7 Common Reasons We Hold On

Many of us, myself included, have a hard time letting go of some of our clothes, even though we no longer love or wear them. I started looking at some of the reasons we keep clothes we don’t wear anymore and there are some common reasons we all share. We face many of these stumbling blocks when trying to Detox our closet. These stumbling blocks can make it difficult to let go of what we no longer love and wear to create our Intentional Wardrobe. There are reasons we hold on to these clothes.

We need to understand why it’s hard to let go of clothes we no longer wear. Once we understand what’s making us want to keep clothes we don’t wear, it easier to move past these mental blocks and effectively detox our closet. Here are some reasons why we keep clothes we don’t wear and how to move past them:

1. “I feel guilty, I’ve never even worn this” or “The tags are still on it and I spent so much money.”

Sometimes we buy things we think we’ll love and wear, but it just doesn’t work out. Maybe it doesn’t match with anything else in our closet or we bought it because it was on trend and now the trend has passed. Maybe we wanted something new and we settled for this item, rather than waiting to find the item we loved… so we hold on to them.

Whatever the reason, it’s taking up space in your closet and you aren’t wearing it. The money is already spent… it’s time to let it go.

Keeping it in your closet will not get the money back.

In fact, keeping it will only prolong your negative feelings, making you feel guilty every time you see it. This negative feeling is the opposite of how you want to feel about the items in your wardrobe. If it’s not something that you love, you are never going to wear it anyways. It’s just taking up space in your closet. Let it go. Use it as a lesson for making better choices when shopping in the future.

2. “This is something I’m ‘suppose’ to have in my wardrobe.”

I don’t know how many lists of “Essentials” are out there! I may even have one on my blog! But these “lists” aren’t the end all gospel truth. These are just starter suggestions to get your mind moving in the right direction (at least in my case it is, I can’t speak for everyone).

Sometimes we allow ourselves to be restricted to someone else’s rules.

If the classic wardrobe staples that everyone “should own”, like the white button down, don’t fit your lifestyle you should feel free and empowered to say ‘no’. Don’t keep something that doesn’t fit your lifestyle just because it’s a classic staple you should have. If you don’t have a reason to wear it, you won’t wear it.

Your wardrobe should reflect your lifestyle. Don’t be afraid to make your own rules for your wardrobe. If you don’t need or want a white button down, then there’s no reason to hold on to it… let it go. If having a white button down fits your taste and lifestyle, but you don’t love or wear the one you have, let it go. Then shop thoughtfully for a new one. Take your time to find a replacement that really suits your body and needs.

Another example of following someone else’s rules is with color. I like to wear a lot of different colors, especially in the summer. Most of the colors are not from the “color palette” for my skin tone. But of course I’m a rebel, I think you can wear whatever color you want, you just have to know how to wear it.

Let go of trying to follow someone else’s rules and figure out what works for your body, preferences and lifestyle. That’s how you’ll end up with a wardrobe you love!

3. “I like this item but I don’t have anything in my closet to go with it.”

Sometimes we buy things we like, of course, but for some reason we don’t think about it matching the rest of our wardrobe. We try to convince ourselves that we can make it work with something in our closet or, better yet, we’ll just purchase something to go with it… and never get around to it. We have to stop. This is not a good reason to hold on to the item.

The key to an Intentional Wardrobe is the ability to mix and match the pieces you have.

Keep things that you can wear in lots of ways, with at least three other items. If an item is already causing you trouble because you don’t have the right pieces to make it work, that’s a sign it’s not a good fit for your lifestyle or your wardrobe. If you absolutely love the piece then you have a lot of work to do to get it working in your wardrobe. You need to buy at least three things for it to go with. Make sure pieces easily work together with the rest of your wardrobe.

4. “My weight fluctuates and I need clothes in multiple sizes.”

Weight is a major reason people hold on to clothes. This might be a little hard to hear for some, but I think you should only keep clothes in your closet that fit you right now *gasp*. Calm down let me explain… There are a number of reasons but here are the top two: (1) If your weight change is not something you are happy about, seeing clothes that no longer fit can cause negative feelings about yourself and your wardrobe and (2) having clothes in sizes that don’t currently fit, adds to the visual clutter in your closet and makes deciding what to wear more difficult.

