Why Are You Saving Those Old Clothes?

If I were to take a quick look in your closet today what would I find?  Do you have three or more complete sets of clothes?  Are they “today’s size” clothes, “yesterday’s size” clothes, and “way in the past size” clothes?  If you do have such a collection in your closet, I can think of a couple of reasons why.  Either you hate to give or throw old clothes away, or you are a saver.  I fell into the second category.  I was a confessed saver.

Like a lot of you, as my weight changed over the years, I outgrew clothes.  And unlike my 5 boys, who are outgrowing their clothes at an unbelievable pace, I outgrew my clothes because I was growing out.  I grew out and out and out.  And although my closet didn’t change physical size, the interior grew fuller and fuller.  You see, as my weight ballooned, I began to find myself unable to part with the clothes that used to fit.  As I bought new clothes that did fit I just moved the smaller clothes to the side.  Then as I grew some more, the clothes that didn’t fit began to take up a larger portion of my closet than the clothes that did fit.  It was getting crowded in that closet!  Does any of this sound familiar to you?

After being obese for about 5 years even I had to admit to myself  that even if I ever did fit into my smaller clothes again, they were so hopelessly out of date that I wouldn’t wear them even if I could fit in them.  So in the 1995, I weeded through my closet.  If you can believe it though, I still didn’t get rid of all the smaller sized clothes.  Oh no, I kept the ones that I just wasn’t ready to part with.  The ones I might wear again.  Like the lovely orange and yellow plaid dress with the white collar, the royal blue suit, and the black and white polka dotted jumper.  But at least I had pared it down. 

When my weight loss strategy finally started being successful, I made a difficult decision.  I decided that as I outgrew my clothes this time, I was going to give them to charity.  I understood that as I lost weight, if I knew there were still bigger clothes in the closet “just in case,“ I may be tempted to let my weight creep back up knowing I had clothes that would fit.  It was hard for me to get rid of that safety net.  When I had lost weight in the past, and had some success, I never got rid of anything.  And when I gained my weight back, there were my clothes welcoming me back to size 28 land.  

So as I went from a size 28 to 24, I gave away the bigger clothes, and bought a few things in the new size.  This continued through the 14 months I lost weight.  There were times when my clothes were so loose that John was begging me to buy just a few outfits to “tide me over.”  It was both a freeing and a frightening feeling to take the bigger clothes to Goodwill.  It was freeing that I was releasing myself from that size, and frightening to know I didn’t have a safety net anymore. 

Psychologically, it was invaluable.  I was not only moving on with my physical weight in a positive direction, I was also moving forward in my mind.  By shedding myself of the “big girl” clothes, I was helping shed my “big girl” self image.  When I reached my goal weight and size, I was able to look in the closet and see clothes that fit, clothes I liked, and clothes  that didn’t carry any negative associations. 

 I want to encourage you to look in your closet today.  Do you have old clothes that you need to pass on?  Have you lost weight and are afraid to get rid of the bigger clothes?  Is your closet just overfull?  If so, use this week to shed some clothing pounds and move forward with your goals.  Diane

P.S. Today is Livestrong Day, the day which coincides with Lance Armstrong’s cancer diagnosis. Jody – Fit at 51 has a post up about a movement among food bloggers to raise awareness.

41 thoughts on “Why Are You Saving Those Old Clothes?

  1. Diane, Incredible Shrinking Family says:

    One thing I have been pretty good about is weeding through my closet every six months and parting with anything that has not been worn in that time. All except one skirt that I bought almost 5 years ago at an unbelievable sale . It is a leather skirt in a straight cut, and will never go out of style. It is currently my temporary goal outfit, as it is about an inch from closing. The rest has not been worn for a reason- cut is wrong,it has weird seams or so forth , and sitting in the closet to “age it” will bring no improvement.
    .-= Diane´s last blog ..A new toy =-.

  2. Joanna Sutter says:

    Losing weight is bittersweet! It’s awesome, but can be expensive when it comes to buying new clothes.

