Women never come to me and say I want lots of clothes. Nope… never. In fact, more often than not they tell me that they want to simplify. My interpretation of this is that they want fewer clothes that they wear more often. And while some women might want and actually enjoy accumulating clothes, mostly the pleasure comes from wearing them.
Does this ring true for you, too? Does your sense of yearning come from feeling unfulfilled in your wardrobe (often over a period of years before it gets to the breaking point). You’ve settled into a “good enough” look and then one day notice that you wear the same things over and over because they are easy, and many things hang unworn in your closet.
Multiply this by a million (I suspect it’s at least that many) and that’s a lot of clothes not being worn, and, more importantly, a lot of women feeling out of sorts.
So, why do you have too many clothes? There are lots of reasons and I’ll discuss a lot of them here:
You Love To Shop – Let’s get this one out of the way because chances are good that if you’re reading this it is not one of your reasons: you love to shop and enjoy creating beautiful outfits and the biggest problem you encounter is that you don’t have enough days in the week to wear them all as often as you’d like. Okay, so there… we said it. There are some women out there like that for sure but unless they run out of closet space they are usually pretty happy with what they have. If this is you, it can still be helpful to pare things down periodically to the outfits that are your most favorite. Why not do this quarterly? Donate garments, consign, have a clothing swap with your friends, or at least pack lesser-worn items away to see if you really miss them. And, just to clarify, there are certainly women (maybe you?) who used to love shopping or would love to enjoy shopping, but now just stare at their closet and wonder why nothing is working the way they want it to! If that sounds familiar, keep reading. I’m sure you’ll see yourself in one of these other situations.
You Might Need It Someday – This is a biggie. You’ve rarely (or never) worn it. You’re not even sure you like it or that it fits, but, hey, what if you need it someday to complete an outfit. No! No! No! If you can’t make an outfit with it right now (and especially if you don’t love it), get it out of your closet. At least pack it away if you can’t bear to get rid of it completely. And, if you’re not sure if it can work in your wardrobe get help to find out first. You won’t believe the relief you’ll feel knowing one way or the other. Remember, there is no room in your closet for things you don’t love.
Giveaways and Hand-Me-Downs – This is one of those really tricky areas. People feel good about passing things along but they need to work for you… I mean really work for you and who you are! If there’s a disconnect between the garment and your inner beauty, forget it, you’ll never feel good wearing it. And, if you don’t know what your inner beauty is, it’s time to find out! Comfort and free clothes are not the most important criteria to consider – it’s a reasonable (and fun) starting place but, before you decide to keep something and wear it, you must ask yourself these questions: -Is it a good color? -Does it fit or can it be (and will you) tailored? -Does it reflect who you are on the inside? -Can you make a complete outfit out of it? If it can’t pass those tests, it goes away!
You Spent Good Money On It – The last thing you want to do is waste your money. All the more reason to understand why it does or doesn’t work so you can either wear it or let it go. Once you know how to complete the outfit you can get your money’s worth out of it. Or, if you finally understand why it doesn’t work, you can let it go and chalk it up to a learning experience (and be wary of making that same mistake again).
Your Weight Fluctuates – Join the crowd! Raise your hand if you own clothes in more than one size. I can assure that 95% of all women (especially those of us over 40) just raised their hands. It’s okay. Relax and take a breath… phew. What’s not okay, however is keeping all the sizes in the same closet. No! Only the clothes that fit you now belong in the closet you use on a daily basis. Everything else needs to be in another closet or packed away until they do fit.
Clinging to the Past – Do you have clothes in your closet from 1995… 1987 or even before? Clothes from another job where you had to dress more conservatively? Clothes from a past lifestyle when you used to sail all the time or attend a lot of formal functions? Assessing whether your wardrobe addresses your current lifestyle needs is very important. Hanging onto things you used to wear will keep you stuck in a rut and won’t help you feel authentically you anymore. (And, a special word about the energy of clothes. If some of your past outfits were from a painful or unpleasant time in your past, all the more reason to remove them immediately. You don’t need to keep that energy alive in your closet – it will only deplete you.)
It’s Classic – This follows right on the heels of “clinging to the past.” Yes, some styles have a timeless quality about them but many fewer than you would think. Name brand jackets are one thing but even little black dresses and something as basic as jeans go through style changes as the years pass. Yes, you want to take good care of your clothes so you can wear them as long as possible, but the main purpose of your clothes is to be worn!
If you really love them and enjoy wearing them… then wear them so much that they wear out. Yes! That means you’ve gotten your money’s worth (so no regrets) and you have enjoyed the garment before it goes out of style (which 99% of the time will happen).
Peer Pressure – This is a tricky one. There’s a fine line between helpful advice from BFF, mother, sister and friendly sales woman and being railroaded into buying something you don’t love. Who needs to add one more thing to their wardrobe that doesn’t feel wonderful? Yes, you want to step out and try new things AND at the same time honor who you are (not the people who are trying to help you). The more you can feel self-confident knowing what you love and what you don’t love the easier it will be to say no to unwanted pressure to buy.
Searching For the Perfect Pieces – I once did a wardrobe consultation with a woman who had easily 40 white blouses in her closet. Of those 40 blouses, she generally wore 1 or 2. That’s it! So why did she have so many? Because someone had mistakenly told her that every woman should have a white blouse in her wardrobe and, even if that were true, she discovered that finding the perfect white blouse was trickier than she thought. She kept buying them hoping she’d find one that she loved. She never did. The solution? Stop buying white blouses! Find out if a white blouse really speaks to who you are and if so, hold out for one that makes your heart sing (and out of which you can actually make a complete outfit). Otherwise, try something else or get help to understand how to find the perfect garment (whether it’s a white blouse, pair of jeans or trench coat, to name a few common challenges).
You Can’t Get Rid of Anything – This one is arguably the trickiest. It really depends on why you can’t get rid of things. It could be a combination of the reasons above or it could be more deep seeded in which case getting some outside guidance will be so important. Holding on to things that no longer serve you because of past experiences or because they give you peace will eventually backfire.
I recently did a wardrobe consultation with a delightful woman who felt absolutely committed to clearing out her wardrobe to just those things that looked good on her and that she enjoyed wearing. When we got to one item, she said, with a gentleness in her voice, “Oh, my late husband gave that to me,” as she hesitated about what to do. It was more than 10 years old and she hadn’t worn it in years. Then, she took a breath and with smile in her voice said, “I have many better things that remind me of him.” And, with that, she added it to the to-go pile. Finding peace within your soul will help you move things along with grace and ease.
Wow! Do you see yourself in one (or more) of those? If so, the most important thing is to take one baby step at a time. That’s it. Just one!
Overwhelm is one of the big reasons women never do anything about an out of control wardrobe. The closet door closes and it’s out of sight out of mind until the next time you get dressed. And, then it smacks you in the face again. Living with that kind of frustration day in and day out does not make for a happy experience.