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Simplify Your Life

Ban on Clothes Buying Improved Her Wardrobe

May 23, 1999|ELAINE ST. JAMES

Dear Elaine: Right after the first of the year, you wrote a column about a woman who made a vow not to buy any new clothes for a year. Since I've been "addicted" to clothes all my life, and it was time to clean out my closet, I decided this was something I wanted to do, too.

I did the usual--threw out some of the items, bundled up others for family, friends and charity--but my closet was still too full.

Then I asked myself, as a test, "What would you do if somebody said you never again had to wear anything you don't like?" I couldn't believe the things I was then able to haul out of the closet, and there were still plenty of wonderful, wearable clothes left. (Luckily, I have space in a closet in another room, so I didn't pitch them yet.)

I can't begin to describe the great feeling I have now when I walk into my closet and know that I love everything there and would feel comfortable wearing any of it. Not only that, the clothes are no longer all jammed together.

In addition, this process had a twofold effect. First, since I wouldn't be spending any more money on clothes this year, I didn't feel guilty removing those things that I'd always told myself I should wear because I'd spent money on them. Secondly, admitting all those "fashion mistakes" reinforces my vow not to buy anything new.

I want you to know how that column, and my spin on it, truly helped me simplify my life. Thanks for your great ideas.


Dear Marjorie: What a thoughtful approach. So many of us hold onto things in our closets, whether we like them or not, because we spent our hard-earned money on them. We keep deluding ourselves that maybe someday we'll like them, but the longer they hang there, cluttering up our closets, the less likely it is that we'll ever wear them.

Also, your idea about setting some things aside in another closet until you're certain is a good one. That's a painless way to prove to yourself that you don't need those things. The fact is, 99% of the time you'll never go into that other closet.

After you've not been in there for several months, it's much easier to pass those things on to a thrift shop.

I've found, too, that having only things in my closet that I love to wear greatly simplifies the daily, often time-consuming, dilemma of what to wear. One of the major complications in all areas of our lives is that we have too many choices. Nowhere is that more apparent than in our closets.

Elaine St. James is the author of "Simplify Your Life" and "Simplify Your Life With Kids." For questions or comments, write to her in care of Universal Press Syndicate, 4520 Main St., Kansas City, MO 64111, or e-mail her at

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