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Why You Keep Those Old Clothes And How To Let Them Go.



You know you do it – keeping stuff around that you used to wear when you were cooler, younger, thinner – all because you think you will be able to wear it again someday. I have news for you; chances are that you will not ever wear those items again. We go through our closets together about twice a year so that we can tell each other that we are never going to wear X, Y or Z again – being a team attacking the closet makes it easier to let go of old stuff. When we did our last purge, I took note of a few of the things we were discussing and wanted to post them here for anyone looking for help with this kind of letting go!

If you think you will be that cool again, you are wrong. You will never be that cool again, I promise. Were you in style in college? Guess what…that style will come back around when you are too old to wear the clothes. Do you really want to be the person that everyone snickers at for being a 45 year old in teeny-bopper clothes? Didn’t think so…let them go.

If you think you will fit in an item again, think back to the last time you wore it. Was it 6 months ago or was in 5 years ago? Very rarely can anyone lose enough weight to fit back in their clothes from their last job, never mind from college and the like. By holding on to clothes you will probably never fit in, you are just setting yourself up for depression. Let them go.

If you think the item was too expensive and you would be wasting money, you are wrong. You already spent the money, it’s gone, get over it. Sure, you could sell those shoes for $10 on ebay, but you will never get the money back that you spent on them. Maybe use this as a reminder to not spend so much on clothes that A. won’t last a very long time or B. will be out of style in 6 months. Let them go.

If you think you will take up motorcycle racing, lacrosse, championship badminton, or fencing again, you probably won’t. There was probably a reason you stopped doing it in the first place and you need to explore that before you keep outfits/costumes/equipment for things you no longer do. My advice? Let them go.

If you think someone will find out that you gave away something that was given to you as a gift, they won’t. Do you normally let friends and family dig through your closet looking for things they gave you? When was the last time someone said “Hey, do you ever wear that t-shirt/sweater/headband I gave you last Christmas?” Thought so. Let them go.

If you no longer have room in your closet, maybe consider that you have more than enough and that there are people out there who have nothing at all. We donate all of our old clothing to Goodwill or shelters so others can benefit from the fact that we can afford new clothes. In fact, a few years back a friend and I printed up t-shirts to try to sell…and ended up with about 25 unsold shirts. So we donated them to a homeless organization and just about 8 months ago I saw one of our shirts on a guy sleeping in the park by my house. That was cool…and I was glad we let them go.

So, do you purge often? If so, what is your criteria for getting rid of unneeded or unwanted items? Let us know in the comments!

Photo by spcummings

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Comments (15)

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  1. Kacie says:

    Excellent! I think it’s so easy to form emotional attachments to our possessions. It’s just stuff–we’re better off just letting it go.

  2. Shay Jansen says:

    I put all my coat hangers the same way around then when I wear an Item I replace the coat hangert he opposite to what the others are..that way I know what i have worn in a 6 month period and can get rid of the rest. I have also implemented a new rule in my house you want one thing somehting has to go…for example my husband has a thing for gadgets you know computers etc etc etc…..I tell him now if he wants to buy something else something has to go…needless to say he hasn’t done this yet as he hasn’t brought anything yet either because he dosn’t want to part with what he has at the moment…also saving me money! I am like this with the kitchen stuff as well if it hasn’t been used in 6 months (with the exception of crock pots/slowcooker) it goes… works well house stay’s uncluttered.

  3. Bellen says:

    It is difficult to separate emotional attachments from what you really need. Twice I have run across situations that needed separation: my sister was thrilled to wear a 40-year old dress she had made. Yes, it was very nice but way out of date, faded and terribly inappropriate for a 60 year old. The second was the recipient of a truly horrible vase that was in a color she despised, the wrong size, etc. But she kept it, for over 5 years, because it was a gift!

    For me, I have a limit as to how many of anything I will keep – 10 each of clothes (slacks, shorts, underwear, tops both Ts and nicer), dishes, cups, glasses and silverware – service for 8 because it’s what fits well in my dishwasher. Sheets – 2 sets for each bed; towels 4 bath & washcloths $ 2 handtowels for each person; and so on for almost everything we own. If we don’t set limits we become overwhelmed, and end up paying for storage space instead of square footage we can use.

