Monday, October 25, 2010

Saved by the Closet

This is a repost of an item that I saw on Instapundit (normally a blogging no-no), but I really liked it. Virginia Postrel's piece in the Wall Street Journal is entitled "Saved by the Closet: we've got so much stuff that it's easing the slump":

In today's sour economy, however, what once seemed like waste is starting to look like wealth: assets to draw on when times get tough (and not just because of all those ads promising top dollar for your gold jewelry). Material abundance, it turns out, produces economic resilience. Even if today's recession approached Great Depression levels of unemployment, the hardship wouldn't be as severe, because today's consumers aren't living as close to the edge.
Postrel argues that Americans have so much stuff stockpiled in our homes that we have a sort of automatic inventory of goods to see us through hard times, an interesting contrarian view. Aesthetically, minimalism is very seductive, but is it practical, especially when you live with other people? My personal wardrobe is much smaller than it used to be, and although there are many benefits to not having a mountain of clothes, Postrel is correct about the downside. My stuff wears out a lot faster than it used to, and disaster is always a possibility when you've only got two pairs of seasonally-appropriate pants (I try to have at least three now).
I'm currently in the midst of a long-term housekeeping project where I'm going from closet to closet, from drawer to drawer, opening every box and considering every object I find (my husband's office and the garage excepted). We have a lot of stuff and we've given a bunch away, but that said, the problem is not so much that we have too much, but that we forget what we already have. Shopping in your own closets is a very helpful exercise, and much less expensive than real shopping.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sandra Tsing Loh and Dave Ramsey - what's not to like?! http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/12/the-frugal-divorc-eacute-e/8290/1/ dave.s.

xantippe said...

Dave, you really scared me. I thought you were going to tell me that Dave Ramsey had run off with STL.