Every year, when I move back home after the last semester of university, I go on a spring cleaning frenzy. After essentially living out of two houses and two sets of storage space, I bring all of my clothes back together, into the wardrobes and dressers they all originated from. And every year, I’m always hit by the sudden realization that I don’t have enough space (I’m currently sitting here knowing the same problem will occur this year). I have too many jumpers, too many jeans, too many skirts, too much of everything. No wonder I’m falling out of love with my wardrobe every few months.
In recent years, the capsule wardrobe and minimalism fad has entered our lives and enabled us to see the benefits of having less amount of stuff. Not only does it allow us to keep our living spaces tidy and aesthetically-pleasing, it’s essentially better for the environment. According to one environmentalist, the clothing industry is the second most polluting industry in the world – one step behind oil production. Additionally, the average consumer is now purchasing 60 percent more items of clothing compared to the year 2000. However, each garment is only being kept half as long. Thus, giving away clothes to charity shops doesn’t solve many problems. Yes, at least those clothes aren’t being thrown away, but the reality is there aren’t enough people to buy the number of disposed garments, even if they were to be given away. The fundamental problem is in the manufacturing of our clothes, which is being fuelled by a global desire for ‘fast fashion’.
Everything, from environmental impact to personal satisfaction, points towards buying only the things we really want and need. I’m the type of person who uses shopping as a de-stressing mechanism, unsurprising amidst revelations that the act of buying can be addictive and endorphin-inducing. I last maybe a month loving my wardrobe, until I fall into a pit, usually in the winter months when the weather dictates my fashion sense, of wearing the same combo of jeans and a basic jumper. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it doesn’t make me happy. I lie in bed for 5 minutes after my alarm, looking through Instagram wishing I could put together a chic and trendy outfit like the women I follow. Wearing good clothes, particularly exciting new ones, also provides me with a happiness boost. If I look and feel good, I’m more likely to be productive that day. But the reality is, I’m hoarding and buying more, which isn’t allowing me to fall back in love with my wardrobe for the long-term. It is a fundamentally short-term, expensive and environmentally harmful solution.
So what do I do? De-clutter of course. I can follow the advice of Marie Kondo, author of best-selling The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever and think of my clothes as having feelings. If a t-shirt is lying scrunched up amidst a gazillion other t-shirts in my dresser, it’s not likely to give me or itself satisfaction (from being worn). I’d then need to assess whether I need to make it more accessible so it no longer lies forgotten, or whether it’s worth keeping around based on the joy it brings. Which leads to another of Kondo’s tips, which is to really consider whether you’re buying something for the sake of it, or if you’ve absolutely fallen head over heels in love with it. Sub-par clothes shouldn’t be kept around simply to be worn when you’re lounging at home on an off-day. Even loungewear and PJ’s need to be appreciated.
However, not to be a party-pooper or anything, books like Kondo’s don’t always work. Some of her tips are too impractical to implement, but her core values and tips are worth learning from. One journalist who followed her advice reported a new-found love for her clothes, and the ease it brought back to dressing herself in the morning. I’d also like to feel like that. Here’s hoping that my de-cluttering this year really does work for the better (let’s face it though, the capsule wardrobe really isn’t for me – how do people survive with only twenty items!?).