Wardrobe Guilt

7 Reasons Why You Suffer From Wardrobe Guilt

We all suffer from Wardrobe Guilt from time to time… You know those items in your wardrobe that you really should let go but somehow you can’t?

But wardrobe guilt serves no purpose other than to make us miserable. Even if we pretend to ignore it, when we open our wardrobe it’s there hanging right in front of us!

If you’re wondering what I’m talking about the chances are you don’t suffer from wardrobe guilt –  which is brilliant.  You’re in a minority but be proud of that!  Wardrobe guilt is when you look at certain items in your wardrobe and you know that you should let them go but you can’t.  Something is holding you back.

Chances are you know what the issue is but if you’re struggling to identify it, then here are  the reasons why.  Once you understand it’s a whole lot easier to put it in perspective (maybe even laugh about it) and then let go.

Here are seven reasons you may be suffering from wardrobe guilt:

Wardrobe Guilt Too Many Clothes

Hardly Worn It

The items of clothing that you bought on a whim but every time you go to wear it, you look in the mirror and something’s not right.  You feel guilty about letting it go because it’s hardly been worn.

It’s understandable why you are feeling guilty. But the chances are that ‘the not right’ means it’s either not in your colours or it’s the wrong style for you.

Be honest what are the chances that you will ever wear it?  The money’s been spent.  If it was expensive/a designer label you may be able to resell it but otherwise just accept that it was an error of judgment.  We all make them – to err is human (Alexander Pope).

Your Weight Has gone up Since You Bought It

This one is a challenge.   When I put weight on as I recovered from an eating disorder I had items that unless I hit rock bottom again would never fit me.  I don’t mind admitting that I hung on to them for far too long – hiding them in the back of my wardrobe.   It was in a sense a grieving process.  That may sound mad but I’m sure anyone who’s struggled with an eating disorder can relate.

So what did I do?  I had to change my mindset.   It was tough but as I came to terms with the fact that my body was healthier and that women were not supposed to have  a concave belly and no boobs,  I could (over time) let go.

If you are struggling with this kind of wardrobe guilt  but are keeping clothes because ‘you only need to lose a few pounds’ be honest.   Both in terms of if you do lose the weight will you wear them again.   Or are you being realistic about the weight you will lose.  I’m not being defeatist here but encouraging you to be realistic.

It Was More Than You’d Normally Pay

You are suffering from Wardrobe Guilt because you spent a lot on an item and you don’t feel you’ve got value for money.  Particularly because you’ve hardly ever worn it or worse still it’s sitting in your wardrobe with the price tags in tact.

Stylists like to talk about the return on investment of your clothes in terms of cost per wear.  The idea being that the more times you wear an item the lower the cost per wear.  So that means a better return on your investment.  If you’re not going to wear the item or only wear it once the cost per wear will be the cost of the item.    Seriously what’s the point?  The only thing  you’re going to get from that is the constant reminder when you look in your wardrobe!  As I said above forget the money – it’s already been spent.  Just keeping it in your wardrobe is pointless.

wardrobe guilt because it was expensive

You’re Saving It For Best

I often talk about the irony of saving something for best.  For my generation, bought up by parents who had been through the Second World War, thriftiness was second nature.  Not only that but you made an effort to dress up to go out and made an occasion of something.

Clothes were also more expensive relative to household income.   Fast fashion was a concept that hadn’t hit the High Street.   So it made sense that we saved clothes for best.

But while I do not condone cheap poor quality clothes I also struggle with holding on to things for best.  Admittedly there are probably items in your wardrobe only suitable for certain occasions.  But don’t just save something for best if you love it and it makes you feel good when you wear it.

It Was A Gift From Your Partner/Parent/Best Friend

Tricksywoo – particularly if it was from someone you live with or see on a regular basis.  You’re anticipating that they will notice you no longer have it and be upset.

But be realistic if you’re not wearing it – which you won’t be otherwise you wouldn’t be feeling wardrobe guilt about it!  Do they even know you have still got it?

Would it be possible to discreetly donate it to charity or recycle it? If you’re worried you might hurt their feelings then why not take a deep breath and have the conversation.  Explain that while you really appreciate the sentiment behind the gift it’s not really your style/colour.   That it would be much more responsible to donate it to charity or to sell it on to someone who could benefit.

Strong sentimental attachment

Perhaps it reminds you of a special occasion or a person?  A time when you were really happy or maybe someone who is no longer in your life.   You feel a sense of wardrobe guilt because getting rid of the item is cutting the tie to that event or person.

But if you’re not wearing the item what is the point of keeping it?  Perhaps one way to retain the memory would be to take a photo of it and then to let it go?

If it’s an item with buttons or a form of decoration perhaps you could remove these.  Put them on something in your wardrobe that you now treasure.   Or retain as a keepsake – it will take up less room than unworn garments in your wardrobe!

It’s An Item You’re Supposed To Have

I’m not talking about an item of formal wear in dark colours.  It’s not unusual to have a dress or suit that you keep for attending funerals.

But the Little Black Dress you feel you should have or the ball gown you’re hanging on to because you might need it.  Be realistic here.

Are you likely to wear a ball gown again – great if you are – but many women feel they need to buy something new.  It might be much better to let go of the ‘supposed to have’ outfit and rent a dress or suitable outfit for the next event.  This is a much more sustainable approach.

So do you identify with any of the reasons why we suffer from wardrobe guilt?  If you don’t then congratulations!

