How to Let Go of Clothes You No Longer Need

How to Get Rid of Clothes you Don't Need

We are wrapping up our first 30 Day Style Challenge for the year, and once again I’m hoping that our participants learned as much as I did. Each time around, I get a better sense of where our clients and readers struggle. Today’s post is taken directly from the conversations I had with our participants. (If you would like to sign up for the next round, follow the link here.)

A big part of our style challenge is diving into your current wardrobe, and purging it of items and helping you build a fully functional, and fabulous wardrobe. By the time our challenge is over, participants comment about how free and light they feel. We’re so use to having so much stuff, when we are finally organized it’s like a weight has been lifted.

There’s lots of psychology around our purchasing habits and emotional attachment to clothing. We have all experienced that moment of paralysis when we know we should let go of something, but just can’t. There is a tiny voice in our head that says, “What if the spaghetti strapped dress I wore to my sorority formal junior year comes back in style, and I don’t have it! What do I do then?”

For the record, nothing is coming back. Inspired by, maybe, but not back.

It seems silly, but this is a conversation I’ve had with hundreds of women over the years. It’s such a common theme with our readers and clients that I’ve developed a few techniques to help move the along process.

When we a start working with  a new client we try to get  a sense of her personal style.  We ask her to create a personal style board on Pinterest, instructing her to pin images of what she likes, ignoring, for the moment, budget,  body type, and lifestyle.  Then, when we meet her her closet, we review it and can see a them: pants vs. skirts, prints vs. solids, modern or classic.  You get the idea.

Once we start to work through her wardrobe, we hold each item up to her board, asking, “does this pant/skirt/blouse get me to the style I love?” It makes a first time edit so much easier. Inevitably, we reach a point when she just can’t part with a garment. That’s when we dive into the rational.

When you find yourself unable to part with an item, consider the following:
1. Does the item hold sentimental value?
Marie Kondo, I am not. I think you should keep things that are sentimental. If the item is a wonderful memory, like the sweater you were wearing when you met your husband, and that matters to you, keep it. Don’t keep it in your closet,though, store it properly in a cedar chest or storage box.

2. Does it fit?
Fit, meaning, you can wear it tomorrow. If the answer is no, I’d love for you to part with it, but that’s easier said than done.  If you can’t part, you can keep it. But hear me: remove it from your closet! Right now. I hate the idea of women waking up, turning the light on in their closet and starting their day with the negative self-talk that happens when we flip through a closet full of clothes that we can’t wear. Do yourself a favor and put those clothes in a different closet. Give it a season and if you still can’t wear them, let them go.

3. Could someone else benefit?
This is an easy one, especially when entering a new phase in life. Let’s say you are going from working in an office to working out of the home. You don’t need all of those suits, skirts, and blazers. Keep maybe two of your very best, that you love and that fill well “just in case” and donate the rest. Organizations like Dress for Success are always looking for professional wardrobe staples for women in transition. It makes a huge impact in their lives and is so much better than hanging in your closet not being used.

4. Are you frustrated because of the money you “wasted”?
A first-time edit can be especially overwhelming when our client realizes how much money she spent on clothes that are currently sitting in a donation pile on her closet floor. I get it.  I feel the same way. Instead of self-flogging, realize that you spent the money either way, what difference does it make if the item is in your closet, or someone else?

To ease the blow, you might consider selling your lightly worn clothes. I have one client who sells her gently used items on eBay with a lot of success. I’ve made a few dollars on ThredUp on pieces I hadn’t worn in years.

By only keeping clothing that fits your lifestyle and body type, that you are happy to wear you’ll actually get more use out of your clothes and, therefore, more value from your investment.  The first time you really focus on editing your wardrobe can feel like a massive task.  To help get you started, take a look a a few of our posts below from last year, than will guide you in the process.  Or, join our next Style Challenge (it’s free) starting up again in March.

How to Define Your Personal Style 

How to Clean Out Your Closet in 60 Minutes 

How to Work with What You Have and Not Spend a Dime

How to Budget for Your Wardrobe

Have a questions?  Ask them below and we’ll answer it in an upcoming post.

Megan Kristel

Megan Kristel is an entrepreneur, working mom, and former personal stylist. Tired of the one-dimensional portrayal of women online, she founded The Well Dressed Life as a resource for other professional women.

2 Comments
  1. I love this post! When I sell clothes on eBAY, I keep that money separate and use it on a special splurge that I’d have a hard time justifying otherwise. I bought a classic but expensive handbag second hand with eBAY money. I use that bag daily and feel good about it where the clothes that I was not wearing were weighing me down!

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