Most people think hoarders are just people who never throw anything away, from empty yogurt containers to old newspapers and magazines. Coming from a family of hoarders, I've noticed hoarders also tend to buy more than they need. They're the ones who walk into a store, discover a new favorite piece of clothing and then buy multiples of it. They stock up on stockings in the event that they discover every pair they own has runs and can no longer be worn. They buy socks in bulk, stocking up whenever there's a sale, and they never think they have enough underwear, t shirts, or socks. Their cabinets are fillet with extra rolls of paper, extra q tips, extra toothbrushes, tubes of toothpaste, and cosmetics like shampoo bottles or mouthwash.
Some know they have multiples and buy anyway, and others stock up out of an innate fear of not enough. The fear that they will run out, be caught unprepared, and not have what they need, when they need it.
Am I hoarder, too?
I am also a victim of his fear. The fear of not having enough is fueled by the memory of standing in front of my closet, clothes strewn about, sweating against a time limit as I struggle to find anything to wear. As a result, I'm always wanting to go shopping, always browsing my favorite online stores, and always looking out for sales events. When I'm at the store, I like trying on blazers and jackets and purchasing collar shirts and black tees even though I already own more of those pieces than I need. That's why I am doing the capsule wardrobe.
The same fear is magnified when I'm planning for others. In my mind, my husband never has enough t shirts or wife beaters. I would keep an eye out for cool t shirts, black t shirts, and anything with a witty quote or catchphrase. Then, one day I took out all his t shirts and counted close to sixty pieces. Since then, we've purged his tees several times and finally got down to a more reasonable number (for his capsule wardrobe), but I find that he's still looking for more t shirts when we go out. Even after reminding him of the exact number of shirts he already owns, he still believes he could do with a couple more!
How much is enough?
Recently, I've encountered the same anxiety with my kids' wardrobes. For months, I've been feeling that my seven-month-old daughter does not have enough clothing. As the weather grew colder, I worried she didn't have enough sweaters, that her jackets were getting snug, and that she'd eventually freeze or catch a cold. It sounds crazy, but it was this nagging feeling I had at the back of my mind that popped up whenever there was a chance to shop for more kids' clothing. I even chastised my husband for how little money we spent on her and how few pieces of clothing we bought for her. Clearly, I said, she does not have enough to wear as she outgrows her old clothes.
So, I dragged us to carters and we bought her new clothes. I breathed a sigh of relief and was momentarily satisfied. Few days later, I discovered that I did have extra clothing put away that were a size bigger, but definitely wearable. I regretted the purchases, but noted that they were put into good use and were much cuter than my sons handmedowns.
Why do I need a list?
After this experience, I have, once again, felt anxious about her growth spurts and feel as if she won't have anything to wear soon. I was cleaning out old stuff from the storage and discovered my Muji planner from 2014 where I clearly listed every piece of clothing we had purchased my son. Inspired, I made a simplified version for his sister.
The list was simple: long sleeve tops, short sleeve tops, bottoms, sweaters, socks, hats
Then, I chose an arbitrary number: 6, as the minimum number of pieces She needs, based on an article I remember reading on thebump.com when I was expecting my first. According to the article, you only needed to buy six onesies in each size, like 3 months, 6 months, 9 months...I definitely had more than that, but I guess six is enough.
Soon, as I filled up my list, I discovered that she definitely had the minimum number of pieces, often exceeding six pieces. I also noted with a little star pieces that were getting small, and was happy to find that I had enough to replace them. From the list I could also clearly see that while I had been stressed about winter clothes to fill an immediate need, once the weather warms up in a month or so, my daughter will not have enough spring/summer clothing. I had discovered the real need.
Now I can go out and buy the pieces I know for a fact she'll need soon, rather than feed my anxieties by buying what I think she needs now.
And that is what I would ideally do with my capsule wardrobe list as well, and why you should make a list of all the clothes you own.