What Going Through Your Wardrobe Can Teach You

September 7th, 2016 | Brianne Addison

While flipping through picture albums and reminiscing on old times with friends is a great way to look back on the years have gone by, there is nothing like going through your wardrobe to cause old memories to surface. From t-shirts you were forced to wear at jobs, to dresses you bought for certain occasions, there is a lot to be learned from your clothing.

I am a nifty thrift-shopper and, well, sometimes my love of vintage clothing gets the best of me. That being said, I do not enjoy clutter and I am an advocate of throwing away stuff. One day, after I could not possibly stuff another shirt into my drawer, I decided it was time to go through all of my clothes and determine what was for the keeping and what pieces would be taking a hike.


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I began by emptying out all of my drawers and closet space and dumping everything onto the floor. I sifted through each article of clothing – one by one – and decided what I really needed and what could be given to the Salvation Army. I ended up not giving away a whole lot. As I went through my clothing, I found that I had an emotional attachment to almost every piece. So-and-so had bought me this one, I’d worn this one to a special event, I’d been with certain people while picking out this one, I absolutely needed that one, and the rest, well, I was sure I’d need them at some point in my life. What I did manage to part with was clothing that I no longer felt were quite “my style”. I went back and repeated this process of dumping and sorting every few months, each time getting rid of more and more clothing. I was still flooded with memories as I went through my wardrobe, but each time, I was able to get rid of more. I noticed that I would toss away certain styles of clothing I’d bought during different stages of my life, convinced I would never again be that individual and would therefore no longer need to dress in a certain way. Of course, a few months later, I would go looking for a shirt and remember that I had tossed it (fail).



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There are lessons to be learned from going through your wardrobe. There is the classic lesson that “things always go back in style”, but there’s more than that. Wardrobes are reflections of personality traits, and why shouldn’t they be? Fashion, after all, is a very personal choice and how you dress often reflects an aspect of who you are. Going through your wardrobe, having old memories flood your mind, can be a painfully awkward experience, as you realize that each article of clothing has its own memory associated with it. Perhaps the memory is a good one, perhaps it is sour. Either way, the ability to throw away ones clothing is a symbol of beginning anew and allowing a different self to blossom.


I recently threw away a t-shirt I’d received when I attended junior lifeguarding camp. That was 11- years ago. I’d kept the shirt as a memory, convinced I needed it, and though I’d nearly thrown it away several times, I hadn’t yet been able to bring myself to complete the task. The shirt itself was so worn, so tattered, that as I put it on for bed one evening I decided I was being ridiculous. I took it off and threw it away. I am not saying to throw out all of your memorabilia, but a tattered shirt that you received 11-years ago isn’t doing anything for you. There is no longer any space in your life/consciousness for such things.


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The point that I am closing in on is this: going through your wardrobe can be an excellent way to sort through your memories. As you pick through your clothes- your shorts, your skirts, and your socks- try and remember where you purchased each one, who you were with, where you wore it, and how you felt; it is a fun exercise, but not without a cause, because at the end, you should throw away what no longer does you justice. Getting rid of used and unnecessary clothing is good practice for decluttering your mind. It is a way to think about the times you’ve had and let them drift past. To live in the present, you must make room in your mind. To go through one’s closet is to do just that.


Don’t know which clothes to keep or which to give away? Here’s a short list of my personal tips:

  1. If it’s stained beyond repair
  2. If it’s stretched out or shrunk way too far
  3. If you’ve had it for over 10 years
  4. If it smells old, no matter how many times you wash it (i.e. the musty smell is not going anywhere).
  5. It doesn’t convey the message you want it to – it no longer suits you as an individual
  6. My personal favorite- you keep trying it on but never actually wear it anywhere. IT’S GOT TO GO!

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