3 Reasons to Stop Saving Your Clothes

December 30, 2011

When I saw my mom at Christmas she came bearing a large box. I shook my head. We had talked about this and had agreed no gifts were expected! So, my first words to her were, “You weren’t supposed to bring anything!” Just having her visit us was such a special treat that we were not expecting another gift. Of course, no one has ever been able to tell my mom what to do, and I saw immediately that this was no exception!

We had no idea what could be in this box (it weighed quite a bit) and so were surprised and delighted to find it full of her prized china teacup collection. For many years we have admired it when we visited, and I know how much she enjoyed them.

They are beautiful and delicate. So, after a million heartfelt thank you’s, I turned to my mom and said, “You know we’ll use these, right? We won’t just put them on display.” We make it a habit to drink out of pretty teacups nearly every day and have for over 20 years so there is no way these will sit on a shelf somewhere.

Why am I telling you this? Because I see that happening with women’s clothes and accessories all the time. Their prized possessions sit in a box or are sequestered in the back of the closet for years (and sometimes decades) never seeing the light of day.

Let’s talk about this a bit, okay? Do you have items that you are “saving” because they have sentimental value, are “too pretty to wear,” are timeless, or cost a lot of money? I know this is a sticky conversation because it’s so personal and these items hold such a prized place in our hearts or memories.

Let me share my experience with you on this topic and see if this helps you to think about it differently. Here are 3 reasons to stop saving those items and use them now:

1. The Big What If… The biggest fear people have around using something they cherish (or simply delight in) is that they might ruin it. So, here’s the truth: yes, you might ruin it. We know that there is a definite possibility that we could break one of the teacups when we use them. Nine times out of ten (maybe 9.99 times out of 10!) this won’t happen. As I mentioned, we’ve been using these delicate teacups for 20 years and haven’t broken a single one yet (and, horrors of all horrors, we even put them in the dishwasher!).

But, we do get to delight in using them every day and nothing can take away our memories of how they feel, how beautiful they look on the table and how much we enjoy drinking from them. Somehow having them sit in a box somewhere or getting dusty on a shelf just doesn’t hold the same magic.

(Sure, some things are not wearable and are treasured memories from a special person in your life. I am not talking about delicate slips from 1900 or a hand-beaded heirloom evening bag that needs to be preserved properly – although I still believe they should have a place of prominence and distinction. Rather I’m talking about those special items you keep looking at but are afraid to use.)

2. The Myth of Timelessness. Very few (really, very few!) garments are truly timeless. There I said it. Even if you disagree (I’ll talk more in-depth about this another time), there’s a much bigger concern here. In general, you do not need your clothes to last 10 or 15+ years. Clothes are made to be worn and if you like your clothes well enough that’s exactly what you will do – hopefully with enough regularity that they will eventually wear out after having served you well. If, however, you save them for only those special moments…not only do you not get to enjoy them the way you should but you run the risk of finding out they are not as timeless as you thought when you finally get around to wearing them.

3. Nowhere To Wear It. This one is actually the easiest. First of all, it helps you determine if you really love it. If you do, you will be excited by the idea of being able to wear it more often. If you don’t really love it you’ll keep finding a reason not to put it on.

Here’s a little exercise:

  • Identify a garment or accessory that you have been saving for one of the reasons listed above.
  • When you think about using it, do you get excited? If so, continue on to #3. If not, see if you can figure out why. That will help you determine if you should pack it away or give it away – or maybe it just needs some repair or the right accessory. Whatever information you can glean will help you know what the next step is to take.
  • Find a time to wear it –within the next week! Maybe it means making a plan to go out to dinner with your husband when you can wear that pretty dress you’ve been saving (even if it is just to the local eatery). Don’t be surprised, however, if things change. Recently, a client told me that she and her husband had plans to go out to dinner to a simple, casual restaurant close by. She decided she just had to wear a gorgeous dress and amazing necklace we had gotten during our shopping trip. When she came downstairs all dressed, her husband took one look at her and said, “Wow! We’re going to the Four Seasons for dinner instead.”Or, perhaps you call your girlfriends and suggest a girls’ night out at your place where everyone wears something she’s been saving. Or, maybe it just means taking a few minutes to switch handbags (in the one you bought 6 months ago but haven’t gotten around to using yet).

As you’re reading this, your mind is probably spinning thinking of all the long forgotten garments or accessories you have tucked away that never see the light of day. This is the perfect opportunity – the new year is fast approaching. Stop saving those items of beauty for a special occasion. In most of our lives, those times just don’t come around often enough, so we have to make them. It can be easier than you think to integrate them into your current wardrobe so you enjoy them (and others get to vicariously through you) through all of the upcoming year and beyond.

Learn how to stop wasting money on things you never wear.
Get Ginger's free e-book and bi-weekly newsletter with fashion secrets.