We all need to wear clothing... and for so many of us, it is more than just covering our bodies and being warm - it is about expressing ourselves. Spending money on clothes can be thrilling. Expressive. Sometimes guilt-inducing - but of course - necessary.
It is an area that gets confusing - where there is often a blurry line between 'need' & 'desire'. We tend to be more vulnerable to overspend when we aren't clear - making impulsive decisions that may be filled with later regret.
I want to invite you to take a look at your closet and approach buying new clothing from an intentional, thoughtful, 'slow money' perspective - where it feels really good to wear what you buy! I want you to LOVE what you wear and spend without guilt.
The steps below help you get there.
Because I am so tired of our culture wasting on all the levels - wasting MONEY, wasting RESOURCES, wasting TIME, wasting SPACE, wasting ENERGY. There is another way - for you, your wallet, your 'I feel fabulous in this!' and the greater world around us.
I think the biggest hurdle is that no matter how much we have, it can feel like 'not enough'. This is where the myth 'more is better' (even when more is scratchy, doesn't look good, doesn't fit) has been our cultural mantra. To realize 'plenty', we have to start defining what is 'enough' for us. How many pants? How many shoes? How many shirts would be enough?
I am thrilled that there is a solid trend towards a 'capsule' wardrobe - a thoughtfully curated closet of a small number of interchangeable pieces.
Wherever your 'enough' line is, I want to encourage you to define it. Because I believe LESS really is more in this area (less laundry, dry cleaning, less space required, less folding, less money, less ironing... you get the idea).
Here are my steps to mindfully clear out a closet and discern what you need/want to invest in.
Step 1: SORT
Get 4 bags (laundry baskets, boxes): Label them "Keep" "Not Sure" "Care/Repair/Replace" "Pass Along" - Go through everything and force yourself to decide which of the 4 piles each goes in. The "Not Sure" might be really big - but that is just fine. You don't have to know yet. Everything that is "KEEP" can go immediately back in your drawers / closet. Leave the other piles alone for now.
Step 2: MAKE LISTS
Have 3 Lists: "NEED!" "Want!" "Replace" - This step calls for honest reflection. What is truly 'missing' in your closet (go back and take a look at what is in your drawers / closet. What is missing? It might be that you 'have' everything you need, but it is all black... or it is all very boring, or doesn't feel fresh to you... this may indicate that you actually 'need' some colorful pieces, some new pieces, to add a little life to your closet. Need doesn't mean it is restricted to socks, underwear, one pair of jeans, and a t-shirt! It is a perfect time to make a Pinterest Board, or if you are a bit of a nerd you might enjoy the Style Book App that helps you plan outfits (oh yes, I am that nerd). But whatever you use, play around with the new colors, textures, and styles that inspire you as you are right now... (not the 5 year ago version of yourself).
Step 3: SHOP WHAT YOU HAVE
Look through your "Not Sure" pile with fresh eyes - sometimes our brains see things through an old filter. Take a look through the 'not sure' pile. There may be nothing, or there may be something that catches your eye now that things are clearer (your style, your needs). Don't keep anything out of guilt - it was an impulse buy you regret, it was expensive, it was a gift. Nope. If you are tempted to keep it out of guilt, it most definitely needs to go in the pass along pile. But maybe there is something that catches your eye... and will satisfy a few of the 'want' items on your list. This isn't about 'making do' necessarily - though you may see something as working for a little while longer while you search for something better - if this is the case, put it on your "replace" list.
Step 4: CARE / REPAIR
Learn some new skills - we are a consumer culture, meaning we have not been taught - or have forgotten - that it is entirely possible to extend the life of your clothing with a few simple skills: mending, sewing on a button, de-pilling sweaters, shining shoes, hand washing, ironing... I have a "Waste Not Want Not" board on Pinterest with a few tutorials, but there are plenty with a quick you-tube search. This time of year you can care for your sweaters by hand washing, de-pilling, or dry cleaning. Taking care of our clothing is a re-emerging art form. I, for one, am pretty excited - because it is yet another way we can actively 'tend' to our wealth.
Step 5: EXCHANGE
Turn your "Pass Along" pile into new clothing, money, or happy recipients - letting go of what is no longer serving you is liberating. It can also provide a way to get a few of the pieces you have on your need or desire list! To spin your straw into gold, here are some of my favorite options...
Host a Clothing Swap - Your friends may also have a pile that they are tired of, but would be fun for others. It can be a really fun social event as well!
No matter what, make sure the clothes move along by the end of the month - you don't want these hanging around any longer than they need to - circulation requires that they move out for good.
Step 6: PLAN
How much can you spend? - Make sure this is conscious, thoughtful, and grounded. If impulsive spending, or credit card spending has been a problem in the past, take the money out in CASH so you are clear about the limit you are working with. But you will still want to add a little more detail to your plan. Prioritize what you need. Look at prices online. Plan how much You may need for the big pieces. You may have to span the purchasing over a few months, but I want you to be clear. This is where your list is a fantastic guide.
Step 7: INVEST
NOW you are ready to spend money on those new pieces -
Investing in new pieces means that you LOVE what you buy.
It is a good investment if you WILL actually wear it (my rule is that if I can hardly wait to put something on the morning after I get it, I know I will love it for years. If, on the other hand, I am a little 'meh' about it and don't wear it right away, I usually take this as a sign and return it - hence I have a rule of keeping tags on for at least 24hrs).
So, in addition to the actual COST of the item, make sure you will get MANY wears out of it - otherwise even a $20 shirt can be extremely 'expensive' if you end up never wearing it out the door.
It also means that the item will LAST - it won't fall apart after a few wears but can be mended throughout its long life.
Ahhh... can you envision your closet: sorted, clear, clean, curated... everything that you love, nothing less, nothing more? I am working on mine. Every year I add a few new pieces: good shoes, sweaters, and pants that I like (this is the toughest of all for me to find). I have a ways to go, but I am further along than I have ever been.
To money well spent on a closet full of your favorites!