Clothing Karma

set love free Clothing Karma

Image by Elineart via Flickr

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I have an ongoing project, a nemesis if you will. The quest to have a house filled with “nothing that is neither useful nor beautiful” in the words of William Morris.  Sure, it sounds simple enough, but for me it gets right to the heart of a daily struggle.  You see, I am a Maximalist Minimalist. There exists within me an eternal struggle for the bright,the shiny, the hoarder and collector; and yet I hate to dust and know that I would spend far less time having to tidy up if I had less stuff! Indeed, this is a luxury of a dilemma to have, but a dilemma nonetheless.  So this year I have been working ever so slowly towards getting it under control.

Being a vintage clothing collector, I often feel compelled to “liberate” pieces from their current situation. Find a beautiful vintage dress two sizes too big in an Op shop? I still have to have it in case it is ragged, or bought by someone to be cut up for a school play. There is little logic involved when it comes to collecting, and fashion even more so; as it is difficult to store, requires constant care and attention and it’s display relies primarily on your body remaining the same shape! Why on earth do we do it if not for love?  The problem is that when you start to attach such strong emotional values to your vintage clothing, it starts to extend into your regular wardrobe, which then extends into your family’s wardrobe… and on it goes.  So I find myself sitting it a storage room filled with three racks of clothes I no longer wear (or am ever likely too – maternity pants anyone?), boxes of baby clothes and toys, hats, purses etc… and each piece has a memory attached.  Somehow giving them away feels like a betrayal of those times.  As if by letting go of that little pink baby suit, I am letting go of the baby who wore it. Like I said, no logic.

It is at this point of having moved the unnecessary items into storage, that I must face this crisis of emotion and move onto the next level of enlightenment.  My very good friend Nicole has become my spiritual leader in this regard. Not to sound too serious, but unless you face a similar crisis yourself it is hard to understand its hold in you.  She tells me, (to paraphrase) ” I let go of clothes. Let them out into the cycle of clothing karma where they will find a new home and come back to me in the form of that perfect vintage dress I have been looking for all these years.” And then the penny dropped.  If I continue to hold onto all these things, they will only serve to be a burden for me.  There will be no space to let anything new in, and neither will the well be replenished for others if we all keep on hoarding it.

So I am letting go.  I have forgone the marketing or eBaying of this last lot, as it is just too much effort.  Instead, I have boxed things up and sent them on their way to new homes with my blessing.  Yesterday I took about 40 kilos of clothing and accessories to my local Op Shop. (Please – don’t ask why there was so much!) I make sure that everything is clean and well presented to allow it to hit the shelves straight away, and always hand it to the volunteers in person.  Part of my hesitation in letting many of these pieces go, is the rate at which they are simply put into land fill and treated as rubbish.  But my rational is that if I treat them with respect that the store will also, and then they will find a good new home.

After letting go of many of my personal pieces, I headed into some serious emotional territory and opened the boxes of baby clothes. I had sold off many at the local market, but still had a ridiculous amount remaining, and knew that I had to let them go to move on.  When it comes to baby gear, knowing that they will go somewhere that they are truly needed and appreciated is the only way I could part with them.  So I did a little research and found a small hospital that cares for mothers and new babies from disadvantaged backgrounds.  (The Caroline Chisholm Society in Melbourne needs your little baby gear if you have it to spare! ) Knowing that these pieces, so lovingly knitted by Nana,  would keep another baby warm, was all I needed to let them go.  I have kept a few pieces.  Things my girls wore home from hospital, heirloom pieces and one handmade piece from each family member.  The other pieces I found hard to let go, I photographed and then boxed up.

I know this isn’t the end of my quest, but just the beginning.  The day I master it I’ll let you know, but until then I will keep on working towards my goal;  heading off a future that sees me living as a  slave to stuff!

