In a recent reply to a comment, I mentioned that I don’t follow the common rule that you should throw away your clothes after not wearing them for 1 year. My reader Suzanne rightfully mentioned though, that many stylists and style professionals do actually advise you to discard your clothes to keep your wardrobe current and up to date.

There are certainly many good arguments why you should get rid of clothes that you no longer wear:

  1. You should only keep clothes that actually fit you. Ill fitting clothes will never look good on you. It is usually not a good idea to keep clothes just in case you get thinner. In most cases you never will and then the garment just takes up much needed cupboard space. If you do have a lot of space and your weight is fluctuating regularly, you could consider having a cupboard for small, medium and large you, but if that is not an option then it’s better to discard clothes that don’t fit.
  2. You should only keep clothes that make you feel great. Why settle for anything less?
  3. You should only keep clothes that suit your body type.
  4. You need to have a good overview of your clothes. If the clutter in your cupboard becomes too big you can’t separate the trees from the forest. It is essential to have a good overview in your cupboard and be aware of all your clothes.
  5. Only keep clothes that are still in a good condition. If it looks old, worn or is damaged, then definitely get rid of it.

And yet, I hang on to many older clothes. Since my weight doesn’t really fluctuate, I actually have some really old garments still in my cupboard. So why do I do it?

  1. Fashion trends come back all the time, just in a slightly different form. Stylists will argue that your older garment will never be quite right. Although that is partly true, it is actually a lot of fun to be creative. Very often you can’t wear your old clothes as a whole outfit, but you can mix it with new current pieces, which will make your old garment current again as well.
  2. I am so changeable when it comes to fashion. If I only kept the clothes that made me feel great, I would only be left with a handful of my newest clothes! Many will tell you to not follow the trends, and focus on style only, but although I am trying to create a true signature style of my own, I can’t help but being attracted by trends. This results in many garments having very short lives and still being in very good condition, so I hang on to those that I believe I will like again in the future or on a particular day.
  3. I have found that you can actually be very creative with your (older) clothes if you only take some time for it. Going through your cupboard and looking for new ensembles is actually a lot of fun. It’s worth keeping an older item just for that one day of fun you can have from it.
  4. If I were to follow the rule of throwing away everything I haven’t worn in a year, I would end up with a very small wardrobe indeed. I’m sure I would get bored very quickly, so it would only lead to more purchases.
  5. It can actually be a fun challenge to take an old garment and make it hip again! Designers take inspiration from old fashions, eras and styles all the time. You can do the same, have fun, and stand out from the crowd. (I feel a challenge coming on….)
  6. You can also manage your clothes by using different cupboards (provided you have the space). I have my current closet, which are all the things that are current, or still popular with me. Then there is a secondary, where I mainly store garments that I wear less frequently. And then there is the reject closet, where I store garments that I don’t really like anymore, but don’t yet want to throw away, since they still fit well and are in good condition. If I run out of space and the garments in the reject closet have not been worn for more than a year, then it will need to go.
  7. In addition to all the reasons there is also the issue of me living in different countries all the time. I still have a sizable, but old, winter wardrobe that I never wear. Yet, if I was to move to a cold country again, I would definitely need it. It also comes in handy for my occasional winter holidays.

So those where just some reasons why I justify keeping many of my old clothes.

What is your take on this? Do you keep your old clothes and what are your reasons for doing so?


Sylvia is 40+style’s editor-in-chief and has been helping women find their unique style since 2011. An alumni of the School of Color and Design, she is devoted to empowering women of any age to look and feel their best. Read more about Sylvia and 40+style on this page.

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