The Great Clothing Clean Out

Clothes can often be loaded for women. They are our protection, a statement, and can represent what we desire or what we wish was better about ourselves. For some, buying clothes and going shopping can be great fun or a distraction. It can also be an addiction.

I have to admit, I am not the biggest fan of shopping. No matter how at peace you are with your body, sometimes it's no match for the dressing room lighting. Or pick out the wrong cut of skirt and suddenly you appear to have lumps jutting out of your body in places you didn't even know there was a problem. It's not for the faint of heart.

For me clothes shopping is also interlinked with my constant battle not to hang onto old clothes -- things that don't fit, don't look nice or just contain a sentimental value (but yet they sit stuffed away at the back of the closet or in the bottom of a drawer). What if I need it again? What if I ever do some painting and need overalls? I keep old pairs of jeans in case I can use the material to patch another pair. As if I have ever patched anything in my life.

Earlier this week I wrote about a program I watched on hoarding and it gave me a renewed drive to try to grapple with my pack-rat demons when it comes to my clothes.

And the truth is, that in the past few years I've got better. I try to do a good clean out of my clothes at the end of each summer/winter season (there are only two seasons in England - warmish and coldish). I seek some honesty with myself: did I actually wear it all season?

When my cousin came over for the wedding I asked her to go through all the clothes that no longer fit me. Twelve years my junior, in her early 20s, there was a lot of stuff that looked great on her. And it was much easier parting with things when I knew they were going to my lovely cousin.

But still, there are loads of dresses I hang on to that I don't wear and all sorts of strange things I can't seem to throw away, like oversized tee-shirts with the names of trade publications I once worked for stenciled on them. These are not high-fashion items I should be treasuring.

I think the crux of my problem lies in my refusal to see my own wardrobe as a changeable, living thing. I'm not even the type who buys 'investment' pieces! But the reality is that we buy new things all the time, our lives change, our jobs change, our shapes change, and our tastes change. Even if I like something a lot, I can grow tired of wearing it. And there's that old chestnut of hanging onto clothes that don't fit. If you lose or gain weight, guess what, you can buy new clothes – the ones you are holding onto may no longer be in style or to your taste anyway.

Keeping things that you actually wear now and make you feel good is the stuff equivalent to living in the moment.

So this past weekend I took my first step in the getting-rid-of-things-I-don't wear cold turkey process. Without questioning, I asked myself, 'do I wear this?' and if the answer was no, then I took it out of the drawer or closet. Everything is now sitting up in our attic for phase two.

I plan to ask myself three questions when the real sorting begins:

1. Do I wear this? Right now?
2. Do I feel good in this?
3. If neither are true, why am I hanging onto this… and it is rational or just emotional?

I'm planning to give myself a little leeway. I have two small storage boxes. I will allow myself to keep some sentimental items, but only as long as they fit into those two boxes. Everything else will go to the charity shop or be thrown away. I'll let you know how it goes.

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  1. Back with now ex b-f, he used to like tasteless reality TV shows, like Wife Swap. (yeah, I know.)

    However, there was one show where one of the women said something that stuck with me. She was a little nutso, of, but she said you should ask yourself 3 questions about anything you're hanging onto:

    Do I love this?
    Do I need this? (You might not LOVE your toothbrush, but you need it.)
    Does it make me money?

    If you can't answer yes to at least ONE of those 3 questions, the item in question needs to go bye-bye.

    It's amazing, however, how big a pile I can create of stuff I "love."

  2. I like those questions! I wonder if I have anything at all in our house that makes me money! I totally know what you mean about being able to create a big pile of stuff you 'love'. I guess then the challenge is defining 'love'. If it has anything to do with fear then that thing should go...


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