Monday, June 25, 2012

Do We Have Too Many Clothes?

Not my picture, but it easily could be. And I'm just one person!
I had a weird epiphany recently. It involved me not really wanting any more clothes or fabric. Which, I know, is so strange. Let me explain.

When I was growing up (and even now when I go home), and I was bored my mother, sister, and I would all load up and go shopping. Even a few years ago, whenever I got really upset about something, if I went into a store and found a cute dress or shoes or whatever, I would buy it and feel so much better. (Plus, new, cute things!)

But when I decided I wanted to move from Chicago to New York, I had to cut my shopping expenses down. Way down. And when I got to New York and was getting paid nothing (literally nothing - it was an internship), I completely eliminated shopping. Completely! Do you know how difficult that was?

But I did it. And it was nice because even when I got a decently paying job, I was in that mindset of, "Do I really need to drop this much money on this dress?" Sometimes the answer was an emphatic yes, but most often, the answer was no. I didn't really need it.

My solution to being broke and liking nice things and have an excessive amount of free time on my hands was to take up sewing. But I have a new problem!

I go into fabric stores and buy the prettiest and softest fabric I can find. And then I bring it home where it sits in a bag on the floor of my craft room. I'm essentially collecting fabric. So I've banned myself from buying fabric until I get on those untouched fabrics.

But that's not really what sparked the epiphany. That's just background. It was this:

1. A friend commented that I wear the same dress over and over again. And it's true. I generally only wear the same 3-6 dresses every day. I have a closet full of clothes that I rarely use.

2. I'm not really into trendy clothes. I prefer simple, classic, clean lines. They're easier to make and I have a bunch of patterns to help me do this. So why do I obsess over finding more patterns and newer things? I'm not even into them!

3. I read somewhere recently (can't find it or I would link!) that the average closet size in America is now the size of what used to be the average sized bedroom. That's so ridiculous!

4. I read this article about problems with the Salvation Army. It essentially outlined that because clothing is moderately cheap, everyone tends to buy a lot of it. It had statistics like 1 in 4 women own 7 pairs of jeans, but she only wears 4 of them regularly. Which is basically backed up by my own closet of dresses that I rarely wear. BUT THEN it talked about how there is too much clothing for thrift stores. So much so that they're shipping most of our unused clothing to poorer continents like Africa, which I know isn't new, but what IS new is that because the countries they were going to in Africa are becoming more developed and less poor, they're encountering the exact same problem we are, which is that there are too many clothes.

So what's happening to our discarded clothing? I'm sure it will all end up in a land dump somewhere.

But it really bothers me, not only because it's so wasteful, but because we're spending so much money on items that we never use. I've traded unwanted, cheap clothing for fabric that sits collecting dust. Yes, I WILL turn that fabric into curtains, but when? It's been there for the last few weeks. How many more will it take?

Perhaps I'm also disgusted with my procrastination and not just potentially wasting money. But regardless, I'm not interested in spending lots of money on things that I just realized I don't really need.

What do you guys think? Have you ever thought about this before? Am I overthinking it?


  1. I have the same thought all the time! Sewing has encouraged me to cut down on all of the disposable dresses that I used to buy, but I fear sometimes that I've merely replaced trips to TJ Maxx with fabric shopping

  2. I kept everything that I wore before I dropped several dress sizes in case I gained the weight back so I wouldn't have to spend money on new clothes. Every time I see these dresses in my closet it makes me really anxious remembering how depressed I was when I wore them so why would I want to wear them again? Three apartment moves later and no sign I was going to gain 40 pounds back I decided to throw them out but it still makes me feel uneasy to throw out perfectly good clothes. I also wear the same 5 things yet my closet rotation and clothing organization could be a full time job!

  3. I know how you feel. I have X amount of room for storage. Which means if I want to buy more clothes/fabric I have to get rid of what I have already.

    For fabric. I'm not allowed to buy anything I haven't earmarked for a project. Well except I have a small stash of: iron on interfacing and 3 metres of cotton & lining. For those spur of the moment projects. And I do use up every little scrap if I can.

    At the beginning of every season Spring/summer/autumn/winter I go through my wardrobe and put into bag anything I haven't worn more than once. First I offer it to my sister, then to friends and relatives...then it goes down charity shop.
    I have current dilemma. I want to make a jacket (as part of matching suit), but I have enough jackets to last me a week. lol! So its time to have a clear out.

    Since I started sewing I recognize [lack of] quality in shop garments...and it puts me off buying them.