Why I got rid of my $500 leather jacket.
How to let go of clothes that are no longer serving you.
There’s something really therapeutic about cleaning out a cupboard, especially when it comes to your wardrobe. It helps you to feel organised and reinvigorated. You can mix and match your garments more easily because you can see everything. This will save you time because you won’t spend a good chunk of your morning deciding what to wear, pulling out endless items that don’t work, leading to feelings of misery and frustration. When you open your closet doors in the morning, you know you like the items that are in there because they fit and flatter you, suit your values and lifestyle, and reflect your personal style. It goes without saying that your clothes, and where you store them, should be clean and tidy, ready to be worn, creating a stress free start to your day.
But letting go of garments that we have invested in can be a difficult process for many. There are some psychological reasons why we may be reluctant to get rid of clothes that we know don’t fit us, still have the tags on them, or are rarely worn. As a wardrobe consultant, I believe every client’s case is unique and there is no one clear cut method of ‘uncluttering’ a wardrobe, or auditing it. What works for one person is often very different to what works for another. Therefore, it’s important to be sensitive to the needs of the individual and for both parties to be clear about the intended outcome of a wardrobe session.
For some, a garment can have a strong sentimental attachment to an important event or person. For example, one of my clients had a lot of dresses in her wardrobe that she had bought when she was married to her ex-husband. For her, they signified a joyful time in her life and despite the grief of her break up, she was not quite ready to get rid of these items, even though they did not fit her anymore. They were also very expensive, high quality dresses. In a situation like this, my advice is to give yourself time to work out if these items have a place in your wardrobe. I will often suggest my clients pack them away in another place (room or cupboard) to make space for the clothing that they do love and wear regularly. Set a date on your calendar in six or twelve months’ time. When that date arrives, if you haven’t worn those items, then it is time to let them go.
Not sure about getting rid of some garments? Then, set a date on your calendar in six or twelve months’ time. When that date arrives, if you haven’t worn those items, then it is probably time to let them go.
Of course there is always an exception to this. A bridal dress is an obvious item of clothing that you are unlikely to wear again. However, perhaps you are leaving this as a beautiful keepsake, or for one of your daughters who you think may want to wear it for their wedding someday. This happened to a friend of mine. She up-styled her mother’s wedding dress that was gifted to her by her mother. It represented a beautiful symbol of love, tradition, and family on her special day. It takes time to work through your wardrobe items. Be clear about why you do or do not want to hold onto a particular item of clothing.
I’m a big believer that clothing is something that needs to serve us, as we are, today. Our lives change and so do our bodies. That’s why regularly ‘checking in’ with our wardrobes is really important. An annual wardrobe audit is a must. We wear clothes every day and we lead busy lives. A wardrobe that is functional, tidy and expresses who you are today is fundamental to daily dressing and feeling confident with the way that you present yourself. That is why, if you have a cupboard full of clothes that no longer fit you, or remind you of a time in your life that conjures negative memories, then these garments are certainly not serving you and they need to be evicted. At some point, it is better to get rid of these pieces to provide room for items that make you feel and look great.
Can’t find anything in your wardrobe? It’s time to unclutter.
There’s no better time to audit your wardrobe than when you move house. I recently ‘let go’ of my first ever leather jacket that I bought in Los Angeles many years ago. Similar in style to a trench coat, my genuine leather jacket was black. Double breasted, it had 6 buttons down the front and it was fitted through the waist with a leather belt. I had bought the jacket before I was married; I was single and fancy free – on an overseas holiday with my sister. For the past twenty-five years, I lovingly stored this jacket in a breathable coat bag. Throughout this time, I wore it on occasions, on the days we had a cold snap in Queensland (which is about two weeks a year).
When I was packing up my clothes to move house earlier this year, I opened up this particular coat bag and peered inside. I noticed that the leather on the jacket was starting to perish and in some places it had discoloured. Now, there are quality leather jacket repairers that you can engage to restore your loved leather items. But here are the reasons why it was time to let go of my jacket.
Firstly, it was damaged and yes, I could’ve spent money to restore it but I live in a really warm sub-tropical climate and like it or not, our environment really does impact what we wear and how often we wear it. So, from a practical perspective, despite the jacket still fitting me, I knew I wasn’t going to wear it very often, if at all, especially now with my hot flushes, thanks to the joys of perimenopause.
