How did women get cloth and thread to make clothes? You grew cotton. That meant you had to have land somewhere, seed, back breaking work from the time you plowed up the ground until you finally had a spool of thread! Wool was from sheep. You had to have the land, purchase the first sheep, feed it and take care of it before you ever put a shearer to work in clipping it. Silk was made from silkworms. None of this was easy!
Then came the spinning cotton into thread using spinning wheels.
Wool was the fur of sheep. After the wool gets long enough and it's the right time of year, then men would use special scissors to shear the sheep down to the skin. The wool had to be cleaned and combed also before it went on to the spinning wheel. You could spin thicker thread for yarn which could be knitted into sweaters and socks or you could spin it thinner where it also could be woven into woolen cloth.
That's just to get cloth and thread. Buttons were often made of horn, sliced walnut shell, wood, bone and even thread wrapped wire. Metal buttons were more expensive and were made of copper, brass or pewter. Only the wealthy could afford ivory, silver or gold buttons.
So when someone finally got the cloth, thread, buttons and the tools such as scissors and needles, they could cut out and sew clothing. In America today we have no understanding of how much work and expense went into making clothes.
Then there was leather for shoes or coats. Leather comes from animal skins. That means you have to have an animal and you have to slaughter the animal to get the skin and then you processed the skin to make the leather. The leather then could be cut out and made into shoes by a cobbler or someone with cobbler training.
Once you have a complete set of clothes (including socks, underwear, coat, hat, gloves) and a pair of shoes, it meant a lot for you to take care of them. You knew how much work went into getting that one outfit and one pair of shoes so you tried to take care of them so they would last for a long time. Many people went barefoot to save their shoes (although the poorest didn't have any shoes, winter or summer) whenever they could. Once it was warm enough, shoes came off and people went barefoot around the house and farm. They would only wear their shoes to church or the store. As children grew out of clothes and shoes, they were saved for the younger children and were called hand-me-downs. As children grow fast, a mother would always try to make the clothes a little big to start with. Then you rolled up the pant legs or sleeves and let them down as the child grew. If a child got a hole in the knee of the pants or elbows of a shirt, the mother carefully repaired these, even putting patches on them. Once an item of clothing was beyond repair or use, the mother would carefully deconstruct the item and save the thread by rewinding it on an old spool. She would save any buttons in button jars. If there was any piece of the cloth left, she would try to re-use it in some way. Maybe she could make it into handkerchiefs (before disposable tissues), menstrual rags (before disposable feminine products), sweat shields (padded cotton that was pinned under the arms to catch sweat so it wouldn't ruin a new shirt or dress), cleaning rags, baby clothes, quilt squares and, finally, rag rugs. Everything was re-used. I remember my Grandmothers deconstructing clothes and saving the thread and buttons and re-using the material so it's only been the last 50 years that everything has become so disposable.
Are you getting the picture? There were no closets full of clothes unless you were very wealthy. Your regular citizens didn't have a lot to choose from and it took a lot to make and care for clothing and shoes. So most old houses didn't even have closets. You have some pegs or a small wardrobe.
Wardrobes were furniture pieces made to hold your clothes much like a closet today.
This little wardrobe was for 2 people. Each side had a small hanging area for a dress or suit. the deep drawers for hats, the smaller drawers for underwear and shirts. This one had the luxury of a mirror with a tray for rings or cufflinks (used rather than buttons on shirt sleeves).
Today we have easy access to clothes, washing machines and dryers and more disposable income to buy clothing and shoes. We are very spoiled to our many shoes and clothes. As our wardrobes grew bigger we needed bigger closets. In our split level house built in 1967, each bedroom had a 6 foot closet with bifold doors. The master bedroom for my parents had a "walk in closet"! That was thought to be such a luxury! The master bedroom also had a small ensuite bathroom along with the larger bathroom for my sisters and I. That meant there was not only running water and indoor toilet but TWO bathrooms inside one house! Whoo hoo! We were moving up in the world! Bathrooms were not even in the older homes. They had to be added which is why you often saw back porch bathrooms or a bedroom turned into a bathroom.
So today, we have very different outlooks on life. Some for the good and some for the bad. I certainly don't want to go back to handwashing my clothes or outhouses in the backyard. But we've become so spoiled that we don't value or take care of what we do have. We don't see our clothes and shoes as valuable so we treat them as so much trash. If you, or your children, have rooms and closets full of stuff like this, you might be in trouble.
When you see clothes laying on the floor and people walking on them, they are considered trash. If you see clothes stuffed up under beds and laying all over furniture, they are considered trash. Sorry, but that's the way it is. If you have enough money to spend on clothes and shoes but trash them, you have more money than sense. Children who are allowed to trash clothes, shoes and toys should not be given clothes, shoes and toys. You are doing them a disservice to allow them to do this. They need to understand the value of what they have and be thankful or they shouldn't have the things to start with. I had an uncle one time with a stepdaughter who trashed her room. At 9 yrs old she had no concept of the real cost of the things she was abusing. So he removed everything from her room but one outfit of clothes and her bed. If she kept that clean one day, then she was allowed to pick something from her stuff. If she played with it and put it up, she was allowed something else. She had to earn her stuff back.
That takes discipline and consistent parenting. Both parents have to agree and stick to their guns or it doesn't work. The child will only manipulate you and she's learned a worse lesson. If you don't mind the mess, the wasted money, the chaos in your home or the bad lessons your children are learning, keep it up. Keep giving them what they want, when they want it and let them trash it.
