This year’s decluttering

I love this vintage dress and wear it for every second New Year’s Party.

I continued my decluttering this year, and have not bought much, all things considered.

I have used up most of my beauty products, and put the brakes on buying more until what I have is gone. I find the #empties and #hitthepan tags on Instagram to be inspirational for this. I have one mascara on the go instead of two or three, and one bottle of shampoo instead of multiple.

I have reduced my wardrobe A LOT, which has felt fantastic. Out have gone all the bobbly cardigans, the too-small jeans, and things that don’t suit me. If something doesn’t fit well, it goes, no matter how gorgeous it is. I don’t impulse buy on sales anymore, or buy anything just because it is cheap. I rotate clothes I have instead of buying new items. I have investment items altered, resoled, repaired if I can.

I would love to end up with a basic mix-and-match capsule wardrobe with investment classics in neutral colours. For example:

  • black straight-legged trousers, 1 pair
  • jeans, two pairs (one light, one dark). One flare, one slim.
  • black Chelsea boots x 1
  • white sneakers x 1
  • denim jacket x 1
  • leather jacket x 1
  • white shirt
  • short-sleeved t shirts in white and black
  • one poloneck sweater in black
  • one winter coat
  • minimal classic gold jewellery (chain, ring, stud earrings)
  • pashmina
  • tote bag
  • smaller flap bag
  • backpack

But… I get bored wearing the same things day in and day out. A capsule wardrobe is okay if you are travelling for a week. But for me there are only so many times you can get joy out of wearing five different outfits. So I liven them up with a splash of colour and bright accessories, which means I am still buying some things. Boredom has always been my downfall. I can only wear the same outfit or item so many times before I get tired of it.

Then when my ‘classics’ wear out, I often cannot find them again. The companies don’t make or stock my ‘magic’ black trousers or comfortable Chelsea boots anymore. So I have to buy something else. And I end up buying more than one kind before I manage to find anything that suits me. This applies whether it is lipstick or jeans. I have a wonderful pair of BLK DNM jeans that I love and have had for years, But they are faded now and forming holes. I can no longer wear them to work as I did when they were dark blue and pristine. I will never find another pair because the company discontinued them.

There are clothing chains in Sweden that have a basic range which never changes, so you will always be able to find your classic black jacket, for example. But a shop assistant in one of them told me that not all customers like buying the same thing all the time so the range does not sell well, and also that if the quality is outstanding, people don’t buy as much as they need to in order to keep the stores in business, because they do not need to replace them very often.

I guess much of our consumption is based on built-in obsolescence. There is always an updated version, a new colour, an improved formula, a new trend. Though I have noticed people are hanging onto their televisions, phones and cars longer now. Constant upgrades may not be so alluring anymore. My father used to buy a new car every x number of years whether he needed to or no, because that is what was common then. I always used to drive the same car until it didn’t go anymore!

I realised recently that I am not sentimental about clothes. I know people who love it when their clothes become comfortable, faded and worn in. Or keep clothes from special occasions, even though they may not fit anymore. I am not like that, but I am sentimental about jewellery that has been gifted to me. Oh, and I hate wearing in new shoes. Even if I buy exactly the same make and model boots, they usually still feel like mousetraps on that awful first day. And my shoes are generally flat and designed to be comfy. I would hate to know what strappy stiletto-heeled sandals must feel like on day one.

Several of my students have said to me recently that covid and then the financial crisis have dramatically changed their shopping habits. They don’t buy as much as they used to because they realised that you don’t need as much as enterprises would have you believe. I think that is true.


Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

3 thoughts

  1. You are always on my mind whenever I open my wardrobe or whenever I open my Amazon tab: WWJD? (What Would Janet Do?). I never buy too many clothes, especially trousers because I have tiny legs and I always have to chop off the bottoms and sew them and I don’t like it… Accessories are a different thing… I also try to have a neutral wardrobe with pieces that go well with one another. I have plenty of handbags and I may buy a couple of handbags/backpacks a year because I keep changing my mind about my system. I go through cycles where I think about an aspect of my life very intensely and then need to buy a whole new system. Slowly, I started looking at my things and I’m trying to re-use things that I haven’t used in so long and it gives me the same high as buying new things, so I guess that’s progress? But I should really sort through things and sell things but I’m so sentimental, so it doesn’t work all that well. Still, these kinds of posts help me reassess what I should be doing and how I should not instantly buy whatever tickles my fancy…

    1. I have learned the hard way that you have to be ready to let the item go. Seller’s remorse is real…
      I have tried using jewellery in different ways too – for example stacking rings I normally wear by themselves.

      1. I hear you… Back when Mari Kondo and her absolute decluttering method became popular, I could barely finish watching the series because it was too overwhelming. I had spoken to a Japanese friend of mine who happened to use this method and she sold so many of her possessions and she also had extreme seller’s remorse…

        Thanks to your many posts on how to use jewelry, I have also been experimenting and layering and even mixing metals too! So thank you!

Leave a Reply