My amazing friend Debbie came over to my house last Thursday. I had mentioned that I needed to go through my closet to sort out what does and doesn’t fit me anymore, but I’d been putting it off. She immediately volunteered to help, and who am I to turn down such a generous offer?
I figured it would take a couple hours. I don’t have that many clothes, and really most of them fit. I just need to figure out what doesn’t.
Boy was I wrong. The “couple hours” turned into over four hours of work. And apparently having a large walk in closet means that I don’t realize how many clothes I own. They just sort of disappear into it, and I don’t notice or realize what I have – which is, of course, a problem. As far as the majority of them fitting, well… I was wrong about that, too. I ended up having to try on every item in my closet.
Some items “could work” but just weren’t flattering anymore. I was wearing them, but the shoulders of the shirts would fall off my shoulders because they were simply too big. Or pants would fit, but they’d be droopy or hit me in the wrong place or hide flaws that I don’t have right now. I was shocked by how much needed to leave my closet.
Some of it was entertaining. Debbie and I got into a groove where we sort of knew what was up. If she burst out laughing, it was an item that couldn’t stay. Ditto with the swift shake of her head. Sometimes she’d pause, with her fingertip near her mouth, thinking. Those were mostly ones that were allowed to stay – for now – while I searched for better options to bring into my closet.
In the end, I had 138 empty hangers. You know me – I had to count them all. That doesn’t include the jeans that went, the sweaters I eliminated, swimsuits, and workout gear, none of which I hang. It’s hard to fathom just how much that is. 138 hangers.
The worst part? Some of the items still had tags on them. I’d bought them but never worn them (so if anyone loves White House Black Market and is a 10-12, let me know). Other items are in great condition but just don’t fit me. And then there were the ones that should have been removed from my closet even if they did still fit.
I mean, really. Who still wears cutoffs? That they made themselves? And didn’t manage to cut to the same length? From mom jeans? Ditto with the shirt that I know I bought from the Limited back when I was in high school. Note that it’s short – because shirts were back then – but that it’s too big and doesn’t stay on my shoulders. The CARE sweatshirt? It’s comfy, but I could probably fit two of me in it. And I have plenty of comfy sweatshirts – my Northwestern ones, my sweatshirt from high school softball, the ones from companies I worked for that I got as gifts when I left the companies. I don’t need that many. All of those went to the donation pile.
The same goes for some of my dressier outfits. A grey wool long skirt? Technically I can wear it, but it isn’t flattering, and it’s too big. Again, I know exactly where I got it – a boyfriend gave it to me for my birthday back in 1999. That dress? It used to be great. Now I look like I’m playing dressup. It’s too big for me, it’s shapeless on me, and I don’t need to hide under a jacket. It used to work great, but these aren’t clothes I should be wearing right now.
They make me look at least 10-15 pounds heavier than I am. But they’re my shorts. And they’re comfortable. And I had a really hard time with clothes like this that I “could” wear but that just weren’t flattering now that I’ve lost weight. Debbie kept pointing out that I need to start shopping in the size 6 area for a lot of my clothes, but I couldn’t wrap my head around that.
I’m not a size 6. I’m not. I’m just not there. Because 6 is where I want to be. And … I’m just not a 6.
Except that I think I really almost am. I can’t wear a 6 for every item of clothing, but I need to consider it, especially for pants that are less forgiving when you wear the wrong size. It’s a huge mental block for me because I don’t see myself as a size 6. The same goes for shirts. I immediately reach for a medium and sometime a large because that’s who I am. But those are the ones that are too big now, except that I don’t see myself as a small.
And that’s my challenge. When I graduated high school and college, I was firmly a 12. I wasn’t fat, but I was chunky and solid. And I had always been that way. Mentally, I still feel that way. I look at myself and immediately see my flaws. I still can’t conceive of wearing a swimsuit that shows my stomach. And being a small or a 6 feels like a lie.
It’s a mindset that I have to get used to. And that’ll take some time. I remember reading a long time ago that how you mentally see yourself has a lot to do with how successful weight loss strategies are. If you see yourself as heavier, then the pounds don’t come off, even if you’re doing the exact same thing as someone who can see herself as thinner. Really, I just want to be realistic, and my pessimistic self needs to go.
Cleaning out my closet was a huge step towards that, I think. Seeing the sheer number of clothes that don’t fit was shocking. Not surprisingly, the pile of clothes that left my closet was much larger than those that got to stay. Friday morning, I bagged up all the ones that were sure donations. It took thirteen bags to hold it all. And that doesn’t count the items that are in pretty good shape – or still new with tags – that I’ll sell or share with friends, etc.
The interesting thing occurred once we finished eliminating clothes. We took a look through my clothes that I am keeping. And I don’t need to buy that much. I need some new white and black shorts. I need black dress pants and khakis for church. And that’s pretty much it. I have plenty of capris and jeans. I have enough sweaters and shirts. I have plenty of dresses, though interestingly I now own just a single skirt.
Hanging everything back up in my closet was empowering. For one thing, I could easily see what clothing I own so that I don’t “forget” about certain items anymore. And it made my closet look that much larger again. My clothes fit entirely on the top rack near the back of the closet. Below my clothes hang the clothes the wee ones have outgrown. And I can again see all my sweaters, which will make it so much easier to get dressed going forward.
The best part is that I know I can choose any item in my closet and feel good about wearing it. I know that these are clothes that fit me properly. I may not be ready to call myself a size 6, but I’ll get there. Because if I don’t admit my success to myself, is it even a success?