Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Excess in My Closet

Friends bullied me into reading Jen Hatmaker's book, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. I was not thrilled. I didn't have time. I wanted to read other books. I don't like thinking about my life of excess.

But, sometimes bossy friends know what they are talking about. So, there I was all bossed around and ready to delve into 7 when another friend and I decided to host an online book club, and that's where you've found yourself today.

Welcome. Now, before you click away because you haven't read the book, don't! There's awesome tidbits of deliciousness coming your way including good thoughts from Jen, the book's author, a bad vlog from me, and thought provoking discussion in the comments. 

Here we go: In her book, 7, Jen Hatmaker sets out to simplify her life by cutting down on excess in seven specific areas: Food, Clothing, Media, Waste, Possessions, Stress, and Spending.

In Chapter 2 (click here to read Steph's post about Chapter 1), Jen discusses clothing. For an entire month, Jen only wears seven articles of clothing. Instead of cringing at this clothing fast, pride swelled. My clothing budget decreased drastically over the last few years, and I couldn't wait to sing the praises of my bare closet.

In fact, I went into my closet to confirm my thriftiness but quickly found myself jolted back into reality. See, although my style has changed over the last few years (once sassy, now sloppy), I still buy. I own twelve pairs of jeans, an embarrassing amount of boots, and enough accessories to bling out a small country. In my head, I don't buy clothes because I'm not dropping money on dress clothes. In reality, I own loads of jeans and t-shirt-ish types of clothes, and therefore, technically, I buy clothes.

A minute for this epiphany to sink in, please.

God doesn't care about my high rise, tie back, chestnut colored, Ugg boots, and the truth is, I should care a whole lot less. If I want to live a life of service, I can't "emulate the practices of the rich" (that last phrase is totally stolen from Hatmaker).

So, what's a girl to do? I want to cut down on the excess in my life. I love the idea of wearing only seven articles of clothing, and I fully plan on implementing a clothing fast this summer, but let's face it, I can't show up to work in yoga pants. I want a small way to implement spending less on clothes now.

The answer: Hatmaker suggests hosting a Clothing Swap. Brilliant. Will a Clothing Swap change the world? Nope, but it will push me to swap for new instead of heading to TJ Maxx, and it encourages my friends to do the same.

I've only been to a Clothing Swap once and not only did I get rid of a bunch of clothes I never wore, I also cashed in on some super cute, wardrobe additions that actually fit me. So, because I love sharing good ideas, I invited my friend and neighbor, Amanda, (who hosted the swap I attended) to share five tips on how-to have a successful Clothing Swap. I know you will love Amanda, but no, she can't move to your neighborhood.

*Disclaimer: Vlogs can either cement my love for someone or drive me away from a blog forever (Who knew that person could be so annoying?). Go easy on us. 

(email subscribers, click here)

And now questions for you. Feel free to jump in even if you haven't read the chapter. 

1. What's your clothing situation like? Excessive or simple?
2. You can only wear seven items for the next month. What seven items would you pick?
3. What quotes or points stood out in this chapter?

: :

It's not too late to get into the online book club. Email me (, and I'll let you know where we are meeting next week to discuss Chapters 3 and 4 of 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.

If you didn't get an email from me, but wanted to join, leave me a message in the comments, and I'll put you on the list.



HopeUnbroken said...

fantastic thoughts, and LOVE the vlog! no worries there :-)
in all honesty, i don't have a ton of clothes, but i have a difficult time getting rid of the stuff i don't wear--as in, "what if i need it again someday." this, in my mind, is a sign of excess.
one of my favorite quotes from this chapter: "i would like to be so focused on the valuable that what i'm wearing doesn't even warrant mental space."
oh, and i'm working on my list of seven. probably a couple of favorite tees, one church shirt, jeans, capris, shoes. that should about do it. i'm going to challenge my teen girls, too, and see what they come up with.

Katie said...

At first thought I would say my clothing situation is simple. I rotate a few simple outfits anyway, and I'm not an accessories person. I don't spend a lot of money on clothes. BUT looking at my closet I see quite a few shirts that just hang there because I don't ever wear them and don't care for them very much. I think that's excess. Why am I holding onto them when someone else could use them?

I'll come back to answer the other two, I'm still reading :)

Loraine said...

Love the vlog! Please can your friend Amanda move to my neighborhood? My big fear about the swap is what if no one wanted my stuff?

I did a clothing purge after reading this chapter and it felt good. I hate the mental space clothing takes up in my life.