    I remember packing for a business trip one year and trying on clothes I was planning on taking with me. I was delighted when I tried them on and they were too big but then 5 minutes later I burst into tears when I discovered I had nothing suitable to wear and no time to shop. Poor planning on my part! I ended up safety pinning the pants at the waist and carrying around my blazer as it looked like I was a little girl playing dress up in my mom’s clothing.

    I don’t keep any “fat clothes” or “skinny clothes” in my house anymore. Just the clothes that are “just right”…
    .-= Joanna Sutter´s last blog ..Ray’s for a cure =-.

  3. Jody - Fit at 51 says:

    Diane, you do not even want to know what I have in my closet!!! No too big clothes but OLD clothes. I don’t buy myself clothes so…. and the 12++++ year old leotards that I still wear & work clothes I wore 7++++ years a go. It is crazy! OK, I know, get to it!

    By the way, I like the underlying meaning to this post! Great as always!
    .-= Jody – Fit at 51´s last blog ..Natural Sweeteners; Healthy Recipe; Sweet Potato Chips =-.

  4. Michelle says:

    Diane, I read every day but don’t post all the time. Your post really spoke to me today. I wanted to thank you for writing it! I joined Weight Watchers this week and have 50 pounds to lose (at least!). I’m also a big saver of clothes, but starting today, I’m going to donate all my clothes as I get too small for them. Thanks for the inspiration. I look at your before and after photos and know that I can do it too! Your blog is most helpful. To me and I’m sure many, many others. Keep up the great work!

  5. Andrea@WellnessNotes says:

    This is such an important post, Diane! For years, you could find all kinds of sizes in my closet. I kept them “just in case.” And you are so right, it made gaining a bit of weight sooo easy! Also, I held on to clothes from back in high school for over 15 years. Even though they actually fit again at one point, whom was I kidding?!!!?

    Keeping only clothes that fit (and therefore having an organized and not over-stuffed closet) has made me much calmer…

  6. Debby says:

    I may be older, but I can still learn! Last summer, working at the Italian restaurant, I gained 26 pounds. When it came time for our yearly migration to FL, my size 16 jeans were way too tight to sit in the truck for hours in. I went out and bought a pair of size 18 jeans. I planned to throw them away when we got to FL. I didn’t. I stayed in that pair of size 18 jeans until January when even they got too tight! I finally started losing again. This summer, when they got big, I gave them away. I learned that I will never ever ever keep a pair of larger sized jeans when the ones I’m wearing are loose. Just gives me reason to get back into them. I had a 5 week eating frenzy here…gained 16 pounds. My size 16’s are of course tight. It’s what got me back on program! No 18’s to go into…MUST get comfy in the 16’s. Simple eh???
    .-= Debby´s last blog ..Just go through the motions =-.

  7. Hanlie says:

    I still have some of my thin(ner) clothes, but have been very ruthless about rooting out the fat clothes that become to big for me. There’s a charity box just around the corner from me and I make regular trips to dispose of my fat clothes. I’m never going back to those sizes again!
    .-= Hanlie´s last blog ..On the mend =-.

  8. vickie says:

    I am back to no clothes that fit again (bottoms) with my current weight loss. And I refuse to buy any tide me overs – because I am down to just a few pounds (left to drop). And since the weather has turned cold (and I have one pair of jeans that fit besides my workout gear) I find it very motivating!
    .-= vickie´s last blog ..Lots of gym/class changes for someone who likes things smooth and steady – I suppose it testifies – I KNOW when something is not working =-.

  9. vickie says:

    On the original way down – I did get rid of the now too big things and the items that even when they fit – I wouldn’t buy again – so why would I save them – ?

    I also have kept up with tailoring – shortening hems – adding darts – all the little things that make off the rack clothing fit my body very well.

    Besides the fact that I do not have the too big clothes as a safety net – I think having a clean, organized closet makes such a difference in life. There is definitely a correlation between clutter and fat and disorganization (for me).

    Good posting!
    .-= vickie´s last blog ..Lots of gym/class changes for someone who likes things smooth and steady – I suppose it testifies – I KNOW when something is not working =-.

