2011-04-22

Thrift Day. Should I Donate...?

Apparently, the rule when it comes to cleaning out your closet is that, if you haven't worn it in a year, donate it. I don't believe that. It's a running joke with my friends that I can hold unto a piece of clothing because 'I wore it that one time, at that one place, doing that one thing...'. Lucky me, my friends are apparently hilarious. It's true, I form deep emotional bonds with my clothing (I just have a lot of feelings, OK?) but I am getting better at deciding what to donate back to the thrift store. Here are the rules that I try my very best to apply...

It's cheap, it's cute but I haven't worn it in forever. DONATE. Sometimes you are just over it. And if it's not a great quality piece, it's not worth hanging unto until the next time that trend rolls around or until you decide you like it again.


donate1

I bought this little summer dress at Winners years ago. It's sweet and fun but not particularly outstanding and I haven't worn it in forever. I have just let it sit in my closet for years because I might wear it... someday. In the meantime, I rediscovered my love for thrifting and I have added scads of much better dresses to my closet. Sure, I have a tiny emotional attachment to it. I spent almost all of my high school and university in pants (no one really wore dresses regularly... seriously. Does anyone else remember that?) and this was one of the first dresses that I bought, not for a wedding, but just for the fun of of it. Now I wear dresses all the time and it's time I just let go of this neglected one.

It just doesn't fit. DONATE. I am so guilty of hanging unto clothes because 'they will fit in 5 lbs'. I don't want to donate them because that would be admitting defeat in the face of those 5 lbs. I reason with myself that it's OK to leave too small clothing in my closet because my shape does change during the year. My job is definitely more physical in the summer and it does have an effect but my body doesn't go up and down a few sizes over the course of a year. I think that is the biggest part of letting clothes go that don't fit; it's about being honest with yourself.
It can sound so simple but any women knows that clothing, sizing and fit are an emotional muddle. Be honest, and if something doesn't fit, let it go to someone who can enjoy it instead of letting it take up valuable real estate space in your closet. (I know this is targeted more to clothing being too small but the same goes for clothing that is just too big and not worth altering.)


donate3

This leather skirt is like the upgraded version of your regular thrifted leather skirt. The leather is like butter (butta! I tell you!) and it's high waist and slightly longer hem make it quite sexy in a sophisticated way. But the truth is, I can only fit into it after I have the flu and even then, I can't even sit in it. I actually can hardly catch my breath to talk either. I think that's a sign. I either need to shut up or donate the skirt. It's gone. Buh-bye! I like talking too much...

It just doesn't make me feel good. DONATE. We all have clothes that have nothing inherently wrong with them but they just don't make us feel good when we wear them. It could be a fit issue, a fabric that itches or maybe you saw something in a magazine (or on a fashun blocher?) but when you tried the trend, it just didn't feel like you. Donate it! There is someone out there who loves itchy wool (I do...), who has the right hips for that skirt or is actually into The Rolling Stones and didn't just buy the t-shirt to impress a boy.


donate2

I really need to let go of these wide-leg Karl Lagerfeld jeans. They could be really nice... on someone else. I don't really know exactly why I don't like them but every time I wear them, I feel uncomfortable. It's something about the crotch, the hem length, the thighs... I have been hesitant to let them go because I (years ago, during my expensive denim phase) paid over a $100 for them. I might as well have used some $20 bills to line the kitty litter... That said, they are never going to be worth the money to me so I might as well let someone else enjoy them.

