how few clothes do you really need? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 38 Old 04-15-2008, 05:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm sick of clothes. I'm sick of laundry. I'm sick of washing clean clothes over and over again because of messy kids and messy husband. I'm sick of laundry baskets.

So...DD1 proposed (bless her heart!) that we have only a few outfits each, and then I can do laundry every other day (do that anyway for cd's) and we would have so much less clutter in our house! Is it a crazy idea or might it just work?!??!?!?

I'm thinking we'll just bag up our clothes except a few outfits, put it in the attic, and see how it goes for a week or two.

How many outfits would we need? It's mostly warm here, we also need some garden gear, and occasionally it's cool enough for pants/long sleeves/socks.

And if anyone has experiences with major clothes downsizing, let me know!
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#2 of 38 Old 04-15-2008, 05:28 PM
 
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I keep our clothing down to a minimun.

I only have a few pairs of pants & shirts that I wear regularly, and then a skirt, dressy top, and dress pants. I would actually like a bit more, but I haven't had any child free time to actually go look for any.

My kids also have a small amount of clothes. Not down as low as me, but where I couldn't go more than a week without washing. If it doesn't fit nicely in their dresser, out it goes.

The only thing I've had trouble with so far is that my 7 yo ds runs out of pants all the time. He plays hard outside, and often gets really dirty or wet and needs to change. He really does need more jeans, but I'm not buying any now since we're switching over to shorts pretty soon.

Maybe you could put the extra clothes in a box for a few weeks and see how it goes. If you find you need an extra outfit or two, you can just pull them out and again see how it goes. Once you find a comfortable place, sell or donate anything still in the boxes.

We used to think our youngest dd really needed more pants, but since I've been keeping up laundry better , we've found she has enough.

edited to add - ha ha, I see you already had the idea in your original post to put the extra clothes away for a trial - guess I should read better.

I do love having less though.
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#3 of 38 Old 04-15-2008, 05:53 PM
 
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i've never had the problem of too many clothes, but i have had the problem of not enough that i love... so we only keept-- and now only get-- what we really love. so, my vote is go thru and pick what you love. (i guess if that leads to you keeping all of them, then... i'm no help!)
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#4 of 38 Old 04-15-2008, 06:15 PM
 
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I would recommend two pairs of capris and two skirts-- one casual, one dressier (or a nice dress). About six basic tops/tees that mix and match with most of the bottoms, and two or three light cardigans or little fitted jackets. about three pairs of shoes-- one good for walking, one beachy (like flip-flops) and one dressier that can be worn with dressy flats.

For cooler spring weather, if you have it, throw in a pair of boots if necessary, a spring coat, and one or two pairs of jeans. The same tops can be used, just layer them with a cardigan or a fitted jacket.

I also keep two pairs of pajama bottoms in my wardrobe.

I am trying to do this, everything else is going in a box in the closet for now. We'll see how I do! I was inspired to downsize my wardrobe further after going on vacation and realizing how few items I actually needed (I packed too much!)

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#5 of 38 Old 04-15-2008, 08:58 PM
 
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Back in the day, people did not have a lot of clothes. You had a few things and that was it. I was in Khazkhstan 8 years ago and this was still the case then. The girls I knew wore the same outfit over and over.

I'm all for getting rid of things. I've been trying very hard to downsize my kids' stuff (my MIL seems hell bent on doing the opposite) and while my clothes are probably a small amount for most, it bothers me as too much.

Welcome to the Real World she said to me, condescendingly, take a seat. Take your life; plot it out in black and white.
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#6 of 38 Old 04-15-2008, 09:52 PM
 
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OP I think you are on the right track. Cut back, see how it goes, then adjust as needed. We all have unique clothing needs (variety of - climates, hobbies, sports, work, formal outings, washing schedules, etc.) that a set # isn't the way to look at it.

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#7 of 38 Old 04-16-2008, 01:03 AM
 
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You know, I love the idea of putting them away for a week or two and see how it goes. I just may have to do that, at least for me and DH! I'm all for downsizing, too. Although it seems no matter how much I downsize toys, they still multiply (thanks to MIL).
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#8 of 38 Old 04-16-2008, 01:10 AM
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Back in the day, people did not have a lot of clothes. You had a few things and that was it. I was in Khazkhstan 8 years ago and this was still the case then. The girls I knew wore the same outfit over and over.

