In the not-so-distant past, clothing was not owned in the large quantities that it is today, and it cost more in proportion to income than it does today too. Closets were non-existent in many 19th century homes, as there was simply no need for them.
Women typically owned an average of three “house” dresses, with a fourth dress designated for church and other dressier occasions. Men typically had about the same number of shirts and trousers, with a single tie and jacket to go with it. Blue collar workers may not even own that suit coat and tie.
Even when I was a child, the average kid owned one pair of “hard” shoes (loafers or oxfords usually) and a pair of tennis or gym shoes that were required for P.E. class at school. We had one winter coat and one pair of snow boots too. The average middle class school girl might own a half dozen dresses for school, and play clothes were the stained, tattered, nearly outgrown, or lesser hand-me-downs from a friend or relative. After school, we always changed out of our school clothes, and usually never wore shoes in the summer unless we were “going to town.”
These days, we have vast wardrobes compared to even the typical wardrobe of the late 1960s, but what do we really wear?
Paying attention to what we’ve been wearing over the last year, it is partly out of convenience, partly out of habit, but we only wear a small percentage of our clothing on anything resembling a regular basis. With the storage issue, often we can’t easily access other items, and tend to reach for the same comfortable and convenient clothes, week after week. Then the realization begins to sink in.
If we haven’t worn it in a year, why do we have it?
I’m not a fashion plate, I’ll admit that. I don’t worry about the latest fashion, and tend to stick to things best defined as “classic” and “comfortable.” I have my everyday bumming around & doing projects sorts of clothes, specialty items such as bathing suit and winter coats, a few items designated as “okay” for wearing in public, and I just don’t wear dress clothes–even my dresses are casual.
GM isn’t much different. He wears a handful of things, and he is completely oblivious as to whether shirt and pants should be worn together or not…and as to the state of wrinkles they may be in. His suit lingers in the closet, along with a handful of dress shirts and some trousers, whereas the “every day” stuff regularly is worn. Unlike me, he does keep a handful of “destroy” clothes–things that are actually worn to the point they should be thrown out, but are instead reserved for messy jobs. I’m okay with that…within reason. We don’t, however, need a dozen sets of these destroy clothes. A couple would suffice.
Our special problem in our travel trailer is zero storage for clothing. We have tried being creative about our solutions. We’ve tried a shelving unit, “milk crates”, boxes, etc., but they don’t work. I’ve tried paring things down. I’ve boxed up and hauled away, and still…we suffer from the mountainous heap alongside in the narrow former-walkway-now-designated-clothes-mountain. It’s messy, inconvenient, sloppy, irritating, and impossible. Did I mention that it really annoys me? I honestly can’t see the point of clothing we can’t find when we want/need to wear it.
Much to GM’s chagrin, I’ve come up with plan #871G. Our luggage and duffel bags are coming out of storage and back into our lives. Using the duffel bags and suitcases, we can separate our clothing into visually recognizable containment systems, so we know that if we get the red duffel bag…we have underwear and socks. The small black suitcase has shirts for summer, and the large black one has pants. If GM needs a set of destroy clothes, they are in the small blue duffel bag. Our beach wear? Water shoes, swim suit, and battered towels all languish in a discarded red daypack, ready to go, no search mission required.
I hope to have it all converted by the end of the week. GM thinks its terrible, that we’re living “out of a suitcase” but I just tell him…it’s better than living out of the heap like we’re teenagers again!
Besides giving us an easily sorted method of storing our clothing, it also means that we can easily see where paring down is necessary. If our container for shirts is overflowing…obviously, we need to take a look at what occupies that space. We have clearly defined parameters.