  10. Deniz says:

    Me too. I’ve done the selfsame thing. While I was still gaining weight, my wardrobe was full of ‘currently wearing’ or ‘fat’ clothes and the old, smaller ‘if only’ clothes in various unattainable sizes, all stuffed into too little space.

    Once I started losing weight seriously I made some changes, including one addition, which was to buy a few smaller sized ‘tomorrow’ clothes to motivate me into keeping going. To do this I had to shed the older clothes (as I shed the lbs) to make room – off to the charity shop with them. But, as many of the smaller sizes I bought came from the charity shops too, it hasn’t been an expensive process. I’ve found some amazing bargains and had great pleasure happily rummaging though for my next ‘tomorrow’ item.

    I don’t have any ‘just in case’ larger sizes now and, as the weight loss continues or as I decide where I am happy to be, I will only keep my ‘just right’ clothes in the house. Having said that, I did keep one pair of trousers (my largest ones) from the bad old days to remind myself of where I began… ouch!… and why I have to carry on being truly aware of my food and exercise patterns for the rest of my life.
    .-= Deniz´s last blog ..Blow-out and fasting =-.

  11. Amy says:

    I agree Diane! This is one of the best things you can do – it’s hard at first, because it’s hard to let go, but losing weight IS about letting go, of bad habits, old ways of thinking, etc, that the clothes are a very important symbol of all this. I have gotten better at this over the years, and I weed out my closet regularly. I also don’t buy very much, only what I need as I go along. About keeping old “thin” clothes, I always tell my self, why do you want to go “back” to some old worn out vision of yourself? Try instead to move forward and create yourself anew!
    .-= Amy´s last blog ..Frumpy Friday =-.

  12. Monica says:

    I have lost just enough weight to see the need for a new pair of pants, at least. But it SCARES me to think about getting rid of them because of the what-if thing. What if I regain?

    I’m going to really try and do it and get rid of the clothes that really are too big for me and take them to the donation center. I’ll let you know if I did it or not.

    Thanks so much for this challenge.

  13. Sunny says:

    I have posted about this several times, including just a couple of days ago. It is one of the best parts of losing this weight for good….getting rid of the fat clothes. I was hanging onto 1 pair of pants, but I even tossed those. (they were going to be for one of those photos, you know? But I took a “before” photo, so I only need to use that for comparison.) I am SO glad I kept the best of my skinny clothes-just this week I found I fit in 7 pairs of pants in the 10-12 size range. It’s like an almost entirely brand new wardrobe!!! I still have 4-6 sets of jeans to try on. I’m saving those for this weekend or next.

    Actually, I’m not really scared. I agree…I never did this before when I lost weight. Perhaps in my heart, those times, I didn’t trust this as my future, and now I totally and completely do. I know I’m too old to ever get that fat again. So I never, ever will. Six months ago I was afraid of an early death and an imminent heart attack. Today, I am so excited about my future. Amazing what this journey can do to our futures, which affects our todays!!!
    .-= Sunny´s last blog ..The Perfect Ten! =-.

  14. Sara N. says:

    I am getting rid of my clothes not only as they don’t fit anymore, but because I hate them a lot. I can completely understand the plaid dress thing. I have those kinds of clothes too. Getting rid of them is important to me because they are part of my past and I’m looking forward to my future, which is very bright now!

  15. Susan says:

    I’d say one of my “lowest points” during my bigger days, was coming to the realization that it was time to throw out those smaller clothes, and buy some bigger ones. Of course, shortly after, I had that changing moment where I started losing weight. I bought a lot of really nice “heavy” clothes that were hard for me to part with because they were so expensive! My boyfriend is also begging me to buy things that fit, but right now it’s not financially feasible. A few items here and there, but I desperately need some nice things that hug my body in the right places 🙂
    .-= Susan´s last blog ..Lessons Learned and a New Set of Goals =-.

  16. Janet says:

    I can’t tell you how much I agree with this! I have lost weight several times before and that is one thing I never did (throw out the too big stuff), and this is something that I HAVE done differently this time. I figured, I have to try something different to help ensure my success. Getting rid of the clothing safety net was a big one for me. And my closet looks so much neater now!
    .-= Janet´s last blog ..Day 137 – At What Point May I Declare Success? =-.