I'm all for getting rid of things. I've been trying very hard to downsize my kids' stuff (my MIL seems hell bent on doing the opposite) and while my clothes are probably a small amount for most, it bothers me as too much.
Rich people have always had a lot of clothes and people to do their laundry. When fibers became cheaper and laundry machines were invented, it became easier for all classes to have lots of clothes. I think those girls in Khazhkstan are not wearing the same outfit over and over because they prefer it.



We try to thin down our clothes but not too much. Clothes today are not meant to be washed several times a week and we do dirty our clothes that much. I think a few pairs of pants, a few pairs of shorts, a few long and short sleeve Ts, some nice, some grungy, a grungy pair of pants and shorts, some lite sweats, a few lite sweaters, a couple of skirts, two dresses, a lite jacket, a rain jacket, and a lite weight fleece are all I really need for summer. And a bathing suit and pjs.

For winter, same kind of thing but heavier weight and more layers.


I don't understand how having fewer clothes would change your laundry. Won't you still be washing just as much but just washing the same clothes more often?


What we do is put away off season stuff and find that helps a lot.
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#9 of 38 Old 04-16-2008, 10:37 AM
 
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I don't understand how having fewer clothes would change your laundry. Won't you still be washing just as much but just washing the same clothes more often?
I agree. For me it's more about de-cluttering the closets. I see so many people with clothes jam-packed in closets and dressers, to the point where you can't find what you want and often have mountains of laundry but still have so many clothes that you don't "need" to do laundry.

I also agree that clothes wear out quicker with more washing and more wearing. I could care less with dd's clothes. I buy them cheap and want to wear them out as I have no more dc to hand them down to. Though I do try to pass on the wearable stuff.

Even for Dh and myself, I like being able to update my wardrobe as things wear out as oppose to keeping clothes for 10+ yrs and having the debate of it's still wearable but not in fashion. I guess now that I'm older, I'm getting more "classic" stuff, but there's no way I would want to wear the style I did 10yrs ago, though I do wish I was that size.

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#10 of 38 Old 04-16-2008, 10:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't understand how having fewer clothes would change your laundry. Won't you still be washing just as much but just washing the same clothes more often?
Right now we have a mess problem. DD2 wears probably three to four different outfits a day, DH never puts his clothes away and they end up back on the floor then in the laundry again. And sometimes I can't get my drawers open (they stick on humid days) so I throw my clothes on top of my dresser and then they, also, fall on the floor and get rewashed without even being worn. I really think having fewer clothes will help.

I lived in Japan for 1.5 years and had pretty minimal clothes, mostly because the Japanese clothes didn't fit me right (I have a much shorter torso and longer legs even though I'm only 5'3", so the pants were always short).

Thanks for your suggestions on clothing! I'd say you all probably wear more varied clothes than I do already, I never wear skirts or dresses or even worry about how I look, I usually wear a tshirt and pants or shorts, so I'm more concerned with the number of outfits rather than variety. 4?

So far, we've filled four kitchen trash bags full of clothes and are, I would say, a little over half done. It's ridiculous. And the thing is, I almost never buy clothes, but I guess I have a hard time getting rid of them. So this is in some ways giving me permission to downsize. Hey, whatever works right?
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#11 of 38 Old 04-16-2008, 12:50 PM
 
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Way to go Jster!

I would like to downsize my wardrobe also. Partly for practicality, but also for fashion. I would like to wear out clothes by the time that they're out of style. I would also like to wear out clothes by the time that I change sizes. For example, I only own one pair of jeans that fit me, and they are brand new...I think they're stylish and I've gotten lots of compliments on them. I am OK with wearing them 3x per week. I also buy stuff at the thrift store, but I need to get more picky when I buy other people's castoffs.

Although there is a "classic look" - that look basically changes almost yearly . I have saved "classic" pieces in the past, only to find that details like pant pleating, tapering, etc. can be very unstylish in certain years.

I can't pare my wardrobe down too much because I find that after a day of looking after the kids, my clothes need to go straight into the laundry hamper...gone are the days of being able to re-use a barely soil item of clothing.

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#12 of 38 Old 04-16-2008, 02:26 PM
 
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I don't understand how having fewer clothes would change your laundry. Won't you still be washing just as much but just washing the same clothes more often?

I can see how having too much can increase your laundry. The OP alluded to it.

When my kids have too many clothes, they tend to throw things on the floor looking for what they want to wear. Then I come in and have no idea what is clean and what is dirty, so it all goes back to the laundry.

