It’s all relative. For each person, there is a different set of needs that a wardrobe must fulfill. The landscaper’s wardrobe will be vastly different than the ballerina’s. A better question to explore is, “How do I maintain a healthy relationship with my clothing?” From here, we can do some digging and talk about how to mindfully maintain what we do have.
Closets are intrinsically personal and tend to provoke anxiety. Think about how you want to feel about your closet when you are not in front of it. When setting larger goals about closet choices it is best to do this from a mindful perspective.
I absolutely hate staring at all my clothes and feeling like I have nothing to wear. There are a couple of reasons why this happens:
The item I want to wear is dirty; I feel guilty that I am behind on the laundry.
Everything is cluttered, stuffed and wrinkly; I am not proud of the way I have been caring for my clothing.
I find myself paralyzed by an overwhelming amount of choices.
I am reminded that I am unbelievably fortunate to have so many clothes and options and here I am, standing in my first-world problem.
I am reminded of the way I think about my body and the pressures of ‘looking good.’
There is a way to transcend these negative thought patterns. I can step away from the stress of laundry maintenance and into a state of mind in which I enjoy all aspects of my clothing and wardrobe rituals. Here are some ways I achieve this:
I keep up with my laundry and never let my laundry basket overflow. I am realistic about the amount of time it takes to maintain the amount of clothes I own. Less is more and I really don’t care if my staple clothing items are on repeat throughout the week.
I have implemented new habits that make things easy. I clean my personal clothing on a day when I am home and can fold them as soon as they are done. I’ve learned new folding techniques to prevent overcrowding and I donate the clothes I don’t wear. When I look in my drawers they are tidy—I can see every piece of clothing. My wardrobe, as a whole, has breathing room; nothing gets lost or forgotten and everything makes an appearance.
Less is more. Less means more time to get on with my day.
I am thankful for what I have and know that I am fortunate to have more than enough. This gives me a feeling of contentment. I don’t need to buy anything else and I know that I’d rather not feed the monster of the fashion industry. Trendy is lame.
Everything that I put on my body makes me feel good. Looking good is not the problem; the societal pressure to look good is the problem.
Closets shouldn’t be a source of anxiety. Self-criticism is self-defeating, though I do feel it is important to evaluate what it is about my clothes that is affecting me negatively. It is important to me that I buy the majority of my wardrobe secondhand. Consignment shops are a great option for high quality clothing at half the price. Personally, I have no problem splurging at a thrift store- most of them donate money to charitable organizations and the experience, as a whole, forces me to be more creative. When I buy something new, I try to find responsible, affordable options. Sometimes, I don’t, and it’s ok. It is literally impossible to buy responsibly in all cases. We can learn from our spending habits and focus on making thoughtful decisions within the information, situation, and means at our disposal.
For those who dislike laundry: Washing and folding laundry is a part of life: accept this and then decide what you’re going to do about it. Do you do your own laundry? If not, why is someone doing your laundry for you? Better yet, why doesn’t this person even let you to touch the laundry machine? Are you really that unhelpful? Do your own laundry. Maybe the person who’s currently doing it for you should bag up your clothes and put them outside for you to deal with. Respect the systems already in place that you have been benefiting from. Show an openness to learning rather than begrudging compliance and sloppiness.
For those who need help: Pencil in the time. Think of it as self-care. Get rid of clothing that you feel indifferent about, doesn’t fit, or hasn’t been worn. You really don’t need 20 t-shirts... Be realistic and stop lying to yourself about what you actually wear. If you like it and know you’ll never wear it, give it to someone who will. Cut your losses and live in generosity. Your clothing does not define who you are, so you don’t have to be so sentimental; just slim it down. The payoff is worth it. Take a full day to set it straight, and if you need help, get the help you need.
For those who have been doing ALL of the laundry: Up your game. Learn how to be more efficient, sustainable, and wiser with your time. Your work has not been in vain. Thank you for all you do! Now it’s time to teach the rest of the family how to care for themselves. If you get hit by a truck or go on strike, your family should know how to keep up with the laundry. Life goes on, and you shouldn’t be doing it all.
Overall, I like getting dressed in the morning. When I put my laundry away, I feel satisfied with my form and thankful that the hard work has become easy. I like taking care of my clothes and my clothes take care of me back. Ultimately, this is a relationship with yourself and how you take care of your body in a very basic way—let it be thoughtful and meaningful.