How much clothing do you REALLY need? (How I scaled down without tears)

give away

Hi. I’m Kate. And I’m a third generation clothing enthusiast. *cough* Hoarder. In case you’re wondering, this is the “go” pile. More on that later.

I was in total denial of this. I never do anything with myself. I used to really care about my appearance, but when I hit my junior year in college for my first degree, and my daughter turned 3, somehow, that went out the window. I stopped shopping, for one. And combing my hair. And accessorizing. And I became a naturalist, so I hardly wear makeup now, and I definitely stopped tanning and getting my nails done (*cringe* who WAS I?!).

Even though this was a positive step for so many reasons, it was indicative of a slippery slope. My daughter is 9 now. I have 2 articles for makeup, don’t use shampoo, don’t comb my hair, don’t wear shoes with heels- ever, many of my clothes had holes or stains in them, most of my clothes were 2 sizes too big…and need I go on? My wardrobe needed a facelift, just like my kitchen.

I took a gift certificate my sister gave me and checked out my favorite local consignment shop. It is literally the coolest consignment shop on the planet, and I know that I can rely on them for giving me up to date fashion feedback. What I learned is that really bold colors are in, color blocking, fuzzy sweaters, and blouses *barf*. I bought 2 pairs of jeans to replace the ones giving me plumber’s crack, and two cardigans.

When I got home, I realized…I probably have enough clothing to dress the neighborhood. Since all of my laundry is always done (maybe I should write a post on THAT haha), instead of putting away my new clothes, I hung them as outfits in my closet. And then proceeded to put together MORE outfits that were fashion-forward. I came up with 14.


Then something sad happened. I had started to make three piles, one for love and my assembled outfits, one for maybe, and another for go. The go pile was for trash, charity, or resale. The go pile started growing and growing until my entire bed was covered. I realized that I still had clothes from when I was pregnant with my daughter a DECADE ago, that at least half of my clothes didn’t fit, and that most of them were outdated.

More importantly, I live in Maine, which has four seasons, and I have two wardrobes, one which is “American” and one which is “Islamic”. Unfortunately, it also meant that I had a chifferobe, a bureau, and a double wide closet full of clothing.

I have one body.

It really begged the question- how much clothing do I NEED?!

Then I started assembling my “Islamic” clothing too. I came up with 9 outfits.

traditional outfits

So, total, I had about a dozen random bulky sweaters, 14 “American” outfits that were layered, 6 American style Islamic outfits, 9 modest Islamic outfits, and a dozen random short sleeve and long sleeve. Phew. For SUMMER clothing, I have about a dozen abayas or shalwar kameez, and a dozen American outfits to wear inside the house.

Sweaters and aprons- how many aprons do you have?

Sweaters and aprons- how many aprons do you have?

My random collection- probably could lose a few items still

My random collection- probably could lose a few items still

My attempts at western style Islamic clothing

My attempts at western style Islamic clothing

That’s still a months worth of clothing! But it’s a start.

I also went through my pjs, shoes, and purses.


Let’s get to the juice though. What DID I find?

Well. I had 10 pairs of sandals, 8 of which were flip flops.

I had three backpacks.

I had shirts is size medium. I wear a 00. *insert laughs* WHEN have I ever worn women’s sized clothing?

Speaking of chuckles, someone must be playing a prank on me because I found a pair of size 7 pants.

I found pjs from when I was in middle school. I don’t know if that’s even the bad part- I gave them to my daughter. HA!

I decided that winter jilbabs weren’t for me because they never dry and I was walking around soaking wet all day.

Among those to go were my outdated career clothes.

I kept my hemp shoes and gypsy skirt.

I found a dead mouse inside one of my old purses. I hope it didn’t come from THIS house.

I found a container of tea tree oil in another purse. Hmmm- conspiracy?

And finally, the grand finale, I found a bunch of new undershirts! WOOHOO!


