Treading Lightly
Treading Lightly

Living with less: Athletic clothing

I love athletic clothing – the colors for every mood, the comfortable shoes, the snuggly sweaters, the sleek lines – all of it. I can talk myself into needing just about any item. It’s been kind of cold outside lately, so another long sleeve shirt would be good. If I had one more pair of pants then I wouldn’t have to do laundry so often. I could wear this to work and no one would know I also work out in it. If I don’t buy this now, it’s going to be gone forever. It’s a problem.

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While some clothing is necessary to work out six days a week without doing daily laundry or clearing a room with stench, it’s easy to overdo it. There are some things I am ridiculously drawn to the point where I will think about them for the rest of the day after seeing them. And then there are things that I know I need (like a windbreaker/water resistant layer for the wet fog where I live). I have a tendency to nearly convince myself I need a lot of things I don’t.

In the never-ending battle of need vs. want, athletic clothes are my biggest weakness. While a new item every few months or so to replace something that needs it or to fill a true need isn’t bad, it’s easy to purchase unnecessary pieces and not only waste monty, but also make a big impact. Most athletic clothing is made in sweatshops out of materials that won’t break down in a landfill (both of which go against my normal criteria for clothing purchases).

For a while I opted out of all emails from companies. It was the best – I never knew that there were new things out every week and I didn’t have the temptation to buy so many items. But then I was looking for a water resistant layer to run in, I signed up for one of them again, and I’ve kept it ever since. I used to say it’s because I helped research product pages for Yoga Journal and I needed to stay on top of trends, but the reality is that it goes deeper than that.

It’s not only that I love to look at all of the new pieces, but also that of everything in my closet, my workout clothes are what make me feel the best. I would much rather rock my running gear than a ball gown. But instead of reaching for my wallet every time something catches my eye or I want a little pick me up, I’ve been pinning it to my wish list and letting it sit for a few weeks. I’ve also been stringent about my budget and when it comes down to tough decisions, I have been prioritizing experiences over new clothes (like a weekly yoga class or a night out with friends).

As of right now, unless it’s directly replacing something that I already have, no new pieces are coming into my closet. Even race shirts aren’t free of the scrutiny. If I bring home a shirt, even if it’s from an event I loved, something else has to go. Turns out I don’t love race shirts as much as the clothes I already have, so I kindly say no to most (or give it to someone I know would like it).

I currently have enough clothes to make it through an entire week of workouts without having to do laundry, which is perfect for my sanity and it means I only do full loads of laundry. In the winter when I wear more of my gear at once (I love layers, especially on cold runs), it doesn’t kill me to wash a little more frequently.

The best parts? My drawers don’t overflow anymore with clothes I don’t love to wear (everything that itched or chafed is long gone), and I am sticking to my monthly budget.

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