Getting Rid of “Closet Guilt”
(how to get rid of your emotional attachments to things you don’t need, and clean out the “junk”)
by Janna Beatty with Sharon White
Statistics show that over 40% of people hold on to clothing they are not likely to wear again. Are you one of them?
As an image consultant, I have been working in women’s closets for over 30 years and I have seen a lot of emotional attachment to clothing. It is truly challenging for some women to overcome feelings of guilt when it comes to discarding their clothes–even when garments no longer fit, are no longer in style, or are no longer serving their current lifestyles.
Why do we women feel so uncomfortable about getting rid of things?
Years ago a national storage solutions company conducted a poll and found that 43% of people surveyed held onto clothing they would not likely wear again. The reason? Guilt. This company wanted to know how I dealt with clients who had this problem.
Here are some common arguments I often hear in defense of not letting go. My rebuttals follow.
Argument: If I lose 5 or 10 pounds, this garment will look great.
Rebuttal: I recommend that clients have nothing in their closet that does not fit them right now. Your closet will serve you most efficiently if it is current. There is no advantage to looking at something on a daily basis that you cannot wear.
Ask yourself how long you’ve been holding onto the garment. Is the outfit serving the life you are living TODAY? If you are truly honest with yourself, you will easily recognize outfits that are no longer fashionable and those that don’t fit into your present lifestyle.
Argument : The outfit (or pair of shoes) is not comfortable–or easy to wear–but it’s so CUTE.
Rebuttal: If an outfit binds, rides up when you reach, or impedes your movement, get rid of it—even if it’s cute.
There is no remedy for something that’s ill-fitting or uncomfortable. (However you may want to take note, and spend more time test-driving clothing/shoes at home before cutting off the tags.)
Argument: It has sentimental value. (My husband bought me this outfit when we got engaged.)
Rebuttal: Take a picture of it. Saving memories in a scrapbook definitely frees up valuable closet space.
Argument: I paid way too much for this, and I only wore it once.
Rebuttal: Ask yourself how many times you have to wear something before you feel you’ve gotten your money’s worth out of it. Is it possible that you redeemed the value simply by wearing it for the occasion it was meant for? Do you love it enough to wear it again and again?
If not, consider donating it, or taking it to a resale shop. Imagine someone else getting a great piece of clothing–compliments of benevolent you—that they might never have been able to afford otherwise.
When clients truly cannot part with things, I make a bargain with them. I box up the items that need to go and seal it with duct tape. The box is stored in a rather inconvenient place. The deal is that they can retrieve anything they need from the box at any time. But, if I call them one year later and the seal is not broken, they must agree to donate the unopened box.
NO ONE has ever had the box in their possession when I call back. They love their new functioning closet, and they can’t even remember what was in the box.
I believe it is a privilege to use and own material possessions and it is a joy to select them. It is also freeing to share–when we no longer have need of them.
About Janna Beatty
Janna Beatty, owner of one of Texas’ premier makeover studios, is co-author of the book Quintessential Style: Cultivate and Communicate Your Signature Look . She has studied in New York and Paris with some of the most respected advisers in the fashion and beauty industry. A successful business owner for more than 30 years, Beatty speaks to corporations, professional organizations, and women’s groups. She also has been a guest on radio, podcasts, and television.
About Sharon White
Sharon White is an award-winning author who lives and writes in Central Texas. She has written for New York Daily News, Huffington Post, Fashion Bible and other online and print magazines. She publishes a popular lifestyle blog based on her book, Quintessential Style.
BOOK REVIEW: Quintessential Style: Cultivate and Communicate Your Signature Look by Janna Beatty and Sharon White Wheatmark November 15, 2014). By Alison Blackman Dunham Editor in Chief, advicesisters,com
As I read the article above, I felt a tinge of familiar guilt. I’ve have had those very same arguments with myself. Even today, as I gaze into my over-stuffed closet, I know I need to ditch a ton of clothing “duds” but I never do! Do I feel guilt? This short article will make me take action!
Clip and save the article above, or tweet it, like it, share it with your friends and family. Our objections to throwing out items of fashion apply to just about everything else, too.
I’m a former image and color consultant, so it’s no surprise to me how many people are unsure about their own image. We look in the mirror and perceive something different than what we really feel about ourselves. Today’s emphasis on selfies make that mirror image even more clear to the outside world, but not to us.
Does your image today satisfy you? Do you feel that how you look (to others) mirrors the “self” you want people to see?
Quintessential Style: Cultivate and Communicate Your Signature Look is one of those “image DIY” books that can really help you learn the basics of personal style, how to find what works for you an individual, and confidently broadcast that image to the public. It is full of information, but it’s very basic. If you are already somewhat savvy about body type, fashion categories and so forth, you won’t find lots of new “fashion and beauty hacks” within the slim 153 pages. In fact, if there’s any negative, it is that the book covers too many topics with too thin a brush stroke. For many adults with average experience in shopping, beauty and style, a lot of the information is too general, although it’s a good refresher. It would have been nice if the authors had included some more advanced information with fewer, but more focused, topic areas.
That said, for those who are young and trying to discover that “who am I and how do I make it work?” question, or if you are someone trying to do a serious make-over, or you really don’t feel secure in your image, this book is a great place to absorb lots of information in an organized and easily understandable way. Quintessential Style will make a thoughtful holiday gift for a young person, a job seeker, or anyone going through a transition who could use a little bit of guidance. Get one!