[Part of my mission to “live deliberately” involves ruthlessly cutting out anything that saps my time, energy or money to no good end. I’m calling these things my “Quits,” and this is one of the many items that have found themselves on my Quits List.]
I’m a big proponent of the occasional closet cull. Every season, I pick up a few new pieces of clothing (or outgrow the pieces I have), and it’s time to get rid of some of the stuff I’ve been hanging onto but haven’t worn in forever.
It makes sense from an organizational standpoint: One piece in, one piece out. One pair of pants too tight to wear even with As Seen On TV pant waist extender thingies, one pair of pants deemed to have done all it can on this earth.
[Cordelia self-conscious note: I consider my pant waist extender thingies to be the frugal woman’s alternative to tailoring, especially as I’m telling myself I’ll lose my extra poundage once the weather turns nice and I can walk the dogs more. And then the pants will only need to be let out again, so the interchangeability of the extenders is both smart and cost-effective.
That’s what I’m telling myself. Please don’t judge.]
Anyway, in the course of this past weekend’s cull (part of my “everything must go” advanced spring cleaning), I came to realize something as I debated whether to keep or toss certain pieces: It doesn’t matter whether something still fits or is still wearable; what matters is whether or not I feel awesome in it.
Shut the Front Door! (on a less-than-awesome me)
I have learned many solid lessons from Stacy London and Clinton Kelly over the years: Dress the body you have, not the body want to have. Dress for the success that you want. Focus on quality over quantity.
But the “What Not to Wear” mantra that kept popping into my mind every time I hesitated to throw a shirt on the donate pile was: Unless you absolutely love something, and it makes you feel fabulous, you shouldn’t own it.
I got rid of plenty of pieces of clothing during this round of culling that were perfectly serviceable—meaning they met one or more of the following criteria:
- I could still fit myself into them.
- They were suitable to wear in a public environment. (Or acceptable to wear in an “I’m staying home all day and not leaving the house” environment.)
- They had no visible rips, holes, stains, or tears.
- That’s pretty much it.
In the past, those have been the only qualifications for a piece of clothing to make the cut. But this time around, something shifted.
From a frugality standpoint, tossing something that still’s basically functional seems like a waste. (I am the girl who prefers to contemplate eating an entire freezer’s worth of leftover pizza rather than waste the dollar or two per slice of throwing them out.) I mean, if a shirt is still wearable, just not my favorite shirt in the whole wide world, then why get rid of it?
Because from an intentionality standpoint, from an “I pledge to be awesome in all possible ways” standpoint, getting rid of it is the only decision to make.
I am a firm believer thatno day is a dress rehearsal. Just because it’s Monday / you’re tired / no one “important” is going to see you today, that doesn’t make it o.k. to be a slouchy, half-assed version of yourself. You deserve to be your best you all the time, for your own sake.
Be awesome, at all opportunities. Don’t give yourself the chance not to be.
Removing the Option to Settle
For me, personally, being my awesomest self translates to my clothing. I sincerely hope you know me well enough that that won’t come across as materialist and narcissistic as it might otherwise.
The way I present myself to the world affects the way I feel about myself and my place in that world. It affects whether I feel powerful, kickass, and fierce enough to face my fears—or invisible, tired, and eager to just settle and get it over with. Being happy with what I see in the mirror (not “I think I’m pretty” or “other people will like this” happy, but “I look and feel like myself” happy) goes a long way for me.
My wardrobe is part of my persona, a costume like my panda hat. It’s another way for me to declare myself. If I go into work in the itchy, starchy button-down shirt that Preppy Me of 2 years ago purchased as she hunkered down into The Grind, I’ll still look professional. I’ll still get my work done. But I won’t feel comfortable—physically or personally. Because I’m not really being “me”; I’m wearing the costume of an older version of me (who I wasn’t all that pleased with). And I’ve progressed too much over the past few years to hold onto any remnant that reminds me of a prior version of myself.
Having those less-than-perfect, less-than-“me” items still hanging in my closet means there are times I’ll still settle for them. I’ll hit an “in between laundry” day and resort to that frumpy sweater and too short pair of pants because, hey, they’re there. If I have the option of the less-than-ideal, then from time to time, I will pick it.
So I’m not going to leave myself that option anymore.
If it doesn’t make me feel absolutely mah-vellous (or kickass, or genuine), then it doesn’t belong in my wardrobe anymore.
I think Stacy and Clinton would be proud.
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