Like so many of us, every winter, I am overcome with a very strong desire to “start fresh” in every sense of the word. As someone who loves clothing, I admittedly own more than my fair share and am always inspired come January 1 to initiate a great closet clean out, ditching items that either go unworn or that tether me to a past version of myself. This year, I’m holding myself accountable and truly committing to said wardrobe purge.
As a mother of two toddlers who works remotely, it is 100 percent fair to assume that my purge will include ditching any and all professional clothing. After all, when you’re a borderline social recluse whose day-to-day is filled with Zoom meetings and the constant herding of a 1-year-old and 3-year-old, why would you need to own anything that falls beyond the categories of loungewear or athleisure? Sometimes, I wish it were that simple. But the truth is, I’ve just never been a sneakers-and-activewear kind of gal.
I like tights. And skirts. And collared shirts. In fact, my go-to workweek outfit formula often includes all three of these items. Throw in a sweater and some UGG slippers, and I’m ready to tackle whatever the day throws my way. Of course, as a mom, I do often find myself reaching for more “practical” pieces as well—but I like to think that preppy casual is my go-to and how most people would likely describe my style. All that to say, my closet clean out (which I’m proud to say I have, in fact, started) doesn’t include the items you think it might. Instead, these are the nine pieces I’m saying goodbye to.
Items I Purchased When I Was In College
Just last week, I pulled a dress from my closet that I not only purchased during my college years (which were a solid decade ago) but that hadn’t been worn since. It was a $15 dress from H&M that fell outside my normal style and wasn’t even the right size. Why in the world had I held on to it for so long? Whether it was nostalgia or that nagging “maybe I’ll wear it again” thought that so many of us suffer from, I finally tossed that puppy into the donation pile, and it felt liberating. This year, I’m removing anything I purchased in my college days because, truly, am I the same person I was 10 years ago? Surely not. And the same can be said of my personal style.
Anything That Makes Me Feel Like an Imposter
Sometimes, I see an influencer or fashion girl rocking an outfit or clothing item that looks so good I just have to have it—impulse control be damned! But then these pieces—no matter how fabulous—go unworn, hanging in my closet for an indeterminate amount of time. Of course, the cause of this is getting sucked into someone else’s style and not staying true to my own. While I do sometimes feel very inspired to dabble in a new aesthetic or copy the style of someone else, I’m learning how to control those impulses and be realistic (i.e., How often am I really going to wear that?). This year, as I reassess my closet and try all my various clothing items on, I’m going to do a gut check and ask myself, “Does this piece truly feel like me?” If the answer is “no,” and I feel like someone else wearing it, it’s out the door.
Clothing That Doesn’t Bring Me Joy
The sentiment is a bit cliché at this point, but truly, if something doesn’t bring me joy, it’s going. To give my clothing a fair evaluation, I’m committing myself to trying everything on and really paying attention to the gut feeling that generates when wearing each piece. Am I instantly filled with joy? Or are there components of the piece that leave the item feeling lackluster?
For example, there are certainly more than a few articles of clothing hanging in my closet that looked beyond fabulous on the model in the retail images—but whose shape, fit, or comfort leave much to be desired in reality. The wool sweater that’s so scratchy it never gets worn, or the dress that’s just a little too tight around the midsection—if it doesn’t give joy, it doesn’t deserve real estate in my closet. Life is short, as they say, and nothing will make you realize that more than parenthood. In other words, life is too short to wear clothing that doesn’t make you insanely happy.
Duplicates That Don’t Get Worn
I’m not anti-duplicates. If I love a piece, I have no issue buying it in multiple colors. After all, what if one item is in the enormous (and ever-growing) laundry pile? That said, there are some duplicates in my closet that just don’t get their fair share of wear. This year, I want to be extremely critical of every duplicate in my closet, asking myself if they get worn and, if they don’t, assess if I will feel inspired to wear them more in the coming year. If I recognize I lack knowledge on how to style a specific piece (and don’t feel motivated to find out) or identify that I just don’t love one color as much as a duplicate in another shade, it’s on its way out to be donated.
Fashion Pieces I Purchased as a Young Professional
I started my career almost 10 years ago. I had just finished graduate school, and—while I had ambition on my side—I had very little money or any inkling as to what my personal style was. I felt lost when it came to dressing for the office, and remember thrifting a number of items that I guessed (hoped?) would probably fall under the category of “business casual.”
While few of those items remain in my wardrobe (thank goodness), there are definitely a number of items hanging around that I purchased during my pre-Covid-I-still-work-in-an-office days. There’s nothing explicitly wrong with these items, except to say I purchased them solely for work and with no real inspiration driving my purchase. As a result, these pieces go unworn. And when I do wear them (almost always a decision driven by guilt for not wearing them often) I feel like a younger, misguided version of myself. This year, I’m saying goodbye to clothing representative of my younger, less confident self and instead welcoming anything that represents the boss I now know myself to be.
Pieces I’m Saving for “Some Day”
In the past three years, I’ve been pregnant twice, given birth twice, and navigated the postpartum period twice. As many can attest, all of these life stages have a tendency to cause changes and fluctuations in weight and shape. I know I’m not the only one holding onto items that “don’t fit yet” or are “a little tight right now.” Currently almost 18 months postpartum from my second child, I’m making a commitment to finally purge the items I don’t love the fit of. If something is uncomfortable (i.e., too tight) it’s getting booted from my closet—and with it, any power it holds on my self-esteem. Items that fit loosely will also be removed from my closet but will be stored neatly away in my attic, should my husband and I decide to have a third child and I find myself on the body fluctuation rollercoaster yet again.
Loungewear That Isn’t All That Comfortable
As silly as it sounds, I recently realized I’m holding onto loungewear pieces that aren’t even comfortable. Ridiculous, right? After all, the whole point of loungewear is that it’s supposed to be cozy. Unsurprisingly, these uncomfortable items sit unworn in my dresser drawers. Whether it’s the fit (the waistband is too tight) or the material (the fabric makes me sweat), I’m committed to being more ruthless when assessing my loungewear collection this year.
Items That Show Too Much Wear
I recently turned 30. And upon my entrance to a new, more mature decade, I’ve decided to show myself some love in that I’m allowing myself to step up and out of clothing that looks like it’s seen better days. While I am in no way advocating for getting rid of clothes as soon as they no longer look fresh-from-the-store-new, I’m also over wearing sweaters that are piled beyond belief or T-shirts that have faded beyond recognition. The truth is, even when it comes to clothing items I once loved, I probably don’t love (and therefore don’t wear) those items as much now that their prime days are behind them.
Clothing That Just Feels “Cheap”
I’m a mother of two. A people manager. A leader in my own right. Also a fashion lover, I look to clothing as a means of self-expression as well as a source of inspiration and power. That being said, I’m truly against fast fashion and anything that feels overly cheap. While I don’t have the budget to splurge on investment pieces left and right, I’ve recognized I’d much rather have fewer items of greater value than many items whose quality is lacking.
Similar to my point above, I’ve found that investment pieces also tend to stand the test of time (plainly stated, they don’t show wear like their more affordable brethren). Clothing pieces whose construction is subpar (i.e., threads and small holes visible at the seams) or whose material feels more plastic than anything close to a natural fiber are on the chopping block for 2024.