Posted in Life Musings, This is real life.

If the clothes make the (wo)man…

…that would explain why I’m having such a hard time cleaning out my closet.

You see, as I’ve mentioned…at some point…I’m not sure when most recently…I lost a bit of weight recently. Quite a bit, actually. To the point that over the past 18 months I’ve shot down more than a couple of sizes. And yet, though it’s been a slow process, and I’ve had plenty of time to clear the old stuff out, as I dig through my closet for yet another load to cart around to various resell shops, I’m still finding things that

Why? Why do I still have a dress 6 sizes too big for me that’s impossible to rework? Or at least, if not impossible, it would cost more than I paid for it?


Our clothes, to an extent, define us. No one knows this better than my students – it’s their biggest complaint about our standardized dress. And so while many adults may say, “Eh, clothes are just clothes,” kids know the truth.

Our clothes are more than that. They’re a piece of ourselves, an outer expression of who we are on the inside. In my case, this includes a lot of Mizzou-themed clothing (see below), retro I-was-born-in-the-wrong-era dresses, and nerdy tees.

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And it’s not just the whole “expressing yourself” thing, either. If it were, then I could simply buy a new gold sweater or order three new MIZZOU hoodies.

It’s that our clothes hold memories. Memories of holidays, life achievements, and normal every day interactions that for some reason become treasured snap shots of our lives. They’re like a scrapbook that you actually get use out of once you finish it.

And so far, I’ve gotten rid of some very memory-filled items (mostly dresses because, I mean, I’m a girl).

The green skirt I wore everywhere for 7 years…from around my dorm room to birthday parties to South America to my own classroom.


The first dress that anyone ever told me looked good on me because of how I looked, not how pretty the dress was (and I doubt the person who told me that even remembers, but it mattered to me).65_548033709050_3936_n

The dress I wore to the last formal I attended/threw in college.


The dress I wore to graduation/for my college grad pics.


The shirt I wore to my first concert with my little sister/the first time I saw my fave band perform.


The dress that I wore for pictures with the most amazing group of students I’ve ever had.


And so many others. Dresses I wore to numerous weddings; t-shirts that have awesome stories behind the random paint thumb print; jeans whose holes didn’t just happen from normal wear and tear; the coat I bought because it looks like the non-hooker version of the coat in my favorite music video

Saying goodbye to these pieces felt like I was saying goodbye to a piece of myself. My sentimental heart ached when I first sent them off in the mail or pushed them across the counter to a buyer. But a couple of days later, I made a shocking discovery – and yes, I’m shocked each and every time that this happens.

Each time, I find that the happy memories were not diminished by my passing these articles on. They’re still there, each time I look at one of the photos on my wall. But I’m walking around a little bit lighter for it. Like when I sent them off, I also sent with them the little insecurities they held.

I mean, I love that brown designer dress I wore to HLC formal, but the entire night, I was worried that the low back just wasn’t flattering. And that green skirt? I wore it so often because I felt like it made the worst part of my body look not so bad.

Seriously. That’s why I wore it so much.

So as I say goodbye to these outfits, I’m also saying goodbye to a lot of negative thoughts. But I get to keep all the happy times. I mean, look how happy I am in these pictures! You can’t just erase that.

Besides, now I have new clothes that I get to make new memories and statements about my personality in. Like the dog-printed dress I paid a ridiculously large sum of money for at Anthro recently.

I can’t wait.



We seek to learn, and when academics do not present the answers, we look inside our own beautiful imaginations for the key.

2 thoughts on “If the clothes make the (wo)man…

  1. I’ve found a good compromise for the shirts I can’t bear to get rid of – a t-shirt quilt. If I never get around to making it myself, there are websites which allow you to send in shirts, and they male the quilt for you.

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