or CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC ...
Clearing my closet of excess + 6 tips to paring back
I know what you're thinking.... isn't it counter-intuitive to be promoting the latest spring trends in one post and then detailing a wardrobe purge the next? I'm not advocating that anyone stop shopping, we all crave newness, it's human nature. Shopping is our way of acquiring the latest and greatest. We do it because it feels good ... it's not called Retail Therapy for nothing.
What I am encouraging is buying less and buying better. Our planet is in danger (our wallets too!), resources are growing scarce and we simply don't need all this stuff!
Here's the story of how I went from Tyler "Never-wearing-the-same-thing-twice" Kenny to a complete wardrobe purge...
Let's cut right to the chase... I know that the fashion/textile industry is one of the largest producers of water pollution, I've heard how terrible the conditions are for workers (garment workers in Bangladesh earn approximately £25 a month) and for years I'd been telling my family and friends to stop shopping fast-fashion. I'd say things like, "You're better off putting a $20 bill in the washing machine than buying a silk shirt for $20 from Brand X.... it'll last just as long!". It's time we start using using our money to send a message to big box stores. Buying less, paring down, shopping sustainable or supporting independent designers & artisans - the choice is yours. If a deal sounds too good to be true, A "hand-knit" dress for $10, it's likely that it was made by someone paid less than 10 cents a day.
Saying I was going to stop shopping fast-fashion was easy but I'll admit, following through was tough. There was always something last-minute to attend after work, or a big event in a few weeks where you'd have to dress to impress. God forbid you be photographed in the same shirt twice. Unfortunately, my bank account wasn't always in line with my desire to support my favourite local designers or wear head-to-toe Lanvin. The low-low prices of fast-fashion chains made it easier to stomach buying yet another pair of jeans or fresh white tee. Even when mixing high and low, the cheaper pieces felt even more disposable. They'd sit in a drawer after their one use, and soon find themselves buried under another tee, or faux Balmain jeans from Zara.
I didn't realize how out of control my closets had gotten until I sat down to pack for London last August. The first thing I did was fill two large bins for donations. The second was stare at the massive "Yes" pile that would ideally be going to London. This was all before I tackled my second closet and storage at my grandmother's condo. In the end I managed to pack all my clothes (and a few books) into two mammoth suitcases, and 2 carry-ons. All grossly overweight, I was that person on the floor of the airport repacking my clothes into an extra suitcase. Now my clothes would be costing me even more to keep, and the fact that I was now checking three bags and carrying two meant that my arms would be getting a workout too.
I landed at Gatwick airport and my suitcases (which apparently were a health hazard for crewmen due to their weight) arrived dead last. I loaded them onto a trolley and had to wait to be let out a security access door, as they were too wide to fit through the normal exit. It was one of those strange, quiet moments in the early hours at an airport. Just me, in a new country, with only my 5 bags of clothes as I waited for security. Only the essentials I told myself. And Never again, would I travel with so many bags and pay such excessive fees. But I did do it again.... only a few months later when I travelled home for Christmas. Two more overweight suitcases and an extra carry-on.
Before we go any further, I'd like to point out that this isn't meant to be a #HumbleBrag about all the stuff i've acquired over the years.This is about sharing something with the multiverse in hopes that I'll stick to my guns, and steer clear of overindulging on unnecessary clothes. Maybe I'll inspire a little closet purge for you too...
Since arriving back in London, i'd done well. There was minimal shopping, only the necessities (underwear + socks!) and the odd freebie or perk from work.
Shit hit the fan a few weeks ago when I reached into my closet and found two silver bomber jackets. TWO. and not like one grey and one silver, no both were metallic silver bombers. Then I remembered I had left one in Canada, bringing my total of unnecessary silver bombers to three. Most people don't have one metallic bomber option, let alone three. This would be fine if I was regularly wearing these shiny jackets, but the truth was I couldn't remember when I'd last worn either.
I decided it was time for a serious change and spent the last few weeks paring down my wardrobe into a manageable amount. A pair of denim for each day of the week, the same for trousers and knits. It wasn't easy to part with certain pieces, but it had to be done.
I sit here writing this surrounded by neatly folded stacks of clothes waiting to be donated, another pile of designer goodies sits ready to be sold on Vestiare. Every single piece in the pile was something "I had to have" , a treat that "I deserved", or something that "I'll wear FOREVER". I realize now it was pure gluttony, and I only told myself those things to justify another purchase temporarily. I'd be scared to tally up what these items cost me, or think of what else I could have done with that $$$.
I'll continue paring down until I have that perfect capsule wardrobe, and have written down a few reminders to ensure I never find myself staring down the wrong end of 3 silver bomber jackets again;
- One in - One out policy (for every new piece I acquire, one has to go)
- Researching brands to find out where and how my clothing is being produced.
- Buying Less, and Buying Better by supporting independent and emerging designers
- Up-cycling / altering existing clothes - I'm not too shabby with a sewing machine, it's time I start using mine more.
- Cost Per Wear - How many times will I wear VS. how much does it cost?
- Clothes Swaps - A little more rare for guys, but trading clothes with a friend is a great way to get that "new" feeling without adding to the clutter. So far I've only done this with one friend, we've even gone so far as to ship things across the Atlantic!
What are some of your tips for keeping clutter at a minimum?
Whatever your motivation ,the environment, your appearance, your wallet - or a combination of all three, I challenge you to do some spring cleaning and share your experience!