Reasons to Edit Items

Recently, I took a lot of items to a charity shop, and my sister received yet another gift bag from my wardrobe. When I mentioned this in a previous post, several of you asked, “What did you edit and why?” Today, I’m sharing my reasons for letting go of things.

Occasionally, I settle for something similar to what I’ve been looking for. That never works! The white shirt above and similar ones were donated. I liked the style and ordered my usual size, but it was too long and large for my frame. Stiff fabric that adds bulk or falls straight from the bustline makes me look larger. Tops that end a few inches below the natural waistline are so much more flattering on my shape. Longer tops make my legs look shorter and often draw attention to my tummy and hips instead of hiding them.

The softer white cotton slightly cropped shirts here (shown in the photo below) are much more comfortable, and the length gives a more modern and feminine silhouette.

The black knit pants above fit too much like leggings, and the knee/calf area is too tight. I prefer a more subtle flare to start higher on the leg above the knee. I also donated a few pairs of jeans with the same fit issues.

Some of my jeans had developed twisted leg seams, the zippers didn’t lay flat, or the fading was so poorly executed that they were too contrasting. I also donated jeans if the distressing was so severe they started to get small holes.

Necklines that were too wide, thus causing bra straps to show, had to go. Any faded black tops or jeans with a ‘sausage-fit’ in the calves and floppy bags or ones that were too large or patterned were also donated.

Anything made from a fabric that clings or loses shape quickly (polyester or Tencel) was also added to the donate bag. If I hadn’t worn the item in three years, it was time to let it go. Shoes too flat, heavy, or difficult to put on or take off were also donated. Tiny buckles, flat soles, and stiff uppers are too much to deal with at this stage of life.

To end this post on a positive note, I’m sharing one of my favorite photos from Friday. We visited Blowing Rock, NC, for the first time this year. I’ll share more photos later.

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  1. Thank you Susan, as usual your advice helps us realize “what is wrong” or “what is going on here”
    I have had nearly every color of those Portofino shirts! Constantly trying to roll up the loose sleeves, do something with the collar, neckline, moved buttons etc. Thanks for giving me the courage to bag them all up and get rid of! Today!!!!
    So many garments are not made for every body type. Another reason to buy what truly fits and do less spur of the moment purchasing!

  2. Thank you for this article; it helps my perspective. My rule of thumb is that if I don’t love how I feel in my clothing, then I need to get rid of the item that is “off” although I’m not always able to pinpoint the exact issue. Your reasoning is very helpful.

  3. I so agree with your reasoning. I used to love woven button downs but now find that cotton fits & flatters me more even if I have to iron the shirts. I wonder if it’s our changing bodies or I’m getting smarter!
    Thanks for the tips.

  4. I intend to take a leaf out of your book and do exactly the same. I’m having a new bedroom fitted very soon so an opportune time as everything has to be emptied out. Just need to recover from Covid first!!!! xx

  5. Thank you so much for this column! It is spot on. When I just don’t feel comfortable in something, out it goes! Careful shopping and less impulse buying helps. This applies even to accessories. At this stage, why not feel awesome in what you wear? You are always so helpful.

  6. Such a timely post that helps us think of our wardrobe as we transition from summer to fall/winter clothing and making the critical decisions on what still fits, what remains stylish, what’s uncomfortable etc. and donate donate donate
    Thank you!

  7. Hi Susan,
    Thanks for sharing all the tips and info on why you’ve let things go. Yes, settling never works- I know better, still do it, but am getting better!
    What a stunning dahlia, that’s a beautiful color I need to look for in clothes, too.
    I agree about the tiny buckles. I look for concealed velcro on my sandals now. Lots of stylish options across many nice brands.

  8. These are some good tips. I do hang on to things too long and never wear them. Your statement about if you haven’t worn it for 3 years that it has to go is a good one. There must be a reason I haven’t worn something for that amount of time. I must not feel comfortable in it.
    I did like the pictures of the progress of growing your hair. It looks so nice now and the pictures show the different styles you had during the process. I’m trying to grow mine out but because it gets so thick I tend to cut it short.

  9. First, I need to be more discriminating when I’m selecting clothing. Though unfortunately, I don’t always realize the garment has an issue until I’ve worn it a few times. Right now I have a few things that need to be weeded out for exactly some of the reasons you are editing out yours. I still gravitate to shapes that worked a few years ago and no longer look the same. It seems to take my mind awhile to adjust to the new body shape! Thanks for pointing out how and why you edit.

