A while back in an earlier post, I mentioned another common source of clutter: clothing. I managed to make a huge dent in my wardrobe last year, getting rid of several bags of stuff that probably included things I've held on to since high school. But I thought this was a topic that more than warranted its own blog entry. Heck, I may just stretch it out to several.
Before I dig into Don Aslett's good ol' book, Clutter's Last Stand, I'd like to get a certain pet peeve of mine out of the way. When it comes to clothing, two terms that come up often are fashion and style. Aslett and many others use these two terms as synonyms. They're not! To quote another wise man:
"Only a fool mistakes laughter for humor and fashion for style."
- Anton Szandor LaVey
What's the difference between fashion and style? Your style is your overall sense of aesthetics that you project. Some folks like to wear all black clothes all the time. Some like to wear bolo ties and cowboy hats. Some dye their hair purple and wear spiked belts. These all convey the person's chosen style.
Fashion, on the other hand,is a set of preconceived styles that are dictated to the public by the fashion industry. When people say things like "bell-bottoms are out of style", what they really mean is "out of fashion". There's nothing actually wrong with wearing clothing that the status-quo doesn't approve of. Likewise, there's nothing wrong with wearing all "fashionable" (erroneously called "in-style") clothing; just don't kid yourself into thinking you're being all that original with it. But I shouldn't have to tell you this.
So now that I've got that out of the way, lets move on to the topic of clothing clutter.
Not surprisingly, Aslett has an entire chapter dedicated to the subject. Obviously trying to keep up with new fashion trends is going to lead to a dangerously expanding wardrobe. But even if you don't have that problem, we still have to take a brave look into the closet, literally. I'd like to summarize it by listing some of my favorite quotes from this chapter.
- "Did you know ... that YOU, all by yourself, have more clothes than the whole general store in an early western town?? That could make you right proud, pardner -- but it doesn't because for months and years already you've known in your heart that your inventory's overstocked."
- "Apparel that is neat, attractive, comfortable, wears well, protects us, and helps us project our feelings and physical self is a worthy investment. It's the clothes that over-decorate us, strain our personality and our pocketbook, that are clutter."
- "Most of us only wear about 20% of the clothes in our closets. But we have to sort through it ALL (100%) every time we go to get dressed [...] Like other junk, their ownership obligates us to use them."
- "The clothes we wear the least are often the ones we bought the fastest. We really didn't need or want them, but the mood of the moment mesmerized us. We've all done it."
- "OK, it's arty-looking and it was a great buy, but is YOUR husband going to wear that beret? [...] It's sometimes a nice idea to give gifts your loved ones would never indulge themselves in, but don't let your impulses and fantasies override their self-image -- you might end up making them feel uncomfortable and guilty, in addition to junking up their lives."
- "No matter how rich you are, whether it was a gift or not, non-used clothes are clutter. When you have so many clothes that they can't fit into the normal closets of a normal home -- mobile, condo, dorm room, or apartment -- you have too many!"
- "Go to your closet right now... Pick out all of your impulse clothes... Don't ask yourself 'Why did I do it?' We're all weak. Ask yourself 'Why do I KEEP it?' Then you know what to do."
I put this last statement in boldface because besides being a good rule for judging how to clear out the wardrobe, it really summarizes the book in general too, and has been a major key for me in cutting through the rationalizations and getting rid of clutter in general.
There are some more things to be said about clothes, so I'll continue this in other blog entry, namely concerning Aslett's suggested exercises for dejunking your closet, and my own progress in this regard.