A Little (Or A Lot?) Of Clothing

A little (or a lot) of clothing. I’ve read books, articles and blogs about simplifying one’s wardrobe, minimalism, de-cluttering and “pruning” the closet. And I’ve done quite a bit of this, especially whenever we’ve moved house. It always feels good, and I love the feeling of a cleaned-out space with fewer, better options.

So why isn’t it effortless to stick to the pared down wardrobe? I truly enjoy having “just a few well-loved items”, and a “closet of gems”. Getting dressed is easy, the family budget is relieved. But I still occasionally add to my wardrobe, albeit at a far slower rate than in my 30’s and 40’s. Here are some of my theories:

  • “Dithering” purchases: these are the quick stops (pre-COVID) into Ross, Marshalls and TJ Maxx on my way home from an outing, or tacked on to another errand. I see an attractive blouse or scarf, it’s (always) less than $25 and suddenly it’s mine. Did I need it? Certainly not. I wanted it, it looked good, I can afford it, and wardrobe philosophy be cursed.
I find it hard to resist a great basic, like a linen shirt. One or two are enough for me.
  • Thrifting. A blessing and a millstone. Like many fashion-lovers I enjoy the hunt, the hope of a score, the “OMG this is a real Pucci!” moment. And it’s a social time too, when I chat with other women and we trade stories, advise each other. But sometimes I come home with STUFF that now needs: cleaning, pressing, arranging and justifying.
I’ve never found one of these while thrifting, sad to say.
  • The mythology of “this one will be perfect.” For example, I have two pairs of great jeans. That’s enough for my lifestyle. I have dark and medium denim, one cropped and one ankle length/straight-leg. If I wore jeans every day, at three wears each, that would be six days before laundry was due. PLENTY. But I still wonder about what IG-ers call the “perfect pair of dark denims”. At age 65, I think I would have found them by now. 😊
Nothing compares to U, Levi’s classic 501’s.

Of course there are good reasons to add to my wardrobe: those great jeans will wear out and need replacing. All my favorites (shoes, boots, bras) will need to be replaced over time. And I like to add a couple of fresh tee shirts every spring, new tights, a new necklace, and a nightshirt. The challenge is to be wise in my purchases, and keep the pleasure of the simple closet in the front of my mind.

“Clothes as the story of our lives. And if you were to gather all the clothes you have ever owned in all your life . . . you would have your autobiography.”

Linda Grant, The Thoughtful Dresser

What about you? I think all approaches are good, if they give you joy. Do you like to have a little or a lot?

Stay safe, wash and wash and wash (your hands), xo

Wear what you love, always. Here are some goodies to browse:

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  1. I definitely have more clothes than I really need. I justify it with, “I’m a blogger and I need new things to show on the blog.” I tend to go through my closets regularly, though, and donate items I no longer love or that don’t fit well. I buy either on sale or thrift items. In lockdown, I have discovered Poshmark and ThredUp and feel that I need to curb my enthusiasm with purchasing more! I have two pairs of jeans that I love and, sadly, they both have developed holes in the knees! I can’t find pairs like them and I am truly miffed as they were the most comfortable jeans ever! Maybe I will get lucky and find them online somewhere, who knows?!

    • Hello Debbie, nice to see you! I am with you on Poshmark and ThredUp – maybe you’ll find your next favorite jeans there : > Stay well and safe, xx.

      • You make some great observations, Patti. The conflict is, we have businesses, including media, that exist and prosper by encouraging us to consume. To tell us that wide pants are the thing, not those silly skinny ones that we’ve been telling you were the thing for years. That it’s long pants, not cropped, that it’s earth tones not jewel tones, that it’s sneakers not heels, that it’s hair with a center part not that stodgy side part, and on and on until a year or so later it’s all reversed. I don’t want to be shamed for wanting to buy a few new things or shamed for not buying the “right” length or the right color. I agree with your in-moderation stance.

        • Hello Cindy and thanks for your comments. And I agree with your examples of the brevity of trends! Also, I did not know that hair partings are something I need to keep up with. It’s exhausting, eh? Thanks again for coming by and stay well. xx

  2. That quote from Linda Grant rings true. For the first 18 years of my life, school uniforms.
    Then, cobbling together work outfits and finally (Pre-Covid) like you, thrifts consignments and the quick stop at Marshall’s just in case there was something I could use. I think this past year has acted as a detox for me. We’ll see how I feel in few months!

    • Hello Barbara and thanks for coming over. I’m glad the quote resonated with you – it did with me too. Love that term “cobbling outfits together”. That’s what is was! Stay well and safe, xx.

  3. You know I’m a maximalist, Patti! I love the creative aspect of dressing and the stimulation of bringing in a few new vintage/thrifted pieces. I’ve been more discerning in my purchases during the lock-down and I’m still able to get through my (admittedly) massive closet every season, which is good. I’m looking forward to being able to have and go to parties and events, though! That side of my closet is getting no lovely lately, although I have taken to wearing gowns for my weekend Zoom call!

    Hope you are well, my dear!

    • Hello Sheila! Great to see you. I love that you’ll wear a gown for a Zoom call – that’s inspiring. You’re a talented maximalist who wears everything in the closet – that’s a winner for me. Stay fab and safe, xx.

  4. Great article! I am also a sucker for thrifting. I’d also like to keep a lid on wardrobe expansion, but as you say things wear out and if I see a great basic, I like to buy it whether I need it right then or not. I like to be prepared though too for special occasions, so I try to have a “uniform” for each season that works for dressing up a bit. I’m recently retired though and quarantine has made me wonder if I will ever really need to dress up again haha. I have a couple of skirts and sweaters and boots for winter dress up and sundresses and skirts and sandals for summer and no high heels. I don’t want to give up on looking pulled together so thrifting will remain my method.

    • Hi Jane – I have the same thoughts about whether I’ll ever dress up again : >
      And thrifting is a wonderful way to try new styles, or to reinforce our personal “uniforms”. Enjoy the day and stay well, xx.

  5. Beautiful creative Pinterest board you posted Brava. I Love more as now that I am older fashion can dramatically enhance my look. Also, I derive great joy creating outfits and like having lots of beautiful choices. Why not do what brings us joy we only live once !

    • Hello dear Joan and thanks for coming by. Why not do what brings us joy, indeed?! You have a lot of wisdom, my friend. Stay well, xx.

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