Let’s get you started with this hilarious clip from Buzzfeed India that highlights the matter and some of the real issues behind it in its own unique way.
Did you recognise yourself in parts of this clip? Let's look at some of her reasons in more detail...
Too much stuff
Sometimes this is simply a reaction to having too much stuff to even know what’s really there! If your wardrobe is stuffed to the brim, to a point where you have to take out stuff to see what’s behind… how can you reasonably assume you pick the best thing at the time? You’ll start pulling out more and more stuff until you get frustrated by either the fact that nothing seems to be what you are looking for, or the realisation that you have too much to keep track of properly.
There is something to be said for our fascination for those walk-in wardrobes we see in fashion magazines, and the empty-ish shelves in show homes. It’s not so much the fact that there is a lot of room, I’m convinced it’s the fact that everything that’s there can actually be seen at first glance.
How likely re you to ever take the time to look for something you suspect is hidden behind a pile of other clothes? Not very, I bet. The point here is that there is a reason for those things to be in the back row: you have not used them for a while. Maybe it’s time to sift through your stuff, find out why and then let go of some of those items?
Unless you have unlimited space at your disposal, the only solution is to pare down your belongings to as little as fits your storage without hiding something else.
Too much choice
Sometimes having too much stuff in a wardrobe leads to a particular issue related to how we make choices: the more options we have, the more different it becomes to make a choice. If you only have three shirts there, whichever we choose is 33.33% “the right choice” and 66.66% “the wrong choice” and we get over that loss of 2/3 very quickly. Choice is simple as well.
If we are looking at 20 shirts, the likelihood of similar options grows, as does the statistical probability that we feel our choice is “the wrong one” (95%). Psychologically that makes us less happy, believe it or not! It also makes it more difficult to make a proper choice, as any choice is perceived as a bad one, leading up to that sense that nothing really suits you or is the right thing to choose.
Have you ever been to a restaurant where a good number of menu items look enticing and you get stuck not being able to make up your mind? It’s a similar thing: too much choice leads to a short circuit that blocks you from making any choice at all.
Ultimately, the only correct choice is to pick the first thing you believe is good and you are in the mood for, and disregard the rest of potential options.
Not quite up to scratch
In a decluttering situation I often come across a vast category of clothes that fall under the category of “not quite…”. This category includes clothing in need of repair (seams coming loose, missing buttons, rips, etc.), discoloured items (sweat or washing stains, dirt that won’t come off, etc.), or items that just don’t make the cut and always end up not being chosen for active duty, but also are considered too good to let go.
This is a category that is crucial for decluttering as it tends to contain lots of sentimental stuff that only made it this far because it used to have some meaning at some earlier point in time. It’s the stuff that – if tackled properly – can make up a huge portion of donated items.
If a piece of clothing is has not made it out of the wardrobe for a long time, it only holds you back! It’s time to either let go or repurpose, e.g. as decoration, or rags!
A typical reason, especially for women, to hold on to clothing is the idea that “it will fit me again” once I’ve lost those 10 kilos I’ve gained in the last couple of years or when I can force myself to finally start working out. Even worse: buying clothes you like as an incentive to lose weight in order to fit in.
It might feel like a good bet to buy something to get you moving, but I have yet to meet a person who actually managed to do that.
I understand that some pieces of clothing can fall into that category, they might be just a little too tight or too loose-fitting, but still are just about wearable. Or they might be the item you keep for that wonderful occasion when you need something spectacular. One of those is fine, 15 is too much!
There is really no point in hanging on to something you cannot physically wear and are unlikely to ever wear again. Sentimental attachment is all fine, but with clothing this can be really a huge drawback. If you don’t wear it, ditch it.
Out of style
That brings us to another reason not to hang on to stuff you don’t actively wear for long periods of time: clothing goes out of fashion, quickly! These days, there’s a new style and colour scheme at least twice a year, and the thought that something might just come back into fashion in your lifetime, and while you have the same body shape, is pretty much outrageous.
Most style items are so specific to their period that they can hardly be combined ith anything else that comes up later on, and if so will take up a lot of valuable storage space that could be put to much better use.
Not all that bothered
That brings us to the male wardrobe: in my experience that is one of the main reasons for men to have that particular reaction. I believe that it’s often a reaction to the fact that their clothes usually aren’t all that diverse, and the subtle difference really don’t matter too much to them. In the case of the more flamboyant dresser, however, the reasoning might be similar to what’s mentioned in other sections above.
As for the basic male wardrobe, it clearly is a lot less diverse than women’s wardrobes tend to be. For one thing, there a much fewer items to choose from: once you have covered socks, undies, trousers (long or short), shirts and jackets, and full suits, you are pretty much done. Where women in general have lots of different levels of formal to leisure, men tend to have just a couple of categories that rarely mingle.
Not all that bothered is a result of that: once you know you are dressing for work, the choice is pretty much made. Sadly, there is nothing much you can do about this beyond being more adventurous in your choice of colours and cuts.
All this being said, “I have nothing to wear” is a mix of many potential reasons, lack of choice being the least likely one! There is something to be said for a capsule wardrobe and a variety of accessories…
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Hi, my name is Tilo Flache. My current mission: help my clients declutter mind and space.
This blog contains pointers for your journey towards a happier living experience.