  10. Thank you for another informative post.

    Maybe you can answer a question for me. It is my understanding that about half of the women in the U.S. are 5’4′ or under. If this is the case why is it so difficult to find petite sizes in department stores such as Macy’s, Belk, Dillard’s and Nordstrom?

    Looking forward to your photographs of Blowing Rock.

    Libby Coynor
    Columbia, SC

  11. What may look “fine” to someone else, but drives you to not enjoy wearing is definitely prime to be out of your closet. I completely understand.

  12. Hi Susan – with all the editing, what brand do you find with the most consistent qualities of fit, fabric excellence and color consistency? Thank you.

  13. As usual your posts are so informative in making me think about the clothes in my closet that don’t work, never worked, and no matter how much something cost with tags still attached need to say goodbye from my closet or storage bags. I currently have a big bag of donations started and you have given me encouragement to add a lot of things to it especially some unworn denim. I just went through two drawers of mostly Soma nightwear and some of it is going as well. The church I attend takes up clothing for abused women so that’s where most of my donations end up. Thank you again for continuing to provide such great information.

  14. Years and years ago I put darts in blouses that I liked but just didn’t hang right. Generally they made me look so much bigger. Since I could do that myself, there was no additional cost. I’d pin the blouse to try it. If it didn’t work, well, it was going out anyway.

    Over the past few years I’ve picked up a few pounds that don’t look good at all. It’s a little harder deciding why a garment doesn’t look great anymore.

    So, I’m removing those pounds before I send any more garments off…and I’m making stacks of those questionable items. Maybe it’s time to dart again.

  15. Hi Susan, you are so right about getting rid of clothing that doesn’t look right anymore, but it’s so hard to let go of the garments . You’ve given me the confidence to discard unflattering clothes. My sister in law is always happy to receive my ill fitted garments, as she has a beautiful figure for her 79 years . Susan, please help me to dress for a 5:’feet 3 inches height for the autumn. Your knowledge of how to dress is invaluable.

    1. Proportion is vital when you are petite. I have a friend who stands about four feet eight inches tall. She always looks like a million bucks because she gets things tailored to fit her frame. She may not have many items, but those items fit her perfectly, are neutral in color, and timeless in style.

  16. Wonderful post. I love it when you point out what works and what doesn’t. I need to do more critiquing of myself but it just seems so time consuming. Do you ever tire of shopping for the right look?

    1. I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned, but I don’t shop as much as you might think. I’m often late to the game, so by the time I share my latest find, it is almost sold out.

  17. I recognize that first shirt as a Chicos shirt. You wore it here so I bought in on your recommendation. I still love it! But I recognize why you got rid of it. I have a tummy to hide so there is that! lol

  18. Hi Susan, well done! It’s refreshing having a delete session. I’m stricter than you, though. No wear for 12 months and gone!
    After reading an enticing post called the Glitter List on Substack (an approach to life), I wrote my own personal Shimmer List and one of the points was to slim down my wardrobe drastically using the 12 month rule. Also to not buy fast fashion, to try not to buy any clothes at all unless they are required. Thereby, despite that I donate to charities with what I delete, I’m doing my bit not to add to the horrendous global landfill of clothes.
    I so love that little loose short shirt you model and also the sleeveless white top. Perfect length and I swear I might have to bend my rule slightly to find something similar. I did actually think of having a favourite shirt shortened and scooped longer at the back – that way I don’t have to buy more clothes.
    I agree with everything you’ve said, except I still like a fitted jean in my wardrobe, along with more tailored legs.
    And shoes? Goodness – how my feet have changed as I aged. I have reduced everything to only THE most comfortable, fashion notwithstanding. Vivaia is my go to for elegance and comfort.
    Thank you for your super post and take care.

  19. I think the white blouse in the first picture looks great on you, but maybe that’s just me. I hope you are making a good recovery.

  20. Thanks Susan for a very informative post! The pictures with the arrows illustrating your points were very helpful. Lovely flower picture! Good to know you are out & about!

  21. Thanks for these tips! I’ve been trying to let go of one or two things anytime I bring something new home but you’ve encouraged me to edit now as I change out for fall as well.