  17. Pam says:

    I never did this with previous weight loss attempts, but this time, we have already taken one 13 gallon sized trash bag and one box of shoes to Goodwill, and have another box full and ready to be dropped off this weekend. I am lucky enough to have a friend who is about 40 pounds ahead of me who has been sending me her old clothes, so this will tide me over until I am the size I am meant to be. Hubby got some clothes from my Dad, so we’re good.
    I have a BUNCH of clothes that I had kept from when I was an 18, so I have plenty to shrink into. Once I get below 18, though? I think that is when I am going to get scared.
    .-= Pam´s last blog ..Weigh In For October 2nd =-.

  18. Ka says:

    I gained most of my weight in the last decade, but never lost faith that I would some day be able to wear the clothes I liked again. So I kept the best ones. With the numbers going up and up on the scale, I ended up building myself a collection of clothes in all sizes from 8 to 16 over the years. On the periods I went on diets and lost some weight, I’d throw the bigger clothes away (but I’d still keep the smaller ones even though they didn’t fit me). Now that I’m finally back to size 8 clothes again (I’m 5’8’’) it makes me very happy to fit in those old clothes I saved, so I’m glad I didn’t get rid of them when I started gaining the weight. 😉
    I suppose 90% of the clothes in my ‘old’ closet didn’t fit me, because they were in smaller sizes to which I hoped to get back one day. But those clothes were really helpful when I started losing weight, because I could wear them temporarily with no need to spend money. But now I already put all the big clothes away, as I don’t intend to ever have to wear them again. In my ‘new’ closet almost everything fits me. It gives me such a sense of accomplishment to look at it, besides the fact that it’s so easier to get dressed in the morning now. 😉
    Great post as usual!

  19. Lisa says:

    Yes and yes. I have lots of too big closthes and to small clothes. I am scared to ditch the bigger ones because I always gain weight back, and sad to get rid of the skinney ones because I don’t want to lose hope. I’m a mess. lol
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..My weigh-in for October =-.

  20. Jody - Fit at 51 says:

    Diane, I wrote my comment to your post earlier but thank you for mentioning LIVESTRONG Day & linking to my blog. From there, they can go to the lady that asked me to do this. She is a survivor! I hope all are able to pass this movement on if they have their own blog!


  21. GeorgiaMist says:

    Boy, can I relate to this article! I have gone from size 24/26 to 16. I just tossed my last size 20s into the box headed for the thrift store.
    I have vowed NOT to keep any larger sizes “just in case”.
    It’s cathartic.
    Great post!
    .-= GeorgiaMist´s last blog ..Biker Chick… Uhm… nope! =-.

  22. Positive Gangsta says:

    Your totally right. To be honest i needed this post. I been procrastinating ( don’t tell any one i do sometimes) packing up my old clothes and giving them to people who need it. People who are less fortunate than me and i need to give up things i don’t need to those who truly desire it. So today I’m going to keep it gangsta by packing up my old clothes and giving them to people who are less fortunate…. Peace!
    .-= Positive Gangsta´s last blog ..How to Start you day off Flawlessly =-.

  23. Hadley says:

    I’m yet to get rid of my old clothes. I know I should. I’m committed to actually losing the weight this time, that whole thing. Still, it’s a bit of a scary concept. Maybe soon.
    .-= Hadley´s last blog ..Why are we obese? =-.

  24. Certifiably Fit says:

    I used to do the let me save these clothes until they fit again when I was putting on the weight. On my journey down almost 100lbs I stopped myself from doing the just in case saving though. I just knew that would be a slippery slope to be on. The only thing I did do was save one pair of jeans and a shirt but only because I wanted a frame of reference of where I came from. Those are a size 22 and a 2X shirt. Every once in a while I dig those out when I need a lift in my spirits and put them on to see just how small I have gotten. I have replaced my wardrobe over 6 times since then. I only have two different sizes in my closet now since I’m between an 8 and a ten (totally is dependent on the brand).
    .-= Certifiably Fit´s last blog .." Know Your Numbers" =-.

