I am 39. And I have travelled extensively, lived and worked in 6 different countries on 4 continents, moved home 27 times. I’ve worked in an office, in the city, as a consultant, from home, as a freelancer and as an artist. And over the years I’ve developed and discarded a few penchants – shoes, summer dresses, maxi dresses, handbags, and long, flowing tops that look like a cross between a kaftan, a summer cover-up and a very short dress…
I tell you this to introduce my wardrobe to you. For around 21 years, I have been buying clothes. Sure, I regularly clean out my closet and give things away, but I still have the dress that I bought at Oppie Koppie when my mad boyfriend hired a Reefer container filled with ice, convinced that he could sell the ice at the festival and make a killing (the Reefer blew the fuses and we ended up with a truck of cold water, but that’s another stories)..
And the first suit my dad bought me when we went shopping together in South Africa before I moved to London. And the suits I had made in Cambodia. And my mom’s 21st dress. And the super-expensive dress that I bought when I sold my house. And. And. And.
The start of a project
Recently I was reading about Courney Carver and her “Project 333“. In a nutshell, the idea is to wear only 33 items of clothing (plus a few accessories, excluding underwear and workout gear – she has an outline of how it works here), and initially I was super-excited to try it. Then I spoke to my husband and he just laughed. Apparently, I only wear about 10 items of clothing most of the time anyway – again and again. Working from home means that there isn’t much need to put on a suit or my stilettos, and living up the slope of a mountain in a city of cobbled streets where I walk and cooler weather than I’d have in South Africa, where I’d drive, means that all my beautiful dresses and shoes stay beautiful in the closet.
“Why don’t you do the reverse?” he said. “Start wearing MORE of your clothes!”
Thus my project of “loving the clothes I’m with” began.
The first step in the project involved going through my closet, giving away a few things (not many items, though, as we moved in September and I’ve been through this process quite recently as a result), packing away things that I am unlikely to wear in the next few months for various reasons (too smart, too small etc.), and making a point of using all of the clothes and bags in my wardrobe over the next 3-6 months.
The result is that my closet is much emptier, with space not only for the two boxes of dresses that are in hibernation, but also for some material that I’ve kept for sewing and for all my winter jackets that usually clutter up the hallway. Every time I look at my closet (which I do just for fun, throughout the day), I feel happier. Calmer, too. An additional side benefit is that I might actually be able to keep it neat and tidy!
I am hoping that this is part 1 of a two-part project, the second part being to wear a different item of clothing every day for a year (or for as long as I can with the clothes I have), in particular to give every dress is my wardrobe a fair viewing. This latter project depends on whether I can lose 10-16kgs to actually get into them as I mentioned above, so I expect that this will take longer than a month or two!
Why “use” rather than “get rid of”?
Admittedly, my wardrobe does not look like the title picture for this post. And as much as I’d love it to look that beautiful, the reality is that I have spent time and money on my wardrobe over the years, and the material and clothes have cost valuable resources and labour. Throwing everything away (or giving it away – where things may still end up at the back of a wardrobe or in a rubbish heap) doesn’t mean that my footprint is lighter or that I am being more earth-friendly or sustainable. I love most of my clothes and want to wear them. Which I think is a good thing. Instead of buying more stuff, I have the opportunity to really wear what I have, and give that I have a fair few outfits, I can probably appear to have a brand new wardrobe without buying anything new for a long time.
One small step to creating a more sustainable, sustaining and simpler life. Onwards!