So it is a long quote, but this was my favorite quote in this chapter:
"Heaven is coming fast, and we live in that thin space where faith and obedience have relevance. We have this one life to offer; there is no second chance, no Plan B for the good news. We get one shot at living to expand the kingdom, fighting for justice. We'll stand before Jesus once, and none of our luxuries will accompany us. We'll have one moment to say, "This is how I lived."" (Page 66)

Great post, Amy.

Stephanie said...

Love the vlog! Nice to meet you!
First response to my closet would be.....simple. But, as with the other comments, when I go to look, well, there is the small part of the closet of clothes that I actually wear, and about 70% that I don't actually wear. Ever. But, you know, I might need it SOME day. I just recently cleared out my closet, and yet some of this never-to-be-worn-again-by-me still hangs there. I think that signals a problem area?

What I would pick? 5 sweaters, 1 shirt and 1 pair of comfy pants. Then I would take the month off work. 'cause I can't wear comfy pants to work. I clearly have an addiction to sweaters- thin blooded, always cold me.

But I DO want to change. The most stand-out quote for Ch. 2...."We cannot carry the gospel to the poor and lowly while emulating the practice of the rich and powerful."

Thanks for the book-club on 7. I needed that.

Gabe said...

Your comment on clogs made me true!

Alicia said...

I wish I could join you at that kitchen table and talk this one out. You've nailed the wrestling match in my soul- what can I do about all this EXCESS? How much is too much? Am I missing His best as I cling to stuff? I WILL read Jen's book- will be a nice change from Johnny Tractor :) Love your heart said...

Oh Amy-- this is fabulous. (And yay for a vlog! I feel like I know you now... Can we be friends? :-)

Second, I am going to have to get a copy of this book and start reading-- I am really inspired by this!

As for your questions... My clothing situation is relatively simple-ish. I think I automatically gravitate to certain clothes, so wearing 7 items of clothes in a month might be a fun challenge for me to tackle. However, I have MORE stuff in my closet that I don't wear regularly because 1) I haven't put my winter stuff in storage yet and 2) I am in a weird weight transition... but just by reading your post, I am inspired to go weed some stuff out!

If I was choose my 7 articles of clothing: my black pair of workout/comfy/pj pants, my black compression shorts for workout, a K-state t-shirt (casual wear and workout) one pair of gray cargo capris, my fav pair of jeans, and two of my dressy-ish shirts...

I would have to make sure I didn't have any conferences/dressy up events, or I might have to swap my comfy pants for slacks or a dress.

Hmm... This WOULD be challenging :-)

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HopeUnbroken said...

sticking my nose in here, because Amy won't be around until later.
just did a minor closet purge this morning.
found myself wondering, how much IS too much?
counted 70 pieces of clothing when i was done, and only purged about 15 items.
and that 70 includes all seasons.
and yet. . . there still seems to be excess.
i find it interesting that we all might fall in a different place with this. depending on lifestyle. stage of life. or maybe it, quite simply, boils down to an issue of the heart.
which is why it's probably so key to start with the 7 item fast? to really work through the "issues" that He wants to deal with each of us on. examine HIS individual plan for each of us. which could end up looking quite different. don't ya love how He brings us all around to His unique plan for us? and yet a common thread. . . .
at least that's my story of the moment.
and i'm stickin' to it :-)

Amy Sullivan said...

Love the idea of challenging your will have to keep us posted on that.

Amy Sullivan said...

Guilty of holding on to things I don't need. I do it because I think, do I want to save it or have to buy something similar if I need it again?

In reality, I probably won't do either.

So, glad you joined up.

Amy Sullivan said...

No, Amanda is staying put, although she is from WI! And I felt the same way about no one wanting my clothes...not a chance, even the ugly stuff was taken.

Glad you pushed me into this.

Amy Sullivan said...


5 Sweaters? Really?

Okay, here I go:
1. flowy yoga skirt.
2. dark jeans.
3. gray t-shirt I'm wearing in the video.
4. melon t-shirt
5. flip flops and tennis shoes
6. big gold earrings
7. fleece zip-up.

Amy Sullivan said...

Ohhh, I know. How many vlogs have you seen and thought, geez, I liked her so much before I watched that?

Amy Sullivan said...

Good! Join us. Oh, and yes, head on over. Lots of good discussions happen at that crazy colored kitchen table. Although we do look rather yellow.

Amy Sullivan said...

Of course we're friends! Yes, weight transitions make it hard. I held on to my favorite pair of jeans for three years after our first born. It sucked when I finally lost the weight and realized I still couldn't get into them because my body changed. Boo! Boo!

I like your 7 items.

Katrina said...