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Candice DeVille

Specialty Vintage Stylist, Blogger, and Presenter; Candice DeVille has been writing Super Kawaii Mama since early 2008. Based in Melbourne, Australia, she's always in search of the next glamorous adventure. Bringing you vintage style, glamour and inspiration for the 21st Century.
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  1. Oh SKM which stores did you send them to? please share :)

    • Super Kawaii Mama /

      Rebecca: I contemplated putting it online and giving it away, but I simply didn’t have the time! Most of the clothes went to the local St Vincents.

  2. Tania /

    This makes so much sense. I held onto old outfits for sentimental reasons and then realised that I had nice photos of myself wearing them and that was really enough – I didn’t need to store the 80s outfit that was now one size too small. So I liberated a lot of stuff.

    Your description of a Maximalist Minimalist is spot on.


  3. It’s terribly hard to let go isn’t it? My problem is will books. I have shelves and shelves of books, some of which I will never read again. I should go through and cull the crap and keep the corkers, but I just can’t … quite … get … there …

  4. Mitzy G /

    Yes, you have to let go of things to make space in your life. Space for other wonderful things to come in, space for yourself, space to move, think, space to breathe.
    As part of the Massive Move Mission here at Chez Carter-Penley we are getting rid of practically everything and, while it is scary, it is also liberating.

  5. Think of all the little babies who will be beautiful and warm in those clothes! Good job SKM. You are liberating space for new heirlooms.

  6. Good for you, I am very proud. I remember having to pack up my boy’s baby clothes. It was terribly difficult. I saved some to make into quilts, but the majority of it went on to other babies.

    Thanks doll,
    The Glamorous Housewife

  7. Stop by and clean my house next, okay?

  8. I think it’s great that you did your research & donated the baby clothes to a place where you know they’ll be very much appreciated & of a lot of use! Good luck with the rest of your stuff, please document the process for stuffaholics like myself!

    • Super Kawaii Mama /

      Tara: It really is so much easier when you know where it is going will be appreciated.
      Wendy B: I imagine your place couldn’t be anywhere near as bad as mine with all its occupants!
      K.Line: Yep, it’s that image that makes it all the more easy to part with.
      Mitzy G: I’ve only done that once when on a big move, and it was only for myself, not a whole family! What a job!
      Icy: Books are another kettle of fish indeed.
      Tania: Perhaps it was your Betsey Johnson 80′s dress I scored recently then? We have to send them out to make someone else’s day. :)

  9. Lauren /

    I well understand this sort of difficulty. On the whole I think I am a minimalist, at least in my everyday life and what I see around the house, but when I can store stuff away somewhere hidden I tend to do so. I hate getting rid of things with memories attached! Recently, my parents divorced and my mother and I are moving into a much smaller house, so I’ve had to trawl through so many boxes of stuff and ask myself if I really need it. Stuff from childhood, my parents wedding, clothes…do I need most of it? The answer on the whole was no, but it didn’t make it easier to part with bits and pieces. In the end I took a big breath, packed up a number of boxes and headed to the local Salvos before uni with all of my junk. I felt very liberated afterwards, but it was hard!

  10. elena @ fabulous finds /

    this was so encouraging! i have been on the same quest…for about 5 months now…as i am cleaning stuff (err…treasures…err…memories) it is liberating…but yet…i do not see the end in sight…how did this happen??
    your post encouraged me to keep on keeping on…i too, have the belief…that if it can go to a home where it will be appreciated…that is so much better than sitting in my closet…and not being worn…

  11. I understand this dilemma completely. One day I will’ve finished waded through the things I don’t need and never needed and keep for the sake of saving them from the potential of some silly girl throwing a vintage dress in the washing machine, or as you said, being cut up for a school play.

    I actually feel inspired to finish the job now though!

  12. Michelle Paterson /

    Hi, could you tell me which hospital this is? I need to do the same thing. We have a ridiculous amount of baby clothes as well.

    Well done by the way and may the blessing return to you tenfold.

    • Super Kawaii Mama /

      Michelle: I’ve now added a link in the post. It is the Caroline Chisholm Society in Melbourne –
      Wild Tea Party: Yay! Let me know how you go.
      Elena: It’s nice to know I am not alone in this affliction.
      Lauren: Just like loosing physical weight, shedding this metaphorical weight is just as hard – and just as liberating!