If you want to keep some clothes in different sizes than you are wearing right now, be VERY selective about what you keep and only keep the items that you absolutely LOVE and would feel excited to wear again. Also, instead of keeping them with your current wardrobe, store them offsite or in a spare closet if you have one. This way, if you’re planning to lose weight, you can treat yourself to a few new items to celebrate when you do.

The great thing about any wardrobe is that you don’t need many pieces to have a complete wardrobe. You can easily have a versatile wardrobe with 30 pieces or less, if you want to go the minimalist route. By saving only the pieces you love, and adding in a few new pieces if your weight changes in the future, you’ll still have a functional wardrobe without storing boxes and boxes of clothing in various sizes.

5. “I bought this trendy piece to add to my style but I’m not wearing it.”

Trends are another reason people hold on to clothes. Maybe you bought something trendy to update your wardrobe, but the item isn’t working for your body or life, so you never or rarely wear it. Maybe the trend quickly passed, it’s already out of style and you’re hoping it will come back around.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the latest trends. If you don’t know what your signature style is, you could end up on a never-ending roller coaster ride. Try to figure out what types of clothes you look and feel best in. Think about your favorite kinds of outfits, or your go-to outfit choice when you want to look and feel great.

For me, I feel best in skinny jeans, a loose-fitting top, a cardigan and a cute necklace or scarf to finish it off. That’s my signature style . Go to Pinterest to help you narrow down your likes and dislikes. Once you figure this out, it’s easier to resist trendy items and stick with what works best for your body and life.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s okay to buy trendy pieces, but let those pieces enhance your wardrobe not bring it down. Figure out your signature style and shop for those kinds of items when adding to your wardrobe.

6. “I’m keeping an item for a certain type of event or occasion.“

We all do it. We hold on to items we rarely wear, but are keeping “just in case” a certain occasion arises.

Instead of keeping something you rarely have occasion to wear, try thinking of alternatives you own that could be worn for the same occasion. Versatile pieces are essential to every wardrobe. Try limiting the “special occasion” or “just in case” pieces.

Sometimes we buy too many of one item (socks, undies, bras, etc.) “just in case” we don’t do the laundry for 45 days… really? In reality, I do some kind of laundry almost every day or at least every three days, so I think it’s safe to say that you don’t need many “just in case” items. You’ll do the laundry when you need clothes .

Rationally thinking through these what-if-scenarios is all you need to do to let go of the scarcity mindset. Think about what you actually need and wear in your wardrobe. Chances are you don’t need as much as you think.

7. “I’m having a hard time letting this go”, “it was a gift” or “it holds sentimental value.”

This one can be tricky. Creating a “maybe” box can help in this situation. A “maybe” box gives you a safety net if you’re worried about purging too ruthlessly and then regretting your decisions.

Put anything you are having a hard time letting go of in a box. Seal the box and mark it with a date, about 3 months from now. Put a reminder in your phone for that date. If you haven’t thought about or wanted any of the items from the box when the reminder goes, donate the box without opening and look through it. This is for the rough cookies, because our natural tendency is to want to go through the box, but that will only lead to us holding on to the box for a longer period of time.

Another way to help with this is to create a “keepsake” box. A “keepsake” box holds items of sentimental value. It could be a kimono that your husband got for you when you visited Japan the year before you found out your were pregnant with your first child. Who wouldn’t want to keep that! Although you want to keep it, you may not actually wear it again… so store it!

There are many creative ideas you can do with sentimental clothing. There’s t-shirt quilts, transforming a special item into a pillow cover, using them as decoration, etc. Make sure to be intentional and selective with what you keep for sentimental reasons. Maybe set a limit about how many sentimental items you will keep. Only keep the things that are really important to you.

Overall trust your instincts when deciding what to keep or get rid of.

But if there are a few items that you’re struggling with, try creating a “maybe” box or “keepsake” box to take the pressure off yourself. It can ease the fear of regretting any of your purging decisions and let you be bolder with what you are willing to try living without.

Can you relate?

I hope this list helps you make some progress in detoxing your wardrobe. Most times, when we identify the reasons why we struggle to get rid of something, letting go becomes easier. These are just some of the common reasons we keep clothes we don’t wear. Do you find yourself struggling with any of them? What holds you back from getting rid of clothes you know you don’t love or wear? What has been your biggest struggle when it comes detoxing your wardrobe? Let me know in the comments below.