Now, for this exercise, your goal is not only to end up with a streamlined wardrobe, but also to toss (and by that we mean donate) any garments, accessories, and shoes that are tangled up with memories of an affair that has passed its expiration date. Because this activity can be painful, you might want to arm yourself with a cocktail. We recommend the appropriately bittersweet, Aperol Spritz. “The bubbles are associated with champagne and festive occasions,” says our Food & Drink Editor, Kathryn Maier, which will help raise your spirits as you perform this emotionally trying task.
Let’s get started.
Give yourself permission to let go
Psychiatrist Dr. Mark Banschick noted in Psychology Today that one of the reasons people hold on to things is that they don’t feel like they have permission to let go. The result of this type of thinking is not only a cluttered closet, but a wardrobe filled with sartorial choices infused with memories—and not all of them good. Are these memories holding you back from moving on? Clothing can become surrogates themselves, or reminders of who you used to be, rather than who you aspire to be. But in order to move forward, in love and life, give yourself permission to get rid of excess baggage. You want to evolve your style, and in order to do that, you have to let go of appendages weighing you down.
Now create ex-piles
If you’re like me, you tend to remember what you wore on every single date, ever. Even in long-term relationships, I remember certain outfits (and accessories) I donned on date night with my significant other. These outfits, whether you want to admit it or not, have now become romantic relics, and hanging them in your closet can trigger memories. Memories are not only reminders of the past, but often times, they serve as placeholders for an imagined future. According to Banschick, “Closets … and drawers are filled with hope and future possibilities for many.” Be honest with yourself: are you hanging onto a dress or cardigan in the hopes that you will rekindle a past relationship? Just like those closet cleaning articles that instruct you to donate clothes that no longer fit in the vain hope that one day they will, I’m going to instruct you to discard any sartorial choice that gives you hope of resuscitating a lost love. Onward.
Be ruthless in your cleanse
Remember, you’re not tossing the person, all you’re doing is getting rid of an object, or as noted above, a romantic relic. If, however, the garment is a legacy piece, consider storing it. Garment bags are perfect for stowing clothes that aren’t part of your daily uniform, but you can’t bring yourself to toss. Out of sight, out of mind. And definitely out of your daily wardrobe routine.
Hindsight can make clothes (and people) seem more romantic
Your eye gets used to the familiar. So, take off those rose tinted glasses, darling. Although the duds hanging in your closet might bring you comfort—Meg Selig writes in Psychology Today that false comfort is found in the familiar—your style may have already evolved, but you’re too stuck in the past to realize it. And, people tend to romanticize past lovers, especially if they’ve yet to move on to another significant other. The same can be said of clothing. For the love of Chanel, don’t hang onto a hideous pair of trousers because they remind you of your last love. Chances are your lover had more flaws than you remember (otherwise, you’d still be together, right?) and the same can be said of those tired trousers.
New closet, new love?
I can’t promise that by purging your closet you’ll swipe right and your dream lover will enter your boudoir. But you will be one step closer to aspirational dressing, as opposed to dressing to drudge up an ex. You’re changing every day, and you’re no longer the same person you were when that ex of yours was dragging you down. Dress to be the person you want to be, and you’ll surprise yourself with the transformation that will ensue.