It's quality, it fits, I like it but I haven't worn it in forever. WAIT. I have a hard time letting a good piece go, even if I don't wear it much. Because I spend so much of my time in work clothes, I don't have enough hours to wear all the crazy that is in my closet. Some pieces might not be my style aesthetic right now but I could very well like them again in a year. After all, it was only a few years and wrinkles ago that I felt brave enough to wear a dress. Just looking back through the archives of the blog (you know, just a Friday night activity...) I can see how much my style evolved and changed. I don't know what I will be liking and wearing next season.


donate4

I bought this skirt in university and I remember waiting a long time for the price to fall into my student budget. I loved the tweed and I thought the sequin bow was sick (it was 6 years ago, I probably talked like that). I still like this skirt and though I haven't worn it in two years, I can't bring myself to give it away. It's a nice pencil skirt with a sequin bow. Is that ever going to be 'out'? Didn't think so...
Good quality classics that fit well, should also be stored instead of donated. A nicely cut blazer, a trench, wedge shoes... These things always go through the trend cycle and when they come back in, don't you wanna yell at your Lucky Magazine that you already have a trench and you don't need to buy a new one for $356? I love yelling at my Lucky magazine... except I am usually yelling 'Hire me!'.

I am dreading going into our bedroom now. There is a closet full of clothing that needs to be re-examined under the harsh light of my donation commandments. I better get it done or face the consequences of being a blogging hypocrite.

How do you decide what stays and what goes?

35 comments :

K said...

I've been working on this process for the last few weeks. I've lost a lot of weight in the last few months and have had to seriously purge my closet. Lucky for me, losing this weight enabled me to wear those too small things I bought and held on to even though I shouldnt...but just in the last couple of days I've found myself putting on things that technically fit...but that don't make me feel good. I am finally ok with telling myself it's ok if I don't love it. Someone else will.
Basically, this was a totally un-needed comment to say, I basically do the same as you. If I don't wear it often, but it's a classic piece, it stays. If it doesnt feel good, it goes. If it doesn't fit, I do a happy dance because lately not fitting means too big and I am so ok with that.

thatdamngreendress said...

OH SO HARD! It's time (in my head at least) for the winter/summer closet switcheroo, which is when I usually pledge to get rid of some stuff that didn't make the cut yet again this winter. But it's far easier to in theory, until you get in there and realize you can't get rid of anything...ever...

I can just about get rid of (some) shapeless t-shirts and boring thrift finds, but never any dresses. It's a bit of an impossible equation though...too much comes in and never leaves!

allison said...

this is such a topic that every girl struggles with!
the closet clean out!

i usually dont have trouble donating things, if i havent worn it since the last time i moved (i generally have moved 1 a year for 7 years)...then it should go. but i always run into a few items that i have too much trouble letting go of. because i am so good with the rest, they generally stick around and if i havent worn it again by the time i do my next purge, it goes.

shoes on the other hand.....
i hold onto those for WAY too long!

heidikins said...

I have a hard time throwing/giving anything away. I have the space, so that has never been an issue (if I move? Then maybe I'll have to amend this rule).

I keep my 'real' clothes no matter what. My size hasn't changed enough for that to be a factor, and I find myself digging through my closet every few weeks and unearthing something I had completely forgotten about, styling it in a new, fresh way, and falling in-love all over again.

Coincidentally, I have stopped buying cheaply made pieces for the most part, after a few years of this, I have lots of well made, classic clothes that can be remixed over and over before they will wear out (if they ever wear out). The only things I regularly replenish are white T's, jeans, and underwear.

Good system? Yes. An indefinite ideal? Probably not. But for now, it's working out quite fantastically. :)

Great post!
xox

Martina Lynne :: The Life Academic said...

My grandmother had a rule that I stick to religiously. Once a year, go through the closet. If you haven't worn an item in that year (aside, of course, from special occasion wear like a ball gown or something), you have one week to incorporate it into your wardrobe. If you can wear it once in that week in a way that you really like (as per your third rule), keep it. If not (or if it doesn't fit, etc.) resell, donate, or gift it. She was brutal and I try to be, too. But the most fun thing about her rule is that sometimes it causes you to totally rediscover parts of your wardrobe that had been ignored or neglected all year!

Rose said...

Oh, my god. You just summed up my relationship to Lucky Mag in one well punctuated sentence. I am not alone. Hallelujah.

That leather skirt is completely drool-worthy. I feel your pain. I have the exact same problem, bizarro-style; See, I hang on to things that are ever so slightly too large, hoping someday I'll get fatter. C'mon, metabolism. Slow down already. I want to wear the other half of my wardrobe.

