Why it’s time to get rid of your ‘conditional clothing’

WORDS BY Ruby Staley

It’s time to put comfort first.

We’ve all got those pieces of clothing we hold onto despite them being not even close to our current size. Whether it’s that 21st dress you’re hoping to squeeze back into, a pair of jeans that made your butt look nice in 2012, or a shirt that you bought a few sizes too big hoping to grow into – we’ve all got shameful piles of unworn clothing that seem to linger long past their use-by date.

My personal shame pile consists of pants, dresses, shirts, bras and even shoes that, rationally, I know I’ll never wear again. But for one reason or another, I insist on holding onto them in case I miraculously lose half my body weight, go down a cup size or shrink vertically overnight.

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Coined ‘conditional’, ‘skinny’ or ‘goal weight’ clothing, these pieces are only wearable once we change something about ourselves. Not only does conditional clothing clog up our wardrobes, but these garments are often an unwelcome reminder that we’re not where we had hoped to be physically. And that’s some real bad juju.

Recently, I’ve been watching people ridding their wardrobes of their conditional pieces on my social feeds and I realised just how messed up it is that so many of us feel we must fit our clothes, rather than them fitting us.

@nat.thewitchGo donte your “skinny clothes” bc you deserve clothes that make you feel pretty, not guilty. #bodypositivity #WeekendVibes #JustDanceMoves #fyp♬ original sound – Natalie 🌈

Beyond being terribly impractical, this mentality can have serious mental health repercussions as it feeds into larger systemic issues of disordered eating and body dysmorphia – something that TikTok is currently rife with.

With collective mental health at an all-time low thanks to old mate COVID-19, now more than ever we’re dressing for function and with comfort in mind, often opting for sweats and knits over tight jeans we can’t eat pasta in, or short miniskirts we can’t move in. Finding a new home for our conditional clothing is something that could have a positive impact on our headspaces. It’s worth a try anyway.

Although some may argue that conditional clothing can be ‘motivating’, I’m sure many more of us see the benefit of feeling comfortable and supported in our clothes. Obviously, getting rid of conditional clothing won’t provide a cure to mental health issues and disordered eating, but surely it’s only going to be beneficial for you (and your wardrobe).

Kick conditions to the curb

While I wouldn’t recommend disposing of any conditional clothing already in your wardrobe (due to the overwhelming amount of fashion waste already in existence), I will say, don’t buy more. Don’t add to your collection of conditional clothing you know you’ll never wear (or only wear once). Steer clear of buying pieces you need to lose weight for or even grow into. Your body is great as is.

Find a new home for your conditional pieces

If you can, send your conditional clothes to a new, loving home. Literally and metaphorically, find the right fit for your garments. Whether you do so via re-sale sites like Depop, or gift them to a friend, passing the pieces onwards ensures they can continue being of use and not wasting away in landfill or at the back of your closet.

Learn about your body type and measurements

Trying to keep to a size number is impossible. With brands opting to create their own sizing guides, universal sizing has basically become obsolete. It only exists to crush the souls of consumers who can no longer squeeze into a certain size they were adamant they fit into.

Instead, do your own measurements and update them whenever you’re making a new purchase. This will ensure the piece of clothing will fit you the way it should, and prevents you from blindly buying a piece in the size you think you are and getting upset with yourself when it doesn’t fit right.

Adjust and shop mindfully

In line with the ‘upcycling’ trend on TikTok, totally transform your conditional pieces or, where possible, adjust your conditional pieces to make them more comfortable. By no means should you go out and buy a whole new wardrobe to fit, instead, when making a new purchase, consider it in a new light. Make sure it fits you, not the other way around.

This article was originally published on April 10, 2021.

For more on conditional clothing, try this.

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