  25. Small Steps to Health says:

    I have a closet full of clothes where I only wear 7-10 outfits on a regular basis. Some are too tight, some are too loose, and some are from college that I just cannot get rid of. Like Mizfit, I am holding on to some of my old clothes because I am holding on to the memory of when I used to wear them.

    .-= Small Steps to Health´s last blog ..How to Reduce Your Medical Bills =-.

  26. Shelley B says:

    I’ve been getting rid of my clothes as I out (under?) grow them – but there have been a few favorites that I had a hard time letting go of and wore too long past their outgrown date. I don’t want to go back to those old sizes and I’m glad to be rid of the clothes!
    .-= Shelley B´s last blog ..Maggie =-.

  27. Leah says:

    About one year ago exactly I donated 95% of the clothes that didn’t fit me. We had lived here about one year and they were labeled in boxes according to size. It had been about 3-4 years since I had worn them and I was tired of looking in my closet and seeing FAILURE everytime I saw a box.

    It was the most liberating thing I ever did.

    I also went out an bought a few things that fit me for a trip we were taking. I know this might go against what we we talk about here on weightloss blogs, but during this time I
    was slowly learning to love myself if I never lost another pound. If you’ve seen the early stages of my blog you’ll see that it was still another 6 months before I even desired and considered the possibility of losing weight.

    I truly feel that in letting go of those boxes I also let go some feeling of failure, regret and self hatred. I think it was a small step in helping me get to where I am today. Like you, Diane, I did keep a few favorite linen dresses, but I told myself if I wasn’t in them in a year I would throw them out. Now I need to decide if I’m going to keep them for the spring or just donate them now. hhmm… 🙂
    .-= Leah´s last blog ..Weigh-In … MY 4 bags of sugar!! =-.

  28. Hopeful says:

    I was so happy to see this in my RSS feed today. It is so funny that you posted about this! I have recently been working on my closet, and have gotten rid of quite a few things. In fact, I’m planning on blogging about it this weekend. You and I think alike Diane!

  29. Tammy says:

    I just cleaned out my closet last week and mailed a 25 lb box of clothes to a very special friend. It felt amazing. There’s just no going back up the scale…so I knew in my heart I no longer needed the bigger clothes. I was a size 26/28 when I started in June. I just bought a new pair of sweatpants at Walmart for $6 yesterday….size 20. 🙂
    .-= Tammy´s last blog ..Satisfied…..Almost =-.

  30. MamaBearJune says:

    I’ve purged almost all of my fat clothes. I do have some big t-shirts from our Make a Wish trip for my son to Orlando. Those have sentimental value. Maybe I will make a quilt out of them!

    But getting rid of the bigger sizes gave me an elated rush! It’s the knowledge that I am NOT going back. During my medical app’t yesterday I was talking with the nurse about my weight loss and she said that could be part of my heart problems. Great! 😛 The doctor is just going to have to give me a plan that works with my healthy diet that doesn’t make me put weight back on! I like being a size 10, dangit!
    .-= MamaBearJune´s last blog ..Tilt table test done =-.

  31. MamaBearJune says:

    One other point I wanted to make, for those “tide me over” times – hit the consignment stores! No need to spend a fortune on new clothes you won’t use for long, but I think it’s important to have clothes that DO FIT and aren’t baggy. Baggy is not a good look. 😀
    .-= MamaBearJune´s last blog ..Tilt table test done =-.

  32. Carla says:

    I was too happy to purge my closet when I started losing weight. There were a few items I had taken in and after a certain point, they reached their limits.

    Out with the old and I haven’t looked back – not after four years!
    .-= Carla´s last blog ..My Tipping Point =-.

  33. Moira says:

    I used to have the opposite problem. When i picked up weight all those thin clothes used to shout at me from the cupboard with nast comments like ” look at you, you used to fit into us you fat pig” Sounds awful but that is what happened and it would send me straight to the sugar! It was only when i got rid of the thin clothes that i was able to face up to the issue and lose my weight. I did however, get rid of the clothes that got too big as i made my way down again.
    Thanks for your insight.

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