It wasn’t until I started cleaning closets did I realize that there was such a thing as Closet Psychology. I was unaware of how psychological our clothing purchases are, and how the closet is a wonderful access into our inner-selves.
I clearly remember the first few closets I cleaned: As I was working through a wardrobe with a client, I would hear certain words that proved that a lot of emotion and psychological relationships to ourselves, along with a deeper sense of self-value based on, is based on what we put in our closets and wear. Your closet is truly a window into your inner self. As the saying goes, “You are what you eat.” But I like to think the saying should be, “You are what you wear”.
While I started working through different types of clients, I started to develop what I called Closet Personalities. Here are the different types of closet personalities I have created, based on what I found. See if any are true with you. You may be more than one.
Closet Personality No. 1 – The Pauper
The Pauper is a person who loads their closets with lots of sale items, thrift store buy and things that they don’t really love. They purchase them because they are a good price. Even though The Pauper has a lot in their closet, they don’t really love most of it. They would never allow themselves that luxury. This person would never dream of spending top dollar one item they love, so instead they spend nearly the same amount on lots of cheaper items.
How do you cure a Pauper Personality?
I believe in the universal law of attraction. When you put your thoughts, actions and energy into something, you will attract more of that “something” into your life. Therefore, by supporting the fact that they can’t afford more than a few sale items that they don’t love, they put off a “scarcity” energy. By believing that they are willing to accept second-rate mediocrity into their closet this attitude is spilling into other areas of The Pauper personality’s life.
The first thing a Pauper Personality needs to do is come to terms with the fact that they are worthy of having the best by allowing it into their life. Paupers struggle with receiving and allowing good in. Perhaps they’re used to being independent or they feel that their not worth such goodness. Whatever it is, The Pauper needs to learn to accept abundance in all forms.
Closet Personality No. 2 – The Hoarder
The Hoarder is someone who doesn’t throw anything away. Laugh, but I have pulled things out of The Hoarder’s closet from the 1970’s! This person wears a small percentage of what is in their closet and usually can’t make sense of their wardrobe because it is so jammed packed. This person often complains about how disorganized, overloaded, or unmanageable their closet is. The sheer idea of going through the closet makes The Hoarder’s skin crawl because the task is so insurmountable.
How to cure a hoarder personality
We’ve seen enough kooky shows on hoarding to know that the problems The Hoarder deals with run deep. You don’t need to have a years worth of newspapers and spoiled food in your fridge that expired a year ago to be a Hoarder either. Those are extreme cases. In most hoarding cases it is much tamer. Regardless of the degree, The Hoarders I’ve worked with practically get hives when I ask them to throw something out.
Hoarding can be the most serious of Closet Personalities to overcome. There are certain rules you can put into place to work towards a more clarified space but you have to be committed to changing your ways first. Because hoarding can be so psychological, this can take time. I worked with a Hoarder client who needed to put items into transitional storage because the idea of just getting rid of things created too much panic. She needed to know the things were still there, even though this was purely a mental security because she never wore the stuff in the first place. We made a deal that after six months, if she didn’t think about the items we stored away, she would get rid of them. This was hardly the best solution but Hoarders need to ease out of their behavior. If it were up to me her problem would have been solved with a match and bottle of gasoline. Yet, I understand the emotions involved with Hoarders. Hoarders need to know that they are safe without their stuff. This takes time.
Personality No. 3 – The Devaluist
The Devaluist is a person who keeps things in their closet long after they have lost any appeal. Their clothes are long worn, beyond mending, or have stains or other imperfections, like being ill-fitting. The Devaluist may be walking around in shoes that are uncomfortable because they need serious mending, or be using a safety pin to keep their pants buttoned.
How to cure a devaluist personality
Devaluists always seem a day late and a dollar short. Being a bit of a Devaluist myself, I would always marvel by how some people were always so pulled together. Not a hair out of place, manicure perfect, shoes shined. It wasn’t until I realized that non-Devaluists make time for these things. I didn’t.
Devaluists usually need to focus on self-care. Many stay-at-home moms are Devaluists because they’ve grown so used to putting themselves last. If you want people to remember you as worthy, you need to send a message that you think that you are. This includes what you wear and how you present yourself, and that you are worthy of taking the time to do so. If you are someone who always feels disheveled or are making excuses for the way you look, self-care may be something to consider. You can be more fully present for others if you are present for yourself first. The word “no” is a powerful little word.
