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The Paradox Of Choice: Do We Really Have Nothing To Wear, Or Do We Have Too Much?

We have all been there, having envisioned an outfit in your head only for it to not look the way you had planned it. Despite there being a mountain of clothes in front of us, whilst standing in front of the mirror, throwing pieces together and something just isn’t working together quite well; the colours are slightly off, the print clashes, or the way it feels on your body is a little strange. Naturally we go straight to thinking that we have nothing to wear. Now, do we really have nothing to wear? In most cases the short answer is no. There are enough clothes bulging out of the wardrobe, but we do in actual truth have too much choice of what to wear.

Stuffocation vs minimalism

Stuffocation, a term coined by James Warren writes "In our busy, cluttered lives more is no longer better. It is worse. Overwhelmed, and suffocating from stuff, we are suffering from an anxiety that I call Stuffocation." Having a lot of ‘stuff’, whether that be the large clothing hauls ordered to our doorstep, as a result of moving items from wish list to basket one late night, when we weren’t feeling our best. In an attempt to improve our mood, or have something to look forward to, we could very well be damaging our mental health without realising it.

Online shopping has been on a steady increase throughout recent years with it skyrocketing, during 2020 & 2021, due to the Covid-19 lockdowns. With more time to spend at home allowing our minds to wander and scroll through social media, such as TikTok, where the algorithm is literally designed to keep you scrolling, on the app for hours on end, by curating a feed based on your interests. Showcasing short videos, advertising to audiences of all ages, in particular the easily influenced younger generation, what clothes are trending and in style and where to purchase them from. Thus, creating an environment where it is easier than ever before to shop products at the tap of a finger. It starts to become clear as to how online sales have been on the rise, as by early 2021 70% of people were buying more items online than before.

Consumer habits are now changing to what we want rather than what we need.

Minimalism is the opposing outlook that challenges materialism and the way in which we over consume. Minimalist fashion is understated and minimal in the colours worn and the amount of clothing held in a wardrobe. A stark contrast to the capitalist nature of what we are constantly fed visually, through advertising online, and all around us. By embracing a minimalist wardrobe, it allows us to really see the clothes that we own. To think creatively about the outfits, how we can pull pieces together to make them complement each other? as there isn’t a mountain of clothes to decide from. The less choice we have in the morning of what clothes to put together, the easier it becomes to create an outfit that will work for you. Curating a capsule wardrobe by investing in key pieces that won’t be ruined after single wash and dry through the washing machine and that can be loved and re-worn for days to come.

Where do I start?

Decluttering your wardrobe would be the first place to start, taking everything out and assessing what you want to keep and what you don’t. So, how do you know what you want to throw away? Generally, if you haven’t worn the item in a year, if it’s got unintentional holes in it, if it’s got a stain that won’t come out no matter how many times it’s been through the wash, it’s time to let go. If you see something that no longer suits your style, or doesn’t fit you and is uncomfortable, simply donate it the next time a donation bag pops through the letterbox. Look at and declutter your wardrobe every 6 months or so. Once there is less stuff to look at daily, you will notice you start to feel less overwhelmed and suffocated when it comes to putting together an outfit.

The key points to remember when you are on the hunt for clothes on your next shopping spree is that less is more. Before buying into the latest trend, pause for a second and reflect, will I wear this again? Will it be an investment into my wardrobe? Or will it join the pile of worn once and never again? This will not only help improve your spending habits, but will put you towards a step in the right direction to reduce over consumption in your life. You slowly but surely will no longer have to feel like you have ‘nothing to wear’.


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