It is also a very heavy jacket, weight wise, and as I have matured, I simply have no tolerance for uncomfortable clothing. Sure, if I was going travel overseas a lot, the weight of the jacket would be fantastic, but hey, with the current covid lifestyle, three teenage sons, a growing business, a husband who works long hours and a mortgage, that ‘travel thing’ aint’ happening any time soon. In terms of the money I spent on purchasing the jacket, $500 US was a lot of money 25 years ago but that money has gone and I can’t get it back. If I was going to buy a leather jacket now, it would be a light weight ink navy or chocolate one, because I know these colours will work better with my present colouring. Plus, there are so many beautiful vegan friendly options available that are less expensive.
The other reason why I said goodbye to my jacket is because it represented a different time in my life that simply isn’t me anymore. I don’t go out to ‘cool’ nightclubs or hang with my ‘arty friends’ at the Metro in Brisbane. I don’t even live in Brisbane anymore and my lifestyle is very different. That was then, and this is now. The jacket had lost its purpose. And I’m completely fine with that. So many of my clients who have relocated to Queensland tell me how they don’t know how to dress ‘up here’. What they mean is that all of their tailored coats and heavy weight jackets aren’t necessary because their location has changed and/or their work situation and lifestyle. And for those clients who have left the corporate world to adopt a different one, they are suddenly faced with the reality that daily dressing can actually mean wearing smart casual clothing and suddenly, they are not sure how to present themselves. So, when you are auditing you wardrobe, assess the wearability factor of your garments. This means working out whether they will continue to serve your current lifestyle and/or environment. If these two factors have changed, you can bet your wardrobe will need to as well.
The other reason why I said goodbye to my jacket is because it represented a different time in my life that simply isn’t me anymore. Letting go of garments that don’t serve you anymore is liberating.
A wardrobe that is uncluttered and organised can lead to feelings of being calmer, more in control and less stressed. This is according to an article related to social psychology and the assessment of how a home can correlate with daily patterns of mood and cortisol. Women who felt their homes were cluttered, had increased depressed moods throughout the course of the day.
Does your anxiety increase and/or your mood drop when you open your wardrobe and look to choose something to wear for the day ahead? Does the thought of starting the process of assessing your wardrobe feel overwhelming to you? Do you start worrying, ‘What if I can’t decide what to let go of?’ Please know there is always help at hand. You can engage the services of a professional wardrobe consultant, personal stylist, or image consultant. I work regularly with my clients to help them unclutter their wardrobes, work out what to keep, create a list of items that may be ‘missing’ and help them to organise their daily dressing requirements. It might mean creating outfits and new looks they hadn’t considered before to wear for work and/or weekend activities. I believe your wardrobe should be a place which is manageable and a place you like. It’s a space that houses garments that are a personal reflection of you. Therefore, your closet should be considered with care and respect and like a car, be consistently checked and maintained so that it doesn’t let you down.
Research suggests an uncluttered home environment reduces stress and anxiety.
Donating items of clothing to others who can get use out of them and enjoy them is a really positive action that helps others and our environment. TIP: Be sure that you are donating items that are clean and in good repair.
If you are keen to start some wardrobe work and commence a clean out of your clothing items that no longer serve you, then here are some questions that may help begin the process.
It’s a keeper!
You love this garment. It fits well, it’s comfortable, you wear it frequently and it makes you feel good.
The style still flatters your body shape, the colour is great for your complexion, it is not dated, and it’s in good condition.
You receive compliments, and you would buy it today.
It may need a dry clean and/or minor alterations but it’s a winner.
You need to toss this!
It’s stained, ripped, irreparable, doesn’t fit, uncomfortable, outdated, not suitable for your lifestyle anymore, and you don’t love it. It doesn’t make you feel good.
It might even still have the tags on it, a spontaneous purchase that didn’t work.
If it’s been hanging for 12 months in your wardrobe and you haven’t worn it, chances are you won’t!
- Discard any stained, ruined clothes that are not suitable to donate. Find a recycler near you – https://recyclingnearyou.com.au/clothing/
- Check with some fashion labels like H&M and Zara that offer donation bins for recycling unwanted garments.
- Clothes and bedding are often appreciated by mechanics.
- Even you old towels can be used by local vets and animal shelters.
- Family/ friends
- Sell/donate to used or vintage clothing stores
- Sell on Facebook or Market Place and other online platforms like poshmark.com.au
- Clothing swap
An item of clothing that has sentimental value, or an attached positive memory.
It cost you a small fortune when you purchased it, and you just aren’t sure whether you can part with it.
This could be a good quality garment with a classic cut that still fits but it doesn’t suit the climate here, or your current lifestyle, or your personal style.
Pack this pile away into a bag or box.
Mark a date in your calendar and if you still haven’t worn these items in six or twelve months, then it’s probably time to let them go.
My dream wardrobe…one day perhaps!