Clear Closet, Clear Mind
Hey, friend, I’m going to tell you a little secret.
I’m a wardrobe consultant but the actual clothes are often secondary to what I do. You see, the first place I start with my clients is their closets. And it may seem like personal styling is exclusively about clothes but when a client invites me into her closet, she is also inviting me into one of her most personal spaces. Our closets are roadmaps of where we have been, where we are, and even where we would like to go. They are microcosms of what is happening within our lives.
It takes a brave person to confront her closet because as many comforting items they house, such as an old college sweatshirt that feels like a soft, warm hug, they often contain contentious ones as well: those jeans that used to fit, that dress that we hold on to even though it's too large now, and clothes that were gifted by loved ones. In many closets, the actual wardrobe items are secondary. Why do we hold on to things that no longer serve our needs, and what can we do to move forward?
Challenge #1: Clothes No Longer Fit
Perhaps you've lost weight and feel you need a constant reminder of how far you've come, and perhaps you've gained weight -- maybe you're working on getting back to another size and maybe you aren't. Regardless of the situation or the reasons for holding on to clothes that no longer fit, I need you to hear me, friend. Really hear me, not just listen: you’re a different person than you were five years ago or one year ago or six months ago. Perhaps you've gotten a lot healthier and maybe you've spent time enjoying some great parties and indulgent food. Either way, you've grown and whether you are where you would like to be, you've lived. You've had more experiences and you're more enriched. You've grown as a person and regardless of the reason those clothes don't fit, you've evolved as a person. It is okay to let go and evolve your wardrobe as well.
What to Do About It
I generally don't recommend holding onto clothing items that don't fit but if you think you'll be back in an old size, and you love the items and they are in great condition, pack them away and out of sight until you are there again. If you feel ready to let go completely, donate gently worn clothes to an organization you'd like to support or look into resale options (see Challenge #3 below for my favorite choices). Don't use valuable closet real estate on things you aren't currently wearing.
Challenge #2: Emotional Attachment
Maybe it's what you wore on your first date with your husband, or perhaps it's an item that belonged to a loved one; either way, unless a clothing item brings you comfort every time you see it, I highly suggest packing it away. It makes it really hard to get ready or choose outfits when confronted by an emotional item. Put yourself in the best possible frame of mind by removing emotionally triggering pieces from your everyday line of sight.
What to Do About It
If it is an item that you want to keep long term, take the best possible care of it by storing it away from dust, light and other potential damage to the fabric. It will be for the best to have it stored safely where you can pull it out when you want to revisit it. If you're to a point of wanting to donate something that is emotional for you, consider donating it to a charity resale shop that supports a cause close to your heart. This ensures your item will be available for someone else who will use it while financially supporting a good cause.
Challenge #3: Guilt
We all buy clothes and look in our closet months later only to see that tags are still attached.Or maybe you've spent a lot on something that you know you'll never wear or use again. These scenarios make us feel guilty, which leads us to keep these items through every closet clean out. Guilt is a huge mental and emotional hurdle to overcome, and it only leads to additional frustration when you're trying to get ready in the morning.
What to Do About It
One word: resale. There are so many options available now to recoup some of the investment you've already made in your closet. If your items are brand new with tags or in like-new condition, I find Poshmark the easiest app to use for reselling. If you have high-end designer pieces and not much time to resell yourself, online consignment is a great route. The Revury is a newer online consignment option and they work collaboratively with their consignors, understanding that it can be hard to let go of items. Shipping labels for sending items in and in-home assessments for select Southern California areas are both available.
I firmly believe in starting each new year with a clean slate, and taking an honest look at your closet is one tool to help start 2020 with a clear mind. Even if you have goals that will change your shape in the new year, really considering what is in your closet and why you hold onto things that you don't use will help you carefully assess bringing new items into your closet in the future.