Wardrobe Size – how many clothes do we need?


This has always been a tough one for me – need vs. want.

This week I took a good look in my own wardrobe. I estimate that I have a 70/30 mix of clothes – about 70% homemade and 30% bought. I am pretty happy with this mix – especially now I am actually wearing more of the clothes that I make! Earlier this year I decided I would not buy any new clothes this year (with the exception of underwear and bathers). To date, I have only broken that commitment twice – both times in Bali. Nine months in and I feel confident I’ll make it to the end of the year without any more purchases. So far it has made me stop and really think about why I want to buy certain items in the first place. Is it need, habit, or just because it feels good (want)? Don’t get me wrong, I love shopping as much as the next person, but do I really need to buy?

I have been working with someone else who really wants to reduce their wardrobe size. I loved how they described what they wanted to achieve –
• …own too many clothes than is necessary and I would like to try and be more purposeful about what I own and wear…
• …if I have clothes that I really love and more importantly that really fit my body shape…I can walk more gently on the planet and also have less “stuff” in my life…
• …I have some things that I love that don’t work in their current configuration or they have sentimental value or are great quality fabrics that seem a shame to simply get rid of…upcycling!

These outcomes lead me to read about Capsule wardrobes. A capsule wardrobe is basically a mini wardrobe made of versatile and essential items that you really love. It really made me think about necessity and reducing “stuff” in my own life. So back to my wardrobe and and reducing…I quickly realised that the reason I hold on to so many clothes is sentimentality – especially the clothes I have made. I find it difficult to donate them as they bring back such vivid memories and stories. Generally, I can remember when and where I bought the fabric, why I chose the design, the therapeutic feeling of actually sewing it and how I felt at each stage of construction. I love wearing something unique and special to me. Would they be as special to someone else? Probably not, but they will be appreciated in other ways. Wear for Success for example is a not-for-profit organisation that “…provides professional clothing and work skills training to provide people with the best possible chance of achieving their dreams.”

I will keep sewing more of my own clothes because I love creating and sharing. Now that I have more awareness of the clothes I have, I can be more purposeful in what I sew, keep, wear and donate.

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