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Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus help over 20 million people live meaningful lives with less through their website, books, podcast, and documentary. The Minimalists have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Forbes, TIME, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, BBC, and NPR.

How to Go Clothes Shopping

The average American tosses 88 pounds of clothes each year. Yet we keep buying more when we actually need less.

Pull any article of clothing from the back of your closet, the bottom of your dresser, the bin in your basement. When’s the last time you wore it?

Last month?
Last year?
Last decade?

Whenever I feel the urge to hit the mall to go clothes shopping, I head to my closet instead to try on the clothes I already own.

Am I unhappy with this shirt? These pants? Those sunglasses? If so, why do I still own them? And if I am, in fact, satisfied, why do I feel the need to acquire more? Am I trying to fulfill a need that doesn’t exist?

The lure of consumerism is real. Most objects appear more fashionable, more necessary, more urgent when they’re on a mannequin, model, or retail display. But the clothes in your closet serve the same purpose: cover, warmth, style.

Every time I go shopping in my own closet, I’m inspired by the results. Either I find an item I forgot I owned and start wearing it again, or I stumble across that oversized orange sweatshirt I’m eager to donate. Either way, my checking account is grateful.

Then, whenever I genuinely need something new, I feel good about my purchase because I ask the right questions, and because I’m meeting a material need, not a primal impulse.