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Afraid to Purge Clothes? Try Hiding Them First

Clothes are one of the hardest items to purge. However, simplifying your wardrobe and freeing up dresser and closet space can be oh so refreshing! If you struggle with letting go, here’s a gentle approach to help avoid purger’s regret.

Why are we so attached to our clothes? Perhaps our weight or bodies have changed, and we keep holding out hope that we’ll return to a previous size. Or we have emotional attachments to certain items, such as a sweater from Grandma or a blouse you wore on the first date with your spouse.

We get it—clothes have meaning. However, there comes a time when you have to move on and make space for new clothes. And if the rip-it-off like a band-aid approach to purging makes you panic, consider hiding the clothes first before parting with them. This is the ultimate test—to see if absence makes your miss them or forget them.

Pack Away Your Seasonal Clothes

It’s helpful to have storage bins that can hold a whole season’s wardrobe, allowing you to pack it away completely when the season changes.

Why does this help? Well, when you physically remove clothes from your dresser, you’re forced to reassess things. You might say, “Wow, I didn’t touch this sweater this entire winter. Maybe I don’t need it anymore?” If it feels ready to toss into the donation bin, go for it. But if you’re left with an ounce of doubt, pack it away without overthinking it.

If you didn’t wear it all this season, there’s a good chance you’re not going to wear it the next time winter rolls around again.

Then when you pull out your “hidden” winter clothes next year, you’ll have fresh eyes to see everything anew. If you still feel doubtful about that sweater, try wearing it right away. See how it feels.

If you go yet another winter without wearing an item, then it’s time to set it aside into the donation box.

Set Aside Specialty Clothes

Certain clothes are much harder to part with, especially if you’re uncertain about the future.

For example, perhaps you have a bin of maternity clothes, but you don’t know if you want more kids (or maybe you’re trying for another). It’s okay to hold on to that bin for as long as you like.

Other items might include dressy clothes for weddings and such. Try to be selective about these, only keeping the things you know you’ll wear in the future. Remember that you can always buy new items for life events—there’s no reason to hold on to every possible “what if” outfit. By the time the “what if” moment comes, the things you’ve been holding onto might be significantly out of style, after all.

Keep the special outfits in a separate bin, and if you forget about them over time, then toss them out!

Only Keep Clothes That Fit

Often we hold on to bins full of clothes in hopes that our body will return to a previous size. Although it’s good to have solid fitness goals, looking at clothes that don’t fit our current shape and size can be depressing.

It’s best to get rid of anything that doesn’t fit you right now—the only strong exception is something that could be tailored to fit better.

Trust that you’ll enjoy shopping for a new wardrobe once you reach your desired weight. If there are items that you absolutely love that don’t currently fit you, pack them into a box and hide them out of sight. But try to keep these to a minimum because really, our tastes do change with time. You may no longer love that item when it’s able to fit again.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Basically, the more we overthink purging, the more hesitant and resistant we become. So as you go through your clothes, set aside anything you haven’t worn in the last 3-6 months (making exceptions for seasonal and specialty clothes). Stuff them into something that isn’t see through—such as a solid bin, a cardboard box, or a black garbage bag. Label it with “Donation” or “Maybe,” so you can remember what it’s for. Then find a spot to store it, such as your closet. Don’t hide it completely, such as tucked away in your attic—you don’t want to forget about it!

Set a reminder on your phone or calendar to check in on those clothes in 3-6 months. You can either take a glance inside, pulling out anything that immediately catches your eye. Or just trust that if you didn’t miss anything inside, then it’s okay to part with it all. Scary? We know. Effective? You bet!

Purging clothes can be a hard, challenging task. But trust us, letting go of items you no longer wear can be liberating. Hiding them first can help reassure you that you no longer need that item in your life. It’s all about baby steps, right?

Jill A. Chafin Jill A. Chafin
Jill A. Chafin is a freelance writer, aerialist, dancer, food enthusiast, outdoor adventurer, and mama, based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Read Full Bio »
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