What’s In Your Wardrobe?

This weekend I decided it was time to have a good old closet clear-out.  With temperatures approaching summer levels here in Washington later this week, it was only sensible to change the wardrobe over from Winter to Summer gear.  In the process, I ended up with a pile of castoffs about four feet high, consisting of some suits I never wear, several pairs of trousers that are a bit too worn to hold onto, and a number of coats and jackets that have barely seen the light of day in a year.

According to most lifestyle experts, this de-hoarding process will make my life better. If I just go through and toss anything I haven’t worn in the last 6-12 months, I’ll simplify my life.  Everything around me will be so much more fulfilling, once I have less “stuff” in it.

Except, of course, that they’re lying about their motivations for telling me this.

In my 150-year-old house, the justification for clearing out the closets is obvious; in fact, closets were probably something of an afterthought by the builder, meaning space is at a premium.  I have no problem trying to figure out how to get rid of things I don’t need.  What is harder is noting the passage of time that comes part and parcel with this process, which can be a bit of a temporary downer.

Fortunately, the media is more than happy to provide an antidote to that feeling.  For the morning news show producers and the glossy magazine editors don’t really want you to simplify your life.  They’re not particularly interested in whether you would now have more time to do things like go work charitably on behalf of the poor, or focus on building your relationship with God, or spending time talking with your spouse, family and friends.  Rather, what they want you to do is to buy more stuff.

Yes that’s right, the irony is, after having convinced you to empty out your closets, and making you depressed about how you don’t have the figure you used to have, or how you’re too old to wear some of the things you used to love, or you spent a fortune on something that actually looks terrible on you and is now out of fashion, the secular media wants you to fill all those drawers you just emptied right back up again.  Their goal isn’t teaching you simplification: it’s making you addicted to materialism.  Once you realize what they’re doing, their power is broken, but unfortunately too many people never stop to think about it.

I’ve always been something of a clothes horse, ever since I can remember, so the semi-annual wardrobe clear-out is something that I’ve always done, and will probably continue to do well into the future.  Yet one day – God willing many decades from now – someone else will be doing a last clear-out of whatever is  hanging in my closet at that time.  Hopefully, when they do so, they’ll note that I was a good dresser, because frankly, I enjoy that sort of thing.  However, I hope that they’ll be more likely to think to themselves about my being a good human being, who cared more about people and things that truly matter, than I did about the empty, addictive promises of materialism.

"Illustration of Beau Brummell" by Richard Dighton (1805)

“Illustration of Beau Brummell” by Richard Dighton (1805)

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12 thoughts on “What’s In Your Wardrobe?

  1. I spent the whole weekend dismantling and selling all of my sister-in-laws’s stuff as she passed away in January. All her clothes, books and furniture. You can learn a lot about someone by their taste in clothes and books. Sadly, it all just comes down to stuff so I am purposed to diminish my stuff so as to spare my family from the task. If you haven’t seen it or used it in the last six months chances are you don’t need it and someone else will truly benefit from you clothes or reading material. WOW! That was a mouthful!! Happy Spring Cleaning!!!

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    • Thanks for reading, Pam, and my condolences on your family’s loss. And you’re right, what would people say about you, or me, when they clean out our closets and drawers and shelves? Hopefully good things.

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  2. I hope the disposed of but wearable go to someone who can use them. that will certainly counter the message of consumerism.

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  3. I have always been a rabid reader of your interesting articles for several months now. This latest one hit me hard and led me to write this note unhesitatingly because of an on-going campaign which I and some friends have regarding old clothes and what can be done with them. We have been gathering a few donations and sending them to hapless victims of the super typhoon which hit our country (the Philippines) a few months ago. In case you have no plans of sending them to the Salvation Army, you might consider donating them to those who are in dire need of something to cover their backs.

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    • I really appreciate your reading, thank you! I have arranged for them to go to my local homeless ministry center, that helps men who are trying to get off the street get into job interviews, but if you want to post contact information here for the work you’re doing, in case some of my readers want to help you directly, please do!

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  4. Apropos, Billy, I quote Saint Basil the Great in his Homily to the Rich, a bit of a shocker, but I need that every once in awhile…

    “Now, someone who takes a man who is clothed and renders him naked would be termed a robber; but when someone fails to clothe the naked, while he is able to do this, is such a man deserving of any other appellation? The bread which you hold back belongs to the hungry; the coat, which you guard in your locked storage-chests, belongs to the naked; the footwear mouldering in your closet belongs to those without shoes. The silver that you keep hidden in a safe place belongs to the one in need. Thus, however many are those whom you could have provided for, so many are those whom you wrong.”

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    • Thanks for reading, and that’s a great quote. How much STUFF do we have that we don’t need, and that when we get rid of it we don’t stop to think about whether it could help someone else.

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  5. There’s a correlation between home decor magazines and home organization magazines. You must buy organizing materials, and then you must redecorate those materials. What they don’t go into detail too much is the positive aspects of having less crap. You see their After pictures featuring baubles created in their How To sections, which you must do to have an organized house! :\ Such magazines revolving around having less stuff confound me. Do they you?

    It’s refreshing to hear you, a man, cares about dressing well. Don’t let it own you, though!

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    • Exactly right – you don’t sell products if you don’t tell people the things you just sold them are now useless. And clothes certainly don’t own me, they have to serve my purpose, not the other way around. Thanks for reading!

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