If you've gained weight, your closet can become a major trigger for feeling bad about your body. Tips to purge your closet when your clothes don't fit anymore.

Tips When Clothes Don’t Fit

Stuck between delight in warmer weather and panic that many of your spring clothes don’t fit you anymore? Deciding what to wear in general can cause a spiral of negative self-talk for many people. But if your body has changed in the past year (which is normal!) you might be dreading going through your closet to figure out what clothes don’t fit as the days keep getting warmer. Keep reading (or watch the video) for my top tips for purging your closet of clothes that no longer fit. Including how to decide what clothes to keep that you actually like. And why it’s a form of self-love to give your body clothes that make you feel good.

Your best shield is your mindset.

All of my top tips for swapping your clothes out at the beginning of a new season are rooted in mindset. Like so much in body image work, it’s having tools at the ready to immediately identify and overcome negative self-talk. It takes practice and patience. But mindset is the key component to healing your relationship with your body image.

While you don’t need to be excited about cleaning out your closet. I do recommend proceeding with these tips on a day where you’re at least feeling curious and willing. An “I can do hard things” attitude will help prepare you for the task of purging your closet of clothes that don’t fit.

Top 5 Tips for When Your Clothes Don’t Fit at the Start of a New Season

1. Reduce the pressure by trying clothes on in a silly way.

I like to put on a pair of black leggings or even jeans. As I try on dresses, skirts…and especially shorts…I try them on right over top. I do this because it helps put some distance and extra padding between my body and the clothing. It’s really just a mind trick, but it helps!

For example, when I cleared out my closet yesterday, I was wearing a pair of jeans. I came across a skirt that I never wore and still had the tags on. Looking at the skirt, I thought it was going to be too short and probably too small in the waist. I tried it on over my jeans, and was surprised that even with jeans still on, the skirt was way longer than I expected! It fit around my waist too. With this little “win” I was mentally able to take the jeans off and try it on normally. I ended up keeping it!

If it hadn’t fit though, I could’ve laughed and thought, “if it’s this short or this tight in jeans, it’s a hard no to keeping it!” With this bit of self-preservation, it doesn’t feel quite as personal. Going through the trouble of fully undressing to try it on can feel more vulnerable. This trick helps avoid that.

2. Interrupt and shift the conversation with yourself when weight loss thoughts creep in.

I know the feeling of self-disgust that can affect you when clothes don’t fit. But this process can also make us feel disappointed about how much money we’ve spent on clothes that no longer fit. Especially when it was an expensive designer item. But layering on financial guilt to an already triggering body image situation, is a recipe for trouble.

That’s why it’s so crucial to have gentle but firm conversations with yourself. Your dieter’s mindset is going to try and convince you to keep things that don’t fit “just in case.” You, however, are going to prepare from the start. Assume it’s going to happen and come up with a plan.

Be on patrol for your negative inner chatter. Old diet culture messaging seems to rear its ugly head here, even for those further along in their intuitive eating journey. Listen to yourself for justification phrases, such as:

  • But if I do happen to lose weight, it will fit again…
  • I could try this on again mid-season, just to be sure…
  • Maybe as the weather is warmer, I’ll exercise outside more and unexpectedly lose weight…
  • …and any other “But maybe…” statements that require your body to shrink for the clothing to fit.

In these moments, immediately interrupt yourself. “NOPE! Clothes should fit ME. I don’t need to change to fit these clothes.” I then sprinkle on a little Marie Kondo, bless it and release! If my body changes again, then I will reevaluate what’s in my closet and what I can buy new. Until then, I honor the body I have now. And only keep the clothes that fit THIS current body.

For more guidance in this area, read Why the Desire To Lose Weight Isn’t About Your Body (It Never Was).

3. Get angry at the designer! And recognize how arbitrary clothes sizing is.

When I purge my closet of clothes that don’t fit, it’s always a great reminder of how stupid clothes sizing is. Recently when I did this, a pair of very expensive shorts from Lilly Pulitzer in size 10 wouldn’t go past my thighs. Not 5 minutes later, a pair of Universal Thread jeans in size 6 fit perfectly. It just makes no logical sense! So don’t try to make logical sense of it.

