My feelings toward clothing changed when I became pregnant.
Suddenly, there was a very real and urgent need for an entirely new wardrobe. At no other time in my life have I ever gone out and purchased an entire new wardrobe.
It is very painful on the budget to do so. It was kind of stressful for me.
So I sat down and made a list of what was absolutely necessary. (That list looks a lot different when it’s made on paper, at home, rather than mentally, in the store, as you are already trying on a super fantastic shirt that fits perfectly and brings out the color of your eyes.)
As I thought about my needs honestly, logically, and frugally, I realized I needed only eight outfits, if I did laundry once a week – eight shirts or sweaters, and three pairs of pants. For me, I knew this was enough, and I couldn’t really justify getting more than that.
So that’s what I bought. I owned very nice maternity clothes, and all of it was great quality that was still in good shape at the end of my pregnancy.
I was a tiny little bit sick of my clothes by the end, but looking back, I actually miss those clothes. I really liked them.
And then I wasn’t pregnant anymore. And suddenly, I fell into thinking that I needed about five times as much clothing as I had during my pregnancy.
I started shopping much more carelessly, and without a list or even a real idea of what I truly needed. If there was room in the clothing budget, it meant I could buy new clothes, whether I really needed them or not. And before I knew it, there I was with a closet full of more clothes than what I truly needed.
Every week, that bothered me. I remembered the simple feeling of an empty closet on laundry day – the sure sign that I didn’t have too many clothes, because they had all been used, and all need to be washed.
I missed those days.
For a long time, I knew I should do something about it.
And then one day I finally did do something about it.
Here’s how I did it (keeping in mind that I’m a stay-at-home mom who doesn’t have to glide out of the house looking sophisticated or professional – ever) :
1) I wear only what I love.
I would rather wear my favorite jeans every single day of the week, than force myself to wear the ones that don’t really fit well, and don’t make me feel good about the way I look. But I wear them because I feel like I have to. Like people will think I’m weird if I wear the same pair of pants every time they see me.
Um..so what? And will anyone really even notice? And if they notice, do I truly need to care?
2) I wear out what I have.
When I own fewer clothes, I actually wear them out, because I use them a lot. Great! Then I will actually need to go out and buy new stuff. I never used to need new clothes. I wanted new clothes, so I had to somehow justify a reason for buying them that didn’t sound as lame as, “I want to be more stylish.”
But when you have oodles of clothes, you don’t wear them out, because they’re hardly worn. Better to shop well, spend less, own less, and then replace it when you really need to.
3) I try to shop with intention.
I never spent a lot of money on clothing, and I don’t think I had more clothing than the average person. But I thought shopping was fun, and my lines were blurry when it came to what I needed or what I wanted. I felt guilty sometimes for buying something I really loved, but knew deep down I probably didn’t really need.
That list I made when I was pregnant? That was a good list. It is good to know what I truly need. Shopping with intention, rather than for the fun of it, gets rid of the guilt, and is much easier on the budget and on the closet.
4) And then I stay away from the mall.
Very logical, I know. But as I don’t need as many clothes, and I don’t spend very much time shopping, I can’t believe how much freer my life feels. I went on a shopping spree in January, and bought a number of things that I needed, all at once.
Now I don’t need to go shopping again for a very long time. I’m not tempted to buy stuff I don’t need if I don’t go into a mall. I am able to make logical choices more easily, because I don’t have “shopping brain”. I will need a new pair of jeans in the not-too-distant future. In the past, I would just have gone out and bought them already. But now, I realize that I can make it work with what I have until summer, maybe even fall.
Because you know what? Everyone can totally survive, even if a pair of my “at home” jeans have a hole in the knee. I don’t like wearing jeans with holes, but when I’m crawling around, washing the floor or playing Polly Pockets, it really is okay if my jeans have a small hole. Let’s wait for something a little more serious before we rush to the mall.
5) I’m trying to stop thinking about my clothes altogether.
I find enjoyment in things that look nice. Which is okay, unless it gets out of hand. Or if it starts defining who I am.
Nobody notices what I’m wearing as much as I do.
Some people don’t notice at all!
But they probably notice if I’m nice and friendly to them, and if the things I say build them up and brighten their day.
It is so time to get over myself. Nothing wrong with nice clothes. I will continue to take pleasure in things that look nice. But there are so many things that matter so much more.
I want to focus on what truly matters.
There are people who can do this while still having a huge, super-fantastic, fashionable wardrobe. And that’s awesome.
For me, I have found that as I pursue a simpler life, I am able to better focus on the important stuff when I strip away some of the distractions.
There are some great posts to read on this topic. I found Katie’s “No New Clothes Challenge” an interesting read.
All of Rachel Meeks’ tips on dressing well with a small wardrobe are worth reading.
And of course, I am a huge fan of Joshua Becker‘s tips to living with less in general. This is the article that inspired my wardrobe changes: 7 Ways to Sample Living With Less
Okay, your turn! I’d love to hear your opinion. Do you shop out of need or pleasure? How do you find a balance between the two?