If there dressers only have a manageable amount of clothes in it, then they don't seem to throw clean clothes on the floor.
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#13 of 38 Old 04-17-2008, 12:44 AM
 
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Clothes today are not meant to be washed several times a week and we do dirty our clothes that much.
this caught my eye. i was down to one pair of jeans. they are levis. i went through a lot of trouble to pick them out, tried on a ton of jeans at the mall and with an almost 2 year old, it was a lot of work. i've had said pair of jeans for about 2 months now. with the baby, they get soiled all the time. washing them about every other day. these jeans cost $29. guess what? i have a hole in the knee already.

i told my husband that i'm going back to buying jeans at the thrift store. i went today and got a better fitting used pair for $3.99. if these wear out as fast as the new levis, so what, i'll get another pair, and i'm still up $20 from the new ones at the mall.

oh and ps: there are so many nice clothes at the thrift store, and most are $3.99 or less. i bought a jean skirt and a top and the jeans. it made me want to clear out my wardrobe and just buy a few things seasonally at the thrift store since it's relatively so cheap compared with full price new. heck, let the thrift store hold the "inventory" and treat it as my revolving closet, pick out something new, give back something old.

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#14 of 38 Old 04-17-2008, 12:50 AM
 
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I'm sick of clothes. I'm sick of laundry. I'm sick of washing clean clothes over and over again because of messy kids and messy husband. I'm sick of laundry baskets.

I have said this so many times since having dd and now her third birthday is arriving and another one on the way. And I still haven't done anything different I always have laundry needing to be washed, laundry in the process of being washed and laundry needing to be put away.

Being pregnant has been a good lesson in 'need' as I only have 2 pairs of pants I can leave the house in right now. This thread has been motivating, I would love an update in the future to see how this is going for you.

I really like the idea of trying it short term (no commitment to actually getting rid of the clothes) I think I will start with dd's dresser while she's sleeping as I already put 2 bags of my clothes away that I won't be wearing for quite awhile. Dh we'll leave for last.

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#15 of 38 Old 04-17-2008, 01:46 AM
 
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We're moving in 2 weeks, so I spent the last few days packing up all of our clothes. I've learned a few things:

1 - I have waaaay too many clothes. DH always tells me this, but I didn't realize it until I started packing up box after box after box of clothing. I started feeling progressively worse and actually had to stop for a while to get my bearings. My entrie walk-in-closet was my clothes. Plus a 9-drawer dresser, a 3-drawer dresser, 9 shelves of sweaters, etc.

2 - I needed to keep out 2 weeks worth of clothing and realized it's not much. I kept out maybe 5 shirts, a pair of jeans, some capris and 2 pairs of yoga pants.

3 - DD and DS have way too many clothes. They both have large closets w/ double bars for more space (their clothes are so small). They both also have dressers.

So, now I have a problem. I don't want to get rid of clothing, because I truly do wear them all. But, at the new house, I've decided I need to commandeer 2 of the closets (it's 5-bedroom house), the guest closet and the kids- playroom closet. For a week or so, I told DH, I was going to turn the intended guest room into a closet. The WHOLE room.

This can't be healthy.

Side Note - I do most of my shopping at thrift stores too to save money. Although, I end up spending more because I'm constantly thinking "it's SO cheap!"

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#16 of 38 Old 04-17-2008, 02:21 AM
 
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Really, when I went on vacation for a week (stayed with a friend, nowhere fancy) I took what I was wearing plus one pair of jeans and about 5 of each: T-shirts, undies and pairs of socks. I did one load of laundry when I got home and.was.done.

The thing I always need more of (but never buy) is socks. I have way too many clothes! Things I like, don't want to get rid of, but honestly don't wear much because honestly on a given week I only wear my work uniform and a few crappy T-shirts around the house. I feel like I have 3 wardrobes, 1) work clothes 2) house clothes 3) dress clothes (that I don't wear much but I enjoy to buy)
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#17 of 38 Old 04-17-2008, 08:49 AM
 
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guess what? i have a hole in the knee already.

i told my husband that i'm going back to buying jeans at the thrift store. i went today and got a better fitting used pair for $3.99. if these wear out as fast as the new levis, so what, i'll get another pair, and i'm still up $20 from the new ones at the mall.

oh and ps: there are so many nice clothes at the thrift store, and most are $3.99 or less. i bought a jean skirt and a top and the jeans. it made me want to clear out my wardrobe and just buy a few things seasonally at the thrift store since it's relatively so cheap compared with full price new. heck, let the thrift store hold the "inventory" and treat it as my revolving closet, pick out something new, give back something old.


