We hold on to old clothes longer than we should, our columnist says.


I’ve just realized I have a strange relationship with my clothing. But I’m not alone. Many of us — you know who you are — hold on to old clothes longer than we should.


With your average guy, it’s simply a matter that no one tells him to toss his sweatshirts from high school, or the pants from his first business suit.

For women, it could be she’s convinced shoulder pads will come back into fashion; or that she’ll once again fit into those bum-hugging leather pants that are now two sizes too small.

Take a look in your closet, a good look. You’ll be amazed what you may find. I know a guy who keeps all of his single socks — you know, the ones where the pair’s gone missing in the wash. Why? Does he think they’ll turn up eventually? Once they’re gone, they’re gone.

Many women I know “collect” shoes and/or purses, which seems to be a common and accepted obsession — especially if these women change their footwear/handbags often, getting use of their collection. But it’s those who get their high from the purchase alone, whose items sit in closets gathering dust, who are worthy of a raised eyebrow or two.

My issue? Well, for starters, I accept hand-me-downs. When my other girlfriends do a spring clean-up of their closets, they set aside a pile for me — pieces of clothing they may be done with, but think I’ll enjoy wearing. And my mom does the same, but her clothes are far more “professional” and don’t always work for my lifestyle with a toddler.

So why do I accept them? For that just-in case-occasion. But when am I ever going to need a hot pink designer suit?!? Probably never.

Next issue: Nothing ever gets thrown away because it all has a “story” behind it. An ex-boyfriend’s sweatshirt, pants that I bought on my travels to Australia, a shirt my mom bought on her travels — you get the point.

But as I recently learned, just because somebody buys you something doesn’t mean you have to wear it. A thank you is sufficient, and if that person is close enough to you, you can — and should — tell them the truth.

So here we are — it’s April, it’s springtime, it’s the perfect season to take an afternoon and go through your closets. Here are some basic guidelines for streamlining your wardrobe:

  • Get rid of anything that’s tattered, torn, pilly, and tired-looking.

  • If something is too small, or too big, and has been for more than a year, give it away.

  • Be done with anything too stylized — oversized shoulder pads, balloon-style pants, jodphurs, puffy shirts, etc.

  • Separate your clothing: Shirts, pants, dresses, etc. Now that you can see what you’ve got, pare down. There’s no need for excess.