1. I NEVER buy clothes and I'm totally uncool. I am dense to fashion. I end up buying weird Bohemian stuff at Goodwill and never knowing what to put it with. So I would have said it was simple, but I realized that I was overloaded with old Goodwill castoffs and shirts I nursed three different children in. Recently I had a cool friend (Amy, it was Corina) come over AND PURGE. She helped me create a couple funky outfits and make a "consign" pile and a "Goodwill" pile. The consign pile can give you some cash with which you can SERVE someone directly, since as Jen points out, Goodwill can be a kind of round about way of helping the needy.
2. I am cheating when I do this challenge. (I'll be doing this for a week during The Summer of Seven which I'll be hosting on my blog beginning June 7th--hint hint. Join us.) I'm going to do it during beach week, so
2 swimsuits
2 sundresses/cover-ups
1 shorts
1 t-shirt
1 tank

3. I think the thing that I realized most in this chapter is how we justify our "need." We don't NEED to update our wardrobe. We are just told that we should. Will people love me more if I have an updated wardrobe? Once I am full grown, my clothes should last me a while. :)

Katie said...

My 7 I think would be...

1. Dark jeans
2. Khaki shorts
3. Black shortsleve tee (fitted) that goes with everything.
4. flipflops & tennis shoes
5. White tank
6. Bright blue lace trimmed tank
7. My favorite tshirt

Looking at the list I think I could do it. Well, If I wanted to work out that month I think maybe I would switch to a less favorite tshirt.

I think I'll purge my closet though for sure after reading this chapter! Whether or not I'll do the 7 articles of clothing thing, I don't quite know.

The quote Stephanie listed really spoke to me too.

Amy Sullivan said...

Your comment had me giggling. We all need a good friend to help us purge. One of my favorite things to do is to go through one of my forever bff's closet because she likes to hold onto clothes, and I'm always prying some volleyball T-shirt from '94 out of her hot hands.

Tell that Corina of yours I've been waiting for an email to announce the big reveal of her new blog...

Amy Sullivan said...

Your #3 made me want to switch one of my articles out.

Jen Ferguson said...

7 articles of clothing -- I'd have to do a lot of laundry -- or else my running clothes would be running away by themselves.

I've started going through my own closets, thinking about if I was every going to "really" wear this or that. It's amazing how quickly I can throw things into the goodwill pile. The trick is not heading out to a store after stopping by Goodwill.

Stephanie said...

lol Amy, Maybe I did go over board on the sweaters. Maybe I'd cut one out for a pair of comfortable shoes. Oh. ok. and another for a pair of dress pants. so I don't have to take the month off work. :)

Kelly said...

This chapter challenged me to go through my closet again. I thought that I had purged a few months ago, but I still kept much more than I need or wear. It also got me thinking about my kids closets. Even though they are full of hand-me-downs and consignment store buys, there is still way too much! What 2 year old girl needs 5 pairs of jeans?!? I will be purging lots - I love the swap idea, or maybe I'll just give it to friends or organizations in my area. But beyond the purge, I want to train myself to stop buying it to begin with! That will be the harder part.

Amy Sullivan said...

Um, yes, you nailed it on the not buying part. I'm good at purging, but not as good in avoiding replacements (even if they are from consignment shops!).

Glad to have you reading with us.

HopeUnbroken said...

Ha, Jen! Heading to the store after stopping by Goodwill! THAT's my problem. After purging this morning, all I could think was, "Now that I've done that, I can see what I REALLY need!"
Yeah. That's why I'm on my second reading of the book. It's taking some time for it all to sink in. . .

Renee said...

ahhhhhh!!!! you and amanda are so cute together!! i feel like i'm watching a fun version of SNL's "coffee talk" or something like that. great vlog! i know you worry about turning people away w/videos, but this was great- it was concise, easy to hear, bits of humor, very informative.......excellent! :)

Jamie @ Six Bricks High said...

First, can I just say? You are so adorable! (and your neighbor too) Loved the vlog.

I want to say my clothing situation is pretty simple. But my simple is still more than enough.

And, you know what? It isn't simple because I have determined in my heart not to be excessive. No, it is simple because I either don't have money to buy more or because I'm waiting to loose a few pounds before I do.

So even though my wardrobe isn't excessive I've still got some heart issues that need work.

Amy @ themessymiddle said...

If I think hoarding has wiggled her dark self into my heart, mind, and actions when I commented at Steph's about food, well, she's even deeper into me when it comes to clothes! Though not fat, I certainly am not built like a Chinese person and simply cannot get clothese here. While I could buy shoes, the quality / arch support is so poor, I find I never wear shoes I've bought. This has lead to me keeping things "just in case." But there is a big difference between "just in case" and what's going on in my closets! Amy

Gina @ Holding the Distaff said...

