This is part three of a three-part series. In the first installment, I wrote about ten wardrobe items that I recently purged from my closet and why I opted to pass them on. The second post summarized the eight key lessons that I learned from letting go of those particular pieces. In today’s essay, I address my wardrobe “holding zone” and how I’ve changed my approach to it this fall.
As a review, my wardrobe holding zone is a place where I store items that I’m not currently wearing. This may be due to either size or style issues. Many of us worry about being too hasty in purging closet pieces, so storing “on the bubble” items in a different location for a period can help us feel more secure. I’ve often found that I’m able to make better decisions a few months later, after the items have been out of sight and out of mind for a while. Using a holding zone can also be helpful for those who regularly fluctuate in size, as it’s best to only store garments in our main closet that currently fit us.
My wardrobe has been in flux in recent months for size-related reasons. As I wrote about back in June, I have lost a decent amount of weight such that many of my closet pieces no longer fit me. I’ve opted to alter some of my favorites, but the bulk of the too-large items are now housed in my holding zone. This has meant that I’ve needed to modify the way in which I deal with my holding zone, which I will detail below.
An Expanded Holding Zone…
For the past several years, my wardrobe holding zone has consisted of one large plastic bin that I stored in my garage. I had a hard-and-fast rule that my holding zone could not exceed that one bin. I made a point of going through the items in the bin at least twice a year (usually at the change of seasons) to make determinations about what to bring back into my working wardrobe and what to purge. This system worked well for me and forced me to make hard decisions about the fate of many items that I otherwise might have held on to for far too long.
I wore roughly the same size for about five years following menopause, but I’ve gone down one to two sizes this year, depending on the garment. As a result, I’m back down to around the same weight and size as I was prior to “the change” (I don’t weigh myself, so I don’t know the exact numbers). But because I spent so much time at a higher weight, I had mostly let go of all my clothes in smaller sizes, save for a few basics. I probably wouldn’t have wanted to wear most of my old, smaller garments anyway, as my style preferences have shifted in the ensuing years, so I’m at peace with the fact that I gradually purged those items.
I like the idea of maintaining a relatively small holding zone, but I have now expanded mine from one to two large plastic bins. One of those bins houses my out-and-about pieces that are now too large, and the other holds my outsized at-home items. I only plan to keep garments that I still like and would happily wear again, just as I did when I gained weight during menopause. If I find that I simply don’t like something anymore when I review my holding zone items, I will either donate or sell it.
I’m not thrilled with having expanded my holding zone, but I think it was the right thing for me to do. I don’t want to be too swift in letting go of items that are now too large for me, as I’m not entirely sure I’ll be able to maintain my new lower weight. I think it makes sense to hold on to the larger sizes for six months to a year to see what happens. However, I don’t think I should extend my holding zone beyond the two bins, and they’re already becoming quite full. So, I may need to make tough decisions soon about letting some things go (which may be the subject of a future post).
Shifting to My Cool Weather Wardrobe and Doing Some Alterations
I’m currently in the process of shifting over to my cool weather wardrobe, as the temperatures have been decreasing where I live. As such, I have been trying on lots of pieces that haven’t been worn for many months, including the contents of my original holding zone bin (before I expanded it to two bins and separated my out-and-about and at-home items). I had last reviewed that bin as I was shifting over to my warm weather wardrobe in the early summer, but my weight dropped quite a bit since then. Thus, it was necessary to try everything on and decide about each of those pieces, in addition to the cool weather items that were still hanging up in my closet.
These try-ons were what precipitated my expanding my holding zone, as it quickly became clear that one bin wouldn’t be enough to contain all the outsized items. Items that were much too large were placed into the holding zone, but I opted to alter some other garments that didn’t require too much tailoring in order to fit me well. I only did this with tried-and-true pieces that were worn often last year and that were relatively easy to alter.
It’s usually simpler to tailor tops and toppers than pants, as the latter tend to be too large in multiple places, resulting in a very expensive alteration. Of course, if you like to wear very tailored tops and toppers (i.e., blazers and button-down shirts), those will be pricey to alter, too, but I typically wear knit pieces that can be nipped in at the sizes without too much trouble.
