A couple of weeks ago, I looked into my closet, flipped through the hangers, and had these thoughts: "no, I can't wear that...that doesn't fit..that one doesn't hang right...I though that would work but it doesn't..." It was the worst feeling. It was hard to get dressed. I whined to my husband that I had nothing to wear. I felt unattractive. It's something I hear often from clients. I've certainly experienced it before, just not in recent years, and had forgotten what it felt like.

When I moved to New York in my early 20's, I gained weight thanks to an office job, amazing restaurants on every corner, ordering in every lunch break, and cold weather that destroyed my will to work out. A move to Miami and the option to run on the beach took care of the issue at that time. Ten years later or so, by this time living in St. Louis, I changed size again, this time because my admittedly lucky metabolism slowed down in my 30's (oh, ok, fine, and another period of no desire to exercise). This time, there was no reverting back to smaller sizes.

mindful closet - on wearing clothes that fit

It's the worst feeling when your clothing is tight, rubs, doesn't button, or makes you feel self-conscious. You end up only wearing one or two things because they are more forgiving. There's a simple solution: buy new clothes. I remember how I felt when I gave in and did it both of the times I mention above. It's such a relief. You feel lighter. In my experience, you actually feel better about yourself, just because there's nothing cutting into your waist or bustline, accentuating what you don't need to be constantly thinking about. When you feel better about yourself, you're in a positive place and can more easily be motivated to make changes if necessary. However, I'd like to point out that women's bodies naturally change throughout life. Sometimes you just change sizes and nothing needs to be done except
accept it.

Why do we resist buying new things in a new size? We don't want to spend the money, we're sure we'll get back to the weight we were when we bought those clothes, we think we can make do, we haven't accepted we might permanently be a new size?

This time around, it took me a few days of not recognizing what was going on before I bit the bullet and bought things that made me feel comfortable and attractive. And it worked! I was so happy to look in my closet again and see options! I felt comfortable in my clothes, which made me feel comfortable in my skin. If you're really in a transitional phase, you don't need to buy all the clothes, but you need enough to get you to the next stage or season. You shouldn't have to suffer for a summer because that's how long you need to adjust.

mindful closet - bookhou at home bag

After bringing in the new stuff, I did a mini-purge of anything that was bought only for maternity and never worked. Then I moved any clothes that I was keeping but that didn't currently fit into the basement. I did this once at the mid-way point of my pregnancy, but it was time to do it again, since I was past being able to wear much of it. This is actually one of my biggest pieces of advice. I tell my clients all of the time, but am not sure I've mentioned it much here on the blog: get the stuff that doesn't fit out of your sight. Preferably in another closet or the basement. Every second you spend looking at an item and remembering why you can't wear it is wasted time and bad energy. It also forces you to use brainpower and decision making energy that could be saved for more important topics.

At different stages of life, we have different reasons for doing this. Most of us put away our winter and summer clothes in the off-season, using the same logic - why look at it if it won't be an option to wear that day? For some people, it's just moving the formal wear out of their closet since it clearly won't be worn most days. For others, like myself and the new and expecting moms I've worked with this year, it becomes an ongoing process. I currently have only maternity clothes and post-partum clothes in my closet. Many items fall into both categories, since I've been told I'll leave the hospital looking like I'm still 5 or 6 months pregnant. I'm also starting to rotate in items that I can't wear on this particular day, but will soon be good for breastfeeding (a whole other wardrobe conversation in itself). The clothes that I love, will still work for my current lifestyle, and will eventually wear again are in the basement.

mindful closet - transition dressing

Oh, and there's a place for those pieces that you know, deep down, you won't wear again, but have special meaning. I call it a nostalgia box and lots of clients choose to use it. The shirt you wore on your first date with your husband, your high school letterman's jacket, the top you bought in Paris slightly tipsy from wine, the dress that was your mother's or grandmother's - you don't have to get rid of them, but they shouldn't live in your closet. Put them (within reason, no need to keep every t-shirt from every music festival - that's for the musicians out there) in a nice storage bin in the basement, just like you would family photos.

By following through on a few of these steps, you'll end up with a closet full of real options and less frustration when getting dressed. Any thoughts? How have you gotten through transitional phases?

(In the photos, taken on Cherokee Street, I'm wearing one of my new dresses that actually fits, old Dr. Scholl's sandals, old Need Supply necklace, and bookhou at home bag.)