Only a weeks worth of jeans and a few leggins

Where summer outfits belong- put away

Where summer outfits belong- put away

Appropriately placed- shorts and tanks with jilbabs and abayas

Appropriately placed- shorts and tanks with jilbabs and abayas

I’m so excited every time I open my closet now. I’ve assembled outfits, so now I feel like I have a whole new wardrobe! What’s most important is that my bedroom is full of things that I LOVE- not things I feel iffy about and never wear. Clean out your space too, and see what goodies you have hiding! I’m also excited to add jewelry and scarves to these!


If you don’t have at least ONE LL Bean cable knit cardigan, treat yourself, because they’re awesome!


This was overpriced, but it’s been well loved for years


The day tattoo shirts go out of style I’ll die


Great with jeggins


Cute modest outfit, great with a crinkle hijab

Love this Islamic outfit, I've had it for at least 5yrs

Love this Islamic outfit, I’ve had it for at least 5yrs

An Old Navy outfit that I got with my girlfriend. It goes great with a striped jersey hijab

An Old Navy outfit that I got with my girlfriend. It goes great with a striped jersey hijab

At this point you either think that I’m super amazing, or that I was a nerd before it was cool…

So to recap, here’s what you should do:

  1. Go to a fashion-forward store (preferably a consignment shop for environmental reasons) or read a few magazines to learn about current fashion. Magazines provide extra information, in that they often show what clothes work for what type of body, and how to accessorize.
  2. Buy things you need, even if it’s as basic as jeans as it was in my case. Two years ago I had to update from bootleg to skinny jeans. Are you wearing mom-jeans?
  3. When you get home, do all of your laundry. Maybe part of an outfit is living in there. Or maternity clothes HA!
  4. Before you take everything out, set aside a place and slowly assemble outfits of pieces that you know you love, or pieces that you haven’t given a fair chance but are suddenly very fashionable. Make sure these outfits fit right and are flattering to your shape and skin tone.
  5. For the rest, take everything out. Make 3 piles- love, maybe, and go.
  6. Separate your love and maybe piles into seasonal piles if you must. Seasonal clothing has no business with other clothing- it creates clutter. I live in Maine and don’t need shorts in February, so I store them. Some people store them in a barn or attic, but I don’t have to share my space with a man…
  7. Separate your go pile into charity, resale, and trash/upcycle (there are TONS of things you can do with clothes that are not suitable for donation, like making “rag yarn” or braiding a rug).
  8. Of your “love” pile, try to assemble outfits. For things that are left, hang them up and resolve to turn the hanger around if you wear it.
  9. Of your maybe pile, if it can’t be assembled into an outfit, consider if you really need it. My maybe pile, for example, had a lot of long-sleeve tee’s in it, which I wear as layers, so I kept them hung in the closet.
  10. Finally, of your go pile, be scrupulous. Are you really going to take the time to list those items on ebay, bring them to a resale or consignment shop, or use them as scraps in a project? If not, consider being extra generous to a charity with them, or having a swap with your friends/neighbors.
  11. Don’t let it end at your clothing- chances are, neglect has spread to other areas. Go through your intimates, pjs, socks, accessories, and others. When going through your accessories, consider if it will go with anything you have assembled. If not, you might want to pass it on.
  12. If something hurts to part with, keep it and give yourself a timeline. Resolve to get rid of it if you haven’t worn it in say, 6 months. If it’s seasonal, say a year.
  13. SIT ON YOUR ITEMS. I always do this because I’m a compulsive purger. Experience your wardrobe for at least 2 weeks before you part with the things you’ve bagged up. This is where real organization can be key, for if you separate your “go” pile into say, items that will definitely not fit or will never be in style vs items that you just never wear, you may realize that you need a few items that you were going to get rid of.
  14. Try new things. If heels always hurt your feet, find cute flats. If your legs are always cold in skirts, get fleece lined leggins.
  15. Don’t forget the details- jewelry, a little organic makeup, or trying a new hairstyle can be just as important. Remember that this is not vanity, this is self-care.




3 thoughts on “How much clothing do you REALLY need? (How I scaled down without tears)

  1. I enjoyed reading your article. I too struggle with between my eastern and western wardrobe. Thanks for the motivation to clear our my closet.

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