This post was inspired by a leather jacket.
A jacket I bought some 8 years ago, and wore and loved for at least 5-6 years, but haven’t worn in the last 2.
A jacket that I’ve been unable to say goodbye to.
I guess most of us have a leather jacket, a once beloved blazer, dress, shirt, or pants like that in our wardrobe. I call them the wardrobe weights.
Every time I set out to organize and declutter my wardrobe, that jacket somehow survived the purge. I took it out, tried it on, decided it was still OK, made promises that I was going to use it a lot more from now on and thus it went back into the closet – and remained untouched until the next organizing session.
I think I went through this cycle at least 6 times in the past 2 years.
Why was I unable to let go?
First of all, it was not a cheap purchase and every time the thought of decluttering crossed my mind, that price tag just flared up like a red, judgmental alarm bell.
It was also in a perfectly good condition. It wasn’t damaged, worn-looking, or problematic in any way.
I just didn’t click with it anymore.
But is that a good enough reason to discard something otherwise perfectly fine?
The three major decluttering categories
I guess most of us regularly organize our wardrobe. It can be a seasonal, preplanned thing or an ad hoc activity, prompted by an annoying feeling of “I have nothing to wear”. In my experience, there will be three main categories (with three different level of difficulties) we will have to tackle in these organizing/decluttering sessions:
+ Easy – The favorites
These are the items you absolutely love and wear all the time. Probably these are your signature items, the ones that best fit your style, aesthetic, and lifestyle. They are important because they are the cornerstones of your wardrobe.
+ Moderate – The justifiable candidates for decluttering
These are the items that you don’t really have any qualms about discarding, either because they don’t fit anymore, are damaged in a way (stretched out, stained, the color faded etc), or you totally fell out of love with them and cannot picture yourself wearing them anymore under any circumstances.
The decision should be (and usually is) relatively easy – let them go. Throw them out if they are beyond repair hope, but more often, donate (or if you want to, sell). Someone can still make good use of them.
+ Difficult – The wardrobe weights
This is when we enter the challenging territory. These are the items that give you a headache. The ones that take up space in the closet. The ones that give you a twinge of conscience. The ones you don’t know what to do with. And probably the ones that are responsible for the feeling that your wardrobe is not perfectly functional.
As I said, there can be many reasons for this. The financial aspect – the money you spent on it. The emotional attachment – memories or gifts. Or the fundamental personal style issues – you just don’t love them as much anymore.
How to deal with the wardrobe weights
If you’re uneasy or undecided about these items, here’s what you can do.
1// Identify the reasons behind the unease
Be really clear about why you’re having a hard time letting go. It’s important because when you find the reasons, it becomes much easier to deal with the required answers. But you gotta get to the bottom of the issue.
2// Deal with the cost guilt
I knew one reason I couldn’t get rid of my leather jacket was that it was not cheap. Moreover, I got it as a gift. Double guilt. However: will that money come back to me magically if I kept it for 3 more years? Definitely not. Would the person I got it from be happy if they knew that it’s of no practical use anymore? Probably not.
Moreover, I wore that jacket for several years. It made me happy. It probably fulfilled its mission and it’s time to move on. In these cases, it’s better to focus on the past and how many uses we got out of them, then focus on the future or any missed opportunities.
3// Deal with the memories and emotional attachment
We should never forget something: objects are just that – basically lifeless things. They don’t hold the memories, those are in our hearts and minds.
I don’t really subscribe to the Marie Kondo advice of talking to our possessions, but in this case, it’s worth trying that experiment. As I said, instead of focusing on the future, think about the past: how long you wore those clothes, how you liked them, how much joy they gave you and decide that it was enough. Time to pass them on to someone else, hoping they get just as much joy out of them.
4// Postpone the decision for a season, but make an effort to wear them
If after all the above steps, you’re still undecided about the fate of your wardrobe weights, you can give yourself some more time. Postpone the decision for one more season. But if you do, make a conscious effort to find a place for that item in your life. Do not put them back to their original place at the back of your wardrobe. Put it into a visible spot. Make a commitment to wear it at least 2 or 3 times in the next month. Better yet, wear it that day or the next. Put together an outfit it works with.
If you try to make an effort, either you’ll fall back in love with them or realize that they really do not fit with your style or lifestyle anymore. In that case:
5// Say goodbye
Whether it’s right after your analysis or after another season, you must have the answer – it’s time to act on it. We really do not need stuff that do not add value to our lives in any way.
As for my own wardrobe weight: it’s already on its way to its new owner.