Making piles of clothes to be redistributed (to friends and family to pick through first, and after that to clothing bins) was sobering when I counted up the negligible cost of each single item and added it to the next. It made me rethink how many pieces of clothing I really needed, even knowing that I need the illusion of choice.
I love the idea of a capsule wardrobe; I daydream about being the kind of woman who has such a perfect, edited, timeless, exquisitely monochromatic wardrobe – probably all from egg or Margaret Howell – that all she has to do is choose one or two beautiful new pieces each season. The reality is that I am easily bored, and crave choice, and above all, pattern.
My compromise is to buy less, and to buy the best I can afford (the latter dictates the former, which is helpful). I try to buy responsibly, meaning that I strive to support labels who are transparent and ethical, but I have been known to give in to impulse and grab the opportunity for beauty at an affordable price, without double checking the credentials. I have managed to train myself to ask myself if I really need a garment, if I will wear it enough to justify not the price, but the space it will take up, if it is made of a fabric that I value. The truth is that I never “need” it – I have ample clothes, but sometimes it would be useful, either practically or to give me pleasure – and sometimes that is reason enough.