Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting Sue: a hoarder. Sue had called me to help her declutter and minimise the number of clothes she owned. I’ve had several clients with hoarding tendencies over the years and each session has been an eye opening couple of hours into the mindset of why we hang on to things.
Why do people hoard clothes?
Sue summed it up perfectly when she said she hoarded for these reasons:
- It cost a lot
- One day I’ll be this thin again
- This is special and we had good times (even if it’s not fashionable or doesn’t fit anymore)
- Saving it for best
- Still got plenty of wear in it
- Hoarding in adulthood as a reaction to poverty in childhood,
- A coping mechanism for the death of a partner in their adult life (shopping to fill a void)
- A copycat action – their parents hoarded so now they do too.
Hoarding is a compulsion and a habit but once you know why you are doing it, it can be easier to change the pattern and form a new, healthier habit of shopping and hoarding less. To help Sue get to the root of her hoarding I challenged her to think about her wardrobe and the amount of clothes in terms of past and present:
“if your house is full of the past how can you allow the future in?”
This simple mantra gave Sue the power to start parting with clothes. Into the sell pile went some vintage wool coats that were too big, too masculine. Into the charity bag went clothes that didn’t fit, were dated and couldn’t be altered. Into the eBay pile went clothes from labels that just didn’t represent Sue’s style now – distinctly Lagenlook. Finding Sue’s true style amongst the rails of clothes was pure joy for me – like unearthing secret treasure. Once I had locked onto the theme of Sue’s recent purchases and paired them with existing items, her new style shone like a beacon through all the dross in the charity bags.
When I got home Sue had emailed me:
“Thank you so much … your time, expertise, energy, hard work & good humour. I appreciated what you did more than you can know.”