Love your black skirt? A guide to your emotional wardrobe


I have a black skirt. I’ve owned it for many years… so many, that the last occasion I remember wearing it to is my GCSE presentation evening. Yet somehow, every time I bring it out of the closet to wear or get rid of it, it always ends up back in there.

Everyone has a wardrobe, or someplace to keep their clothes. What people don’t often realise is that they also have an emotional wardrobe. Think about it. What have you got in your closet that you wouldn’t buy tomorrow in the sales?

Being a bit emotionally attached to your gear is normal, almost encouraged. But sometimes it’s essential to cut down the physical wardrobe… and then the emotions rise up. Here’s my brief guide to emotional dust-gatherers and what you could do with them.

Prom dresses and old bridesmaid dresses

“You will totally wear that bridesmaid’s dress again,” says every bride ever. Hands up who has worn their bridesmaid/prom/confirmation dress in the past year? Not including any recent weddings. Some of us may genuinely have a prom, bridesmaid or wedding dress which they would wear out on a date. But if your dress is unsuitable for any occasion you’re going to attend, doesn’t fit or doesn’t suit you, what’s it still doing there?

What to do with it? If you’re actually going to wear it, put it with your date clothes. If you’re just keeping that silk ball gown because it cost a fortune, think about it. Could you sell it on and then use the pennies to buy yourself something more wearable? Or hang it up as decoration, if it actually matches your room? As a last resort, if it’s looking a bit past its best, rip it to shreds for a DIY Halloween costume… or cut the bulky thing up into cushions or little matching hair and clothes accessories and love them without taking up all that space.

Your go-to band t-shirt… from five years ago

It’s the top that goes with everything, from your work blazer to your tightest jeans, looks perfect with your skin-tone, has been with you on a thousand awesome nights out and is now looking past its best. Torn, moth-eaten, stained, maybe it doesn’t even fit you any longer. But can you really throw away your best friend?

What to do with it? If there’s any hint of pest damage, get that sorted right away. Then decide what to do with it. If there’s a year-old motor oil stain, evidence of several cocktails and white deodorant marks on it, it’ll probably not come clean again now. It’s time to look for a replacement. If it’s cleanable or repairable, get on with it! If it’s a badass little band t-shirt that you could never replace but can’t wear, find a pretty hanger and stick it on the outside of the wardrobe or on a wall. Or turn it into a cushion cover. Or frame it, even. All those memories stay, and you can still make room for new clothes in your cupboard.

Old school uniform

Very few school-leavers have their full school uniform taking space in their cupboards. Goodbye, school! But how many people keep their ties ‘for memories’ or ‘just in case I get invited to a school disco themed club night’? Ties might not seem like they take up much space, but when you’re cramming all your scarves and belts into one small shelf, it could make all the difference.

What to do with it? Firstly, accept that you are probably never going to need that exact tie for a party. You probably have others (if you are of the tie-wearing persuasion) that would do, or could just… go tie-less! If you’re feeling sentimental, consider storing your tie in a home-made ‘memory box’, or it to the front of a scrap book filled with your hazy school memories.

Clothes A Different Size To Your Body

Everyone keeps clothes they used to love but can no longer comfortably wear, in the hope that one day – one glorious day – that mini-skirt won’t make us cringe or those jeans will stay up without a belt. That day might never come.

What to do with it? If the size is not dramatically different or you are taking steps to acquire the body you want, it might be wise to keep hold of it. But if it isn’t likely your weight will change, get it out. Or at least have it altered so that you can wear it.

You move on as a person and you change. Sometimes, the way you love your clothes does, too. Take a gooood look at your emotional wardrobe and see how you feel…