A Call for Help! Addiction to Things

addicted to shopping

I have a problem. Two actually. Number one: I’m addicted to shopping. I know many of you share my compulsion to spend.

There’s the high of finding a dress or a purse on a spectacular sale. There’s the high of walking into the store full of clothes begging to come home with you and knowing that you’ll find something that suits you perfectly. There’s the dependency to have something new for each event or to commemorate a special event.  Don’t even get my started on online shopping. After a stressful day my hands can’t help put find their way to the keyboard, pounding out the keys to the url of my favorite shop and just buying something, anything.

Truly it’s an addiction. I’ve come to depend on the joy that overcomes me when buying something new. And along with the addiction to shopping comes the addiction to things.

addicted to shopping

Oddly, this is the only picture I could find of myself holding a shopping bag

Frankly, it’s disgusting. Like any other addiction, the need to spend money on new things in order to calm yourself or to feel happy is a little repulsive.

I’ve been trying to cure myself since this past Fall and I’ve done a pretty spectacular job on the shopping portion of my problem. Starting in September I started putting myself on a spending freeze. I  managed to not by a single article of clothing, shoes, or accessory from mid September until the end of November. It was refreshing. And you know what? I never wanted for anything. Yes, there were days when I found myself what I now like to call “online window shopping” where I browse websites, give myself an imaginary budget and go to town. I was never allowed to hit “Submit Order” though. Going inside a mall was out of the question. That would have been like an alcoholic burning for a buzz going into a bar.  It was forbidden.

Once I went through my period of fasting I was able to ease myself back into shopping. Buying here and there and mostly classic pieces that would be used on a more every day basis (compared to the party dresses, heels, and I’ll buy this just because it’s 80% off tops). I began to realize that I own tons of clothes that I never even wear.

But now I need to cure my second problem. My emotional attachment to clothes that I no longer need. I hold on to articles of clothing that will no longer fit me, are way out of style, or are too worn to be seen in public because of the sentimental value I have for them. If I’m being honest, I wear about 20% of the clothes that I own. 20%! Just take a look at my closet.

cluttered closetcluttered closet

(and this is just one of two closets. There’s also three dressers. And tubs under neath the beds….)

Most days I stand in front of my  mountain of clothes and think that all too familiar thought, “I have nothing to wear”. I usually find myself pulling on my favorite jeans and one of my few favorite sweaters.

This is caused by two things.

1. I give up on finding possible outfits because my closet is stuffed to the max and cluttered. 

2. Most of my clothes don’t fit my current personal style or lifestyle.

Like the addiction to shopping, the attachment to things is equally bad and restraining. I’m so attached to clothing and the false joy I believe they bring me that I can’t bring myself to get rid of certain things. I come up with hundreds of excuses, my most favorite are:

“Well this will fit once I finally lose 10 pounds”

“What if this comes back into style?”

“This would be perfect for _____ theme party or Halloween party”

I’ve read time and time again that de cluttering your life and opening room for new energy is liberating and leads the pathway to more happiness. Yet, I continue to let sentimental things define me.

I can’t get rid of the size zero jeans from ten years ago that I know my current size 8 – 10 self will never again fit into. That two sizes two small little black dress that I wore to a favorite night out with friends will never zip up nor will I ever have a place to wear it to. Old emo band t-shirts and sweatshirts collected on trips fill my dresser drawers to the brim. There is absolutely no reason why a grown woman needs to own 25 plus bathing suits. Yes, you read that correctly. I own over 25 bathing suits, that obsession started in my life guarding days where I basically lived in a bikini. Do I really need 3 pairs of pink pumps, or mini skirts made for 22 year old’s, or purses from college that are still full of receipts, movie ticket stubs, notes, and dried up lipstick.

I keep these items because they tell a story of my past. But are they preventing me from living with purpose in the present?

I’m feeling the urge to purge. It’s time. This weekend I’m throwing on my figurative hard hat and diving head first into my closets ready to get rid of anything that fits these rules:

1. Does it fit? (like truly fit, not “oh this will fit when I lose 10 pounds”)

2. Have I worn this in the last 12 months?

3. Is this in style or does it fit my current lifestyle? (ie 30 year woman who works in a very casual office who spends more nights at home than at trendy bars)

4. If I was shopping right now, would I buy this?

Here is where YOU come in. I need some support. I know this is going to be a hard weekend. I know I’m going to be paralyzed in my closet for hours, trying on countless items of clothes trying to find any reason to not say goodbye to old friends.

How do you purge your closet of unnecessary items? What tips can you give me? Have you gone through a complete closet overhaul and come out emotionally unscathed and in one piece?

Help me!!!

xoxo Katie





  • I did the same exact thing a few weeks ago – for me, I hate for there to be clothes on the floor. So, I pulled EVERYTHING out of my closet, bureaus, bins, etc. and piled them into a huge mountain in the middle of my bedroom. Then, I HAD to go through them to get them off of the floor! I found a lot of stuff I had forgotten about, and got rid of like 5 garbage bags, all of which were nice enough to be donated, so that was a really great feeling!!

    • kwalshmac

      Good for you! The idea of ALL my clothes on the floor is already giving me an anxiety attack! But, seeing the amount of clothing all in one place seems like a great idea. Every few months I always do a little clean out and have a few bags for Goodwill or Thread Up – and I know if I have like 10 bags it will feel SO great. Thanks for your support!

