Buying Less, Pitching More
I despise Ross.
Not the dude I went to school with—the store where you can dress for less. It calls my name, flaunts its fantastic deals and beckons me to bring my mother on discount day.
And then there’s Marshall’s, TJMaxx, the flea market in our town park and the sweet thrift store with the half-off day. Get behind me, Satan. They’re just so dang tempting for those of us seduced by bargains.
Please don’t tell me God won’t tempt me beyond what I can bear. I know that. And he’ll also provide a way out so I can endure, right?
Yeah, it’s called a car. Drive away, people.
Since I only get to these stores about every three or four months, the anticipation builds before I even find the perfect gift, quality shampoo or discounted pack of socks. And those are all useful, consumable necessities.
But the scarf that kinda reminds me of one I already have? The shirt that’s only $3.99? The different colored slippers that seem a tad cozier than my current pair? One or two of those might make their way into my cart as well.
And then I bring them home, look in my closet and start should-ing.
I should get rid of a shirt or two.
I should donate one of these scarves.
I should give these slippers to my slipper-less neighbor.
So I do. And it feels fabulous! But then I stop.
What I probably should do is keep going with that train. Blow the whistle on me. Go to the end of the line and take a true inventory of what cargo I have.
I got a real coat for Christmas. I returned it because the girth measured grande, but for a few minutes I finally understood why people invest in weatherproof goodness that keeps you warm all the way down to your booty. W-o-w.
Pretty much all my life my outerwear has screamed, “I’m from California and I don’t know what to do when the temperature drops below 40˚!”
I own nine sweatshirts, four thin jackets, and four vests, but you can only layer to a point and then you look like the awkward girl whose elbows won’t bend.
How’s your wardrobe looking these days? Can you bend your elbows?
All this donation talk comes a little easier when I see an international move in our near future. Crossing the border with anything more than the basics will only make our transition harder, longer and potentially more frustrating.
Box by box, item by item—we’ve heard the U.S. agents want detailed lists of everything. As in, ev-er-y-thing.
Back to my wooden bars I go, determined to find another item (or six) I can toss into the donation box. In my mind I thought I liked almost everything in there; getting ready for my friend’s baby shower this week told me otherwise.
So I took my own challenge, hurled the hangers on my mattress and got to work. At the end of my brutally honest project, my three piles looked like this:
1. Loving these
2. Tolerating these
3. Ignoring these
Honestly, I don’t want to get rid of that whole third pile. But I see progress.
How I wish I had a nearby friend with style and tenacity, enough to kick my excuses to the dirt curb and reduce the weight in our moving pickups. She’d be kind but tough, polite but direct, trendy but classy.
“When’s the last time you wore these jeans?”
Uhh… two fourth of Julys ago?
“Didn’t you walk your teenager to kindergarten in this shirt?”
“Exactly how many flip flops do you need to get through one summer?”
More than two.
“This looks like you’re trying to be 29 again.”
That hurts. But thanks.
Then we’d turn on motivational music, toss more articles over our shoulders, celebrate the pile, dance a little jig and eat pie.
Just because you can still squeeze into your earrings from the ’90s doesn’t mean you should. Is your dad/husband/brother/uncle still walking around in his Members Only jacket from 1987? Maybe it’s time to gently suggest he gives it a new home.
Did you get a new shirt for Christmas? Can you get rid of one you don’t love?
What about a scarf? Anyone you know who would love the one (or three) you keep ignoring? No need to get all dramatic about it in a field of flowers. Simply bag it up and move it out. Better yet, stick it in your car and hand it to the next homeless woman you see. Her neck will thank you–so will your closet.
I might move in five months; you might move in five years. Either way we probably both possess excess clothing. If you’re already chucking great excuses in my direction, here are three helpful questions I found in Kathi Lipp’s book, Clutter Free.
I’m now running my clothes through the same filter she recommends running all items in our houses through:
Do I love it?
Am I using it?
Would I buy it again?
If the answer is no to any of the above… bye bye.
Oh, but what about the guilt? I know—it hits me in the feelers too.
Old Dilemma: Your mom gave you that necklace and getting rid of it looks like you’re not appreciative.
New Thought: Keeping something we don’t love from someone we do love does not equal love.
Old Dilemma: It’s still in great condition.
New Thought: Yep, so was my stripey, ribbed, turtleneck thingy. And my scrunchie.
Old Dilemma: You spent a significant chunk-uh-change on it.
New Thought: Keeping an unworn item won’t bring back your lost dollars. Plus, the odds of going to a 90s party and being required to bring your VonDutch bowling purse? Let it go.
Old Dilemma: Your “classic” shirt was made by… wait for it… Ralph Lauren.
New Thought: Mr. Lauren has been around since 1967. His styles changed—so should yours.
Old Dilemma: Your Juicy Couture tracksuit still fits.
New Thought: Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie called. They want it back.
For the love of pima cotton—stop it. The day every single item we own feels special is the day none of them are.
If you’re ready to make some changes, say I. Yes? Me too.
Now just because we’re ready to start doesn’t mean we’re all willing to take on something as drastic as Project 333. For the rest of us, here are some helpful, pain-free hints to decrease your closet:
- Empty it. Yes, everything. You don’t truly know what shirts you own when you’re only glancing at the shoulders and sleeves. You need a full frontal view.
- Most organizers will tell you to divide your wares into three or four piles, but I’m getting strict. Two piles, no mas: Keep or donate.
- Limit your shopping. Sabotaging your courageous efforts with more purchases will probably bring more guilt. Cut back, Jack.
- The end of number one sounded less awkward in my head. Sorry.
Don’t think you can find anything to pitch? Might want to read 33 Things to Eliminate From Your Closet first.
My closet–naked as a jay bird, happy as a lark. (You can tweet that if you want.)
I’m down here putting myself through a test. Wanna join me across the miles? We could have a virtual pitch party. If you’re interested but feel the urge to pitch a fit before you pitch your wedge sneakers, rock on.
Then scrape yourself off the floor, inhale through your nose, blast some tunes and dig in. I have a feeling this won’t hurt as much as we all imagined.
Did you hear that? I just chucked some clunky sandals into the hall. Victory is mine! And yours! And your closet’s!
Now go. Pitch in peace.
Rooting you on,