Audi said...

When I read the bit about the leather skirt, I initially thought you had written, ..."I can't even SIN in it." When you can't sin in it, it's definitely time to donate!

Pam @ over50feeling40 said...

I recently wore a jacket that I have hung on to for 15 years...I can finally wear it again because I lost weight. Someone told me to not keep anything hoping to lose weight...but, I am glad I did not listen and that I hung on to it. Some pieces...like that wonderful skirt....are just worth holding on to!!

Sierra - Closet Full of Happiness said...

I have an easier time giving things up when I think that somebody else will be able to appreciate it more and give it the love that it hasn't gotten being neglected and unworn by me.

For my very similar post - because GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE! hahaha

Liz said...

Such a great post and a great reminder to me that I NEED to clean out my closet and get rid of a TON of things! AND that I need to go to some more thrift stores to fill my closet once I clean it out!
-Liz

Natalya's Closet said...

This is such a great idea, and I love all these pieces but so nice of you to donate! XOXO, www.NatalyasCloset.com

Jameil said...

I don't like it anymore. I can't figure out a way to wear it with the things I have in my closet. I've gotten plenty of wear out of it and I'm ready to let it go. I can't keep saving all these pieces for "when I have a job where I have to wear stuff like this" that I don't necessarily like. (pattern...)

Kathryn from Schoolmarm Style said...

I just switched over all of my clothes sorting and purging as I went. My rules were pretty similar, but after the one commenter shared her grandmother's idea of giving the item 1 week to style I may have even more to get rid of. Luckily for me I have a friend who has an Earth Day clothing swap every year, so I know that I'll be donating and bringing in some new items in return.

Nicki said...

Great post! I think everyone has a hard time giving up their clothes. I had to finally admit defeat and donate a Kensie Pretty pencil skirt that was absolutely beautiful... Except for the fact that it's a size 6, and I'm a size 8. 'Twas a bittersweet parting, but I'm sure some lucky size 6 will give it a good home.

Kimi said...

I have been unable to part with red flare Juicy cords from seven years ago, even though I can barely believe they ever fit me, they're so tiny. I don't know...maybe I'll have a daughter or favorite niece someday, and she'll want them? #delusional

I would probably have a hard time parting with the Karl Lagerfeld pants too, even though, yes, they are sort of awkward looking, and he's a mean, leathery old twat.

Elly said...

Oh goodness, this is definitely something I have a problem with, especially as I'm fortunate enough to live near a VERY cheap thrift store! (If you ever come to Boston/Cambridge, look up the Garment District's Dollar-A-Pound-Plus...)

My style has been really changing over the last couple of years, so I can't easily say that things that don't really fit my style right now won't work again in a few months or a couple of years. Mostly I try to donate things that no longer fit me properly, look too young for me now (hello, skirts I've held onto since high school...), or that I just don't find aesthetically pleasing in some way. I'm definitely due for a bit of a closet cleanout, though!

Kenzie said...

When I go through a closet upheaval I try on everything and see how I feel, then I look for imperfections (holes, snags, etc.) and put them in the donate pile. Then I go through and if my instinct isn't "keep" immediately I tend to donate.

Emma at Daily Clothes Fix said...

Great advice. I am trigger happy on the recycling and then end up having to buy another one. I'm saving this and will use it when I do my next review.

PS I'm hosting a giveaway. Please do join me.

J'Anns Boutique said...

I say donate!

A Girl's Next Best Friend

AllyM said...

yup. just discovered your blog and love it!
www.allymullin.blogspot.com

Mina said...

I just love you, Jentine. I really do.

(Esp that cats part)

George said...

This post came at such a great time! I'm trying to clean my closet out, and by this I mean my closet has spread into my room! I need to get rid of a lot of stuff, but sentimentality and (yes) pride on what looks good/fits me won't let me. I just wanted to let you know that this post was v. helpful and has given me a new perspective to use when I try to clean my room (again)!

