If T-shirts were zombies, our brains would already have been eaten

On Wednesday, I discussed my efforts to declutter my life, both of physical possessions and other unnecessary attachments. The idea is that stuff carries not only a financial cost, but a psychological one as well, in the form of stress. This battle is an ongoing one, with progress coming slowly and systematically. There is one area, though, where I am so woefully overwhelmed by the sheer volume of stuff that I have yet to even attempt to make any progress: clothes.

Due to a combination of years of accumulation, irrational attachment “I know it’s a size XXL, but that’s the shirt I caught out of the cannon at that minor league baseball game in 2003! I can still use it as a pillowcase…”), thrift store binging (“A child’s medium lavender Mr. Wizard crewneck sweatshirt for only $2? Done.”), and a relentless inability to say no to a good deal, I have a massive amount of clothes. Maybe “massive” isn’t the word; it doesn’t seem big enough (that’s what she said!). What’s the opposite of “Lillputian?” What word describes that fat guy in Seven who’s forced to eat until his stomach bursts? My wardrobe is that size. I haven’t shopped for clothes (to speak of) in at least a year, and yet my wardrobe is still completely unruly. I swear that I have 60 T-shirts if I have a single one. I could clothe 20% of the population of my hometown for a day. Provided they all brought their own underwear. Otherwise it’s just gross. But you don’t have to take my word for it –I have pictures:

This is my every day supply of clothes: the drawers under my bed. Yes, I bought a bed with drawers included, mainly because it reminded me of the one I had as a kid. Oddly enough, this is progress for me, as I slept on a futon until I was 22 years old. At this point, we should just all be relived that my bed isn’t shaped like a spaceship. Oh, and I don’t own a dresser. I’m a child.

This is my closet. It extends to the left there a bit, so there are more clothes hanging in there, but more noteworthy are the two laundry baskets stacked one atop the other. Some of the laundry in there has maintained “dirty” status since prior to moving into my current apartment more than a year ago. I only recently re-discovered the duffel bag that I stashed away on the floor of the closet, where I had stashed away all my excess dirty laundry back in February 2009. It was a frightening discovery. Also note the collection of ties which, while impressive, are now almost entirely useless to me. Well. not entirely useless, if you’re picking up what I’m putting down.

Speaking of dirty clothes, here are two full bags ready to be dropped at the laundromat. Each one weighs about 15 pounds, according to the scale at the laundromat on the corner.

Here are shirts, pants and sweaters that need to be dry cleaned. Like the ties, I don’t have much use for “dry clean only” clothes these days. The basket does give me an opportunity to make Mitch Hedberg references, however.

And finally, here are the two boxes of clothes I’ve already set aside to be donated. The one on the right has been hanging out, waiting to leave since Christmas. Five months of wardrobe purgatory is a hell of sentence for apparel that did such a noble job outfitting me for so long. I feel shame.

Before you ask, I took all these pictures within a minute of one another, so there’s no overlap between these groups. What you see here is my entire wardrobe, and of course it begs the question “What. The. Fuck?” Why do I have all these clothes? I have clothes that I literally have not worn in a year and half or more. I have so many clothes I can’t remember the last time most of them were clean at the same time. In short, I have more than I need. Much, much more. To quote one of the great films of my generation, “In the immortal words of The Doors, ‘the time to hesitate is through.'” It’s time to get rid of this excess, and the first step in that effort is to formulate a plan:

  1. Donate all the clothes I’ve already set aside.
  2. Launder the bags and baskets of dirty clothes so they can be properly sorted through.
  3. Over time, identify items that do not fit/are torn or damaged/unnecessary and donate or toss them as appropriate. Fortunately, since I’ve been working out for the last three months, a significant portion of my clothes are now too small for me, so they are easy to get rid of.
  4. Don’t. Buy. Anything.

These are preliminary steps, but to me it looks like a good start. In the end, although I may save some money on the cost of laundry with smaller loads, the real benefits here are reclaimed space and the peace of mind that accompanies simplicity. The goal is to pare the whole wardrobe down to the point that every item is something that has utility, and that I actually wear. Or, barring that, at least to  a point where my closet doesn’t look like a hoarder died. Baby steps.

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