Why do we hang onto clothes?

Do I want to clear out my wardrobe

When you open up a woman’s wardrobe, it normally has two parts, clothes that are worn and clothes that remain unworn.  We seem to hang on to these clothes, ever hopeful that one day we will fit the jeans we bought for when that remaining baby weight magically shed itself or the shoulder padded eighties blouse that will come back into fashion. 

The reality is, in most cases they are a burden, wasting valuable wardrobe space.  A study has found that 85% of women have clothes in their wardrobes that do not fit (*).  The majority of these women kept their clothes in the small sizes, as a motivation to change and so as not to admit defeat.

There is also the financial side of clothing, when we make a new clothing purchase it is an investment and we like to hold on to our clothes long enough to get our moneys worth.  By giving it away or binning it, we have to admit to ourselves that we made another purchasing mistake, something not even the most self aware like to admit.

Child Laughing

 Then there is the sentimental, possibly the strongest of the reasons to hold on to clothing.  Our clothes reflect our memories, our uniqueness and our sense of identity.  Clothes we have bought for our children remind us the wonderful times we have had with them and preserve a little piece of the past.  We hold onto wedding dresses for the reminder of the days when we first fell in love and the hope that one day our daughters may walk down the aisle in the same dress. 

So maybe, just maybe, we are not silly to hang on to these clothes, self-storage units are full of boxed and vacuum sealed clothes that people can’t bear to throw out or give away and when I look back through the treasure trove of memories I can understand why.


* Bye, Elizabeth and McKinney, Ellen. Sizing up the Wardrobe: Why We Keep Clothes That Do Not Fit; Fashion Theory, Vol. 11, Issue 4 (2007), 487