I’m a clothes horse. Whinny! Ney!

Not my closet, but close to it

My closet doesn’t quite look like the picture above, but it’s not too far from it. I have a lot of clothes in a lot of different sizes. As I’ve mentioned in blog posts, on my web sites and in a book available in bookstores nationally, I’ve gained back some weight since my all-time lowest weigh-in. I make a point to say that because I sometimes still get comments or emails from people who think I’ve been hiding this fact despite everything I’ve done to publicize it. So yes, I am fatter than my thinnest, but thinner than my fattest. And I’m okay with that. Seriously.

That said, I’ve still got all these clothes that I bought either on the way down or the way back up, and I can’t bring myself to get rid of them. I’ve got at least 4 or 5 boxes of jeans, shirts, and even some underwear, plus everything that is currently hanging in my closet. I felt rather ridiculous moving all these boxes of clothes across state lines last year, and felt rather sore carrying them up the stairs. (Or rather, my Lil’ Brother felt sore for me.) Yet…I couldn’t leave them behind either.

The practical, de-cluttering part of me thinks I should get rid of anything that doesn’t fit right now and buy new clothes in the proper sizes when I need them. There’s no need to stuff my apartment with boxes of stuff I’m not using, and they do no good to anyone sitting uselessly in my closet. There are plenty of Goodwill shoppers who would actually wear these clothes and appreciate them. And even if I do keep them, when you have this many boxes of clothes it becomes hard to figure out what items currently fit you. It’s possible to completely miss your window of opportunity to wear a garment, which I did with size 24 pants during my original weight loss. It’s also possible that by the time I fit into my old clothes I won’t like them anymore.

However, the cost-conscious, sentimental and optimistic part of me shouts, “Don’t you dare giveaway your Campbell’s Soup sweatshirt!” Why should I spend money later buying clothes this size, even though they don’t fit me now? I’m also emotionally attached to some of these garments. Going through the boxes I’ll suddenly stumble upon a black knit sweater or brown corduroys that I completely forgot I had, but really loved wearing. I feel the same way about some of my childhood clothes, like the white summer dress with tiny flower embroidery my mom made for me, or the double ruffle hot pink skirt I wore in 4th grade. (Hey, I didn’t say I had fashion sense. I’m most likely fashion deaf and blind.)

It wouldn’t be a problem if I had a TARDIS-like closet that was bigger on the inside than the outside. Though that would probably be an excuse never to get rid of anything ever, and I do think de-cluttering is good for the soul. I am almost always for simplifying my life.

My closet is still stuffed with clothes. I still tell myself to get rid of them. I still keep them anyway. I still don’t know what to do about this. Still, still, still.

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Link Love from YLF Members | YouLookFab · June 30, 2011 at 5:21 pm

[...] Maryk liked Jennette’s post on how to edit your closet when your weight keeps on fluctuating. [...]

Erica • June 29, 2011 at 7:41 am

Hi Jen! I am also a clothes horse and I have a way to declutter in small amount (this only works if you are a laundry procrastinator like me). When I have gone a little while without doing laundry and am groaning about not having anything to wear, I look in my closet at what clothes are left hanging on the rack (usually a lot) and force myself to be brutally honest about why I am not wearing them. If they fit, are clean, and in season, and I am not wearing them, they get tossed in the goodwill bag. I do this a couple of times a year and it really helps!

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Kim • June 29, 2011 at 8:44 am

I recently went through my closet and totally decluttered it (de-clothes-ed it?). Anything that was too small went into a tote marked “Try on it Spring. If they don’t fit, get rid of them.” The clothes that were too big went into a tote marked (I bet you couldn’t see this coming) “Try on in Fall. If they don’t fit, get rid of them.”

I gave three big bags to Goodwill. Now everything in my closet fits me and it feels so much better. Chances are when (if) you do fit into some of your older clothes, you won’t like them. You aren’t the same person anymore.

Just do it!!! It’s a full day’s work and you’ll feel great. Enough of the clutter.

PS WTG Java Bean!!

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Erin • June 29, 2011 at 9:19 am

I get it – I am a bit of a recovering packrat, and I have also lost weight/gained some back. In the ‘gained some back’ phase of things it sure it nice to have a few articles of clothing that fit from before so I don’t have to go shopping and whatnot. My suggestion (and kind of what I did without really being conscious about it) – keep a few key articles in each size and toss the rest. A couple of jeans, nice pants or skirt, a few shirts. Then you can quell the “what if” part of your brain without having the clothes take over your apartment.

