Normally I don’t have any reservations about offloading clothes that have seen better days. I have limited space in my drawers and closet (who doesn’t) and I have no rapturous affection for anything in my collection. In fact, I have less than a dozen favorites I can identify. Mostly my clothes are things that are either useful or not. They’re in or they’re out. No big deal.

​So how is it that I’m wrestling with guilty feelings about removing one sweater that I’ve worn 3 times in 2 years? Let’s see if we can distill this garment guilt into something that stops swirling in my mind and moves this simple little number to a better place.


The Backstory

The sweater was bought for one purpose: to look nice for Christmas. As in many homes, on Christmas morning picture taking starts minutes after rising. For years these early morning photos have shown me in pajamas and a robe with asymmetric, frizzy drifts of hair framing my sleepy face. I caught on eventually to rotate my pajamas through the years so that I don’t look like I’ve only got one set. The hair and face are still a struggle. As the holiday progresses and we move on to dinnertime, more photos are snapped around the table and this is where I feel I should look better than in the morning. I should look fresh and festive. At least I should try.

In the weeks that lead up to the big day, I think about this photo routine and about how it must feel to sit across from me and look at my fatigue. So I plan to wear something that makes me feel good, distracts from my tired eyes, and has a touch of bling.


The Process

During prep season, October through December, nothing in my closet inspires me and I don’t have much luck getting myself to the stores for shopping. Time is running out, I have to order something online. I swipe through beautifully staged photos until I land on a sweater from Banana Republic, which for me is swanky. It’s a pretty sweater with subdued Fall colors, slightly bulky with a tasteful amount of sequins to brighten it up. The price came close to a trip to the grocery store and I felt a tug of guilt for that indulgence. I buy it anyway.

WIth only a week till Christmas, the package lands on my doorstep and I’m excited to try it on. At first glance, I notice there are more sequins than I expected. My second thought was, these sequins are itchy. I pair the sweater with a thin turtleneck to keep them from torturing me. I like the way the sweater combo looks. The shape is flattering, the colors are modern, the knit pattern is cool. In the 2 minutes I had it on, I decided it’s fine. Slightly problematic, not exactly what I expected, but fine.


Oh No

Christmas day comes as planned, all is moving along splendidly. By mid afternoon I have put on my sweater and I feel good. For a while. Once dinner is served I realize I’m burning up. Too hot. I want the turtleneck off. But I can’t do that, sequins against bare skin would be worse. I stick with this look until I can’t take it anymore. At 7:00 p.m. off comes the sweater, on goes a tee shirt and hoodie. No photos were snapped during sweater time. Plenty were taken afterwards.

For the rest of the winter season, there are no occasions worthy of this quantity of sequins. There are no events in frigid temperatures either. Itchy Shiny stays in the drawer.


Thinking It Through

Remembering the unfortunate discomfort, I don’t repeat this look again until 2 years have gone by and I force myself to wear Itchy Shiny to see if I was right about it. I could have been wrong. I was not. It was the same, slightly more deflated, sweater. Still, I put Itchy Shiny back in the drawer! How could I? I know better, I really do. I have helped countless clients move on from unwanted clothing. My business name is Breathe Easy Organizing, for god’s sake. Why is this so hard?

Guilt. I spent too much money. I didn’t get enough use out of it. Our planet’s resources were used to make and ship this knitted failure to me. It’s a good quality garment, I should be happy with it. I am vain because I think I need a new sweater for one day of the year. Who do I think I am? My guilt even made me count an extra wearing in this writing. I wore that sweater twice, not 3 times. Sorry.


We Can Do This

Self flogging is an art form I would wager most of us are well practiced in. Walking past these thoughts isn’t easy. But it can be done when you shift unwanted garments (and shoes, and linens, and so much more) to a responsible donation system. Asking friends and family if they would like your unwanted items is a start. Consignment is a great option too. There are places unwanted things can go to live a second useful life. Look around. Find them. Donate.

Having a super busy schedule keeps me from dedicating more than a few minutes towards discards. So, Itchy Shiny will go to a textile donation box in my town. There it will be evaluated by Bay State Textiles for reuse or recycling. A portion of the funds they make from my donation will go to the school where the drop box sits. It’ll be my loss, but their win.

I’m at peace with this process. It’s time to end my private battle in the closet. After all, it’s just a sweater. It is unrealistic to expect every purchase I make will be perfect. Reevaluating and reliving one errant purchase is useless. I can (and will!) learn from this experience. Itchy Shiny and I have both moved on to better times.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial