The Clothes We Keep

When to get rid of your 'someday' clothes
Published March 16, 2017

The clothes we wear can serve many functions. At their most basic clothes are protective, they insulate us against the cold and help us to stay cool when it's warm. Clothes are also a form of self-expression, some people love to stay cozy in comfortable outfits while others relish the thought of getting dressed up for even the most mundane task. What you put on in the morning can also help shape your emotional wellbeing for the day, certain items of clothing can leave you questioning yourself or they can inspire confidence before you even leave the house.

Our connection to clothing is deep, so it’s no surprise that almost all of us have clothes lurking in the back our closet that no longer fit, those old jeans from college you hope to fit into one day or that dress that is three sizes too large, that you keep as a reminder of the weight you've lost. While it can be tempting to hold onto these items, it’s important to examine why we give them such meaning in the first place.

Find out why that item of clothing is important to you
For some people, hanging on to a slightly smaller pair of pants or skirt from their younger years can represent a solid, clear cut goal that can be measurably attained (the “slightly” being the key word in that sentence). For others, seeing those same jeans can bring up feelings of failure and depression that can lead to potential self-sabotage with eating and exercise habits. Similarly, items of clothing that are too big can also have a psychological impact. You might find continuing to wear larger clothes from when you were heavier can dissuade you from making poor food choices. Others might find those baggy shirts are a constant reminder of their larger self and that keeping these clothes around serves as a reminder that they'll inevitably be that size again. Each reaction is very normal, and depending on which sounds most familiar, can be a good indicator of how you should approach cleaning out your closet.

Learn to know when to let go
The runaway bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo has inspired millions of people to de-clutter and reorganize their homes in a calm and mindful manner. Ultimately, the most important organizational takeaway is whether or not an object "spark(s) joy" for you. When you look at an old pair of pants that don't fit anymore do they bring you anxiety? Self loathing? Happiness? If it's anything but the latter it's time to reevaluate why you're keeping them. It can also be helpful to imagine someone else experiencing joy from a piece of clothing you don't wear anymore. Make sure to find out how easy it is to donate your old clothes, many Canada-wide and local charities have websites with clear instructions on where and how to drop off donations. 

Make organization a habit
For many people it's easier said than done to get rid of clothes we have sentimental attachments to. Try going through one small part of your closet at a time, or even one dresser drawer at a time as you search for items to get rid of. Like many other self-care practices, cleaning out your closet is much easier if it's habitual. Aim to go through your clothes every couple of months to keep your storage at its neatest and most efficient. The Professional Organizers in Canada website helpfully encourages goal-setting, planning, carrying out the plan and self-reward as an essential parts of creating a new organizing routine. Practice these tips often and organization will become second nature to you.

Take baby steps if you need to
If getting rid of clothing immediately is too much of a permanent solution for you try allocating your potential cast-offs to storage in another part of your home. Give these items of clothing a few weeks away from your closet and see if you truly miss them. If you find yourself yearning for them, or if you find you’re missing the inspiration they used to give then by all means bring them back. If not, then donate or re-purpose them in a way that will make you feel good about your decision.