  22. I must say, I think you look beautiful and stylish in all of these pictures! It’s hard to see the flaws you mention, but fit and feel are personal, and I am inspired to purge some precious items (even with tags) because they simply don’t feel comfortable or I love the style and color but they just don’t work on my body.

    I have done pretty well with consigning, and also donate to charity organizations. It feels good to know someone will really enjoy and use the pieces I give up.

  23. Thank you for commenting on how changes in your movements can effect your clothing and shoe choices. As we age our mobility and dexterity changes, which makes it harder to put on clothes that go over your head rather than a button up style or too many tiny buttons make it harder to fasten some clothing. Keep including your decisions based on changing physical limitations.

  24. Thank you Susan. I too am going thru closets and giving away a few things. I didn’t do it during Covid because we didn’t do what we normally do with restaurants. Now that we have our lives back, I have decided to look at my closet with new eyes.
    I sometimes put a piece of elastic in the back of a shirt to bring in the waist. I too have a large bust so I need more fabric in the front but not on the sides or back. I have also added darts to pull in the shirts. I can sew tho so that’s an easy fix. I never did get used to the holes in jeans like my daughters did. They would BUY them with holes. That is not a look I could embrace.
    Thank you for the post and hope all is well with you, Mir. Mickey and your folks.
    Patty V

  25. You know I still think you looked lovely in those photos. However I understand now a little bit more how to judge what looks good on me. Do you end up returning clothing you buy online? I do. Please keep sharing these type of tips!
    Hope you are feeling better! Hugs!
    PS. I think I have been following since you started your blog. How many years has it been?

    1. Thank you for following the blog, Karen. I began blogging in 2011.

      I sometimes return items that are different from what I expected, but sometimes, it takes a while to accept that it isn’t right for me.

  26. Too wide necklines that slip and slide and show my bra straps are my pet peeves. I have a solution! Go to a search engine and enter something like “sewing hacks” or “too wide necklines” and check out the simple stitches to sew around the necklines. Once you have inserted the stitches, it is easy to pull the threads and tighten up the neckline. This works will with t-shirt type fabrics, etc. It takes a little practice to get the stitches even but works quite well. You don’t have to be a seamstress for this; anyone can do straight stitches in different patterns. Anything I can do to reduce the quantity of items that get tossed into landfills is a plus with me!!

  27. Such a helpful post. I recently pared my closet down & it feels great. I too share clothes with loved ones & donate as well. Thank you so much. ❤️

  28. Susan, Thank you for your reminders to remove things that just don’t work for us anymore (or never did)
    I really struggle to find flattering items because I’m 5’ and have hips and thighs that need disguising. I don’t live near many clothing places anymore, so trying on is a challenge. So I end up settling for things that are just okay.
    I’ll work to be more discerning in my choices.

    Question, you seem to choose handbags that require you to carry by hand. What do you do when shopping and need both hands. Not grocery or somewhere with a cart, but stores with no cart?

    And wasn’t Friday a beautiful day in Western NC…my husband and I spent the day at Grandfather Mountain.
    Glorious day! We were in Banner Elk for a few days of getaway. Gorgeous area.

  29. What a helpful post! I recently cleared out my closet but have more to do. I find the older I get the less I am willing to compromise on comfort and style.

  30. Such a helpful post. Even though my closet is small, I am good at adding things but so bad at getting rid of things. I think this will be the impetus I need to get it done! I was in Blowing Rock last week – beautiful flowers everywhere! Thank you Susan and best wishes for good health to you and Mr. Mickey.

  31. I have always hated worrying about bra straps showing, but recently found “shoulder strap retainers” on Amazon, and they work great.

  32. I can’t seem to get rid of any clothes. Even if I haven’t and won’t be wearing again. Thank you for this list of criteria for change. I have way too much but never get rid of things, useful to not. Thank you.

  33. I think as we age, our bodies change so much that our clothes need a vigilant eye. For instance, I wear the same size as I have for all my adult life, but my figure has changed in proportions. Our tastes evolve as well. I have a rather small wardrobe, but wear everything I have and with Susan’s tips, have just eliminated some summer things that don’t feel right.

