Less is enough

By Joe Rector

Most mornings, I crawl out of bed and walk to my closet. Once the door is opened, I stare at a long line of shirts and several pairs of pants and try to decide which of them I will wear for that day. Sometimes, the process is much like choosing a show on television to watch. Plenty of options are available, but not a single one is appealing. I long for earlier times when making a wardrobe decision wasn’t a problem.

When Jim and I were boys, we received new clothes once a year. Mother dragged us downtown to the department stores. These new duds were for school… period. Each of us received a couple of pairs of jeans and a couple of shirts.

At home, we had our old clothes. We played in them and worked in them. New items were tucked away for other times. The knees of some jeans were threadbare. I never understood exactly how that happened, but I’d look down and my knee would be trying to escape from the hole that was forming. Mother would at some point take the jeans to her sewing machine. There she applied a patch, much like one that is placed on a flat tire. The quick fix gave those jeans a few more weeks of life. I hated patches because they always scratched my skin or stuck to it like glue.

Mother was an ace seamstress. She sewed for several women before taking a job as a teacher full time. She would sit at her machine and in no time put together shirts for Jim and me to wear. They outlasted any store-bought item, and they were just as nice looking. At that young age, however, we preferred shirts with tags on the collars. The last thing we wanted was to look different, a damnable curse to children.

The point is that all of our clothes fit in the three or four drawers and the small rod of a chifferobe. That included underwear and socks too. We needed no more than that, and our parents couldn’t afford to buy too many things in addition to the few shirts and jeans that we had.

Now, I have a dozen pairs of dress pants. In fact, for some colors, I have two pairs. In addition, I have three or four pairs of jeans. On the long rod in my walk-in closet, I have as many as 25 shirts. Some are long-sleeved; others are short-sleeved. I also have others tucked away in a drawer, and I own half a dozen sweaters. I waste time looking for something to wear for the day.

In the hall closet hang too many jackets and coats. I own two or three winter coats and a bunch of jackets for cool weather. Some of them are worn once a year; the rest of the time they just take up space. Hanging with them are three suits and two sports coats. They come out for funerals and rare formal occasions.

My wife says that many of my clothing items are out of style. I reply that they are comfortable and have plenty of life left. The truth is that I hate shopping for clothes. My happiest days were spent at Toyota of Knoxville. I had a uniform to wear. No one raised an eyebrow when I walked in wearing the same shirt and pants each day. No decisions were made: I reached in the closet and pulled out one of the uniforms. Dressing could have been done in the dark.

One of these days, I’m going to rid myself of all but a few clothing items. The rest will be delivered to second-hand store. Others can take my discarded clothes and get much more enjoyment out of them. I will once again enjoy the days when less is enough. My time won’t be spent dumbly standing in the closet as I try to make a choice of what to wear.

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