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The Trouble with Clothes

How I learned to clean out my closet

The Trouble with Clothes
Photography by Sarah Dorweiler

Despite calling myself a minimalist for several years now, I’ve always struggled with the concept of capsule wardrobes. I could get rid of so many things! I could toss my DVD player, my extra notebooks, and all of my books, but I just could not get rid of my clothes.

I knew that I didn’t even wear half of my clothes, but I got such joy seeing them every day and imagining all of the choice I had, even though I often chose to wear the same familiar outfits.

At first, I thought that I held onto my clothes because they were my most sentimental items. We all know how tough getting rid of old pictures can be. I felt that same way about clothes.

I could remember where I bought each item of clothing, how much I paid, the first time I wore it and whom I was with. The clothing helped me remember so I held on to it all, fearing that I might lose my memories. For example, I couldn’t get rid of that shirt I didn’t really like because I had worn it when I saw my grandma for the last time.

It wasn’t until I made myself get rid of a pair of jeans I had worn for the first time when I got incredibly sick that I realized that getting rid of clothing didn’t get rid of the memories associated with them. Getting rid of that pair of jeans didn’t erase my memory of that particularly nauseating experience, but it did make me realize I could get rid of clothes I didn’t like.

I was free to get rid of the dress a friend had given me that wasn’t really my style. I didn’t need my high school t-shirts or my old prom dresses.

Now, I keep only the things that I love, not because of any particular memory, but because I feel good wearing them.

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