Recently, I overheard a conversation by several coworkers about the closing of a clothing store they frequented. The were despondent. I mean really upset. As if a relative had died. This got me thinking about our attachment to things. How much meaning things play into our lives. I mean, I know when I go into Target, I have a difficult time passing by the little red stickers that say Clearance. I can’t count the number of times I have purchased something I really didn’t need because it was on sale.
This summer I have been playing around with a few moderation experiments, the 21-day fix, budgeting and outsourcing. Now I have been thinking more about simple living. I wanted to examine moderation from a consumer perspective. To me simple living and moderation go hand in hand. In simplifying we removed emotional and physical clutter from our environment. With moderation we struggle not to add it all back in. The conversation by my coworkers got my mind overflowing with images of my own closet, now disheveled and in disarray.
It is hard for me to think it was only months ago I had “simplified.” I purged, organized and even painted my closet. But here I was months later, back in the same state. Why? Why was my closet full again? Why did I need to purchase a bunch of ill-fitting new garments simply because they were on sale? Did my uncluttered, near empty closet symbolize some kind of void that needed to be filled with more things? Why, after all the hard work of purging, did I again have a new bunch of clothes and shoes I didn’t wear?
After contemplating this for a while I decided to challenge my perception of my overflowing closet. I did not have the energy and time to go thru another painting, purging and organizing session. So I looked towards simple living for the answer. When living simple you make use of what you already have. Well, I had a bunch of clothes already. I just had to use them. So I decided to stop buying new clothes. Just stop. How long would I keep this up? So far it has been two months. I’m hoping to last until at least the Christmas season.
But what I have found was that I had plenty on hand to create new outfits. Plus I had discovered items that I had rarely worn and found new ways to make use of them. I also ventured into wearing some things that I had previously felt self-conscious in. A skirt I felt made my butt look big, I actually find comfortable now. A dress I had rarely worn worked perfectly as a beach cover-up.
I discovered that this clothing purchasing ban was less about the items and more about how I felt in them. On days where I felt less confidence, I would look to my old stand-by’s. As my confidence grew, I would experiment with other less frequently worn items. Could it be I was using clothing purchases to mask these feelings? Don’t really know yet. I know this band won’t go on forever but maybe it will help me figure out what I really need and what is just filling my closet.