Questions to ask when considering eliminating clothes from your closet

Questions to ask when considering eliminating clothes from your closet

Q. My spouse is good about, not just storing, but actually getting rid of clothes at the end of the season. This is probably the right time for me to switch over to fall and winter clothes in my closet. Since I have the somewhat unusual problem of having lost weight during the pandemic, a lot of my pants are too big and now too long. Besides tailoring those, do you have any helpful ideas on how to decide what clothes to weed out?

A. Most of us want to make the switch easy by just moving everything from the previous season into an out-of-season closet and visa versa. But, as you suggest, this really is the perfect time to find clothes that can be eliminated as clutter from your closet and sent off to people who need them. The big problem most people have is we’re not sure which items to keep and which ones to get rid of. What you want to keep are clothes that are flattering to you and that fit you right. And you want to get rid of anything you don’t look good in, . 

It’s difficult for us to be objective about what is flattering and what is not. The real difference may have to do with either color, fit, or whether it looks up-to-date.  Learn to trust your mirror. On some days, after getting dressed in the morning, you may look in the mirror and say to yourself, “Wow! I look pretty good today.” And we all know those other days when you see your reflection and say, “Could I possibly look that bad?” Often certain colors and specific shades of those colors near the face do great things for you. Likewise, your build may be flattered by a sweater more than a blazer, or the reverse. Certain cuts of trousers may give you height, while others create more of a paunch (even if you don’t have one).

Whether your clothes fit well can be a problem without any weight change, and with your new shape, even more so . Unless you have a three-way mirror and a very objective eye, it may be impossible to know if something fits. Having a fresh pair of eyes to help sort your clothes can really help you determine which items make you look your best. The problem is who to ask. Perhaps your spouse can tell you. Or you may need to rely on the tailor’s eye and his recommendations. Ask him which items to alter, and which to discard. Some trousers and shirts may be too full for your newly-trimmer body as well as for the newly-slimmer styles. Trousers that puddle around your ankles or are too big in the seat, and shirts that are cut too full for today’s trim look, are not only unflattering, but they tend to make a man look older . . . not a good idea in the world of business.

For all of the above, it pays to listen. Occasionally, other people will tell you. When you receive two or more unsolicited compliments on your clothes, you know that something you are wearing is a good choice for you. If, on the other hand, you come to the office in what you feel is a well-pulled-together outfit and people ask, “Were you up late last night?,” you may be wearing the wrong colors or the wrong something. Remember which choices made you look your best, and wear them often.

When trying to eliminate clothing, one of the most consistent problems men have is getting them to actually try things on. Even if it’s not the expected way to know for certain what you should keep, it is certainly the most basic I know this does not come naturally to men, but if you don’t even want to put it on at home, you’re not likely to ever want to wear it. That makes for a pretty sure way to make the correct decision. Consider that old piece of wise advice: If you haven’t worn it in more than two years, add it to the give-away bag (unless it is a tuxedo).  

To sum up, ask: Is it flattering? Is it comfortable? Do you feel good when you wear it? If it doesn’t fit you right now, or can’t be made to fit now, get rid of it. Don’t keep “just in case” clothing. And don’t feel bad about discarding those items.                                                             

Since it is estimated that Americans wear only 20% of their clothing, 80% of the time, you can certainly get rid of a lot that is left. 

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