  13. Go GO!… Though Don’t tell DL about your quest, ELSE.. he might get ideas and make me do the same :) Hmm I do know that I will have to face the inevitable when we move to our new place… sigh.. I feel your pain, and triumph!

  14. Lorie /

    I am there as well. I can normally get rid of alot of things, but when it comes to baby clothes….sigh. I have a huge amount of girl clothes (I have 3 boys and 1 girl) which I got from a cousin. My aunt is fairly well off and has a “shopping disorder”. It was all designer stuff in brandnew condition. Some things she hardly wore. I feel like when I give them away, I am giving away part of my child or something. I just cannot seem to do it. Keep up the good work, and I hope I can be as brave as you have been sometime soon…

  15. Ah SKM no you are NOT alone. I’m a massive hoarder and it’s not just my clothes, my mum’s too! I finally ‘let go’ of some of my old clothes to sell on ebay to raise funds for my friend’s trip to Europe and guess what? I still haven’t given them to her.

    It’s weird since i love organising/sorting wardrobes and telling people to get go.


  16. I have some trouble with that, but not as much. I hate getting rid of things, but recently it has been easier since my style is changing a lot.

  17. Vanessa M. Lucero /

    Beautiful job to everyone who minimalizes! I minimalized my entire home starting about five years ago. The whole slow, agonizing process took almost two years! Family items, my son’s baby toys/clothes (which was esp heartwrenching since he does not live with me) photos… Now why on earth hang on to a photo of a bamboon??? So, now, to keep everything in check, I faithfully follow the Chinese New Year housecleaning preparations. For two weeks I make a schedule…one day windows, one day closets- take every blessed thing out clean and repair everything put it back, for everything in the house…and yes I do work full time and part time Mom still manage to get it done! Life is a lot less stressful when you know and wear everything you own, (hmmm I don’t remember buying that?). And have everything in working order! I hope I’ve been an influence! Thanks for reading! V

  18. Nicole is right – and good on you for donating in person. I always bring a good bag of stuff that has failed the 2 year test (2 years unworn) and hand it in. All my raggy bits and washed out spencers and the kid’ grown but not worn out shoes go in clothing bins for Africa or recycling into rags.
    And like Nicole I believe that sending stuff back out into the universe attracts the vintage or thriftage gods back in to reward you. It is actually good Feng Shui too I believe.
    Mr Hammie asked me about my wedding dress and I confessed it was long gone! he looked miffed but I had to be blunt, it was off the rack Laura Ashley in Summer 1989 – I am sure there are hundreds of them sitting in vintage clothing stores waiting for their moment. Me? I moved on.

  19. Jaede /

    After reading your post I opened my wardrobe and the first thing that hit me was the amount fluffy petticoats I have !!! I pulled out one I never wear for a friend who needs one. It’s not much but it’s a start. I did do a major clear out of ‘stuff’ earlier this year for a yard sale and it is liberating but I need to do it again. Photo’s though I can never part with,

  20. i think you just talked about me there. i’m quite disgusted that i can be a decisive person on certain matters (and scratch my head when i see others being half-minded about the same matters) yet so wishy-washy when it comes to.. stuff (stuffaholic – so apt, Tara!). i’ve donated loads of stuff to salvation army. i still felt a twinge when i remembered a particular item that i could’ve kept and reinvented so that my money’s well spent. gosh, i’m sick.

    thanks for this post :)

  21. 40 kilos! My god! I love the term “clothing karma.”


  22. Megami /

    SKM, you are an inspiration. You would think someone who moves every two years or so, and who last January moved EVERYTHING from Australia to the UK would have a pared down life … but no. But if a fantabulous collection like yours can be pared down, I am sure I can do it.
    Guess I know what I am up to this week.

    • Super Kawaii Mama /

      Megami: Aww thanks! I still haven’t mastered it but I’m getting better. I’ll have photos when I’ve finished.


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