    To purge – for several months I did the 5 things out each week – could be old magazines, stuff in files that we no longer needed, shirt I didn’t like the color of, the last glass of set of 4, etc. Anything of use I donated to our local Women’s Abuse Center thrift store.

    We also believe in and try hard to always practice the ‘one in, one out’ method of accumulating.

  4. David says:

    Shay – great idea!

    Bellen – 5 things a week is great, I imagine more people would be more successful with that system…

  5. Matt says:

    Great post – I try to purge my closet about once a year using the criteria you mention above (or close to it). One of the things I do on top of this is that I also look at clothes that are starting to look worn and get rid of them. Chances are if the clothing is worn and looking tattered then I’ll stop wearing it pretty soon. Sure you want to have some grubby clothes around for when you clean or go camping or to the cottage but lets face it you don’t need half a closet worth of this stuff.

  6. How weird that you actually saw a homeless person wearing your shirt.

    But I do this all the time. It’s basically an ongoing thing. I HATE having clothes in my closet that I know I will never wear again. Especially if it’s because they don’t fit anymore. Nothing makes me feel worse in the morning than trying to find something to wear and having to dig through a bunch of stuff that I’m too fat for. Or heaven forbid if I forgot it doesn’t fit and try to put it on. There’s nothing more depressing than trying to put on jeans that you’ve gotten too fat for. Not really how I like to start my day.

  7. David says:

    It was very surreal Ashley!

  8. Patrick says:

    I purge things, but not often enough. Our neighborhood is doing a group yardsale next month, and I plan on cutting loose a lot of our “stuff.” Anything that doesn’t sell will get donated. Great article. :)

  9. [...] Why You Keep Those Old Clothes and How to Let Them Go from My Two Dollars [...]

  10. Rachel says:

    Great article!! I understand some of those points for sure! Check out this post about what i do with old t-shirts:
    http://ourfrugalexperiment.blogspot.com/2008/10/my-quilting-experiment.html

  11. [...] My Two Dollars shares how to let go of those old clothes. [...]

  12. Valerie says:

    I appreciate this article and all the comments. My husband and I are very bad at getting rid of clutter, and are sentimental, nostalgic types… it never occurred to me the 2 might be connected! Knowing this about myself, I can now use the suggestions here to declutter my home… goodness know I need to! Thanks everyone!

  13. April says:

    I feel so stuck because I have this unnatural attachment to stuff not just clothes. Even other people’s stuff. I grew up seeing this person using or wearing this and so I want to hold on to it because it reminds me of the memories. It is sad. I really need to get rid of a lot. A lot of it is mental. If I never saw a whole lot of what I have I wouldn’t miss it. There are a few things that I would but only if the memory is brought up. It is so hard for me to go through my own stuff to get rid of things because when I see it I start remembering and then all my energy to get rid of stuff has reduced drastically. I’m too mentally and physically worn out and don’t want to do anything more until months later when I get the idea again. I think lots of people have the same problem as me. I think we were trained from infancy to want stuff even if we don’t need it from all the commercials and other advertisement.
    I have tons of projects like arts and crafts that I stop doing because I can’t bring myself to change something from what it is or what it use to be. So all the “scraps” sit in a bag and accumulate because I don’t feel like looking at a mess that will be made and never finished. If I draw a picture it only gets so far before I think it is good enough. I can’t add to it or change it to make it better because there is a chance it would make it worse, besides it is already imprinted in my mind as a memory that I don’t want to lose.

  14. Crystal says:

    Lol I totally agree, I hold on because I feel that I can get back to that size, or it has a memory, yes it’s cute but it’s years old, I’m going to get rid of some stuff… Can anyone give me advise for clothes I bought never used but is couple years old? I have nice taste in clothes, I’m 26 and have style. Should I take my loss or???

  15. Tbot says:

    I am having a hard time organizing because I have clothing and fabric.

    Categories of my clothing are as follows:

    1-Hard to find rare clothing that is too amazing to throw out and some of it I do wear and some of it I have no where to wear it to!

    (note that’s where I see the ebay category come to play also I have friend’s clothes that I’m selling for them too)

    2- Things I might I keep because I want to use it for sewing related projects

    3-Clothing I made that isn’t finished and alterations I never have time to get to.

    Suggestions on how to get rid of it?

    I use Freecycle mostly, but its unreliable sometimes so I donate to my college.

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