SUFFERING FROM WARDROBE GUILT?Minimum Wardrobe Maximum Style

If you do then maybe it’s time to have a declutter and change of perspective on your wardrobe.

My program Minimal Wardrobe Maximum Style will teach you how to avoid Wardrobe Guilt and how to enjoy the freedom of a much more streamlined wardrobe.   Check out the link to find out more!

Minimal Wardrobe Maximum Style

Have You Booked Your Place?


Carol Hanson is a Conscious Wardrobe Stylist who has empowered hundreds of women to look and feel fabulous whenever they get dressed.

Carol lived with an eating disorder for over 20 years and uses her experience to help anyone struggling with body confidence issues.

Determined to bust the myth we will be happier by continually adding to our wardrobes. Carol passionately advocates a Minimal Wardrobe Maximum Style approach avoiding overwhelm associated with having too many clothes.  Carol’s determined to change our approach to shopping: both for our own sanity and to reduce the negative impact of fashion on the planet.


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Minimal Wardrobe Maximum Style

A Minimal Wardrobe Really Is The Best Way

When I mentioned a minimal wardrobe at an event last week, the woman I was talking to visibly paled!  A horrified look spread across her face. When she’d regained her composure she explained she had 4-double wardrobes full of clothes.

She openly admitted to having a lot of unworn clothes and an insatiable appetite for shopping.  I hasten to add that she always looks amazing and has an incredible unique style.   But conversely the response from others in the room was ‘tell me more’.

minimal wardrobe marmite effect

It’s funny isn’t it how some things have a Marmite Effect?   (If you live outside the UK then to explain it’s a term coined from a savoury spread available in the UK that people either love or loath!)

Now back to the Minimal Wardrobe.  Let me be honest and say that it does make me feel a bit uncomfortable. I love freedom and experimentation – minimal suggest restriction. It also hints at working within rules and boundaries – a total no for me!

Who Invented The MInimal Wardrobe?

The term Capsule Wardrobe (ie Minimal Wardrobe) was first attributed to Susie Faux who owned a boutique called The Wardrobe in London in 1970s.   Susie‘s principle was that a woman would find it easier to dress with a small collection of timeless pieces, supplemented by seasonal garments.  Donna Karan popularized this in 1985 with her 7-piece collection.

But frankly while that may have worked in 1970s/1980s fashion and style have evolved. Our wardrobes have changed. The way we shop has changed and of course the Digital Revolution has happened.

Marketing messages bombard us every day tempting us to buy.    Our inbox, social media and content feeds are full of links to items we can just buy at the click of a button.  Perfect for the cash rich time poor Society we’ve become.

Woman Shopping Online


One definition of success seems to be that ‘we need more stuff’.

How does stuff make us happy?

It doesn’t most of the time.  Albeit we get a quick dopamine hit when we buy something.  The effect of which wears off by the time we get home!


A Holistic Approach

The good news is that we’re seeing a change.

  1. A realization that happiness and success are achieved not by quantity of possessions but instead by owning only stuff we really love and has a purpose in our lives. The Mari Kondo effect has been a big influence here.
  2. The awakening that happiness is a much more balanced approach to our physical health, mental wellbeing and a connection to ourselves, nature and each other
  3. Equally so has the dawning that we’re living on a planet with finite resources and we seem hell bent on driving a bulldozer through the natural world.That what the green campaigners have been telling us for years isn’t scaremongering but fact that we need to act on.


How Does Your Wardrobe Make You Feel

Think about your wardrobe for a moment and ask yourself does it make you happy? Or does it make you feel:

How Does Your Wardrobe Make You Feel?


  • Overwhelmed – you simply have too much choice
  • Guilty – you have so much stuff you’ve spent money on so feel you have to keep
  • Concerned –you read headlines about how bad fashion is for the planet and realise how much is in your wardrobe!
  • Unhappy – with clothes you love that no longer fit that just sit in your wardrobe
  • Frustrated – at never having anything to wear for an occasion!

So turn that concept on its head how would it feel if you had a wardrobe that just contained clothes you loved and worked together?


minimal Wardrobe The New Paradigm

Imagine a wardrobe where you can see everything you own, your attitude towards shopping shifted so that you became much more conscious about buying.

de-cluttering your wardrobe


Does that feel like freedom?   It sounds much more like freedom than a restricted collection that doesn’t allow for experimentation.

Now I’m sure you’re keen to jump in and create a minimal wardrobe?  But take a breath.  There are a few steps you need to take with your existing wardrobe before you do get creative!

In my next post I’m going to be talking about some of the stories we tell ourselves that stop us from taking action. So for the moment just hold that picture in your mind of the minimal wardrobe and the freedom it will give you.

Before you go….

I’m going to make a really exciting announcement next week.  If you’d like to be the first to know about it, join me in my group Awesome Women With Style on Facebook to find out more.  Or if you can’t wait then just click on the link for a sneak preview…


About Meconscious wardrobe stylist

My name is Carol Hanson.  I’m a Conscious Wardrobe Stylist who has empowered hundreds of women to look and feel fabulous whenever they get dressed.

I lived with an eating disorder for over 20 years and use my experience to help anyone struggling with body confidence issues.

Determined to bust the myth we will be happier by continually adding to our wardrobes. I passionately advocate a Minimal Wardrobe Maximum Style approach avoiding overwhelm associated with having too many clothes.

I’m determined to change our approach to shopping: both for our own sanity and to reduce the negative impact of fashion on the planet.





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