  • I would add to the list, “Do I still love how this piece makes me feel?” Not in a “I loved the time I spent in it!” way, but in a “wearing this makes me feel confident and happy” way. Because in early college, I had a pair of forest green jeans that I loved, and I got rid of them because they weren’t “in style” anymore, and when color jeans came back “in” a few years later, I was kicking myself for having gotten rid of them, even though it was a couple of years in between wearings.

    • kwalshmac

      Allie – that’s SUCH a great question to add! I need to remember that holding on to a feeling I had in the past isn’t going to make me re live it in the present. Also – stories like your colored jeans one make me terrified to get rid of some of my really “trendy” items!

  • I have so been there! You can do this though! I read another post from a blogger that suggested talking to your clothes as if they had feelings. Ask each item if it’s sad that it’s been stuck in the closet, away from the fun of the outside world, too long. Then think if you “owe” it to the item to donate it so it has another chance at life with someone else so it doesn’t die a sad death in your closet. Silly, but it works.
    I found that for me, it was super tough at first. The first 10 items I pulled out I made up some reason to keep each. Then I realized I was being way too emotional about clothes, sucked it up and started tossing everything that I had a second thought about. If I was in doubt, it was out. Be strict with yourself. And if you otherwise love an item, but not sure if it still fits ok, go model it for your husband and make him decide if it stays or goes. I did that for a few pants, and it totally helped.
    In case you didn’t catch my post on this: http://notesfromanewlywed.wordpress.com/2014/01/22/conquering-the-clutter-our-apartment-overhaul/
    Good luck! I want a report after you finish!

    • kwalshmac

      That’s such a cute idea to talk to your clothes, they do deserve to get out of the prison of my closet and go make new fun memories with new owners. I hope I have the same experience as you and that getting over the hurdle of the first few items will be the hardest part. I’m sure Ryan will help bit by bit because he’s ready to gain back part of our closet haha! I’m heading over to read your post right now. Thank you so so so much for your support! I’ll be doing a post after I complete this project.

  • My advice would be to have a willing friend help you out- stand by your side while you search through things (at least provide them with some wine!) and they can tell you when to get rid of things, or even make comments like “I’ve known you for five years and never seen you wear that!” I had been forced to do something similar last fall when I moved to Sweden and had exactly one suitcase- believe it or not, 50 pounds is 50 pounds is 50 pounds to the airlines, so I was really forced to downsize. Good luck!

    • kwalshmac

      I think having a friend will make this a lot easier and dare I even say fun – almost like a shopping trip. I can’t imagine narrowing down all of my clothes into one 50 pounds suitcase. You are amazing!! (I hate to admit that I still even have clothes from college and high school at my parents house….) Thank you for your help!!

  • I am also a shopping addict. Eek! I cleaned out my wardrobe before I moved last summer, and my mantra (as is my mantra when I go shopping nowadays) is “HELL YESSSS!!!!!” or “no.” If it isn’t something you absolutely love and makes you look fabulous, then it isn’t worth buying or keeping. This has seriously helped me curb my spending and keep my clothing count reasonable.

    Another tip – if you plan on donating to Goodwill, make sure you count every item you’re donation. For example: 5 shirts, 3 pants, etc. I made the mistake of not doing this (I thought the receipt from Goodwill was sufficient), and was unable to claim it on my taxes. Good luck!!

    • kwalshmac

      hello fellow addict! It’s so bad, I want to cry at the amount of money wasted. That’s really good advice. Unless I LOVE it I’ll probably never choose to wear it when debating over what outfit to put together. Thanks for the Goodwill tip too! I also really love sending things to ThredUp – the online consignment shop – they give you a portion of the money they make.

      • I’ve never heard of ThredUp, but I will def be checking it out now! I’ve always wanted to attempt to sell my stuff online, but it always seemed like such a chore, it seems they do all that work. Perfect! I wanted to cry when I clothes purged too… I had a few things with tags still on them. Now I keep things I buy in the bag with receipts and tags on… if I don’t wear in within a few days I return it. Impulse shopping always gets me.

      • kwalshmac

        ThredUp is so easy to use and it’s nice to have a monetary award to look forward. Makes saying goodbye to a few things easier! I thought of you while I was cleaning out, I also found 3 things that still had tags on them and now no longer fit! Sigh.

  • Reb

    I am overly sentimental when it comes to clothing too! My dresser drawers are having trouble closing so I know it’s time to clean out but I am the worst at doing it! I am looking forward to your ‘after’ photos!

    • kwalshmac

      Drawers not closing is the worst! I was getting so stressed out by how messy everything was. It was hard work, but SO worth it.

  • Pat (Mom)

    Good luck tomorrow! I know you can do it. After you clean out your closets maybe you could reward yourself by shopping for just one or two new thing!

  • I listen to a podcast called, “Simple life together.” They did an “Edit it Forget it” challenge in 2013 to purge 2,013 things from their house. The wife is a personal organizer (husband-wife duo). They have great ideas. http://simplelifetogether.com/podcast/

    • kwalshmac

      oh great! thanks! I need to apply these tips to all areas of my life, not just to cleaning out my house.

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