Clothing, Simplified

For most of my life, I would have declared proudly that I couldn’t give a damn about fashion.

And yet… I did care very deeply about the aesthetics of an outfit, and would sacrifice practicality for something I loved, such as dresses that required a particular slip, skirts that matched no shirts that I currently owned, or sandals that rubbed blisters onto the back of my feet. Once I owned these, even as I resented the impracticality, they latched onto me emotionally saying “love me, love me, KEEP ME,” and I did.

Some of these pieces of clothing became part of who I thought that I was. When I wore the silk shirt that I bought in India (that didn’t fit so well) or the skirt that twirled so nicely (but also that blew away in the Bay area wind), I was projecting the wordly and twirly person that I wanted the world to see and admire.

Until now. As part of our preparation for traveling, I’ve been reducing my wardrobe. By gritting my teeth and picturing someone else happily wearing my flouncy skirts from France, I was able to eliminate almost everything that wasn’t reasonably practical or comfortable.

After I left my office-based job for freelancing at the end of last year, I donated about half of my wardrobe to charity, assuming that if I were to go back to an office, it would be far in the future and definitely after our trip.

My second round of donating (shown below) was about three month ago, when I used Project 333 to reduce my wardrobe to 33 items. This was harder, especially since I’d owned some of my clothing since high school.


I will say that while “getting rid of” all of my lovely, impractical items was hard, “having gotten rid of” is downright pleasant. I spend less time considering what to wear, and whether these shoes go with those pants. Honestly, now pretty much anything falls into a category of either “black-shoes-clothes” or “brown-shoes-clothes”, and within that category, everything matches.

And, you know, even without the clothes to project my idealized me, I’m still me.

I’m just me with less effort in the morning and more comfortable shoes on my walks. Maybe I’m more me, because what I’m doing on a daily basis (not obsessing about appearances) matches the me that I’d like to be (someone who doesn’t obsess about appearances.)

Up next in the category of possessions that I think define me but that I need to get rid of: books. Uh oh.