Multiples. To buy? or Not to buy?
I used to think that if I loved something in black, or white, or gray, I needed it in other colors too; I’ve done it many times. First, with the Splendid lounge pants that Oprah liked so much (I had three pairs, two black and one navy. I still have the original black pair, 10 years later). Over the years, I acquired quite a few Inhabit cotton cardigans in actual colors (brick, yellow, cream, brown…), four pairs of Repetto BB flats I no longer wear, and of course, have all three “colors” of the James Perse casual tee I love so much.
But lately, I’ve started to re-think my strategy (as if I was always so deliberate…) of immediately “collecting” multiples of things I love, because after spending the past year analyzing my wardrobe, I’ve recognized that I really only ever wear the original. And, I’d rather have another, different piece, than more of the same.
Usually, what happens is that I fall in love with something and want to immediately wear it all the time, for the rest of my life, and, what if I wear it out? what if it’s in the laundry, what if I get a stain on it? THEN, what will I wear??
This is literally (not exactly, but in a Rachel Zoe “literally” kind of way..) what happens to me when I start thinking about no longer having or being able to wear something I love – I start to get anxious. Now, I think I know why: I’m extending the deep anxiety I feel when I think about losing the people I love, to the things I love. I think that somehow, if I have enough things, or multiples of things, whenever I no longer have one thing, or the first thing, at least I’ll have another to replace it, without losing a beat.
I also used to think that if I could just amass a wardrobe full of the “perfect” things, and have one in every color, that I would never have to shop again. Why, I would never want to shop again, I have no idea…but ultimately, I thought I could create the “perfect” wardrobe, have the perfect things, and by extension, I would BE perfect. That idea created a never-ending cycle of shopping, searching, and buying that led to my over-full closet a year ago.
I lost Ozzie more than a year ago, and I can’t acquire enough things to bring him back, or diminish the pain of losing him. And the people around me will die. Absolutely. Hopefully not soon, but they will. And nothing will make the loss easier to bear, except perhaps the memories of them I will carry with me.
I would also argue that I HAD amassed a nearly “perfect” wardrobe, of a lot of really great things. But that didn’t make me happy, or good enough, or immune to pain. It left me overwhelmed and suffocating under too much stuff.
I do not mean to say that everyone buys multiples for the reasons I do (EVERYTHING for me, seems to be so wrought with emotion…), sometimes we buy multiples of things for very practical reasons, but I acknowledge and know now, that striving for perfection, and my fear of the future is the primary reason why I do now, and have in the past, owned many multiples of things I love.
Thankfully, I’m doing a better job at not buying multiples lately, as much as I still feel drawn to. I try to sit with the feeling I have when I want to buy the black version, or the gray version, and identify why. And then remind myself that buying this or that, or whatever it is that I feel so strongly I MUST HAVE at the moment won’t save me from pain, from loss, from actually having to deal with the things that scare me. And it won’t get me any closer to perfect.
All buying more stuff gets me is more stuff.
So, if you’re like me, and trying to acquire less stuff, more meaningful stuff, then the only thing to do is be more aware – be more conscious of what you choose to add to your wardrobe and why; be meticulous about it.
And I find keeping these things in mind helps:
- Know your style – if you like the idea of having three colors of the same top or sweater or pair of pants to mix and match either in your work or play wardrobe, and you know this works for you, then by all means, buy multiples. But be careful, and don’t buy multiples of EVERYTHING – be very selective of the piece you choose to buy multiples of; it has to be very-close-to-perfect and the style has to be something you’ll be happy wearing for quite some time. If you’re like me, and you’ve done this in the past, thinking you’d be happy wearing the same styles, just different colors, and you end up just wearing one color all the time, then buying multiples of the same STYLE doesn’t work for you, but buying multiples of the same color might. Although I did that with white t-shirts, and ended up with 26. THEY WERE DIFFERENT!!! Which was still too many…
- Live with the original for a while before buying a second one – I’ve made this mistake more than a few times: when I find something in the store that I love, I’ll grab one or two more in other colors, or even the same color, and buy them all at once (most of the time because they’re on sale..another reason I don’t buy on sale much anymore!). I do this at the Gap with underwear, even though I never remember which styles I like the best, only to get at least one or two pairs I don’t like.
- Identify what is it about the item that makes you think you need another color. As you’re getting dressed, do you often wish that you had the top in black? or the sweater in gray? How many outfits would you be able to make with the second one if you got it? Could you replace the original one with the new one? Sometimes I’ve found that I don’t like the item in the second color as much as the first. It was the entirety of the thing that I liked about the first version and for some reason, it’s not the same in the second. The look is different, and maybe even the fit is different in different colors sometimes.
- Will you crowd out your wardrobe with too many multiples? If you’re trying to maintain a small-ish wardrobe, having multiples of things doesn’t leave much room for trying and adding new things. I’ve learned that I like to try new things periodically, I like to cycle through styles, and I like to try new shapes. So, I’d rather try a new shape – like the Everlane scoop-neck tee – instead of purchase another James Perse casual tee, for example.
Given all this, and even as I am more aware of what I buy and why, I do still sometimes buy multiples:
- When I only have one of something and it seems to always be in the laundry – like my Everlane ryan tank in white. I got a second one of these and now, I always have one available. Until they’re both in the laundry…
- Panties – it’s so hard to find ones you love, so when I do, I tend to try and purchase a few, and especially when they’re on sale. I don’t care about what color my underwear is, so I usually stock up on weird colors as they go on sale.
All of this ultimately goes back to simply appreciating what you have. I understand now, that this is the key to, well, everything, really. Instead of obsessing over acquiring the perfect thing, or focusing on figuring out ways to always be surrounded by the things I love, I should appreciate NOW, that I AM surrounded by the things I love, and the people I love. I am forever sucking the life out of everyday, beautiful moments, by focusing my attention on the future, instead of bringing it back to NOW.
As I recognized in a post recently:
Why not just enjoy the thing while it lasts, REALLY enjoy it, instead of tainting that joy with thoughts of a future without it?
And that is it. Instead of buying a second, love the first. Appreciate the uniqueness of it.
Do you buy multiples? What are your “rules” for when you will and when you won’t? What has worked well for you? What, not so much?