How I handle clothes
I've been trying to think more mindfully about my clothing. In the past, I had way more than I needed and hardly wore most of it, and it was hard to donate things I didn't wear because I might wear them one day (spoiler: I never did). It made it hard to find the clothing I enjoyed wearing, took up a lot of space, and was overwhelming. It felt like I was buried in clothing clutter. Some sort of change was needed, so I set about cleaning out my closet and rethinking how I pick my wardrobe.
I've adopted some principles from capsule wardrobes, which are based around having a limited number of pieces in your closet that all combine relatively well. I find it helps me keep my closet under control and allows me to get rid of clothes I don't wear. I have more items than seems typical for the average capsule wardrobe, but the core principle is assessing your needs and only keeping what fills those needs, and everything in my wardrobe is there for a reason. If I don't need it, I don't keep it. If something new comes in and I don't need another of that thing, the one I like least in that category gets donated.
To keep myself in control and ensure I like the clothing I have, I follow a set of rules when buying clothing or deciding whether to get rid of something:
- If I don't need it and it doesn't replace something I want to get rid of, then I don't buy it.
- It must be comfortable and sensory-friendly. If I can't keep it on for an entire day without feeling like ripping my skin off, I'm not buying it. This rules out a lot of clothing for me. I have issues with pressure, which rules out all tight clothing, and fabric choice rules out many more pieces. I wind up with a lot of cotton blends and rayon.
- It needs to be sturdy. If I buy it, I expect it to last for years of regular wear. Quality matters and I'm not going to buy something that'll fall apart.
- It should be something I look forward to wearing. I'm not looking for clothes I wear just because they're there. I want clothes that I enjoy wearing and that suit me. This is the "does it bring you joy?" question and one of the trickiest criteria sometimes, but it goes a long way towards making me feel more confident and expressive. It's funny what a difference a shirt can make sometimes.
- It must be practical. If I can't wear it on a day-to-day basis and do everything I need to, I'm not buying it. I love some clothes aesthetically, but they don't work at all for me in daily life and I would never be able to wear them.
- It should be at least somewhat modest. I don't mind showing a little skin, but I prefer to be more covered up. I like my shorts and skirts to stay below the knees in length, for example (not hard given how short I am).
- If it has a brand name prominently displayed on it, no thanks. I'm not going to be a company's walking billboard. The sole exception is one shirt that I keep because it's incredibly comfortable. If I find something equally comfy, the branded shirt is getting donated.
- If it has any text in a language I don't speak, then I need to know what it says. I don't want to go out wearing a shirt that says "bean can" or something without knowing it.
- If it has text that's sarcastic, rude, insulting, etc. (e.g. "there's a 99% chance that I don't care"), I won't buy it. I don't feel right wearing something that's hurtful, even jokingly.
- It should work well on its own or layered with other clothes. I can't always wear a jacket with a shirt, especially when it's hot out.
- Bottoms should be plain and neutral in color (black, dark gray, navy) so as to pair well with everything. Some people can make patterned pants work; I'm not one of those people.
- If possible, clothes should be bought secondhand to reduce waste. When I need to get rid of something that's in good shape, it should be donated. If it's in poor shape, it should be used as scrap fabric: sewing material, cleaning cloths, stuffing, whatever works.
- I should have as few of an item as possible. I don't need 20 tank tops if I do laundry weekly; 7 or 8 are enough, and I can have fewer if I don't need one for every day of the week.
Misc. clothing handling
I have a very hard time hanging clothing. It used to be a major problem; I had hampers full of clothes in my room because I couldn't make myself hang the shirts in them, so I couldn't put anything away. It made my room look messy. Eventually, I got sick of it and bought some drawers for my closet. I already had a dresser for most of my clothing, and between the dresser and the drawers, all of my clothes fit without hanging anything. I still hang one or two items because they'd wrinkle otherwise (the formal clothes), but everything else is in a drawer and I have no issues putting anything away now. As an added bonus, the size of the drawers helps limit how many pieces I can have, acting as further incentive to keep my wardrobe from exploding again.