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Marta • June 29, 2011 at 9:21 am

Get rid of the clutter, the stuff that doesn’t fit and the clothes from childhood. Somebody else could be using that clothing. Once it’s done you’ll feel much better.

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MB • June 29, 2011 at 9:24 am

Unfortunately, that does look like my closet (see http://finallyfiguringitout.blogspot.com/2011/01/what-size.html for evidence). I have sizes 8-18 and although I’ve given away over 10 bags and brought at least 10 bags to Goodwill my closet is still busting at the seams. It makes me crazy to see all the stuff I have that still has tags on it. What a waste. The good news is it is so much easier to find stuff that fits instead of crying when I can’t get things past my thighs. It seems so easy to get rid of the fat clothes but I always kept the small stuff in the hope that I would get back there again. I really need to get back in the closet and get rid of more stuff. I don’t ever want to see those fat pants again.

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Lisa • June 29, 2011 at 9:40 am

I completely understand your situation. I have three closets full of clothes. One closet contains the clothes I actually wear. One closet contains the clothes that don’t fit (too small or too large). The third closet contains dressy clothes (and I never dress up).

I can’t make myself get rid of the clothes that are too large because I know my weight swings mightily, and it’s sometimes hard to find large size clothes when I need them.

On the good side, I can shop my closets for a new wardrobe and never spend a dime!

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swinglifeaway • June 29, 2011 at 9:45 am

I was going to leave a comment on the PQ entry you linked to, but… archives only? Sad! It’s okay, though. I’m all caught up now anyway. :)

We have the same car!! I don’t know how I missed that before, but yes. I love my Saturn.

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Colleenzo • June 29, 2011 at 10:56 am

When I was losing weight, I went through the same thing with sentimental items. My solution was to give them away to friends, that way I could ‘visit’ them and I knew they were still being enjoyed. Plus, it made my friends super happy that they got lots of free clothes!

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Merry • June 29, 2011 at 11:27 am

Supposedly, “they” say that getting rid of clothes that are too small for you will help you lose weight so that you need to go out and buy new smaller-sized clothes.
If that’s true, what happens if you get rid of clothes that are too large for you?

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KLCtheBookWorm • June 29, 2011 at 11:27 am

It must be the closet-pondering season. My mother got me a wardrobe worth of new-to-me clothes, so I pulled everything out of my closet, including the stuff put back for different seasons. (The sentimental clothes that I would like to get back into have already been removed and stored separately.)

The pile of new and old filled my living room. This was not including the stuff in my drawers. And I let the clothes stay there for a week because I was too tired to figure out what I wanted to keep and get rid of after work each night.

Then while I was researching how to tell when a garment is worn out–because I will wear something until the seams unravel and it falls off my body–I found Project 333 and I think I heard a heavenly choir when I did.

Since following it you can only have 33 items, I was able to get rid of everything that doesn’t fit right now, I didn’t like, and was wore out without a lot of mental stress. And still had enough clothes to divide up quarterly. Fall, Winter, and Spring went back into the storage space and I have empty space in the closet I use daily! Two weeks later I’m still enthused about space!

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fd • June 29, 2011 at 11:38 am

as someone who recently discovered her flatmate had forgotten to bring the old clothes to the goodwill, and then proceeded to ‘rescue’ the clothes she had decided to give away six months ago… i have no advice whatsoever to give you. :-D

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rach • June 29, 2011 at 12:04 pm

It might not be that they dont think you’ve acknowledged your weight gain, but more that you’ve gained weight and don’t care and are kind of cocky about it. And that you make your money from a “weightloss” blog and hocking your weightloss book when youre comfortably fat. I guess the thought that bloggers are self involved is really confirmed when people think they can spew whatever they want out there and people should not only be interested, but you should be compensated for it.

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Roni • June 29, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Rach – Have you forked over any checks to Jen?

Oh. I didn’t think so.

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Gretchen • June 29, 2011 at 1:46 pm

I think you should keep the size you currently wear and the best of the smaller stuff.* It feels kinda freeing to donate the ones that are not used in a season/year or are way too big or small…

*Plus the largest ever just to remind you how far you have come! When I lament my 20# regain rather than celebrating the 85# I have kept off looking at my size 24 jeans helps me see and remember why I do not give up!

