Whether this applies to you or someone you know, the first step in conquering your problem is admitting that you have a problem. Clothes hoarding is not a crime but it can be a serious imposition on you and the people you love. If any of these five signs ring a bell, you my friend, or someone you know, is a clothes hoarder:
1. You screech that you have nothing to wear whilst wading through mountains of clothes, shoes and bags.
2. Your wardrobe is perpetually broken or straining under the weight of so many clothes, all of which you ‘need’.
3. You are the butt of every clothes-related joke amongst your family and friends and secretly take it as a compliment.
4. You cling to clothes that haven’t been worn for about ten years and probably weren’t that fashionable in the first place.
5. You have personal relationships with your clothes and speak to them when you think nobody is listening.
There is no beating around the bush: I am a clothes hoarder and will probably always be a clothes hoarder, and it is better to own up to the problem than to live in denial. Clothes hoarding has been a source of contention and friction in my life for numerous fairly obvious reasons. I take up a lot of wardrobe space that I should be sharing, furniture is used as additional storage and my bedroom floor has been obscured from vision for weeks on end, making simply logistical manoeuvres, for example walking, very tricky.
All joking aside, I do not think I’m alone in wanting to hang onto my clothes for dear life. The only reason why I have carried on for so long is that there is something almost socially acceptable about hoarding clothes. Hoarding dolls, old Nokia phones or cinema stubs seems to spell social pariah much more than an overloaded wardrobe. Furthermore, I would argue that the act of buying and hoarding clothes is actively encouraged in Western culture. Like many young women, I grew up watching Gossip Girl, Sex and the City and The Devil Wears Prada where huge walk-in wardrobes, clothes on tap and a new outfit in every scene is portrayed as the absolute norm. This has made way for reality shows like Keeping Up With the Kardashians and the Real Housewives franchise where owning a wardrobe the size of a small house is a sign of affluence, of social superiority and wealth. These women and characters are all classic hoarders, but when you have the space in which to keep all of your clothes, it looks a lot less like a problem.
Maybe then I am a victim of a larger social situation where we’re encouraged to buy more and more clothes that, when you’re in in your early twenties, you really don’t have space for. There is, however, the important fact that I really do love the clothes I wear because they are almost extensions of my own body: they give me confidence when I need it and allow me to reflect my moods in a physical form. Why would I then want to throw them away?
Every new season we’re encouraged to re-invent ourselves, invest in new clothes and fashion ourselves a whole new look. Herein lies the genius behind hoarding. As we all know, fashion works cyclically, with looks and styles constantly going in and out of fashion. Hoarding makes perfect financial and sartorial sense because by keeping a beloved piece that has gone out of fashion, we won’t have to go out and buy the same thing again when it inevitably rolls back around. Hoarding produces veritable goldmines, allowing you to step back in time without having to rummage through vintage shops. Ransacking my parents’ hoards has proved very fruitful. I’ve found Ray Ban Wayfarers from the 1980s, cool leather rucksacks, clip on earrings, jumpers and band t-shirts from the 1970s. Or take the Birkenstock sandal: they were all the rage in 2008 when I invested in two pairs. A year later they had been eclipsed by the gladiator, which held firm in fashion for about six years. In 2014, Alexa Chung Instagrammed one photo of herself wearing Birkenstocks and suddenly they were all the rage again. Thank god I had my two pristine pairs, carefully preserved from 2008, in the back of my wardrobe ready to wear…
I’m not one to play the ‘human nature’ card but as a species, hoarding things we love has been a part of our cultural make-up ever since the Anglo-Saxons buried their gold, jewellery and armour for safe-keeping. I may be ridiculous, I may be over sentimental but I am part of a severely underappreciated recycling project that truly invests in and savours good clothes.
This post was contributed by MaryJaneFashion.com, an online ladies fashion wholesale supplier. They are based in Manchester, UK and ship celebrity-inspired fashions worldwide.
Words by Elizabeth Harper