It is not your fault that your body fits into such a wide range of clothing sizes. It’s also not your fault when clothes don’t fit. The fashion industry is influenced by diet culture. Re-route the anger you might be feeling AWAY FROM YOURSELF. Instead give the blame and anger to diet culture, the fashion industry, the designers, and any capital gains that are happening from your insecurities.

If sizes are really a trigger for you, let’s dismantle the trigger. Cut the sizing tags out of your clothes. Take a stance and refuse to let it define you. This can take some energy. And it will definitely require some work and behavioral change of why sizes are so triggering to you but this is a quick win to get through the process of your closet containing only clothes that fit your body well.

4. Realize that just because it zips, doesn’t mean it fits. Comfort is important.

I have a love/hate with shorts. I don’t understand why it’s so difficult for clothing brands to make them cute without making them super short, or awkwardly long with cuffs. I really struggle to find a happy-medium! In my most recent closet purge, I got rid of shorts that technically fit. But I just don’t feel comfortable in booty shorts. I want clothes that help me feel confident and comfortable. I don’t want clothes that I’m going to be tugging at, pulling at, and/or feeling self-conscious in.

Consider clothes that are practical and actually will be worn. I no longer work in an office cubical, so I unloaded some clothes that don’t serve a purpose in my life anymore. I also got rid of some styles that seem out of date or that I just don’t like. You don’t have to have a specific reason. The ultimate goal is to be able to open your closet/drawers, and know that you like it all AND it all fits.

Your comfort is also an important factor. I think this mindset is really critical to the process as well. If you set that boundary with yourself, it can become an easy way to determine if you’re keeping the smaller-sized jeans that just.barely.zip because you want to say you fit in the smaller size. Or because you genuinely prefer your clothing to be that way (and some women do! That’s okay!) This mentality also works with fabrics and styles as well.

Keep asking yourself: Do I like this? Will I wear this?

5. Finally, be proud of yourself for getting rid of clothes that don’t fit!

This process can be mentally and emotionally exhausting. It can trigger so much negative self-talk. But it can also be a healing start to grieving the thinner body you dreamed you’d always have. During these moments, I recommend really thinking about the mindset of the woman who previously fit in those smaller clothes.

  • Was she truly happy?
  • Or was she hungry, irritable, obsessive, distracted?
  • Was she really healthy?
  • Or was she hating herself towards skinny, mean to herself, starving herself, taking unhealthy methods to lose weight?
  • What level of effort did it take to fit in those smaller sizes?

The woman you are becoming is now aware that health doesn’t equal thin. Smaller clothes doesn’t mean success or worthiness. And hanging on to clothes that don’t fit is only going to stay a barrier to healing your relationship with your body image.

If you aspire to get rid of clothes that don’t fit, but need extra support.

The process of blessing and releasing clothes that no longer fit your body is a significant step. If you are struggling to feel confident in intuitive eating and stagnant in growing your self-trust, let’s talk. I offer free 15-minute discovery calls to learn more about your needs and how I might be able to help you. Click here to schedule your call.

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With the change of seasons, it can be harder to ignore your body if you have gained weight. These are my top 5 tips for purging your closet of clothes that don't fit anymore. Read more at loveyourselftowardshealthy.com

Meridith Oram is an anti-diet nutritionist at Love Yourself Towards Healthy where she helps chronic dieters heal their relationship with food, fitness and body image by ditching diet culture and finding freedom in their God-given intuition. Focusing on behavioral change and Intuitive Eating, Meridith helps her clients unlearn diet culture, stop negative self-talk and set wellness goals---not appearance goals. Follow Meridith at @loveyourself2healthy on all social channels.
  • Brandi Knippa

    Fantastic post! Thanks for sending. I am about to go in there and tackle it now. I am excited but expecting some grief. One outfit I attached a “Disney Princess” dream to, so there will be some grieving to let go of the image of that one. I have had it for 6 years and haven’t fit in it yet. It’s not the outfit – it’s the fantasy I attached to it. Thank you for being you! So grateful the Lord put us together!

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