In style blogland, a perennial topic is that of de-cluttering, especially the closet purge. Most writers detail experiences with the Three-Pile Method. Even though I know this material like a Beatles song, I will read every one of these posts intently.
However, in a kind of Wardrobe Groundhog Day, over time a predictable cycle occurs: first, the joy of the refined, airy closet, followed by posts that feature a perfect new whatever, and within a year or two, another purge post.
So the question is, how does a recidivist succumb? Few of us (and I definitely count as one) go out one day and say, "Hey, it's time to buy another three pairs of navy pants and six white tees". Not many women have work or social requirements that dictate we can't wear the same thing too often– I mean, Kate Middleton repeats her clothes.
I reflected first on my own habits.
1. Replacements that aren't
I buy the new black v-neck to replace the one that's on its last legs, but then keep the last-legs sweater because it has the perfect not-too-low neckline and really does have some wear left, at least around the house. (Hi Mom; no, of course I'm not throwing that out.)
I find a spectacular jacket, coral with gorgeous white embroidered detail down the front. Wow, I love it! In the dressing room, I'm styling it with everything I own.
Then I get it home, and I do not wear it, maybe because spring in Montréal is two weeks long, and then it's hot in summer and the jacket's too summery in fall. But it sure is pretty, so there it hangs, next to other 'special pieces' that always get free passes during purges, till they fill a quarter of the closet all on their own.
3. The magnetic pull of small things
Always room for another scarf (for some women, it's shoes or bags). Whether secondhand or new, the prize enjoys an initial run, maybe even several seasons of prominence, until another crush comes along. Meanwhile, the stack grows, the shoe rack squishes tighter.
4. Spare feels unsatisfying
Post-purge, a little inner voice says, Whoa, you have no clothes anymore! Did you really think this will be enough? I visit a friend who rotates a half-dozen winter coats plus a full MEC storm suit for biking, and think, I have only two? Maybe another one would be OK?
And, there's boredom: the same jeans, again? Even the most
dedicated minimalists will admit they get sick of their stuff.
The fix is philosophical
Keeping a decluttered closet is akin to maintaining a healthy weight: I've made a lifestyle change, and now can either "put it back on" or not.
At least every several weeks, I remind myself that I don't need more, and the desire for more is the fast track to the next purge, unless I follow the one in/one out rule. This means giving myself permission to change things up occasionally, as long as something exits, concurrently.
Also, I remind myself that I chose to buy better clothes and wear them longer, so I can just belt up about the fact that my blue cashmere v-neck has been in rotation since before eBay existed.
Boredom is assuaged by a deeper dive into the scarves, or by switching up jewelry. If I need a spirit-lift, a small consumable serves: a plump, glowy mango, new notebook, tea.
But that's me. If other cyclical wardrobe-parers are reading, kindly tell me how you stem a slip back to crammed closets and old habits.