And rach: do you know that Jennette is a human person?

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JenFul • June 29, 2011 at 2:20 pm

@Erica – I like the laundry idea. I don’t have a washer at home so I do let it pile up until I MUST wash something. There are definitely some items that haven’t had to be washed for a while.

@swinglifeaway – Yeah, I turned off comments on PastaQueen a week or two ago. It would have been nice to leave them on, but I had to log in every day or two to delete spam, so I figured it wasn’t worth it. Glad you have an awesome car though!

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AF • June 29, 2011 at 10:11 pm

@rach – Yeah, how dare Jennette be a complex and imperfect human being? She seems to know who she is and what’s important to her (and what’s not important to her), and has been able to make some money in the process. Good for her. I have way more respect for her for seeming to be honest and candid about her weight and life (we can never be sure, this is the Internet after all), than I would for someone who lost a bunch of weight and kept all of it off but whose life revolved completely around the number on the scale, or for someone who lied to get an audience or make a buck. And frankly, it’s a bit ridiculous to say that because somebody lost a lot of weight and published a blog and a book about it and then regained some of it, she’s self-involved or trying to scam people. If her headache clears up completely, would she be self-involved or lying if she didn’t pull every copy of C&V from the shelves and delete all her blogposts on the subject?

A lot of people ARE interested. If you’re not, go somewhere else. Problem solved.

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Lisa M • June 29, 2011 at 10:33 pm

My lucky daughter lives in Brooklyn and has found a plus-sized used clothing store. She can bring clothes in for “trade-in” – she gets store credit which she immediately uses for (luckily) fewer pieces than she brought in. Every city should have one of these!!

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Dani • June 30, 2011 at 6:13 am

I too have a problem getting rid of clothes-so no help here I am afraid. as I am new at my journey-you would think that I wouldn’t have much to go, but as someone who moved country’s 13 years ago and still has clothes that haven’t been worn from that unpacking, I can so relate!!

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Rebecca • June 30, 2011 at 9:39 am

I’m pretty sure almost every woman in the industrialized world has this exact same issue, regardless of whether or not she has lost or gained a significant amount of weight. Most women naturally have fluctuating weight because of all our hormones so it make sense really to have clothes to fit you at different weights.
I like some other posters’ ideas to keep a few key pieces (just enough to get by on) in some larger/smaller sizes as a sort of insurance against having to buy a new wardrobe. Maybe just take them out of the closet and store them somewhere else, maybe even in a self-store kind of place? Or maybe you need a fancy system of boxes for all the different sizes that you can pull out when you’re exactly that size? (Although, since the sizing varies from store to store that might work better if you sorted by measurements!) ;-)
I just went through my closet (which is actually just a frame with hanging rods that my husband built in the corner of the bedroom given that we have no closets in our apartment) and dresser and am donating a whole bunch of clothes to Goodwill. I am getting rid of anything that does not fit me properly right now and anything I haven’t worn in the past year, even if it does fit. I have lost a bit of weight in the past year and I do worry that I’ll gain it back and have to go out and buy bigger clothes again but I decided it was worth the risk in order to have a nice organized space. Our apartment is not very big and lately I’ve been feeling like we’re stuffed into it with all the junk we’ve got. It feels good to clean out the clutter.

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Rachelle • June 30, 2011 at 1:59 pm

I think you should keep a few items to remember your progress and donate the rest.
@ rach
I think that Jennette like all other woman is human and will gain and lose more pounds over the years. She is not claiming to be perfect and I have read her blogs and she doesn’t seem cocky about her weight gain but she is being real and telling her readers that she is human and life happens. She doesn’t want to mislead them into thinking she lost the weight and life was a happy ever after ending. I think it is sad that you need to diminish Jennette from everything that she has and will accomplish.

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Cynthia • June 30, 2011 at 5:55 pm

I’m about 12 pounds above my lowest (and 55 pounds below my fattest) right now. A couple of years ago I hit that low and exuberantly bought a bunch of clothes that are now tight and uncomfortable, so this totally resonates.

I was thinking about doing a full-on purge and looking at every single piece — can I wear it now? Would I wear it now if I was the right size again? Do I never wear it regardless of the size? Life’s too short to wear badly-fitting pants.

