It was a crisis. You know the type. A defcon I’m-running-late, shoulda-been-out-the-door, got-nothing-to-wear, I-hate-the-way-I-look catastrophe. In panic, I rifled through my small, overstuffed closet, trying on one thing after another. The skirt was wrinkled. The blouse was missing a button. The sweater had unsightly pills. The jeans were too tight. As the mountain of discarded clothes on the bed reached Everest proportions, I started to come unglued. My husband wisely took cover.
I suspect you know what I’m talking about. Women have crises with their wardrobes all the time. But as I stood there in the midst of the chaos, I sensed the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit saying, “Mary, this has to change.”
So instead of re-hanging the clothing when I got home, I removed absolutely every last item from my closet and resolved to deal with the problem. The following list of dos and don’ts is based on what I learned. I hope it’ll help you handle your next wardrobe crisis.
Don’t assume you need more clothes or a bigger closet
My closet is small. It’s not a walk-in . . . even my cat would have trouble walking into it. I envy the three-story, 3,000-square-foot-girl-cave closet a lady in Texas built to manage her wardrobe. It’s bigger than my whole house!
In the past, I’ve reacted to a wardrobe crisis with a quick trip to the mall, or with plans to tear down that wall between my master bedroom and guestroom. Who needs guests? I could turn that whole room into a closet!
But when I stopped to think about it, I realized that I wasn’t wearing all the clothes that I did have. And I wasn’t even keeping my small closet in order. It dawned on me that “more” and “bigger” might not solve the problem. The words of Luke 16:10 came to mind:
“Whoever is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and whoever is unrighteous in very little is also unrighteous in much.”
Do recognize that closet chaos is usually a symptom of an underlying problem
I concluded that my closet chaos was ultimately not the problem. It was merely a symptom of a deeper issue. The problem actually lay in my attitude and beliefs.
If you’re having a wardrobe crisis, it might stem from a problem with:
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- What you believe about your possessions
- What you believe about your rights and responsibilities
- What you believe about yourself
What you believe about your possessions
My messy closet revealed to me that I didn’t truly believe that everything I have belongs to God. If I truly believed that I was just a steward of His resources, I’d be a lot more careful about my clothing purchases. I don’t need 25 pairs of jeans. I wouldn’t waste God’s money buying things on a whim.
What’s more, if I truly believed that God ultimately owned my stuff, I’d take much better care of it. I wouldn’t leave the skirt wrinkled in a pile at the back of the closet. I’d sew the button back on the blouse and remove the pills from the sweater. I’d donate the jeans so that someone else could benefit from wearing them.
The Luke 16 passage is sobering when I think about it in light of the way I spend money on clothing, and then fail to wear or take care of what I buy.
“Whoever is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and whoever is unrighteous in very little is also unrighteous in much. So if you have not been faithful with the unrighteous money, who will trust you with what is genuine? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to someone else, who will give you what is your own? No household slave can be the slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You can’t be slaves to both God and money.”” (Luke 16:10–13, HCSB)
What you believe about your rights and responsibilities
My messy closet also indicated that I had some faulty beliefs about my rights and responsibilities. I used the excuse that I was too tired, too busy, and had more important things to do.
It’s such a small matter to lay out my clothes the night before, pick my discarded clothes off the floor and hang them up or put them in the laundry, or to stitch a hem, sew on a button, or drop off the dry-cleaning.
If I’m brutally honest, I must admit that the real reason my wardrobe was in a mess was that I was being lazy and self-indulgent, and just couldn’t be bothered exercising self-discipline in this “inconsequential” area of my life.
And I feel embarrassed to ‘fess up and tell you that. Because I know better. . . I know that “little things” matter. Being self-disciplined and faithful in little things is what helps us be self-disciplined and faithful in greater matters.
What you believe about yourself
A woman’s wardrobe often speaks volumes about her self-image. So a wardrobe crisis is also an opportunity to look at deeper identity issues. Are you drawing your sense of self-worth from what you see in the mirror? Are you overly concerned about the way you look? Or do you neglect your appearance? What does your choice of clothing and attitude toward clothing indicate about the way you feel about yourself? When it comes to beauty, are you relying on outward things and neglecting what’s inside your heart? (See 1 Peter 3:3-4) Are you dressing in a womanly fashion, as a daughter of the great and humble King?
You’ll have to examine what’s in your heart, and ask the Holy Spirit to help you discern what your closet reveals about you. For me, my wardrobe crisis was a wake-up call to remember that until God takes me home and clothes me with the imperishable, I need to pay attention to what I wear. I need to make the effort to put on some make-up and dress in something better than sweats every day. What’s on the inside matters infinitely more than what’s on the outside, but that’s not an excuse to look like a slob. What’s on the outside matters too.
Do take steps towards resolving the chaos
Take steps to resolve the chaos in your wardrobe. Set aside a couple evenings or weekend, if you can. If that’s not possible, aim to spend 30 minutes a day working on it.
Go through all your items of clothing. If you haven’t worn something for more than a year, or if it doesn’t fit, toss it or donate it. Be ruthless.
Launder, press, mend . . . shave the pills off that sweater.
Invest in storage solutions that will help you be a better steward of your clothing. Old shoeboxes will do. I bought some economical drawer and closet organizers from Ikea that did the trick. And here’s something new (it was for me, anyway): Try sorting your clothes vertically. You’ll be able to see everything and won’t have to dig through the pile in your drawer, and mess everything up.
Think of some practical ways to avoid hitting a wardrobe crisis. Maybe you need to make a habit of picking your clothes up off the floor before going to bed every night. And maybe that would be a good time to select your outfit for the next day. Maybe you need to do a load of laundry each morning and not let it accumulate. Or maybe you need to donate an old item of clothing for each new purchase. Be intentional about putting some strategies in place to be a good steward of what God has given you.
Don’t leave God out of the process.
A wardrobe crisis is actually an opportunity for personal and spiritual growth. So it’s important that you don’t leave God out of the process. Ask the Holy Spirit to point out any faulty attitudes, beliefs, and habits that you have with regards to your wardrobe and appearance . . . particularly with regards to stewardship, responsibility, and identity.
Approaching a wardrobe crisis in this way won’t guarantee that you’ll never have another one. But it will help you understand and start to address the real issues behind your closet chaos.