Maybe you are one of those adults who didn't learn how to take care of your things or keep your room neat. Maybe you need some self-imposed austerity. I think that's what the whole "tiny house" movement is about. People are tired of having a house of chaos and mess and spending their money on stuff they throw away or think of as worthless. I think the whole simplification movement is because of the waste and consumerism that most fall into. I'm no different than any other human being. I see, I like, I want to buy. Then I have to put it up, maintain it, store it, etc. It's a constant tension between desires and commonsense. Instead of looking for a bigger house with bigger closets, maybe downsize until what you have fits your house. You don't have to have 15 prs of tennis shoes or 25 white tshirts! You don't have to keep the pants with the holes in them and you don't have to buy the same pants in 3 different sizes because of your yo-yo diets. It's time, as an adult, to make some hard decisions. Save your money and don't buy as much. Clean out and organize what you do really need. Keep up the program. It doesn't do bit of good to clean, give away and organize if, within a year, everything is back to laying on the floor and you just spent hundreds of dollars on new clothes and shoes that you didn't have room for. All you did was cull out, donate and then replaced. Another waste of money.
Make some hard choices and stick with it. How many pairs of underwear can you possibly use between washes? I'd say, for me, 3-4 pairs and then I'm doing laundry. So why do I have 18 prs of underwear? Same with bras, gowns, dresses, slacks, bluejeans, etc. I do have a nice sized walk in closet. But I do not have clothes anywhere else. I don't have a chest of drawers, lingerie cabinet, shoe closet, etc. All my clothes and shoes from socks to sweaters and jackets are in my one closet. There are no clothes laying on my floor or my furniture and certainly none stuffed under the bed. When I get up, I go in my closet and hang my gown on the hook on the closet door (or put in the hamper), and put my clothes on. When I go to bed at night, I put my clothes back in the closet on their hangers, place my shoes on the shelf and put on my gown. The hamper is just outside the closet and dirty clothes go in the hamper until laundry time. When my clothes are washed, I fold and put them away. I do not leave stacks of my clothes in the laundry room or sitting on the bed. They are hung up or folded and put away. It's all in the attitude and the maintenance. If you have the attitude that clothes are trash you won't take care of them. If you are thankful for the blessing of the clothes and shoes you have, you will take care of them. God has provided a way for me to have a nice home and good clothes and shoes. I try to keep in balance what I spend on things and what I have to take care of. Not too much, not too little.
The famous organizer, Marie Kondo, wants you to touch each item and take the moment to be thankful for your home and your blessings such as the clothes you are putting in your closet. This helps you develop the right attitude. For me, I see God as the provider. He has made sure my husband has a good job, that I have a home with a closet, that I have clothes and shoes. How ungrateful I would be to trash what God has given me. So learning to develop the right attitude of gratitude is essential in cleaning up your act. Do you want to continue on in selfish, greedy, spoiled attitudes? Or do you want to be wise, thankful and generous? If you have excess, don't be greedy but generous. Give it away. Release it to someone who needs or wants it.
Remember, if you can't keep up with your household chores, you may have too many things to keep up with. Too many clothes to keep washed, dried and put away. Too big of a kitchen for you to keep clean and functional. Too big of a house to where you don't have the energy or time to keep it clean. Too many bathrooms for you to keep clean. Sometimes it's not about needing a bigger house but needing a smaller one, or less things, so you can keep up.
Now let's look at closets.
Do you long for a nice big closet all organized like this?
My little closet in our family's split level ranch was a 6 ft closet. I was a little girl. But I kept my clothes and toys in my closet.
When my husband and I got married we had a 6 ft closet with bifold doors for both of our wardrobes. I managed to keep it clean and organized although my clothes were somewhat smushed due to overcrowding. But we always put our clothes away and kept our shoes in the closet.
My next house had 2 6 ft closets in the Master bedroom with a dressing area. I used one for winter clothes and the other for summer clothes. When I proved I could take care of my closets and clothes, God gave me another house (our current house) that has a walk in closet with dressing area and a separate closet (which I don't use for clothes or shoes) in the Master bedroom. I am so thankful to have the room I have now but I was thankful back as a little girl to have the smaller closet. It's all in the attitude! If you show ingratitude to God by groaning, complaining, whining then don't expect any nicer gifts. If you trash everything God gives you, why should He bless you with anything else?
If you want a closet like this, be ready with the time and energy and money it takes to have a nice closet like this. This is real estate, floor space. It may be a closet but it still has to be vacuumed, mopped, the shelves have to be dusted, the light fixture has to be cleaned, the mirrors polished, etc. Just like any other room and furniture.
Some people are liking the open closet concept.
I realize closet doors take up too much space (if you are building a house, think of pocket doors). But I think I'd rather have them for two reasons. 1) Even though I keep my clothes in good condition, put away and clean, the visual clutter might really bother me. 2) Unless you are real minimalist, dust is going to be a problem on your clothing, shoes, accessories. Bedrooms are dusty places because of the lint in the air from materials like your bed linens, towels, clothes, carpets/rugs, pillows, etc. I just don't want to have to fight dust on my clothes constantly. If I only have a few outfits and a couple of pairs of shoes, that's not going to be a problem but otherwise, it's a problem.