  34. The detail you provide in this post is very helpful; thank you. I buy primarily from resale shops rather than new. About 14 months ago, I went to Chico’s with the idea that if I found something that fit, I would buy it. I have worn the pants and like them very much, but they are tapered so now they are not the most stylish, but I will wear them regardless. And the 3 tops I bought are languishing in the closet; sigh. Even though they are very nice, I don’t feel comfortable in them due to fit, too large a pattern or not enough pattern. It is very hard to realize now that I have made a mistake on these expensive garments! A mistake at retail is a $6 hit, rather than $60. One downside of shopping resale is the price — it is sometimes too easy to say “It’s only $5” and think it is “good enough.” I am improving at being more discerning! I do sew, so making alterations is often possible, but not everything can be altered. So now these items from a year ago have to go, but I will wait until next spring when they are in season to take them to a consignment shop nearby.

  35. So fun reading your post this AM as I sit and look at eleven cartons of clothes, books and a myriad of other items to go to the thrift store. 21 year old grandson visiting, so I have some muscle and can get with the task. You are looking well. Hope you feel as good as you look.

  36. Hi, Susan,
    Love your posts, as always! Your observation about synthetics losing their shape quickly, no matter how you wash them, is so true. I would be interested in what fabrics you DO purchase, and how you care for them. This could include not only shirts and blouses, but also pants and sweaters, blazers, jackets, etc.
    Many thanks!

  37. I am 4ft 5in and weigh 148. I’ve tried to lose some weight but I always end up around my current weight so I’ve decided that this is where I am meant to be. I have heavier thighs so finding jeans that don’t cling to my thighs is very difficult. I’d like my jeans to look more like slacks but cannot find any. Help!!!!!

  38. Always love your posts encouraging us to edit our closets! I love the shorter length white shirt on you! I have been rejecting these tops when I shop because I thought they wouldn’t look right on me since I’ve gotten used to wearing untucked shirts. And they may not look so hot on me, but I should at least try one on to see! You always inspire us.

  39. Great article and very helpful. I like your 3 yr rule. I sometimes have things a year or so before they become the uniform of the season. It is also helpful to know it’s ok to let go of items that are perfectly good but fit is just off.

  40. Susan I have followed you for several years and have enjoyed your post. I like your style and I am a pastel person, solid colors. Like you I like tops that sit just below the waist; long tops make me look shorter and plump. I especially took to heart your comment about structured fabric, and it does make a difference in the way your clothes fit and your appearance. So glad you and Mr. Mickey were able to enjoy your visit to Blowing Rock.

  41. I guessed correctly that the previous post was in Blowing Rock! I recognize the familiar surroundings from many visits there. We also love the many restaurants they have in the town. We had considered retiring there at one time.

    I wanted to ask if you ever purchase merino wool items and what do you look for in terms of style, texture, etc. I have purchased a few short sleeve and long sleeve for an upcoming trip to a colder climate. I was disappointed that a couple of the items purchased were not “full merino” as described, and were in fact combined with either polyester or tencel. Any thoughts? Thank you!

  42. Loved this post! You encouraged me to edit my own closet and winter items. I have a long, thin neck, so I look bad in scoop necks that are too low or wide. V-necks are my friend. I bought a couple trendy tops that feel too big and I never wear-they are out. Pants/jeans that are too tight in calf and thighs I’m sorting too, along with baggy pants that have lost their shape. I am not heavy but my knees, calves and thighs are heavier than the rest. Skinny styles feel uncomfortable so eliminating them. I feel more comfortable in straight leg style.
    Thank you for helping us declutter and donate items that just hang in the closet. I’m learning that less is more.
    Love your posts!

  43. Hi Susan,
    The white shorter-style cotton blouse from The Gap says it’s an “off white” but on my screen, it looks bright white or what I call “white white” – which looks best with my skin tone (and I think you’ve said in the past, best for you as well).
    So how would you characterize that color – white or actually off-white as the description states?

  44. Very good post Susan. I often make the mistake of buying tops that are too long. I do have issues with my tummy but too long is not flattering. Its nice to see you and Mr. Mickey out and about. Dinner looks scrumptious!!

  45. Thanks for the help, Susan.
    I ordered the blouse through your link & also a bandana. I think I’ll especially like that blouse.

  46. How refreshinly practical and honest of you to share your clothing purges. This was the encouragement I needed
    to let go of unnecessary items in my closet and dresser. I so enjoy your thoughts. Thank you for being there for
    those of us who need a little nudge in this departmwent.

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I share tips and inspiration for using what you already have in contemporary ways. Defining words include effortless, classic, refined, discreet, and elegant. My style is chic, minimal, and timeless with a bit of edge.