Too many options causes a paralyzing effect. I recently read about a bicycle shop owner who carried about 35 different models. He decided to simplify things in his store by eliminating all of the “good” bikes and only selling the best in each “category.” He had found that most of his customers fell into 1 of 6 categories of buyers: e.g. high performance, high durability, budget bike, etc. He ended up only selling 6 different models, but each one was the best he could find for each type of customer. Once he made this change, his sales sky-rocketed.
There is a freedom that comes with having fewer options. The bicycle shop owner had figured out that some of his customers were experiencing a paralyzing effect from being overwhelmed with all of the options. By eliminating even a bunch of “good” options, he simplified his and the customers’ lives.
I have begun to apply this principle to my wardrobe and have been very pleased with the results so far. My initial fear was that if I got rid of some “good” clothes, that there would be a time when I needed them and I would be kicking myself, but I have not missed them at all. In addition, I love the simplicity and, of course, the extra closet and drawer space.
Organize and eliminate waste
Most of us have clothes for different occasions. Clothes to lounge around the house in, to be casual, to dress up, to dress up really nice, to run errands in, to work in, to exercise in, to play in the snow in, to do yardwork in, and the list can go on and on. I always had a tendency to think that for each occasion I needed multiple outfits, but many occasions happen so infrequently that I only need one (or two) outfits. Or even better would be if you can have one outfit that would cover multiple different occasions.
For example, I used to have about 8 pairs of “lounge around the house” pants, and I would get a chance to wear these types of pants maybe 3 times a week. There was absolutely no need to have that many pants; I just didn’t want to throw them away, because nothing was wrong with them. The truth was, that of those 8, I had my favorite pair that I would have liked to wear all of the time, but didn’t because I felt like I needed to wear the other 7 because they were in my drawer.
It is difficult to get rid of things away when there is nothing wrong with them, but it is necessary if you want to simplify and organize. So I picked out my 2 favorite pairs, gave 6 of the 8 to goodwill, and have not missed the 6 at all. I now get to wear my favorite pants most of the time, and if they are dirty, then I have my second pair. I also have a lot more drawer space and get to wear my favorite ones more often.
I had a similar issue with my work clothes. I had about 12-15 pants and about the same number of shirts. Most of which were mediocre. I hated having to pick which mediocre outfit I would want to wear for that day. So, I began getting rid of the bad, decent, and even good and now I am happy to report that I have 6 shirts and 6 pants that I feel great wearing everyday.
I can’t wear the same outfit every time I go to social events!
True. And I don’t suggest it; people will give you funny looks. Anyone can go buy a new outfit every weekend, but with a little creativity you can come up with many different outfits just with the clothes you have. This is why looking at your wardrobe as whole, rather than individual outfits is important. When buying clothes think about how many different ways you can wear them. If it is an item that will not work with anything else in your closet, then it isn’t going to help you simplify.
Don’t buy BECAUSE it is on Sale
There is a lot of money to be saved by shopping in the sale racks, but buying things just because they are on sale is a terrible idea. I used to find mediocre things on clearance and I would buy them because they were so cheap. The result was that I had a bunch of mediocre clothes that cost me (total) a lot of money. In hindsight, I would have been much better off buying something that looked great and paying full price. Now, I still scan the sale racks, but only buy if it is a “great’ piece of clothing that I know I will love wearing. I don’t waste my money on filling up my closet with “decent” clothes.
When you find something on the sale rack ask yourself:
- Will this item replace or fill a need that I have right now?
- Is it quality? Will it fall apart after I wash it?
- Do I want it because it is cheap, or because it looks great?
- Can I use it with various items in my wardrobe?
Your answers to these questions will give you a good indication of whether or not you should make the purchase.