10 Reasons You Keep Clothes You Don’t Wear


I love clothes. I love the way I can express myself with clothes. But many years ago, I started realizing that I only looked (and felt) good in certain styles and kinds of clothes. Maybe this is a part of maturing (aging). I don’t know. But I started to focus on what worked for me. I started questioning what I was trying on while still in the store. Why was I buying this? Where would I wear it? What else do I have that goes with it? Do I have anything else similar? The more questions I asked, the more often I walked away from that purchase. The result is I have what I need and love what I have.

“I have what I need and love what I have.”

There are so many reasons why I was keeping clothing. I want to share my experience and the experience of our clients as well. Maybe you’ll see yourself in these

10 reasons you keep clothes you don’t wear

The clothes is new or barely worn.

Sometimes you buy something and then you get it home it just never looks right on you again. Maybe it is uncomfortable once you have it on for a few minutes. You feel guilty that you spent money on it, but the money is spent. You can’t get it back. Put the guilt aside, let it go and make space.

You tried a trend.

You bought one because everyone else was buying one – that’s a trend. But trendy clothing don’t work for everyone. Stick to what looks good on you. If the latest trend doesn’t work for you, pass it by. The next trend will be here soon.

You are looking for a match.

Sometimes you buy something you like – a bottom or a top – but never find the right piece to pare it with. Stop doing this! You have to shop with a picture of what is in your closet in your head and purchase pieces that work with the rest of your wardrobe.

It was a gift.

I really think that once you are old enough to earn money to buy your own clothes, you should. You can make those decisions. Let your loved ones know that you’d rather shop for yourself and don’t feel guilty about it.

Your weight fluctuates.

You have multiple sizes of clothing in your closet. I would suggest that you keep only what fits you in the closet and store away other sizes. Having things that don’t serve you at the present moment add to the (visual) clutter in the space and create negative feelings as well. Do you really want to be reminded that your not that tiny size anymore? I don’t.

You need specific-use clothing.

Rethink all those just in case clothes, like the little black dress (do you go to formal affairs?), the resort wear (when was the last time you took a cruise?), the suit (are you really going on a job interview anytime soon?). This type of clothing is for “just in case”.  Be creative with the wardrobe you love (and already have) for these occasions.

You used to love it.

You used to wear it all the time and you loved it. But you are kind of over it. Maybe it’s a little faded or doesn’t fit that well anymore. It’s like letting go of a lost love. Try finding a replacement that is similar, but new.

You need some back-up.

Keeping more of any one-type of clothing as back-up. How often do you do laundry? Then you only need enough of any one type of clothing to get you to the next laundry day. Like jeans? Only keep what you would need to use between laundry days. No one who regularly does laundry needs 100 pairs of socks.

It holds sentimental value.

It’s hard to let go of those memories. But wait, when you let go of clothing (or anything else for that matter) you are not letting go of the memories. You still have them. Take a picture of the piece, if you need to keep a visual.

It is who you want to be.

Sometimes we all make a purchase that depicts the person we want to be. You think you are going to take up hiking, so buy the perfect hiking outfit. You are going to get that promotion, so the suit will come in handy.  It’s great to make positive changes in your life, but remember dressing the part does change your current situation. Dress for your current life.

Do you keep clothes for any of these reasons? Tell us about it in the comments below. What’s you biggest challenge?

Read more inspirational posts here:

Organize Your Closet with the Seasonal Hanger Exercise

The Best Ideas for Organizing Your Closet by Ronni Eisenberg

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Janet Schiesl

Janet has been organizing since 2005. She is a Certified Professional Organizer and the owner of Basic Organization. She loves using her background as a space planner to challenge her clients to look at their space differently. She leads the team in large projects and works one-on-one with clients to help the process move quickly and comfortably. Call her crazy, but she loves to work with paper, to purge what is not needed and to create filing systems that work for each individual client. Janet is a Past President of the Washington DC Chapter of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) and was voted 2016 Organizer of the Year by the Washington DC Chapter of NAPO.


  1. Janet Barclay on April 17, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    I have a navy blue suit that I absolutely love. Even though it’s a suit, it’s casual and comfortable (like me). I’ve had it for over 10 years but have kept it because I so rarely need a suit that I’m sure I’ll never buy another one. However, I’ve recently realized that I can’t remember the last time I wore it, and I’m donating it to charity this week.

