Do I Really Need Another Sweater?

Or: When Is Enough Really Enough?

I have more sweaters than any sane person really needs–of any category of wardrobe item, my sweater collection is robust, to say the least. Whether they are sweaters inherited from my grandmother’s best friend, or bought in Ireland during one of the two summers I spent working at an archaeological site, or just picked up along the way, I have far more than any human would really need in a lifetime.

But sweaters are the one thing I find myself adding to my cart again and again. I always justify a new purchase to myself–“well, I don’t have a camel cashmere turtleneck…” “I don’t have a fair isle cardigan in this color…” “But it’s perfect!” and thus my collection grows and grows.

The problem is, so many of the sweaters I have are so precious to me that I don’t want to wear them. Whether it’s a beautiful turtleneck my grandmother’s best friend gave me, or a sweater of my mother’s, some are just too precious to expose to the elements (both a commute to Manhattan in non-pandemic times or daily life with a toddler!) And so I keep justifying adding to the less-precious-but-more-practical category. And now I have a problem!

I feel like I need to start from scratch, here–donate the sweaters I have that fall into the “less precious” category and just invest in pieces that will become meaningful to me. I have been making good progress in setting aside clothing to donate, and I’m glad of that.

I also need to find a way to properly store the sweaters that are meaningful to me, but are too precious for everyday wear. I’d love a walk-in cedar closet à la Mildred Bliss of Dumbarton Oaks (it’s on the third floor and it is a monument to preservation–everything including shelves, built-in dressers, and the closets-within-the-closet are meticulously crafted out of cedar!). Not that that is a possibility, but my makeshift solutions really aren’t doing the trick.

I’ve had my eye on replacing my current dresser for a while and starting from scratch there, too, and lining the drawers of a new dresser with these cedar-scented drawer liners* from The Laundress, but then that’s an entirely different issue. I have a tendency to put things like this off because I’m just “waiting for something.” Conspicuous consumption is obviously an issue in our society, and while I prefer vintage things over new, that doesn’t mean that I don’t fall prey to the urge to buy something new. I don’t need a new dresser at the moment, no matter how tempting the pieces at our local antique shops might be 🙂

Part of my goal this year is to establish new habits. Instead of trading things in that are serviceable and in use, I want to learn how to appreciate them again. I can make small adjustments if needed–for example, drawer organizers for my dresser, those nice drawer liners, et cetera.

In the meantime, my answer to “do I need another sweater?” really should be no!

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