When More Clothes Don't actually Help Us

 The things you are about to read? I know in my head. The things you are about to read? I believe in their incredible value, but honestly, it’s a struggle for me.

No one would ever claim I’m a minimalist and with my Frugal Fashionista wardrobe, this is a huge area that I need to work on. I don’t feel a need to buy more, but one of the ways I live life is through my creative bent and so that has manifested itself with buying inexpensive clothes and having fun with an “out of the box thinking” type of wardrobe. To some degree, this is fine, but when my closet and drawers are so stuffed with clothing articles that I don’t even know what I have, it’s a problem. I’ve been working on it – a lot!!

It’s a balance and it feels really good to just get rid of bags and bags of clothes, leaving room for more of what I love. I have a long way to go and a pretty funny story that goes along with it, but until I share it, I’ll let you mull over Katie’s words below.

She’s sharing her thoughts about when she did her No New Clothes Challenge. Believe it or not, I could do this without a problem because I have so many darn clothes. 😉


Have you noticed? In this consumerist world we tend to get overwhelmed by the need to buy more things. In particular, we fill our closets with clothes that are simply unnecessary. (I know I’m certainly guilty!) Author and activist Elisabeth Cline discovered:

The average American woman purchases 60 pieces of brand new clothing every year. 

I can see this. Can you? I’ve watched women fill their arms with piles of clothing to try in the dressing rooms–and that’s not just when there’s a killer sale! Are they buying all of it?

I took on something I called The No New Clothes Challenge in the summer of 2009. For well over two years, my husband and I survived in the clothes we already had. I was even featured in a fashion magazine for it! Of course at some point, my things were wearing out.

Which is something else Elisabeth talks about–how the quality of our clothing has plummeted. (Isn’t that just exactly what our moms keep complaining about?) We’re needing bigger closets. We’re chasing trends.

We’re feeling inadequate.

Why have we let ourselves feel this way? How do you suppose clothes shopping has become a hobby?


Elisabeth says:

The average American woman owned nine outfits in 1930. Nine!

I would so love to read the book where she found this data – Service and Style: How the American Department Store Fashioned the Middle Class

I recently stumbled on a clothing project from 2005. A woman named Alex Martin decided to wear the same dress every day for a year. She didn’t style it with hundreds of dollars of accessories or own several of the same dress. She just kept wearing the same one – day in, day out.

“Did I look crazy?” she wrote in her online diary. “Most people in my professional circle didn’t even notice that I was always wearing the same dress day after day — my take on that is that we’re all too busy with our *own* appearance, family, work, etc. to keep a tally on everyone else’s wardrobe rotations!”

And then this anonymous woman said, “In my 20s I was worried about what people thought of me. In my 40s, I didn’t care what people thought of me. In my 50s, I realized that they weren’t thinking of me all along!

So today I have an interesting question for you:

How many pieces of clothing do you think you could happily live with? Step away from what other people think. Forget about what you worry that they must be thinking. This question is just you.

How much clothing might be your happy point?

Storycatcher and award winning journal crafter Katie Clemons, mother and entrepreneur has appeared on HGTV, given a TEDxTalk, and washed sticky finger prints off every appliance. She also blogs at Making This Home about simple, handmade living from a vintage airplane hangar in Montana, USA.