Clothing is a brain-numbing, mind-inducing drug. And I am hooked.
I am thrilled by the styles. Hippie, Bohemian, cowgirl. Relaxed, formal. Intoxicated by the colors, an artist’s palette, a dizzying array of washes and tints swirling around my feet.
I enter a store, and my mind goes blank, and I can no longer think, and I forget what I own. I sometimes even forget what I like.
In a trance, I try clothes on, buy them and bring them home. Place in a closet over-flowing with items I don’t need.
I am an addict.
Like an addict, when my head is clear, I regret the decisions I made. I know I didn’t need my recent purchases, and yet I can’t stop.
But clothing defines me, or so they say. It says I am good or bad, rich or poor, that I have a certain style, and a particular personality. Clothing is my label. I must buy more.
Recently, I threw six shirts away, and still have plenty to get through a summer, with shirts that will never see the sun, which makes me think I have too many, though I don’t know what that number is. I don’t want to count. I am afraid. Afraid of the truth.
I wish I could be like others with small closets. I wish I could own less clothing. I wondered if it was possible. Recently, I found out it was.
I was at my son and daughter-in-law’s house, and stepped into their bedroom. In the corner was a closet, a normal five-foot long closet (approximately), every piece of clothing neatly hung-up. I was shocked, amazed, impressed. I wanted a closet like that. In another corner sat their dresser.
I asked my daughter-in-law about their closet, and how many pieces of clothing they owned. This is what she told me:
They each have twelve bottoms, including work and casual pants, shorts, and work-out pants.
They each own twenty tops, including sweaters.
She has two skirts and seven dresses (my son has none – thankfully), plus she has a few scarves.
She has six pair of shoes, he has ten. (He may have received the shoe-gene from me.)
She said, “It feels like we have a lot sometimes because we both still have things we never wear, and sometimes it feels like we don’t have much because we have things we never wear.” I love that.
It’s amazing how I’ve never noticed them wearing the same thing twice, which just goes to show how unimportant clothing really is. It really doesn’t define us.
They are my inspiration, what I aspire to be. They don’t shop unless necessary, wear an item until its life is over, and don’t feel a need to fill their closet.
We have this illusion that closets must be full, and once they get there, they need to stay that way. We are told to stuff our lives, our homes, our closets, with shoes and boots, skirts and shirts, jeans, capris, shorts. And even when we have too much, we shop some more.
I’ve known people whose tags never come off the clothes they purchase. They hang in their closets like idols, rubbed like genies as they wish for more.
It’s an obsession. A drug.
Clothing hasn’t always been a big priority in our lives.
In 1930, the average woman owned nine outfits. Today, she owns thirty.
In 1950, there were four fashion seasons a year. In some stores, only two: Spring/Summer, Fall/Winter. Today, fast fashion gives us 52 seasons, one for every week of the year.
The U.S. fashion industry has become a 12-billion-dollar business, with eight billion new garments produced in a single year. It is a crazy, over-done, addictive habit, one we have to give-up. One I have to give-up.
There is a simple solution to this problem. We simply need to shop less. Buy only what we need. Use what we have. Mend and repair. Stop going to stores that tempt us, that pull us in and drug us, that captivate us with lies, telling us to buy more, that we need it, even though we don’t.
The truth is, clothes are merely pieces of cloth that serve a purpose. They are for function, to cover and protect. Maybe if we see them for what they are, we can stop this drug, before it stops us.