We often learn more from our failures than we do our successes.  Sure, failures are disappointing and can cost us dearly, but if we learn to avoid the same mistakes in the future, value does come from them.   I believe this to be true from the failures that can be found in the closet.  You know, the unworn clothes that were supposed to solve something, but didn’t.  They can be heartbreaking to face because they appear just to be wasted money and clutter.  However, if you take a moment to stop beating yourself up over these mistakes and, instead, use them as opportunities to learn something about your style, you have an opportunity to avoid the same failures in the future.

What Your Unworn Clothes are Trying to Tell You

It’s time to face the music and, I promise you, if you do, you will be able to glean some valuable information that can stop you from accumulating more unworn clothes, or, at least, avoid repeating the same mistakes.  If you feel lost, confused or overwhelmed by the fact that your shopping trips have been less fruitful than you have hoped, take a look at what your unworn clothes might be trying to tell you.

It’s not your style

I can appreciate the way some people look in their clothes.  But I have learned that sometimes it needs to stop at appreciating.  What makes a person stylish isn’t necessarily what they are wearing, but how they are wearing it.  For them, a seamless connection has been created between their inner style and their clothing.  However, when I try to copy it, I look like I am wearing a costume or not like myself.

As much as you appreciate how someone else looks in a particular style or outfit, have you accumulated unworn clothes because you didn’t stop to consider that it’s just not you?  If you have heard me speak publicly, then you know the story I always tell about the skirt suit I bought based on the fact that I needed to look professional for work.  I looked around at women in skirt suits and pant suits.  All these women looked amazing, so I followed and bought both pant suits and a skirt suit.

Years later, I noticed that I never wore the skirt suit.  The thing hung there so long dust collected on the shoulders of the jacket.  Even on my most rushed days with few other options to wear, I still never put the skirt suit on.  Upon finally letting it go, I asked myself why I never wore it.  By asking myself this question, as opposed to just tossing it on the donate pile, I learned that when I wore a skirt suit I felt like an entry level secretary, not a powerful professional woman .  To this day (over 20 years later) I have never worn a skirt suit again.

When I look at other women in skirt suits I don’t think they look like a bunch of entry level secretaries, I think they look amazing.   I can appreciate others in the look while accepting the fact that it will never be me.   Yes, I wasted money on that suit, but I did learn a valuable lesson and have saved tons of money in the long run.

You have outgrown what worked at one time

What inspired this post was the fact that I seem to have outgrown a style that worked well for me at one time.  I have a maxi dress that I bought last summer.  I bought it because it not only fit me well but was very much in line with what had been working.  I have worn the dress exactly one time since owning it and not once this year.  It’s a bummer because it is pretty, but I’m just not a maxi dress person any longer.  Yet, while this disappointing purchase may have been money wasted, it was also enlightening.  I learned something from it and I have moved on.

Could it be that your unworn clothing just means that you have moved on to a different style?  Instead of clinging to the pieces in your closet because of the money spent, don’t beat yourself up, learn from this, ditch the old, and focus on building on what you are wearing and liking.

You are splitting your wears

Splitting your wears means to have multiple items in your closet that do the same thing.  I’m not necessarily against having more than one item serve the same purpose if you have the need.  However, if you have too many similar wardrobe pieces and not enough reason to wear all of them, you have diluted the value of each one and will be left with unworn clothes and less options.  After all, think about how much more you could buy with the money have you spent on too much of the same thing.

In order to eliminate this problem, choose to get rid of a 1/3 of the amount you own.  You can decide which to keep by selecting the ones you naturally gravitate towards and wear most often.  Then make a pact with yourself that no more similar items will be purchased unless you are willing to part with at least one of the pieces you already have.

You are wishful wardrobing

Another thing to notice is if your affliction of unworn clothes has been caused by wishful wardrobing, which means you buy clothes for the life you wish you had, not the one you do.  This happens quite often with shoes when we neglect to accept that our lifestyle does not call for styles that aren’t comfortable.  It can also easily happen with clothes when we shop too much for a part of our life we spend less time doing than we think we do.

Look at your life realistically and try to figure out the percentage of time you spend doing each thing.  You want the percentage of clothing you have for that part of your life and and the percentage of time you spend doing it to be a match.

You have aged out of your old style

Yesterday, I needed to run out after the gym for a quick errand before I had a chance to take a shower.  I wanted to get out of my gym clothes so I grabbed an easy jersey knit dress that I could throw on.  I hadn’t worn the dress all summer but was glad I wore it because I had identified that the dress was way shorter than I remembered.  It’s good for a quick walk down the block or hanging around the house, but that’s it.

Looking at the dress on me, I was stymied by the fact that I used to wear the dress all the time last summer.  It was so short.  Either it shrunk a bit or I hit an age this year where the length just felt totally inappropriate.  Whatever the reason, I was glad I put it on and learned this.

Sometimes clothes can suddenly look too young for the age you are now.  Some of your clothing may have gone unworn recently simply for this reason.  It can be helpful to take an opportunity to identify this to not only purge these things from your closet, but to also take note of things to avoid when shopping in the future.

You need to clarify your closet more often

Unworn clothes can accumulate simply by not being more rigorous about clarifying your closet on a regular basis.  Oftentimes, when clients invite me in to go through their wardrobe, they are sure that certain things are keepable.  In these cases, they are going simply by memory of the last time they wore them.  It isn’t until I ask them to put them on that they realize that the style has become dated, it’s not their look any longer, they have aged out of the style or it is just no longer flattering.

Unfortunately, a successful closet edit can’t just happen by perusing what’s in your closet.  Some things can be tossed at first glance, but many times deeper investigation is needed and trying on can be quite helpful in thinning out unworn clothes.

Your unworn clothes are hanging there with hidden messages as to why they haven’t been worn.  Instead of allowing them to clutter up your space and mind, use them as opportunities to get your style and your closet back on track.