Clothing, excessive consumerism, and downsizing the wardrobe

When you downsize to a travel trailer, or any space with limited closet space, your clothes need to be looked at with a critical new eye.  There just is not enough room for 27 pairs of shoes and 137 different hangers holding clothes anymore.  Walk in closet? HA!  Some walk in closets are bigger than the bedroom you’ll now be occupying.

Think about what you really wear, as well as your job requirements in terms of clothing.  What do you really wear?  How often will you really do laundry?  Does your job require a particular type of clothing?

Hopefully, your job doesn’t require that you look like a fashion plate with unlimited funds, because your new abode isn’t going to be agreeable.  They just flat will not fit!  If your job uses uniforms, be grateful.  At least you will not face the “what will I wear today” dilemma.

Then, there’s the changing of the seasons.  That usually means an entire changing of the wardrobe if its a dramatic change, like we have in Mississippi.  Okay, so we don’t get snow, but you would not want to live in a travel trailer in snow country anyhow!  If you are migrating by season, the variation of your clothing from season to season may not vary much, as you move northward in summer, and southward in the winter.

So how do you slim things down?  First of all, divide your clothing as to season specific ones. In a third pile, put your “year round” clothing such as undergarments, pajamas, etc.  Weed out the ones that are showing wear and tear first.  You don’t have room for rag-bag clothes anymore.  If you indulge in a messy hobby or two, you may want to save a single set for “destruction duty.”

Next to eliminate are the ones you don’t like.  It doesn’t matter why you don’t like them.  It can be anything from uncomfortable to unflattering color.  Put them in the discard/donate pile.  Look at the remaining clothes with a critical eye.  Will they all fit in your allotted space or do you need to eliminate more?  (I’ll bet its more elimination!)

Pick out your favorites from the left overs.  Why are they your favorites?  Brand? Color? Style? Comfort?  Set them aside in your keep stack, and move on.  Choose six more sets of “favorites” from your pile, and set them with  your keep stack.  That’s a week’s worth of clothing for which ever season.

From your winter stack, choose 7 favorite tops and add them to your keep stack.  Select one lightweight jacket and one winter coat, and add them to your keep stack too.  Keep a swimsuit, a pair of two of shorts, and two dressy outfits for those occasions you go out to paint the town.

The rest is going to have to be donated.  It’s hard.  You’ll be sure you are going to be naked, but it is much better to have a week’s worth of clothing you can live with than a month’s worth of clothing that starts to take over your tiny space.  Your only excuse for keeping more than a week’s worth would be the necessity of more clothing because of less-frequent visits to the laundry.  Living in tight spaces usually means we don’t have the luxury of our own machines to do laundry, forcing us to visit laundromats.  Unless the park in which you are staying has a laundry room, it may be difficult to do laundry each week.  Typically, I do laundry every 7-14 days, and do three loads.  We also tend to wear clothing multiple days, unless we get them particularly dirty.  One suggestion for keeping clothing clean is to take a lesson from our grandmothers and wear an apron when cooking and cleaning.  It really does save wear and tear on our clothes.

At first, you may feel deprived with such a slim wardrobe.  In reality, our generation is the first one to have so much clothing.  Up until the 60s, the average woman had 3-4 “house dresses” and 2-3 “Sunday dresses”.  She probably didn’t wear pants ever.  She would have owned a single swimsuit, which she wore until it wore out or she changed sizes.  She probably had two pairs of shoes, if she was lucky.  We really don’t need extensive wardrobes just to keep up with the Joneses.  It’s just another excessive consumer trait that we’re trying to leave behind as we downsize our quarters.

As we go through the days and weeks and months, we’re going to purchase new things.  We need to think hard about each purchase.  Do we need it?  What are we giving up to create space for it?  Is it of good quality?

With the smaller wardrobe, quality rather than quantity will become the key.  We want clothing that is useful, versatile, washes well, doesn’t stain or develop odors, is durable, and well made.  Be very critical of potential purchases.

As I go through the days and weeks and months of downsizing, I’m discovering that it has a lot in common with backpacking, cycle touring, camping, and survivalism.  It may seem strange at first to see the parallels, but they are there.  All of those things, in regards to clothing, will focus on sheer practicality and utility, rather than fashion.  All of them are minimalist concepts.  My entire fascination with my wardrobe drastically changes when I think about having to pack it all into a backpack and carry it around with me.  It changes when I think of trying to carry it on a bicycle too.  Then, looking at it as if the “worst case scenario” had happened for the survivalist, it gives me another perspective.  Seriously, how concerned should I be about twelve dress suits?  Would they benefit me in any way?  Would I even dream of packing them into a backpack to carry along?  Would I pack them even into a suitcase for a two week vacation?

So now, it’s time to tame my wardrobe, as I have grown heartily sick of boxes, duffel bags, laundry baskets and never being able to find a danged thing.  It’s invading my living space and not benefiting me in any way.  I certainly would not take most of it on a vacation, let alone worry about putting it into my backpack for any reason.  I wouldn’t wear it for the “end of the world” either.  It’s time to pass it on to someone who would.

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About giascott

Writer, blogger, cook, grandmother, mother, wife, radio personality, outdoor enthusiast, dog enthusiast, crafter, artist, and part-time nut~~I've earned a lot of t-shirts in my day! I'm one of those crazy independent women who can cut down a tree, build you a shed, sew you a dress, cook your dinner, make some soap, pitch a tent, build a fire, catch some fish, dig in the garden, chase a kid or two, write you a poem, paint you a picture, and a dozen other things...just don't ask me to sing! I'm also embarking on a relatively new portion of my life, one of being disabled. I'm learning some lessons along the way about a lot of things too.
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