It's Time to Get Excited About Your Clothes Again After a Year in Sweatpants—Here's How

A professional organizer and life coach reminds you how to fall back in love with your stuff—and yourself.

Let's be honest. When was the last time you put on an outfit—a whole outfit—you were excited to wear? After over a year with little contact with the outside world, it's both exciting and scary to get dressed, back out there, and be visible to the world.

Personal style has always been a way of showing what's on the inside to the people in your life—a very personal outward expression of how you see yourself and how you want others to see you. As we enter a happy post-vaccination season—also known as #shotgirlsummer—it's time to reflect on what you learned about yourself this past year. Did you change jobs, start a new hobby or discover something deeper about yourself in Zoom therapy? Or did you simply realize you'd been living with way too much, and that you're happiest with only the basics? Whether you're no longer feeling connected to the clothes in your closet, or you need a confidence boost to get you back into the groove of choosing everyday outfits, follow these four steps to fall back in love with your favorite pieces all over again, and maybe even recognize the growth you've undergone in the process.

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Step One: Set an Intention—What Do You Want to Achieve From Your Closet Audit?

While you may not need to decide if an item brings you joy, take out each item of clothing and consider if it aligns with the person you are today rather than the person you were before the pandemic. As Faith Roberson, a professional organizer and life coach, likes to say, organization isn't just about the stuff—it's also organizing yourself. It's asking how you've changed this past year and who you hope to become as we emerge out of it.

"Clients will ask me, 'Why am I crying while I put a belt in a Goodwill bag?' It's about what you lost and what you gained," Faith said. "The emotional conversation is inevitable. How do you want to feel? Your tastes most likely have changed because of what you've gone through."

Essentially, leave room for the unknown. It's not just getting rid of clothes, decluttering is also about honoring that you've changed. Take time to process this truth.

Pro Tip: This applies to going back to the workplace as well. You're going back to the office differently. Even companies like Google are changing how they treat the office. Whether you've lost your job, changed industries, or are going back to the exact same cubicle, approach your professional clothes with the same intentionality. How do you want to represent yourself in this space?

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Step Two: Let Go of the Perfectionist Approach to Organizing

With inspiration from social media, home improvement shows, and self-help books, we see what it looks like to be organized and perfect. When you start with those lofty expectations, it adds unnecessary pressure. Why are you doing this for you? This sets the tone for your own (realistic) standards.

"Figure out why you want to tackle your closet. A big part of preparing is writing it down and having that affirmation for yourself, especially if you start to feel insecure," Faith said. "Affirmations may feel cheesy, but try it in the third person, like "Faith has great taste." It creates a sense of distance and is scientifically proven to create better results on the believability scale."

When you have this purpose written down, it's time to try on your clothes. This may bring up insecurities, but this is when you turn back to your affirmations, whether it's body-positive encouragement or reminding yourself why you're tackling this project.

Pro Tip: "Does it bring you joy?" can sometimes feel like a loaded question. Instead of Marie Kondoing your way out of half your closet (love her to pieces, but it's hard!), instead try giving yourself an excuse to have a solo fashion show. In the safety of your bedroom, playing dress-up with your own stuff can make things feel lighter and lessen the pressure of decision-making. Like any relationship, you want to implement a sense of play into your everyday interaction with your closet. You'll remember why you loved a certain top, have an epiphany that you've never liked that sweater, and kind of feel like you're going shopping in your own closet.

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Step Three: Get Ahead of the "I Have Nothing to Wear" Moment

Once you've made a stack of Keep, Maybe, and Goodbye piles, you can get into the fun part. Most likely your "Maybe" pile is filled with pieces you like but can't figure out what to do with, or you just don't have a replacement yet. Grab a notebook and pen to start a list of items you need to replace or a space you want to fill. You'll use this list to shop in the future so you don't overspend on clothes you don't need. Faith calls it her, "Shop with intention list."

Start mixing and matching your Maybe pile with your Keep pile. Any outfits come out of it? Those that are left behind are a good indicator that it may be time to graduate them to the Goodbye pile. Continually ask yourself, "Does this represent who I am today? Does it make me feel aligned with myself?" Clothes are an invitation to this new world. Even if it's old, it's about mixing with the new.

Pro Tip: Hang your items back up together as full outfits so you already know you have some exciting pieces waiting to bust out of there when happy hour is back on the calendar.

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Step Four: Embrace the New You

Parting with clothes is an emotional practice. Don't believe us? Faith actually became a certified life coach to help her clients because they often needed emotional support when decluttering their home. On the one hand, it's exciting to build a new closet (even with existing pieces), but it can be scary to part ways with what no longer serves you. Change is hard.

If you're in a position where you can't afford to buy replacement clothes right now, Faith reminds us that generosity begets generosity.

"You can donate your clothes, you can sell them on Poshmark, or you can give them to friends—it's a beautiful karmic exchange," Faith said. "If you don't believe it, volunteer somewhere where you can recognize that people need what you don't want. If you're frugal and you're holding on to something you don't want, you're more at a loss than a gain."

It's a practice to create space for yourself and the person you've grown into. Now that you've cultivated the right mindset, get out there and show off your new 'fits. Remember, you're doing great—and you look fabulous!

RELATED: How to Organize Your Closet in 30 Minutes Flat

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