The Power Of Less

Spring cleaning nothing to wear closet choice clothes Power of Less, The: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Business and in Life is the self-descriptive title of a best-selling book by Leo Babauta. It is one of a growing number of books which offer advice for coping with the seemingly unending information, tasks, and choices offered by modern society. Barry Schwartz's The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less deals with the paralyzing effect that having too many consumer choices can have. For example, now that Apple’s App Store has more than 100,000 apps, there are increasing numbers of blogs devoted to how to possibly choose among them, as well as asking questions like how many apps do you actually need or use?

In this light I found it interesting that some current guidebooks on style in fashion emphasize the importance of periodically paring down your closet. In her The Little Black Book of Style Nina Garcia writes, “Be an editor. Your closet should only contain amazing pieces—it is much easier to be inspired when you see five remarkable pieces then when you see twenty-five pieces and twenty of them are unremarkable. Pick out those key pieces and get rid of the rest.”

She advises being “ruthless when you edit,” and to keep only items that look good on you now, and make you feel good about yourself. She advises not to hang on to any item because of sentimental reasons, initial cost, or the hope that someday it will fit again. Esquire’s Handbook of Style offers similar advice for men about paring down their closet to items that look good on them now.

Both of these guidebooks also advise shopping for items that emphasize quality fabrics, careful construction, and timeless style over trendiness and bargain prices. And because they believe that good fit is crucial to appearance, they also recommend finding and using a good tailor.

On the fashion-design reality show Project Runway, the models always come in to be fitted, and this is a crucial part of the process. During the judging the way that the garment fits the model is a key factor. With the great variety of sizes available in stores, there is a good chance that you can find items that fit reasonably well, but a good tailor might make them fit exceptionally well.

Which brings us back to purchasing items that use quality fabrics and good construction. The tailor that I now use told me that people sometimes come to her with an item they have picked up as a bargain, and hope that she can tailor it to fit so that it looks great on them. They are surprised when in some cases she has to explain that there is a limit to what she can do if the material is of poor quality or the garment was poorly constructed.

After encountering so much advice on paring down, I decided to go through my closet, and I tossed out clothes that were worn out, no longer fit, were out of style, or that I hadn’t worn in years. Now I am surprised how much more inspiring it is to look through a selection of shirts when I like them all than it was when my closet contained lots of shirts that I was never going to wear again. The same with shoes, pants, jeans, and so on. I also noticed that many of the shirts that I threw out were ones I had purchased on sale  and then had worn only a few times. Ouch. They weren’t such bargains after all.

[Photo by iStockPhoto contributor Attator.]