I think a lot about clothes. I think about what I am going to wear. For three hours every day I think about what clothes I am going to send to my Stitch Fix (* affiliate link) clients. And since I read Elizabeth Cline’s book Overdressed (* affiliate link) I have been thinking about clothes even more.
Every year Americans throw away an average of 68 pounds of textiles per person (Overdressed, 122).
One thing Overdressed opened my eyes to is our immense over-consumption of clothing. There is no doubt that I have succumbed with the rest of America to the fast fashion phenomenon. I buy a lot of clothes. I also throw away a lot of clothes. Every time I clean out my closet I have another garbage bag (or two!) full of clothes to either donate or throw away. Something is wrong.
In her book, Cline goes through her own closet and creates an inventory of everything she owns (not including undergarments or socks). It made me wonder what was in my closet. Well, I did my own clothing inventory. I’m going to be transparent and tell you what I found (grace, people).
I own 167 items of clothing.
I own 35 shirts! I could wear a different shirt every day for a month and still not wear them all.
I have 13 pairs of shorts. Now, I live in Texas so I wear shorts a lot, but not 13 times between laundry cycles.
I have 10 pieces of work out ‘gear’. Friends, I’m not sure I have worked out 10 times in the last year.
My closet holds 24 dresses or skirts. A couple weeks ago I bought a new dress, and my husband asked “Another dress? Don’t you have a ton of dresses?” Don’t tell him I said this, but he may have a point.
Finally, I got to the one part of my wardrobe that I always feel is lacking, the piece of my outfits I never am very satisfied with: shoes. I thought that when I looked at my shoes I wouldn’t find very many. Wrong! I have 21 pairs of shoes! They may be shoes that I don’t like, but I own a significant number of shoes.
Deep breath. I have a lot of clothes.
What about how ‘ethical’ my clothing was?
I also checked to see where each piece was made and how I had acquired it.
Nearly half of my clothes were made in China. I only have 8 pieces that were made in the U.S.
Cline mentions this in her book: “The United States now makes 2 percent of the clothing its consumers purchase, down from about 50% in 1990.” (Overdressed, 5) It really saddened me to read about the decline of the garment industry in the US in favor of cheaper prices, and I know that I have been a part of that. I am one of those people who buys $3 tees and then can’t wait for someone to compliment them so they can say, “only $3!”
I also documented how I had acquired each piece. I had purchased 61 pieces at chain retailers. 36 pieces were thrifted. 31 pieces were clothes that were given to me by friends after their closet cleanouts (lucky me!). 26 items were given to me as gifts. 12 items were ethical purchases I had made. 1 piece was handmade by me.
How did taking this inventory help me?
First of all, it helped me pare down my wardrobe as I evaluated whether I should keep each item. After the inventory I added 22 pieces of clothing to my swap pile.
Additionally, I think I have a better grasp of what I own. The numbers feel much weightier to me than the image in my head of my clothing in the closet or dresser. The next time I go to purchase something I hope I remember that I have 19 dresses hanging in my closet. The next time I say “I really think I ‘need‘ more shirts to complete my wardrobe,” I hope I remember the number 35.
After holding each item, I was reminded that I really do like the things that I own and that everything gets regular use (except maybe the work out gear). However, I was disappointed with the quality of a lot items. When I do make purchases in the future I would like to be more aware of quality, versatility, and where each item was made.
What’s in your closet?
We challenge you to take inventory of the clothes that you own! Organize a swap with your friends so you have a plan to pass your clothes on to others and fill in the holes in your wardrobe without buying anything new. We want to hear what you find, so make sure you post pictures on Instagram with the hashtag #DressWellDoGood.