I think this is so true. I have nearly eliminated clothes shopping for myself, but I still go to a thrift store now and then.
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#18 of 38 Old 04-17-2008, 01:01 PM
 
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I spent several months living in clothes that fit in a carry-on suitcase. Even then, there was stuff I didn't wear. I don't think I want to downsize that far, but I'd really like to limit myself to a medium-large dresser, 3 feet of hanging bar space, with sweaters and wool stuff in a cedar chest.

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#19 of 38 Old 04-17-2008, 01:46 PM
 
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I spent several months living in clothes that fit in a carry-on suitcase. Even then, there was stuff I didn't wear.
I hear you. We spent four months traveling, and for the three of us(myself, dd3 and dp), we had one small carry-on backpack worth of clothes. We're still doing it like that after we returned, except for the addition of outerwear and wool. The trick is having a capsule wardrobe, so every top goes with every bottom, etc. Then you can have fun with the dressy stuff!
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#20 of 38 Old 04-17-2008, 07:02 PM
 
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oh and ps: there are so many nice clothes at the thrift store, and most are $3.99 or less.
YK, this really depends on where you live. Thrifting is very popular in my city, even among people who can easily afford to buy new, so the inventory is very picked-over. Also, there tends to be a lot more selection in the smaller sizes than in the larger sizes. I've found some things at thrift stores, but they are usually more like $8, and usually involve a *lot* of combing through and trying on.

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#21 of 38 Old 04-17-2008, 07:05 PM
 
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YK, this really depends on where you live. Thrifting is very popular in my city, even among people who can easily afford to buy new, so the inventory is very picked-over. Also, there tends to be a lot more selection in the smaller sizes than in the larger sizes. I've found some things at thrift stores, but they are usually more like $8, and usually involve a *lot* of combing through and trying on.
That is very true.
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#22 of 38 Old 04-17-2008, 07:24 PM
 
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YK, this really depends on where you live. Thrifting is very popular in my city, even among people who can easily afford to buy new, so the inventory is very picked-over. Also, there tends to be a lot more selection in the smaller sizes than in the larger sizes. I've found some things at thrift stores, but they are usually more like $8, and usually involve a *lot* of combing through and trying on.
Yeah, I've noticed this too. If I was a size 6, I would be set. Maybe someday.

Not much for my size at the thrift stores, and most pants are way too short. I have occasionally found something good, but it takes a lot of time and searching.
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#23 of 38 Old 04-18-2008, 09:43 PM
 
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The real key is to have what you love. I had paired down my wardrobe to bare bones, but then I really never felt "put together". I felt dumpy. So I rethought what things would make me feel "pretty". I know, I know, pretty is within but I do like some pretty clothes too. And cute shoes. The first thing I realized was to get jeans that really fit properly. Cost isn't the factor here. No matter how cheap or expensive they need to really fit. Then I put in some black pants both long and short. Then I added several really cute solid color tops and a couple of cute light weight sweaters for layering. Now I feel cute and put together when I go out. And I still don't have an obscene amount of clothes, but ones I really like.
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#24 of 38 Old 04-19-2008, 05:34 PM
 
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The real key is to have what you love. I had paired down my wardrobe to bare bones, but then I really never felt "put together". I felt dumpy. So I rethought what things would make me feel "pretty". I know, I know, pretty is within but I do like some pretty clothes too. And cute shoes. The first thing I realized was to get jeans that really fit properly. Cost isn't the factor here. No matter how cheap or expensive they need to really fit. Then I put in some black pants both long and short. Then I added several really cute solid color tops and a couple of cute light weight sweaters for layering. Now I feel cute and put together when I go out. And I still don't have an obscene amount of clothes, but ones I really like.
I agree with this. I want to down-size and simplify my clothes and my children's clothes, too. I want less laundry to do and less clothing to store. I want what I have to be what I really feel great in. I have too many things that I keep because I feel guilty (because they were gifts or hand-me-downs or because I've had them forever and they remind of some other time, etc.) I've got to really get over it.
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#25 of 38 Old 04-19-2008, 10:53 PM
 
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Oh this thread is really speaking to me.