Sidewalk Chic said...

What a great post, Jentine! I have a donate bag that I keep next to my closet and I toss items in it when I think I'm ready to let go. I take forever to bring the bag to Goodwill because I never know when I'll miss that old floral dress. If it's been sitting in my donate bag for about a year, I let go.

From Suns To Moons said...

So much food for thought in one post, Jentine. I read it all, and slowly, which I rarely do these days (adult ADHD - it's real!). I too remember how nobody wore dresses years ago, except for special occasions (weddings etc). I had three LBDs in college and people thought I was the fanciest cat in the cafeteria. I actually remember Vogue and Harper's Bazaar declaring that dresses were "back in" after decades of separates.
To answer your question, I usually get rid of stuff at least once a year. My boyfriend has more clothes than I do and I tend to feel like a hoarder with more than my basic things (Tim Gunn would like me). I'm sad when I have to get rid of beautiful silk blouses with permanent underarm stains, but that's about it.

Tristana said...

Nice

www.moitristana.com
www.moitristana.com

Lauren @The Little Things We Do.... said...

i need to take your advice about waiting. i always end up getting rid of stuff right before it comes back around. Ugh!! nothing is more frustrating than that. time to flex my patience when donating the next time around :). thanks for the suggestions!

briannelee said...

I def follow your rules...if I haven't worn it in over 6 months then I probably won't wear it again, etc. If I am unsure about an item, I put it aside and revisit it later. Usually I decide to donate it at that point.

Leigh said...

I spent last week cleaning my closet. I actually have two closets... one where I live and one in my bedroom at my parents house (which I hardly EVER use). I still have some work to do, but it's felt good to clean everything out. I don't have an hard fast rules, but generally, if I haven't worn it in a year (aside from special occasion dresses... many of which I consider true investment pieces), I donate. Sadly, I ran into a few pieces in my closet that I never wore, once in the year or so that I had owned them. Those definitely needed to be donated.

I just trying to look at each piece objectively and ask myself, "Am I really going to wear this again?" It also helps when my mom goes through and basically nixes half my closet and tells me that I'll never wear it again. She told me to get rid of about 6 more dresses than I had originally intended to...

It helps to have another pair of eyes!

Lynda D'Souza said...

What a great post ! thanks for sharing those tips! gives me something to chew and act on this weekend!
...so hard to let go....so hard....

Lexi said...

This post is hilarious. I always have the toughest time cleaning out my closet, and in the end, I give away two things because I can't bear to part with anything else.

xox Lexi
Glitter & Pearls

Delane said...

I have the hardest time getting rid of garments that I paid full price.No matter how old or how used.

Caro said...

I fully understand the dilemmas with this! I totally just sucked it up and got rid of a skirt from high school that STILL FIT. I don't fit into anything from high school, believe me -- it was 10 years ago, but the A-line cut and elastic waistband somehow fit over my hips. Sadly, the skirt was just not my style anymore and as good as I felt knowing that I wore that baby to a performance of RENT in 2001, I was never going to wear it again.

Caro
http://nofindersfee.wordpress.com

Lisa said...

I decide by going by what has faded/shrunk/stretched too much. Then I try on every piece I'm thinking of donating and take a quick glance in my full length mirror. It has to be a quick yes for it to still look good and stay, if I hemm and haw then out it goes.

Courtney said...

I'm dreading re-examining my closet. I just thrifted a leather skirt that's a little tight because I couldn't pass it up... ha. Why are girls so impulsive when it comes to shopping?

It has to be done though... the closet cleaning. Do you sell any of your clothes? I have stuff that still has price tags on it that has never been worn... shame

Courtney
I Can Be Many Things

Alison Perris said...

“It just doesn't fit. DONATE.” – That’s right! What’s the use of keeping it around when you know you can never wear it again? Better let someone put it in good use rather than let it sit in your chest for long. Or if it’s a great quality piece, why not sell it? ~Alison