. We can either use our clothing to present ourselves in the best light possible or we can hide ourselves under layers of someone else's expectation.
After getting rid of half my clothes, I put more thought into my purchases. When we go shopping, what are our motivating factors? Price? Style? Comfort? I started evaluating my purchases based on how they made me feel. Clothes that make me feel confident get a pass while those that leave me feeling like an imposter stay on the rack. Using this staunch new set of criteria, I buy fewer clothes, but I also wear everything in my closet regularly.
There's more to life than filling our homes full of stuff we don't need. Freeing ourselves up from the clutter is an empowering experience. The most interesting part of giving away half my closet was that I didn't miss anything afterwards. In fact, I can't even remember now what I gave up. Turns out, all that stuff wasn't that important.
Give away half your closet. You won't regret it. There's beauty in simplicity, and there's freedom in only buying the things that make you happy. In the end, it's not about who had more as much as who lived best. Live best with less stuff.