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How much is enough?

Mrs Pete
last year

How many sweaters are reasonable? How many pairs of jeans should an adult own? How many pairs of shoes are "too much"? How many towels make sense?


I just read an article with some shocking stats: The average American:

- buys 5 times more clothing than in the 80s.

- wears an item of clothing only 7 times.

- considers an item of clothing "old" after wearing it 3 times.

- discards 80 pounds of clothing and textiles per year.

- thinks that giving clothes to Goodwill helps others, but the truth is that the donations vastly outstrip the used-clothing market, and much of what is donated goes to other merchandisers or overseas.


I can't relate to these numbers.


In contrast, I remember reading an article in the paper -- it was definitely over 10 years ago -- that resonated with me: the writer said that when you buy an article of clothing, you should expect it to last a decade. That is, the quality should be good enough to last, and it shouldn't be so trendy /so age-specific that you can't see yourself wearing it at your age + 10. That article stuck with me, and I've thought of it many times.


What do you think? Reading this latest article brought to the forefront some things I've been thinking about lately. A couple years ago I developed Plantar Fasciitis, and I had to give away over half my shoes (my daughters didn't mind -- we all wear the same size, so my loss was their gain). I've lost a bit of weight in the past few months, and I'm discarding some clothes /need some new things to replace them. And in conjunction, we're preparing to move /downsize, so I'm trying to discard things that I don't use on a regular basis -- especially since I'm on the doorstep of retirement and expect my wardrobe needs to change.


For me personally:

- I definitely have items of clothing I've owned for more than a decade. My well-worn hiking boots, for example. And I have a couple pair of "church shoes" and dressy-dresses that don't get heavy use.

- On the other hand, I have a pair of brown knee-boots that I used to love to wear with dresses in winter, but now they're badly worn out. Why am I keeping them? Because if I get rid of them, I won't have brown knee-boots. I am aware this makes no sense. I'm talking myself into saying goodbye to them.

- I have a handful of dresses that I like but I rarely wear -- and some things that're dressier than I typically wear -- I'm kicking around whether to keep them or let them go. Maybe just keep the black dress that looks great on me and is useful for funerals? Would I enjoy a spacious closet more than these rarely-chosen options?

- My typical work outfit is either a Lands' End knit dress + cardigan ... or colored jeans + a blouse-y top (with a cardigan in cold months). Work clothes are kind of my focus at the moment, so I've just counted: 6 dresses + 8 cardigans that I wear on a regular basis ... 4 pairs of colored jeans + 17 blouse-y tops (mostly short sleeved; I wear them with cardigans in the winter). The jeans (and a few tops) need replacing because of size), but I think my overall numbers are pretty good.

- I've just set aside to discard the last of my dry-clean only items. Not worth the effort. Well, except for one coat, which I love and wear constantly in winter -- a coat is worth the effort of the trip to the dry cleaner, whereas a skirt (no matter how nice) isn't.

- I own only one pair of blue jeans -- newly purchased (well, new to me from Goodwill), size 6 and they're a little big already. This is barely adequate now, and when I retire I will wear jeans much more often -- I need to add more jeans.

- I have about 6 pairs of LulaRoe leggins, which I like to wear at home. This seems excessive, but I suspect they won't have that long a lifespan -- I'm inclined to keep them.

- I've discarded most of my tee-shirts because they're too big now. I don't think I really want to replace them -- I don't wear them often.

- I have about 8 sweatshirts, and that seems like too many -- they don't get used on a regular basis. But I do like all of them. Should I pare down? One has a hole in it -- that's an obvious "go", even though I like it.

- At home in the summer I like to wear tee-shirt dresses. I have four and wear them constantly in the summer, but one is solid black /picks up dog hair and one has a couple bitty-holes in the back. I'd like to get rid of the ones that aren't "favorites".

- I see that I need to replace some pajamas. About half of mine are too worn.

- I have just the right number of workout clothes, but the sizes aren't right -- so I do need to change these.


Thoughts on what I have vs. what's "enough"? I'm NOT interested in platitudes such as "whatever is right for you". I'm wondering how close I am to average? Any holes in my logic?

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