Closet Personality No. 4 The Sentimentalist
The Sentamenatlist is a person who has things from their past hanging in their closet. They can’t get rid of anything for the sheer sentimental attachment of the piece of clothing or outfit. This person has a hard time letting things go. The problem with the Sentimentalist personality is they may be stuck in the past. They may look fondly on a time in their life when things were better for them, or it was just a happier time. As a result, the Sentimentalist may be blocking new and better opportunities into their life, or they may notice that their life is stagnant.
How to cure a sentimentalist personality
There is nothing wrong with being sentimental or keeping things that remind you of a fond experience or a person you cherish. However, some sentimentalists keep things around because it makes them feel safe and secure. This is when sentimentalism can be dangerous territory. Sure, change can be exciting but it can also be scary. Severe Sentimentalists would rather stay stuck and safe than move into uncharted waters.
I worked with a client whose entire wardrobe was dated. When I suggested she ditch an ugly pair of earrings, while she agreed they were ugly, she also didn’t want to part with them. Her life at the moment wasn’t that great and those earrings (that she had no intentions of wearing) reminded her of a time when her life was better. To her, throwing out these earrings meant that she had to accept the fact that her life was much emptier than it was at one time. I told her that she could keep the earrings (and everything else for that matter) as long as she did so with the understanding that the second she was willing to let them go, and embrace the unknown, new possibilities would enter her life. Sure enough, a few months later she emailed me telling me she finally rid herself of all the items that were giving her a feeling of safety (and stagnation.) She also told me that, as a result, she got a new job a new home and a new relationship. She recognized that it was her inability to let go and trust in the process of life that was keeping her stuck.
Personality No. 5 – Identifier
The Identifier personality is a person who gets their sense of security from having designer or expensive things in their wardrobe. This person buys well for the sake of bragging rights, acceptance in their social circle, security or self-worth.
How to cure a Identifier personality
We live in a world where our outer status seems to outweigh inner peace and satisfaction. There is pressure from the media to look a certain way and have certain things. The Identifier easily falls prey to this mentality. Because they don’t believe they are enough without impressing others, their identity is outwardly driven.
If you are an Identifier, try to figure out why you need to be so public about how much you spend or impressing people with expensive things. What’s missing about you on the inside that needs to be overcompensated for on the outside? Do you believe you’re not enough without outer approval from others? Learning to be okay with yourself, without the fancy bells and whistles, is the first step towards Identifier recovery.
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I agree with what you have said. However, some clothes, shoes, bags and scarves need to br kept even though they are from 20 yrs. ago. Buying quality is the key! Classic outfits never go out of style and define to a certain extent your personality. The fact that you can update these ‘possessions’ to look au courant should make you feel better about your purchases of the past and bring an inner glow to you and your closet!
Great points Patti! You are right! I think there is a great difference between holding on to things to stay stuck in the past and holding on to things because they bring you great value in the present! Thanks for bringing that point up!
I am curious…I read through these and I have a question. As a stay at home mom who walks the girls to school, comes home and cleans, does laundry, go to food store and maybe fits in a walk how do you approach dressing? Obviously, I want to look good but no overdressed or ruin nice clothes by cleaning with them. I recently purchased several new, beautiful items from White House Black Market that I love and feel good in but am I overdressing for the reality of my life?
Hi Jeanmarie! Thanks for your comment, it’s a great one that I think many stay-at-home moms struggle with. You may want to read about my post regarding “Wishful Wardrobing” which touches on this exact topic- https://bridgetteraes.com/2011/03/07/wishful-wardrobing-dressing-for-the-life-you-want-not-the-life-you-have/. I think that many women in your positon put a lot of pressure on themselves. The truth is, your life is quite simple (not the responsibilities of motherhood, but the dressing demands) and the key is to find the balance in that, it’s easy but not sloppy or too lazy. One of the easiest ways to do that is to create a really simple base consisting of comfortable clothing like yoga pants, comfortable jeans, knits, etc. and then adding your punches through things like your shoes, accessories or the colors you choose to wear. I’m not saying you get gussied up or put on a pair of stilettos to take the kids to school, but looking at the little things you can do to elevate a look yet still have it be very functional. I know for myself, if I’m wearing a pair of yoga pants, for example, i feel a lot better if I have a fun ballerina on vs. a junky pair of sneakers, or an easy knit cardigan instead of a polar fleece. The goal for you is to find the equivalent of those easy stress-free pieces in slightly elevated styles, while keeping the base comfortable. I wouldn’t say you made a mistake buying clothes from White House Black Market, however, if you aren’t going to get wear from them to the degree that you’re hoping you would or they don’t function in the life you live, then you might be Wishful Wardrobing. I hope that helps!
[…] in mind this is your one chance to set up your closet exactly how you want it. So figure out your closet personality and get organizing. At the end it’s like Santa dropped off a whole new wardrobe. In August. […]