There have been many who called me a “clothes horse” and I was not ashamed one bit. In fact, I was quite proud of my love for clothes and my sense of style. It was fun having several different looks and though I was never one to spend more for brand names, I prided myself on making it work. At one point in my life, I had over 100 pair of shoes. Am I bragging?
In fact, it finally happened that I had become ashamed of how many clothes I had. Not only was it a form of hoarding – no matter how neat and organized I was, I simply could not wear every item of clothing I had . I worshipped my closet, in a sense. But it was more of a chore, than a pleasure to have so many clothes. Organizing each season, bringing my stored winter clothes down to my bedroom closet and swapping them with my summer clothes, was not fun.
If my clothes didn’t bring me joy anymore, why have so many?
For the last few years, I have followed Joshua Becker on Facebook, reading his articles on Becoming Minimalists. He spoke of ways to enjoy life more – with less. That all our accumulating, has only brought stress to our lives and crowded our homes.
The first time I purged my closet, I thought that was it. But I didn’t realize, until it was time to do it again, that I still had a lot of clothes. I had given my shoes to my niece and kept only what I could wear (my high heeled shoes used to be trophies, but I could no longer wear heels after age 40). And I donated bags of clothes to a local non-profit called, Angels Attic. Not just garbage bags full, but lawn bags.
Yet, I still loved clothes. I found temporary joy in getting a new outfit, only to have it sit in my closet. I hate taking things back, so if something didn’t fit or did not look good on me, I just stuck it in my closet to deal with later – hence my yearly purges. This year, was the year that I finally got it. I thought about the purpose of my clothes.
My clothes were not meant to be for others. They were not for me to impress others, they were not a measure of what others thought my worth to be. They did not define me as a person. My clothes should make me happy, feel good, and be affordable.
I had mulled over Joshua’s articles about creating a ‘capsule wardrobe’ and for him, I thought it was great. He wore the same thing most of the time, over and over. A black tee and jeans. Sure, he had white tees, and he had sweaters, and jackets, but overall, he had that Simon Cowel thing going on.
I admired that he could do that. I wouldn’t know where to start or what I would choose for my capsule wardrobe, but it still interested me. I kept reading more, and I tried on reasons of having a capsule wardrobe, only to excuse my way out of those reasons. “I love my pretty dresses. I like to have several options. I like all the colors…” But in reality, I only wear a few colors well, and that is what I started with.
What colors make me feel best? I wear pink well if my hair is blonde. I wear red well if my hair is brown. I liked black in the winter, and white in the summer. It seemed I had stipulations with the colors I had, and I needed to narrow it down to what three or four colors I wear best all the time The colors that suit me best, whether blonde or brunette or whatever season, were black, navy, white and light or royal blue.
Then, I had to ask myself what style of one particular clothes did I wear most? I don’t work, I don’t really go anywhere except to my ranch, to church, or to run errands. My church allows relaxed attire, so really, I could choose to wear what makes me comfortable, what fits me best, and stick with the same few colors I like best.
I could do this!
So what do I mostly wear every day? Tee shirts and jeans. Sweaters and hoodies in the winter. Was I going to commit to give everything in my closet away that didn’t accommodate my capsule wardrobe? Yes! Because, my only reason for the items of clothing that were still in my closet was for other people.
My youngest son is a Tennessee Vols fan, and even though I looked awful in orange, I had a few Big Orange items that I wore because of him. Dresses for church, or to the symphony were worn on occasion, but always with me feeling pain from the dress shoes that hurt my feet. Who was I dressing for? I sure didn’t like walking in the shoes I thought looked best with a dress, so why wear a dress at all? Yes they are pretty and they are feminine, but those still aren’t good reasons to wear something. And with the colors or patterns in my dresses, paisley, stripes, polka dots… it was pleasing to my eye when I saw it, but not necessarily on me. I looked at my clothes and thought how “busy” all those different patterns seemed.
What if I did go to the symphony on date night and didn’t wear a dress? There were others who went to the Symphony wearing casual clothes. What if I went to church in comfortable shoes? What if I wore the same few colors all the time? What would happen if I made this switch?
Would it stop others from being my friend? Would people talk about me? Did I care about that?
I remember a time when I was starting over in my life, I was trying to regain my confidence, and a friend had told me, “Own the room.” She was telling me that I was just as important as anyone else – that I had just as much right to be there. And that was also about the time when I finally listened to God telling me my worth, over what the world told me.
My worth isn’t wrapped up in what I wear.
What I choose to wear, and what clothes I hold onto, need to have a purpose.
My routine consists of picking up groceries, going to church, I occasionally have lunch with my husband or a friend; or I am home writing, cleaning, or at the ranch.
So I decided that for me and my lifestyle, I wanted to live in tee shirts and jeans with the occasional pair of khakis, black slacks, and then have a blazer or cardigan to dress it up a tad (but still allow me to wear comfortable shoes). I will have a few pieces of jewelry I wear most of the time, with a few pieces that dress it up a bit.
I will set an iconic style for myself of casual wear, with only occasionally pairing it with a blazer or sweater and jewelry. Voila!
Now, that I had a plan, had my colors picked out – it was time to discard. I kept only jeans that fit and put the rest in a pile. If I was hoping to get into a certain size one day – I could easily pick up a pair or two of different size jeans if I get to my goal. But why hang on to something that someone else could be wearing right now? Had I been that selfish?
As I placed most things in a pile for Angels’ Attic, I realized how selfish I had been living. I held onto things I didn’t need. Things that did not serve a purpose in my life. And this was after already purging several clothes from the year before. And at this same time, I read over a passage in the bible where Jesus instructed His disciples not to take two tunics as they went preaching the gospel. Jesus wanted them humble, and ready. He wanted them dependent on Him.
When I pulled everything out, I added 3 black tees, 3 white tees, and a couple of navy and light blue. I already had long sleeve navy tees, and long sleeve black tees, so all in all, I had enough tops that I could wear in the spring, summer, fall and winter, with a hoodie or jacket. I had three pair of jeans, a pair of khakis, and a pair of black slacks. I had three sweaters I kept that coordinated with the colors I picked to keep. Everything coordinated, yet I didn’t have an abundance. I still had more than Joshua’s 30 items, but for my first attempt at creating a capsule wardrobe, my 60 items – all seasons, fit nicely in my closet with enough space for them not to wrinkle or ‘get lost’!
I was happy with my choices. I was happy that the huge pile of clothes I will be giving away, will help someone else to have something to wear.
Not everyone will do what I am doing, that’s okay. But for me – this fits who I am.
My purpose is to care for my family, and my animals, and to write, and to share the Lord with others. God has never been impressed with what I had in my closet, and what HE thinks – is what is important to me. I do think I have pleased Him, with how little I now have in my closet.
And after a year of trying this out, I just may find I can purge again if I don’t really need the things I kept. I kept a polka dot navy blouse I really love, two turtle necks (instead of having one in every color) three jackets, three cardigans, three sweaters… it seems my magic number of what I am keeping is three.
Of course this is only my closet. My next project will be my dresser, only keeping a few yoga pants, a few socks, a few pajamas, lingerie… you get the idea. But I really believe I will still purge even more next year. The less I have the less stress of deciding what to wear, the less laundry that builds up… the less I feel selfish.
My worth is in Jesus. My personality and character will make up for whatever outfit I thought I needed to impress someone. My joy is being content with less, and being ready to do whatever I am needed to do without worrying about spoiling expensive clothes. And at my age, I am happy to finally be comfortable in my own skin – and in my clothes.