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Leigh • July 1, 2011 at 3:58 pm

clearing out closets can be a very liberating experience. It’s a relief. I cleared mine out two years ago and never looked back. I have an ironclad rule. For everything I buy, something has to be tossed in the trash. No exceptions. As a result, everything fits. Everything is in good condition and everything is in it’s place. And I don’t buy anything in impulse because I know I have to removed something else.

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Lyn • July 1, 2011 at 6:58 pm

I think a good route is to save the smaller clothes, if you think you will ever be that size again, and only save a size bigger (two at the most) because it makes it harder to regain. I donated and sold all my clothes over a size 16 when I started fitting in 10′s and 12′s, and it is a darn good thing. When I had to put those 16′s on again due to a regain, I KNEW I did not have anything bigger. At all. It forced me to take a good hard look and think, “do I really want to go out and buy more 16s and 18s?” There was no other way. If I had gained 5 more pounds I would have had to go around naked.

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Kyle • July 1, 2011 at 8:22 pm

Invite me over to your house. Problem solved. I will de-clutter your closet. I am the exact opposite of you. I keep about as many clothes on hand as what I can fit in a suitcase. I have a few more pairs of shoes that stay behind sometimes, but other than that, I am not a packrat. I think I own maybe 15 dresses, 1 pair of jeans and a couple skirts and tops. Done. That’s all you need. Traveling so much made me realize there was no point in keeping so much crap in my closet!

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Moosecat • July 3, 2011 at 7:25 am

take your time but get rid of most of it. there will be some with sentimental value and that’s ok. I have some beautiful clothes from the 1980′s that will probably never see the light of day again but hold so many good memories….it feels so good when you get it out of the house…really!

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Grouchy Karen • July 3, 2011 at 7:43 pm

+1000 EXP for TARDIS name-drop! /swoon

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Melissa Goerke • July 4, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Your post cracked me up! I was just packing for a trip and sorted out the jeans that fit from those that didn’t and guess which pile was bigger? I stood there and contemplated donating my “skinny” jeans but ended up putting them back in the closet. You never know!!

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Janice • July 4, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Try Flylady.net: http://flylady.net/pages/FLYingLessons_Declutter.asp I decluttered MAJORLY last year and it was so freeing. It brings peace to your heart and soul.

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Merry • July 4, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Ms. Jennette, this comment is not actually for you. If you could pass the message on, I’d appreciate it.

Dear JB,

What gives? It’s been 12 whole days now since a smash. Have all the glasses been hidden away? Are you merely biding your time, lulling your minion into a false sense of security before you pounce? Your followers are feeling disappointed.

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Java Bean • July 4, 2011 at 7:43 pm

@Merry – I have been too busy sitting in Jennette’s basket of receipts, chewing on paper. The grocery receipts for cat food don’t actually taste like kibble.

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Tricia • July 5, 2011 at 2:07 pm

My sentiment for myself is that when I lose weight I deserve new clothes, so I don’t worry too much about it but I do keep a few favorites.

I suggest going through and picking just 5 things that you never really liked anyway. The goal is to eventually only keep the stuff you love, rather than anything and everything. Also, some of the too big stuff that you really like you might consider getting it altered to fit.

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Neilam • July 11, 2011 at 10:57 am

+1 for the laundry idea; that’s been very helpful to me as well over the past couple of years. An additional trick is to *not* look through the Goodwill bags before dropping them off; i frequently end up “rescuing” stuff out of the bags.

On the other hand, it’s hard to fight sentimentality. I still have all of my old flannel shirts from the early 90s, along with many concert t-shirts from high school and college. I’m unwilling/unable to get rid of a key part of my teenage identity. *shrug*

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Sarah • July 14, 2011 at 3:19 pm

i did some decluttering recently. it was hard, but i did it. i had a ton of pants there were from my skinniest days – 2 sizes smaller than current. I only kept a few of the pairs that i really loved. Most of them (and some dresses and skirts) went into the give away pile. I am a pack rat, but I reasoned with myself that If I lose enough to get back into those pants my body will have chagned again and they likely won’t fit the way i remember. PLus, if i lose that much and back into that size I deserve a little mini shopping spree!

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Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir

Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, chronic headache sufferer, (former?) weight-loss inspiration, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She was formerly known as PastaQueen. You can contact her if you promise to be nice.

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