When you’re losing weight, it can be daunting to open your closet every morning. As you reach past the baggy khakis and gaping blouses, your eyes skip over the too-small sundress from college you’ve been waiting years to get back into — only to land on that tiny sequin tank you bought on clearance years ago that you secretly fear will never flatter your body no matter how thin you become.
When getting dressed becomes an ordeal, it doesn’t only make you late to work, it also takes a toll on your self-esteem. Experts agree that feeling good about the way you look is crucial to staying motivated to reach your weight-loss goals. How you organize your wardrobe —even as you transition to smaller sizes — can be an important tool in your success.
“When you’re constantly looking at stuff that doesn’t fit, it’s a terrible daily message,” says Julie Morgenstern, a professional organizer based in New York City. Morgenstern says many people have at least three sizes in their closets at any given time, “yet they feel like they have nothing to wear.”
Set aside an hour or so and clean out your closet. Follow these five simple steps will not only help you sleep later in the morning, it will lead to body confidence and weight-loss success!
1. Display only clothes that fit right now.
Imagine opening your closet door and knowing that whatever you pulled out would fit you. “It’s a gift to yourself every day,” says Morgenstern, who believes that your closet should reflect the truth about where you are in your weight-loss journey. That means displaying only comfortable clothes that fit well and, of course, make you feel beautiful. Even if you don’t have a big wardrobe now — especially if you’re losing weight steadily — having “real” choices makes getting dressed quick and easy. Plus, seeing spare shelves and empty hangers can be inspiring: It means there’s suddenly room for new purchases.
2. Sort and store the rest.
Group the clothes that are too small by size and stow them away in an attic or in neat bundles in the corner of your closet. Once you reach the next lower size, you can go “shopping” from that collection. “You discover a whole new treasure,” says Morgenstern. That way, the bundles feel like waiting rewards, rather than too-small clothes taunting you from their hangers.
3. As for the too-big clothes … throw them out!
It feels wonderful to stash your suddenly-giant jeans at the bottom of your pants drawer. But then comes the question: Are you keeping them because you’re realistic that your weight might fluctuate or are you setting yourself up for failure, since you always have oversize clothes at the ready? Bonnie Joy Dewkett, a professional organizer from Ridgefield, Connecticut, suggests throwing out clothes that are two sizes too big. For example, get rid of the size 16 items once you reach a size 12. “You’re making a statement that you won’t be regaining this weight,” she says. It’s okay to save a few nice items until you reach your goal weight, if you plan to tailor them to fit your new body.
4. Throw out “aspirational” clothing.
Storing old clothes that you once wore when you were thinner is smart because you likely will be able to wear them again. But hanging on to clothes that you never wore — and likely never will because you bought them on sale three years ago in an unrealistic size 2 — is just plain agonizing. “Those clothes just make you feel bad about where you are today,” says Irene Rubaum-Keller, Los Angeles- based psychotherapist and author of Foodaholic: The Seven Stages to Permanent Weight Loss. Giving them to charity will help take the sting out of the wasted money: at least you know that someone else will eventually get to wear them.
5. Make your closet a friendly place.
It’s a simple truth: you’ll feel better getting dressed when you’re faced with a pretty closet. Invest in some uniform hangers and new organizational boxes, bins or bags. Not only will this streamline the look of your closet, it will help clothes lie flat and stay wrinkle-free — and it will also save room. Feeling creative? Paint the interior a fun new color or install a new light. Don’t forget to show your lingerie drawer some love, too. Indulge in some fancy lining paper or lavender sachets, and fold your (perfectly-fitting) bras and underwear in neat rows. Now, go get dressed!