How many clothes are too many?

This may be an awkward question for those crafters amongst us who make garments as it is unlikely that we are going to stop knitting/ crocheting and sewing just because our wardrobes get a little bit full. For me however it has got me thinking about how I can knit smart.

In case you were wondering what prompted me to ask myself this question it had rather a lot to do with moving house twice in the space of three months (with the prospect of yet another house move before Christmas). As I filled an entire suitcase with just knickers I began to question my wardrobe gluttony. At around the same time I also listened to an old episode of the Slow Home Podcast where one of the guests was talking about going for a whole year with only wearing 25 items of clothing. Yes that is right I did say just 25! Now my OH could manage this with ease and some days he would probably still think he had too many clothes but I would massively struggle – I refer you to my earlier statement about the suitcase full of knickers.

There were many reasons I had so many clothes the first and probably most common amongst us women is that I had clothes in a whole range of different sizes as my body has fluctuated in size and shape for most of my adult life but especially since having children. The second is that I have multiple “function” groupings within my wardrobe – we have an allotment so I need clothes suitable for working on that, in life before children I worked in an office environment so I had clothes for that (and how I envy my OH who wears a uniform to work) and whilst I don’t intend to return to work anytime soon I have hoarded them for jut in case I do, I have a whole swathe of party frocks because quite frankly I love pretty frocks even though they no longer suit my lifestyle, and finally I have my mummy uniform which are the clothes in my wardrobe that I actually wear.

If that is the problem, what was the solution? The first step was to have a really good clear out – 6 black bin/ garbage bags later the charity shop was full and my wardrobe and heart felt a lot lighter. I donated anything that didn’t fit or flatter the shape that I am now because realistically whilst I may change a bit over time I am no longer going to be able to squeeze my bust or my hips in to a size 10 no matter how hard I try.Out went a large chunk of my work wardrobe because they had already gone out of fashion in the 5 years since I stopped working, I just kept a few classic pieces that would see me through if I ever did return to work/ had an interview etc. Out went a selection of my scruffy allotment clothes, I kept some as I will always need some scruffy outfits for digging up potatoes in but nowhere near as many as I had, and probably even less if I invested in some overalls. Before anyone thinks that I found this easy and have suddenly become a minimalist, I didn’t and I have not. There are still a few items in my wardrobe that don’t fit me but had special sentimental ties that I found it too difficult to part with – the clothes that my mum wore in her early 20s that she gave to me when I was a teenager and the vest top that my Grandad accidentally shoplifted when he was in his 80s.

The second step was to recognise that I don’t need to buy any more clothes for quite some time. In all honesty I’ve been doing quite well with this already without even realising it. When filling in some paperwork as part of the mortgage application process I realised that the only clothes I had actually bought myself in the last 12 months was a bikini for when I went on holiday back in May.

Ok, the third step and this is where it gets scary for us knitters I had to acknowledge that no matter how pretty all the new patterns that flash up on Ravelry’s “hot right now” section are I do not need to knit them all. All my clothes need to serve a purpose/ fill a gap in my wardrobe and that includes the ones I make for myself. This attitude ties in with my desire to be more mindful in my makes during 2016 and plans to build myself a quasi uniform of sorts. Any new makes will also need to fit in with my existing wardrobe, there is no point in spending months knitting a fantastic sweater only to look at it when I have finished and say “oh I haven’t got anything to wear it with, I need to buy some new trousers before I can wear it”.

I suspect this will be a long hard process of scaling down with occasional glitches where I am just too weak to resist casting on something pretty but I aim to try my hardest to keep my unruly garment gluttony under control in the future.

How about you? Do you knit with your heart or do you pick your projects to fit I around existing wardrobe items?


About themanyknitsofnadine

Interested in all things crafty, I knit, spin, sew, crochet, quilt, grow my own and bake (although the baking these days is all allergy friendly) and I try and blog about all these things. I also host a bi-weekly podcast on incorporating slow living into all my crafty adventures
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3 Responses to How many clothes are too many?

  1. salpal1 says:

    Wow – good for you! It is a hard thing to do, but moving is a good motivator. To answer your question – when it comes to shawls, I knit with my heart. I love them all and think I can’t have too many. I DO try to look at color gaps in my wardrobe when choosing yarn, but that isn’t always true. On sweaters – I am more mindful about them. They are more work, so I do look to see what I need, or pay attention when I think “wish I had a red sweater to wear with this today.” Do I really want a red sweater? How many other things would I wear it with? The result of this is that I have knit a few cardigans, which are easier to wear to work, and stopped knitting fabulous cabled pullovers, which are not. Even though I still put them in my queue….

  2. Pingback: Experiments with a minimalist wardrobe. | themanyknitsofnadine

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