Is there a stranger in your closet?

Who do you see when you look into your closet?

“The girl in the mirror wasn’t who I wanted to be and her life wasn’t the one I wanted to have.”
— Francesca Lia Block.

Who do you see when you look into your closet? Is your mother’s face smiling back at you from that ruffle shirt you’ve never worn? Or is your best friend’s favourite jacket hanging out in there taunting you?

In response to the question, “Who do you see when you look in your closet,” I most often hear:

  • My mother/father
  • My best friend
  • Myself, before I became a mum/dad
  • Myself, before I gained 30 extra pounds
  • Myself, before I turned 50
  • My favourite celebrity
  • Whoever was working at the store the day I went shopping
  • The store window mannequin
  • All of the above!

Guess what? When you look in your closet you want to see YOU—just you. You want to see items that make you smile and that you associate with fun times and delicious moments. Maybe the memories are of pushing your daughter on a swing, lunch with friends, a successful business presentation, or a precious date with your sweetie. These are the simple pleasures that make up life. And you want these feelings to be reflected in every aspect of your wardrobe—down to your nightgown and slippers!

So evict the strangers and weed out those garments that make you roll your eyes or cringe. They have absolutely no place in your wardrobe. This exercise will help you make your closet all about you!

Remove one item from your closet that feels more like someone else than you.

If you are near your closet, go there right now and do this [if not, write down the first thing that comes into your mind so you will remember to remove it later]. Do it even if you don’t know why it isn’t you or what to put in to replace it. The very first step is to get it out of there.

As long as something that is not you is taking up space in your sacred closet [yes, it is sacred because this is where your essence is expressed every day], you will feel overburdened, frustrated, annoyed or discouraged—or resigned to all of those feelings—every time you get dressed and none of those is good. It is also very likely that you are not wearing this garment anyway. It is like a security blanket, but the security is a sham.

Identify one garment or outfit that makes you smile the second you put it on your body.

It can be a dress, pair of pants, a pair of shoes or a scarf. No item is too small or insignificant.

Lay the stranger and the item you love side by side, and get a piece of paper or a notebook.

For the item that is not you, write down everything you do not like about it.

Be as picky as you can. Maybe it’s the way the fabric feels. Perhaps the buttons seem overwhelming, or there are just too many of them. It could be that you dislike the pattern or the way it clings. Or perhaps it has a belt, and you do not like belts. Write down everything! If there are a few things you like about it, write those in a separate column. Maybe the colour is pretty, but it can’t make up for the fact that the style is so shapeless.

Write down everything you like about the item you love.

Colour, texture, fit, shape, ornamental details, the way it feels or anything else about it that comes to mind. Maybe it makes you feel sophisticated, down-to-earth, spunky or pretty. Whatever it is, write it down.

Keep both these lists handy and use them when you go shopping to help you stay focused.

They are your lifelines! The next time you try on an item, run down both lists and see how the garment compares. It is so easy to get distracted by all the choices, the lighting or the helpful ‘advice’ from sales women or your shopping buddies.

Remember just one rule: only buy or wear something if you love it.

This was first published in the May 2014 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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