    • Janet Schiesl on April 17, 2018 at 2:24 pm

      Thanks for commenting Janet. I also have one suit and I hang on to it for the same reason, I might need it! Now you have me thinking that I should let it go. Same as you, I can’t remember the last time I wore it.

  2. Stacey on May 2, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    I have a few dresses that I wore on very special occasions and every time I open my closet I whisper to myself you really need to let those dresses go you are not going to be that tiny ever again! Thanks for the reminder.

    • Janet Schiesl on May 3, 2018 at 7:00 am

      Hi Stacey. I have the same few dresses. Let’s let go of them together. If I ever have another special occasion I’d had to buy something new that I’d feel great in anyway.

  3. Julie Stobbe on April 15, 2019 at 8:10 am

    I used to fall into the trap of buying a top or bottom because I liked it and didn’t have anything that looked good to go with it. Now i only buy things that I know will go with something I already own. Also I don’t allow myself to buy black or black and white patterns. I am attracted to them and have too many in my wardrobe.

    • Janet Schiesl on April 16, 2019 at 4:27 pm

      Julie, I sometimes take a photo of my clothes in the closet before I go shopping so I can match up items with something I see in a store and I also buy too much black!

  4. Linda Samuels on April 15, 2019 at 8:28 am

    I’m good about editing my clothing. Twice a year I do the seasonal switch and at that time I let go of anything that doesn’t fit or am no longer wearing. Fit, feel, and comfort is at the top of my list for decision-making. It has to feel good and look good for an item to be kept. There are times I’ve made purchases that on second look were not good choices. Those are a bit harder for me to release, but I will do it (eventually.)

    • Janet Schiesl on April 16, 2019 at 4:30 pm

      We all purchase clothing we should not. It’s a hard pill to swallow. I sometime offer these pieces to my sisters so at least someone I know can enjoy it.

  5. Diane N. Quintana on April 15, 2019 at 8:40 am

    Every now and then I used to buy something because I wanted to look more professional. I’ve come to accept that I just don’t like wearing a very structured look. I’ve given away most (not all – I still wear a jacket from time to time!) of these ‘professional’clothes.

    • Janet Schiesl on April 16, 2019 at 4:31 pm

      Diane –
      I own one suit and haven’t worn it for many years, but I can’t seem to give it up, just in case.

  6. Seana Turner on April 15, 2019 at 10:18 am

    Yep… totally! Had a client yesterday hold up a shirt and tell me she didn’t like it, but she thought she shouldn’t get rid of it because it came from her parents. “But shouldn’t I keep it because they gave it to me?” she asked. I talked her through this mindset gently, and got her to a place where she felt comfortable letting it go. Keep what you love wearing!

    • Janet Schiesl on April 16, 2019 at 4:32 pm

      Seana, we should make cards up that say “when you are done with this item, it’s OK with me if you get rid of it.”

  7. Sabrina Quairoli on April 15, 2019 at 12:55 pm

    I totally agree that we should minimize the unwanted stuff in the closet! You listed every reason I encountered when I recently started minimizing my wardrobe. Thank you for sharing these reasons. I will be sharing this with my clients and friends.

  8. Nancy Haworth on April 15, 2019 at 5:05 pm

    Great post! I keep some clothing in my closet because it is needed for “specific use,” formal events, business attire, etc. or specific athletic or seasonal items. I edit my clothing regularly, but could benefit from doing it again soon.

    • Janet Schiesl on April 16, 2019 at 4:36 pm

      Spring is a good time to do a clothing edit. I am so happy to put the winter clothing away and bring the warm weather stuff out.

  9. Stacey Agin Murray on April 15, 2019 at 11:10 pm

    I recently let go of the last piece of clothing I purchased at Loehmann’s before the company closed all of their locations. It pained me to donate it but it just didn’t fit me well after my second pregnancy. It’s symbolism outweighed it’s usefulness and I had to let it go.

    • Janet Schiesl on April 16, 2019 at 4:37 pm

      Stacey, I think we all have a few items that we hang on to even though they don’t fit our current life.

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