Why We Hold on to Clothes We Don’t Wear

Recently, I discovered that I have a shirt in my closet I haven’t worn in at least two years. Now, this wouldn’t be a problem if I had a walk-in, Texas big, this-doubles-as-an-office type of closet. But I don’t.

My 1940s closet is so small I can barely fit inside when I play hide and seek with my kids. It hardly fits one season’s worth of clothes, and it certainly doesn’t have room for something I never wear. And, yet.

Every three months when I go through my closet, take everything out, purge, and do a seasonal switch, I find myself putting this shirt back in every single time! It wasn’t until I was talking about this quirk with a friend that I discovered why:

It’s a fun print.

I know; that was very anticlimactic. But, it’s the truth. The shirt is like decor for my closet, but it just doesn’t work on me. I wish I was a person who could pull of a good print, but I look much better in classic, simple, clothing. The shirt is purely aspirational.

Do you also save clothes you will never wear because they are expensive, or sentimental, or something you just like to look at? Whatever the reason, when this happens, you might wonder what to do.

The tricky part is that these aspirational pieces will pass the Marie Kondo test every single time. The well-known Japanese Organizer advises us to pick up each item and keep it if it sparks joy. This is precisely why this print is still staring at me from my closet.

There are a lot of other organizers out there who would say if you haven’t worn it in a year, donate it immediately. Susan Pinsky, an Organizer known for her work with ADHD clients, would echo this. Yet, how many times have you worn something over and over that you really don’t like? When it’s closet clean out time, these items are often the easiest for me to part with.

So, when it comes to my own closet, I realized I needed a different approach. It starts not with asking what you love, or what you wear, but who you are. When I touched each item and asked whether or not it felt good, and fit my lifestyle, I knew right away which items I should keep and which I should donate. The print didn’t make the cut, and I think my closet is better for it. It turns out that when I open my closet to only the clothes I actually like to wear, it looks pretty amazing. It’s me.

For more about how I organize a closet, and keep it organized all year, check out my post,
How to Organize Your Closet So You Love It.

Have a quirky closet story of your own? Post it in the comments or email me at laurenfinkshea@gmail.com. I’d love to hear from you!


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