Nov 3, 2015

Buying clothes with a clear intent


 It's clearly etched in my mind. When I was a kid, we had a Godrej steel wardrobe in our home that had 4 shelves with a locker. The top-most shelf was used to keep unstitched dress materials, dhotis and other rarely used stuff. The second one was for my dad's clothes, the third one for my mom's and the bottom most shelf had mine and my brother's. These clothes were the ones we used to wear when we go out. The daily-wear clothes were kept separately outside in a trunk.

I remember we used to buy new clothes for two occasions - one for our birthday and the other for Diwali. The birthday purchase was done only for us, the kids. Our parents never bought anything for their respective birthdays. If there was a wedding or any other family function, new clothes would be purchased. Other than that, Diwali shopping was the only time when we buy new clothes for the entire family. And it used to be an exciting trip, going all the way to T.Nagar and hopping from one shop to the next. Rains would visit the city of Chennai exactly a week before Diwali but it wouldn't hamper our shopping plans.

20 years later, this is how the story of my wardrobe unfolds. I must tell you this in advance. I hate to shop for clothes and I don't buy that often. I'm a price-conscious consumer and so I don't shop at expensive places like M&S, Lifestyle etc. I also admit that I have made the mistake of buying less expensive clothes which eventually faded or shrunk after two washes.

I have a whole wardrobe to myself - with Western outfits, ethnic wear and sarees arranged neatly. Pregnancy and motherhood brought some changes to my size in the last 4 years, which the wardrobe accommodated gracefully. Thanks to Yoga and my food habits, I have brought myself back to my pre-pregnancy size.

Sometime in the end of Apr-2015, I took a pledge that I would only buy clothes with a clear intent or purpose. No random shopping anymore when I see something nice or when there is a sale. It's been 6 months now and I have stayed true to my pledge.

I got myself a top and a skirt for my birthday. There were a couple of unstitched salwar materials that were occupying space in my wardrobe. I got them stitched which I would be wearing for Diwali. I got a Shoppers Stop gift voucher which I redeemed to buy two simple kurtas (ensured that I didn't exceed the voucher limit).

Since the "inflow" of new clothes has almost stopped, it gives me enough space to think about the existing clothes. I gave away a few old salwar sets in good condition which I don't wear anymore. I started to wear sarees more often - for my weekly visit to a nearby temple or at home on special occasions.

There were a couple of close calls though. I did get tempted by some nice cotton kurtas when I visited Dastkar Nature Bazaar and Bhoomi Utsav but thankfully I didn't give in :-)

Being aware of what's inside your wardrobe, retaining the clothes that fit you well (and that you like to wear) and disposing off the remaining ones will give you the space and time to think through what you need and purchase only those whenever there's a sale or when you go shopping.

I plan to continue this habit in my journey towards leading a minimalistic lifestyle and hopefully, reach the one-shelf practice which my parents followed years ago.

There are three reasons why I'm going down this route:

(1) I'm fascinated by the idea of minimalistic living. For me, minimalism is not only about keeping the expenditure in control, but towards leading a simple living and cutting down on non-essentials.

(2) When choices are too many, it clutters our mind and hampers the decision making. I definitely don't want to spend a lot of time thinking "what to wear today?". Research has shown that too many decisions to be made in a day affects our cognitive abilities.

"decision-making is very hard on your neural resources and that little decisions appear to take up as much energy as big ones."

(3) Clutter causes stress and anxiety. Over-crowded shelves, heaps and heaps of clothes piled up till the point it collapses are all possible sources of adding more stress into your lives.

If you are looking at reducing your wardrobe clutter, take a pledge
that you will not make random purchases
that you will buy only with a clear intent or purpose
that you will take stock of what's already inside your wardrobe.

Would love to hear your comments.

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