Becoming a Recovering Clothes Horse

11:18 AMHeather

If you've been following along here for about a week than you know that over and again I've been gleaning wisdom about freeing myself (and my family) from excess.  We are hearing a call to be radical, to be different, to be content with less so that we can be meeting the needs of those in poverty.   Basically, we've been facing the ugly truth that we are spoiled brats.  Not only do we have a roof over our heads, but it's a rather nice one, too.  With rooms we don't even use on a daily basis.  And, we have never wondered where our next meal comes from.  Because trying to decide where to eat out does NOT count.  We are living in a culture of discontent that sucks us in all too frequently.

And, we are realizing it's time to do differently.  It's time to release ourselves from entitlement.  I'm not sure of the journey ahead.  But, I can share with you our steps along the way.  I've heard from many of you that you, too, are feeling the same pressing conviction.  It's one thing to WANT to do something, and quite another to do it.  Today, is more practice advice for you on a step we are taking.  We are working to rid ourselves of excess in our closets.  I hope you'll join me in this challenge!

This past Sunday,  we dragged four trash bags of clothes into our church's donations bins for a ministry to nearby apartments.  No need to pat ourselves on the back.  Quite the contrary.  Our closets are still bulging.  You could look into any closet and NOT see a difference.  I'm not saying we should whittle it down to one set of clothes and a spare.  But, we can certainly do with even less.  Today, I'm sharing some ideas on how to become a recovering clothes horse.  (Besides that first step of admitting you have a problem).

1.  Take a clothes inventory.  A few years ago, we were on our journey to be free from debt (other than our house).  Of course, at that pivotal time, all three children had outgrown nearly all of their clothes.  Sorta on a whim, I decided to make a list of what they REALLY needed.  I mean, REALLY.  How many pairs of undies do they need?  How many pairs of socks?  How many school outfits--shorts and t-shirts?  And, truly--just how many clothes for church?  The results for me were eye opening.  I realized my boys don't NEED a dressy outfit.  When those rare occasions came (weddings and funerals), we could work it out then.  Because they really only wear cargo shorts or jeans and a collared shirt.  There's REALLY only 7 days in a week.  They do not need 31 outfits for each day of the month.  Because we have this handy invention called a washing machine.

Pretty convicting stuff, folks.  To really sit down and think about the basics.  For yourself, too, ladies.  How many t-shirts, nicer shirts, sweaters, jeans, shoes, etc. do you REALLY need?  

Step two here is to see what you currently have.  Hmm, yes.  You may have a rather embarrassing light bulb moment when you realize how much you truly have versus what you really need.  Consider it part of the growing pains of releasing yourself from entitlement.  This journey is all about letting go.

2.  The one season rule.  Here in Texas, we have basically two seasons.  Hot and "sweater weather" when it dips down below 70.  If you've lived here long enough, you have your summer clothes and your fall clothes.  As you start to purge the excess, remember the one season rule.  If you have not worn that t-shirt, tank top, or other hot weather gear in one full season of said weather, let it go.  If you have not worn that sweater or pair of jeans through one fall and winter, then let it go.  Truly.  If we have gone through an entire season of hot or cold and never put on that garment, do you really need it?

3.  Hanger trick.  I saw this on Pinterest and loved the idea.  Nope, I haven't done it yet, but I do intend to.  Turn all your hangers backwards.  When you wear a garment and then go to hang it back up, turn that hanger the right way.  After a few weeks, you'll begin to realize what you truly wear and what you never wear.  Might be a good clue as to which items you can let go.

4.  If it don't fit, don't let it sit.  This is an easy one when it comes to my kids.  It's a top criteria, of course.  When they were little, I learned to put a large rubber maid in the top of their closets.  When they went to put on something that no longer fit, I tossed it in the rubber maid.  When the bin was full, time to gather into a trash bag and donate.  But, with us mamas, this is a harder one to implement, isn't it?  Most of us have a variation of sizes in our closets.  I myself was put on medication eighteen months ago that has made me gain weight.  I'm now a size or two larger than before.  That is frustrating.  I'd like to think I could squeeze back into those cute cargo pants I bought on clearance.  But, I am trying to tell myself--why be taunted?!  I know some people buy or keep a "goal" garment--an item in their goal weight as incentive.  Here, I am talking about not letting multiple items clutter up your closet.  Truth is--there is someone in need today who wears that size right now.  So, as painful as it is, will you join me in gritting your teeth, accepting your body as God made it today, and remembering--if it doesn't fit, don't let it sit.

5.  One item in, one item out.  This is a favorite tip of my MIL and my dear friend, Vicky.  Vicky moved from a modest Dallas home to a typical New York City apartment.  She learned by experience how to have a versatile and functional wardrobe (and adorable as well) by making the most of the items in her closet.  She learned to make her clothes work for her.  A wonderfully simple mentality.  Her rule of thumb was and still is that when she brings a new item into the closet, one item must go out.  This is a great approach to maintaining a closet for any recovering clothes horse!   Going back to step one and your clothes inventory.  If you really only need 3 good dresses, then when you buy a new one, get rid of the one least used.  If you really only need 5 cami's or tanks for layering, then replace them as needed and ditch the old one. 

I love Pinterest for oh so many reasons.  But, it is a double edged sword.  Because, in case you haven't noticed, it is a breeding ground for discontent.  I have to be careful with my "fashionista dreams" board, lest I get sucked into the entitlement and discontent.  I am TRYING to approach it with fresh criteria.  I am TRYING to pin ideas of outfits to try with the items I already have.  Or, to pin those great ideas of how to mix and match a few basic pieces.  Just like anything--it can work for you or against you.  I hope that these ideas will all work for you.  I hope that you will join me in becoming a recovering clothes horse!  Just think of how nice it is to live simply.  Just remember how little those around the world live with right now.  It might motivate you to implement these 5 tips today.  Purge away, bloggy friends!  Take the challenge with me.

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