I'm still finishing the chapter and mulling over your first two questions...To answer the third question about what stood out to me, I have the image in my mind of the day it snowed in Texas and Jen pitifully layered up her seven pieces of clothes the best she could. She did a great job of painting a picture of the suffering that many homeless people feel EVERY DAY. And yet, I scan my closet sometimes and think I have "nothing" to wear.

In Matthew, Jesus told his disciples not even to take an extra tunic when they went out preaching the good news. He also said "not to worry" about clothes because our father clothes the lilies of the field (I'm not sure if Jen mentioned this in the chapter, as I haven't finished it). I don't think I've ever, EVER put these words from Jesus into practice. It never occurred to me how or why to do it. I'm so accustomed to this luxury of clothing and style that permeates our culture. While I don't consider myself a fashion diva, I know I have an abundance. Amazing. I'm curious to go count my clothes now.

Amber said...

I have yet to begin reading the book, because I am currently working through the book Abundant Simplicity and WOW is it ever challenging me.

At the end of one chapter one of the challenges presented was to decide how much closet space I wanted my clothes to take up and work to make that happen. It is has been hard to say the least, but I have a TON of clothes that I just struggle to get rid of. However, I desire a more simplistic life, so I will continue whittling away.

Andrea M said...

Ha! I'm thinking my hubby is wishing I read this chapter before I went shopping this week. ;) Actually, even though I just had to go buy clothes so I wouldn't embarrass my family by wearing their dad's t-shirts with my yoga pants all summer, I did try to only buy stuff I needed. And I know I don't need anything else for the rest of this season, so I'm going to make it my goal to not buy anything else for the summer.

I can't wait to download this book onto my Kindle and dive in!

Karrie Shew said...

What I took away from this chapter is I dress for others. And I care too much what other people think about my clothes, when they really could care less.

lori said...

So, I love, love, love the vlog. You should do more because you have a bright personality, which translates well. I, on the other hand know better, lol. This is interesting. Because of the unfortunate happenings of the last year, I feel like I am pretty well pared down. If I did a swap, I'd have like 2 thing to swap, ha! Lots of good things to think about though :)

LW said...

I love the same quote Steph posted about what I'm wearing not even warranting mental space. I think my clothes/closet it simple but in comparison to the rest of the world it is the exact opposite of that.

I am guilty of thinking "It's second hand and only cost $5." but then I end up with a closet full of those things. I purge regularly which must mean... ah-ha! I am purchasing regularly too:-(

I think I could easily wear 7 pieces of clothing for a month... Not sure if I will actually test that theory or not. (I would need an accountability partner. And someone to make sarcastic comments to.) BUT, this chapter did give me an idea.

I'm organizing my closet by putting the clean clothes at the front (as opposed to with the other pants, sweaters, etc.) and at the end of 7 weeks I'm going to get rid of the back half. I figure if I haven't worn it in 7 weeks I don't need it.

Not sure if that will be impactful or not, we'll see! Glad to be reading and chatting along with you!

Courtney said...

Hi Amy - Like you, I approached this chapter with a bit of pride, since I "feel" like I only wear about seven items of clothing a month, and it "seems" like I never go clothes shopping. Wrong! My closet is full. Jam packed, and that is just with my summer stuff. Though I make trips to Goodwill (and she touches on that doesn't she?!) on a regular basis, I'm still overloaded. What do I really need, and what could someone else actually use? This book is making me think . . .

Jennifer Camp said...

Hi Amy, I don't have this book yet, although I have a friend who has been talking about it every time I see her! Love that. I think I need to dig in here, take the time to really look at the excess of my life, although my husband and I, the last two years, have been very intentional about scaling back our spending. It is just a more freeing way to live! Loved seeing you "live" on the screen. It was great! :) Bless you!

Melody said...

LOVE this idea, Amy! What a great vlog. Seven items: wow, that would be hard for me. It would have to include something tie dye for sure but then that only leaves six things for a more mature grown up pastor's wifey look. I'm curious about this book now and would like to add to my list of reads this summer. Like the idea of the book club thing too.

Amy Sullivan said...

Geesh, have I told you how happy I am all of you showed up?

What a fun and inspiring group you are!

Julie said...

Amy! How great to SEE you *kinda* in real life. It made me interested in the vlog now:) Hope all is well. And I really need to read 7. I didn't make it in time for book club though.

Traveling Pirate said...

Oh, A! You're so cute on the vlog. Just like always! I once received a huge decorated box of your clothes when you cleaned out your closet back in our Palmer Davidson days. I think I still have a like parks department t-shirt from that box. Great memories!

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