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Originally Posted by sainteanne1
I don't understand how having fewer clothes would change your laundry. Won't you still be washing just as much but just washing the same clothes more often?
For us, it's a bit of laziness. Since we have enough clothes in the closet to last us three weeks without washing, then we may just wear everything in there before we wash and by then it will take me a couple of days to catch up. I actually never catch up. We have mountains of dirty clothes in the bathroom, and a piled up basket of clean in the closet that doesn't make it to the racks, drawers... I'm drowning in clothes - many of which I don't even like. That's what's really frustrating to me too. I clean out the closet and decide I'm gonna only get what I love, but I haven't really decided what that is yet. I have about 3 pieces that I really love.
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#26 of 38 Old 04-20-2008, 10:54 PM
 
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To echo a PP's thought, pregnancy really made me realize how minimal my wardrobe *could* be. At any time during my pregnancies, I only had 5-6 outfits to choose from. Basic Ts and mix and match outfits layered with cardigans were my go-to look. And, even within the clothing I did have that fit, there were my favorites and the clothes I only wore if absolutely nothing else was clean.

Of course, I got bored to death with all those outfits and HATED them by the end of my pregnancies, but I think that may have had more to do with the fact that I looked like a big fat load in most of them than the fact that there wasn't a lot of variety. I think that if I could whittle my regular sized wardrobe down to a half dozen awesome, flattering outfits per season, I'd be really happy with that.
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#27 of 38 Old 04-21-2008, 01:24 AM
 
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I got rid of half of my clothes a few months before I moved. I put away what was out of season and I had tons of space in my closet/wardrobe. It was so much easier when it came time to move!

When my boxes arrive, I'm going to get rid of even more. It really really feels good. And I've realized that I can last with fewer items because that is what I've been doing for the past month. We've only had the clothes we brought in our suitcases on the airplane! (We just moved from Czech Republic to US)

We're actually kind of dreading when our boxes get here because we've seen how little we can live with and be happy with (not just clothes).
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#28 of 38 Old 04-21-2008, 02:11 AM
 
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Also, there tends to be a lot more selection in the smaller sizes than in the larger sizes. I've found some things at thrift stores, but they are usually more like $8, and usually involve a *lot* of combing through and trying on.
I've found the opposite problem. Here, there are tons of clothes from size 6 and up, but the 0, 1 and 2 is very hard to find. Of course, searching for 3 hours to find one pair of great $5 jeans is worth it

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#29 of 38 Old 04-21-2008, 02:56 AM
 
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"I feel like I have 3 wardrobes, 1) work clothes 2) house clothes 3) dress clothes (that I don't wear much but I enjoy to buy)" This is me

This could be me as well "
For us, it's a bit of laziness. Since we have enough clothes in the closet to last us three weeks without washing, then we may just wear everything in there before we wash and by then it will take me a couple of days to catch up. I actually never catch up. We have mountains of dirty clothes in the bathroom, and a piled up basket of clean in the closet that doesn't make it to the racks, drawers... I'm drowning in clothes "


I have clothes from Highschool and that was 19 years ago.
I love pretty clothes the fabrics the colors unfortuantly I rarely wear more than my work clothes or my around the house basics.

Oh and more than pretty clothes I wear, I love bargains I get a thrill out of finidng adorable high end clothes for my whole family for less than $4.

At one point I found that my SD who only spends about 100 days a year with us had over 13 pairs of pants. Less than $40dollars worth of thrift store bargains but still excessive.

2 weeks ago we emptied my closet and I let DH sort it he did 3 piles keep, toss, and try on. I couldnt part with a few things in the toss pile and took them back but we actually filled 2 lg totes to take to the thrift store.

I still have to many clothes but its a start.
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#30 of 38 Old 04-21-2008, 03:01 AM
 
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The drawback I see to having very few outfits per person is that I find things wear out much faster the more frequently they're washed. If I wore the same 3 shirts and washed them each 2x per week, they would probably look pretty worn in a few months. Maybe it's not an issue with kids' clothes because they grow so fast, but I have found it to be true for my older kids at least. WhatI do to try and cut down on laundry is I monitor who's wearing what and I have asked everyone to not change their clothes unnecessarily and to re-wear things that have been worn only a couple hours or haven't left the house. It helps a lot.

Shellie
Declutter - 789/2010 (counting the stuff on my porch waiting for a Freecycler to pick it up! )
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