Our emotional attachment to clothes
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Yesterday I did a spring clean of my wardrobe, without exactly planning it. But as I was putting away a couple of scarves that had been hanging on the back of a chair, I pulled out a few that I never or seldom wear – and decided that it was time to let them go.  This snowballed into my shoes, then dresses and t-shirts, and even my jewellery.  In about half an hour I had two large bags ready to donate.

The change of season from winter to spring is always a good time for a review of our wardrobes.  We can look back at winter and check whether there are any items that just never got worn.  The same applies at the end of summer.  But in my case there were also quite a few items that I have been keeping for season upon season that I haven’t worn much or even at all.  This process got me thinking about why I had been keeping some of them for so long, and the reason was largely sentimental.  Now I don’t consider myself a sentimental person at all!  But yes, I have been keeping quite a few items for these reasons:

  1. A loved one or friend either gave me the item or complimented me when I wore it.
  2. They remind me of a special event, e.g. a friend’s wedding or a trip overseas.
  3. They represent a time in my life which was particularly happy or meaningful. For me this related mostly to a period in my twenties when I lived overseas and traveled widely. I still had clothes that I bought during this period. I am now in my late forties!
  4. They fit my mental picture of my personal dress style, which in fact is no longer realistic since my body shape has changed.

Apart from these sentimental reasons, there are other reasons why most of us hang onto clothes beyond their period of usefulness. These can include hopes of losing weight, or changing shape back to our more youthful selves, and fitting into certain items again. Or keeping corporate clothes in the hopes of returning to this type of work one day.  Some people just find the whole process of decluttering their wardrobe overwhelming and so ignore doing it for years.  A recent client of mine still had dresses from the 80s (complete with the requisite shoulder pads)!

I challenge you this spring to spend a couple of hours reviewing your wardrobe.  Why are you keeping the items that you seldom or never wear? Maybe it is time to let them go, accepting and choosing to enjoy fully the phase of life that you are in now, as reflected in the clothes that you wear on a regular basis.


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