It was 11am on Monday when I decided I should throw half of my clothes away.
I had only recently read The Times‘ extract of James Bloodworth’s new book Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain, and his words about working a month in a retail giant’s warehouse weighed heavily on my mind.
… My feet began to resemble two ragged clods of wax gone over with a cheese grater. Traipsing around for ten miles when your feet are soft and you’ve eaten well and slept soundly is one thing. Doing it for four consecutive days (and that’s before any overtime is factored in), with very little let-up and on a diet of ready meals, is another thing altogether.
When they start, cordial, bright-eyed young Romanian men and women are so busy running around that they don’t even have time to wipe the sweat from their faces. Just a few days later they’ll be curled over their trolleys, trying to snatch a morsel of sleep out of sight of the supervisors.
My love of fast fashion – and rapid accumulation of clothes I don’t particularly like, let alone need – suddenly became very apparent.
Despite only moving in to my apartment 14 months ago, I realised I had accumulated a ludicrous amount of clothes I never even wear; clothes that had once been popped into a trolley with a single click, only to be worn once and relegated to the back of the heap.
When it came to my wardrobe/floordrobe, there was no order to anything. At all. I started to think someone was sneaking in and stealing all my undies… that a pesky, stealthy Cotton On thief was on the loose while I was forced to go commando at least once a week.
There was the other small issue of my boyfriend threatening to break up with me unless I got my floordrobe under control (not really, but another fortnight and he’d probably be organising for the locks to be changed).
It was my day off work and I resolutely decided ‘enough’. It was time to sort my clothes mess out. I put on a Spotify playlist and dove in head-first, finding too many pairs of abandoned underwear along the way.
Within an hour, half of my wardrobe was gone.
My criteria for deciding whether something would make the cut or if it would be binned was both brutal and effective:
- Have I worn it in the last 12 months?
- Do I feel good in it?
If something didn’t get two ‘yes’ responses, it was binned, baby, BINNED. My “bin group” resembled a mountain within an hour, which I then divided into SELL, DONATE and TRASH piles.
Honestly, I had no idea how much crap I owned until I sifted through each t-shirt, skirt, and hoodie one by one. I’m still reeling from how much I got rid of and how many spare coat-hangers I now have. I feel light and fuzzy and free. I'm about seven years late but it turns out Marie Kondo was totally right.
I got rid of 38 things all up. I know. It’s a touch disturbing that I could own so much and it just sat there for over a year while others in need went without.
Of the things that didn’t pass my criteria, the vast majority fell into a ‘fast fashion’ group; things I’d bought from crappy online boutiques on a whim. They were all from cheap stores and, despite being worn a handful of times each, looked bloody exhausted. When things had a price tag between $10-$50, it showed. Almost everything in this price range ended up being ditched from my wardrobe. But the stuff I’d spent that little bit extra on – the stuff in the $100 and over range? That stuff is still in my wardrobe, in some cases even years after I purchased it.
Sure, buying more expensive stuff is a commitment that’s not accessible to everyone – but it’s also more ethical and I figure the longevity in each piece will pay off in the future.
I want to, wherever possible, stop indulging in fast fashion this year.
Listen: Arianna Huffington's advice for dressing for work. Post continues...
This doesn't mean I'm going to start shopping at designer stores - I'm not made of money - but I am going to try to get into Ebay and vintage shopping more; the idea of recycling great clothes just sounds too good to pass up.
My 'sell' items are already on my shiny new Ebay account. I'm already getting a weird kick out of knowing some of the clothes I loved will now be going to other homes.
I might have half the clothes, but I also feel rather marvellous about getting rid of the stuff I don't need.
How do you manage your wardrobe? Let me know in the comments...