If I maintain my current weight, which I hope and plan to do, I may have some additional pieces altered to fit me. However, I didn’t want to jump the gun on doing too much tailoring, as alterations can be expensive and aren’t always worth doing (as I wrote about HERE and HERE). I’ll probably opt to pass some items on rather than paying to have them tailored, especially if the changes needed would be too extensive and costly.
For the time-being, I’m keeping the bulk of my too-large clothes in my holding zone bins and will revisit them in a few months. This will also allow me to fine-tune my style as I start dressing for the cooler months. We only really get two seasons where I live (summer and “not summer”), but I find that I always tweak my style at least a little bit each time a new season rolls around. Perhaps I won’t even be interested in some of my holding zone items when I revisit them down the line, so it’s good that I’m not jumping the gun and either tailoring a lot of pieces or opting to let them go right off the bat.
Revisiting Old Items and Some New Purchases
One bright point in going through my holding zone box was that I discovered three pairs of jeans that now fit me! These jeans were among the small number of basic pieces that I still owned from prior to my menopausal weight gain. I had contemplated letting go of these jeans several times, but since it’s so challenging for me to find good-fitting jeans, I continued to hold on to them.
I haven’t worn the reclaimed jeans yet because I’ve still been wearing my cropped pants, but they will be welcomed during the cooler weather season. These jeans are varied in terms of wash and fit, so they will add versatility to my wardrobe. The pair on the right is a bit lower-rise than I usually prefer, but they’re comfortable and fit well, so I’ll see how I feel when I wear them.
To fill in gaps in my wardrobe, I have also purchased some new pants and jeans, including the next size down in four pairs of my favorite pants. I was able to take advantage of end-of-season sales to buy the three pairs of cropped pants shown below, which I’ve already been wearing in the late-summer, early-fall weather. The black slim-leg pants (the second pair pictured) are actually full-length on me in the tall size, and the pair I own in the next size up was my most frequently worn pant last winter and spring. I was able to buy the new pair on sale, too, so the overall cost of replenishing my pants wardrobe was fairly minimal.
Future Purchases – and Traveling Soon
I may opt to purchase a few more pairs of pants in the coming months, but we’ll see how I do with what I have. I so often think I need more than I actually do, so it’s best to proceed slowly with purchases (I don’t always heed my own advice here!). I’d still like to find a great pair of black jeans (they’re surprisingly elusive!), and it might be fun to get a pair of pants or jeans in an alternate color, too. I usually only wear blue jeans and black pants during the cooler months because it’s difficult to find good-fitting full-length pants in tall sizes. I love that I now own some cropped pants in alternate colors and a few patterns, but buying longer pants like that has been more challenging (fingers crossed, though…).
I’m continuing to get my wardrobe ready for the cooler weather, and I’ll have a bit of a head start because I’m taking a trip to visit my family in “cold country” next week (below freezing temperatures are forecast – Brr!!). Packing is always challenging for me, but that’s especially the case now for two reasons. I haven’t worn my cool weather pieces for many months, and I have the additional challenge of figuring out what does and doesn’t fit me.
However, I’m confident that I’ll be able to pull together a decent travel capsule wardrobe to serve my needs. As usual, I’ll probably make a few mistakes with my packing, but it usually works out just fine nonetheless. I’ll likely do a travel packing debrief following my trip, as those types of posts are helpful to me and seem to be of interest to readers.
Getting Back to One Bin
Over time, I plan to get back to having just one holding zone bin, but I want to give myself some time and space to see what happens with my weight/size. Neither of my bins are full now, but there’s not a lot of room to spare. Since I have yet to review all my cool weather pieces, it’s possible that one or both bins may soon reach capacity. If that happens, I’ll take some time to do a “bin audit” to see if I can pare things down.
Even if my bins aren’t full once I complete my cool weather item review, they may still reach capacity before my next seasonal switchover. This is because I periodically add pieces to my holding zone if I try to wear them and find them to be “off” for some reason. If it’s just a matter of “I’m not feeling it” on a particular day, I generally give the item another chance because my general mood and what I pair things with can impact my assessments.
But if I reach for something a few times and ultimately end up wearing another garment instead, into the holding zone it goes. Because I can be quite moody with my wardrobe, it’s good to have a “way station” for closet items in case I later change my mind. It’s also nice to have a place where I can store off-sized items that I may need to pull out in the future if my weight changes. All in all, I find the holding zone concept very helpful. It’s saved me from making too rapid decisions with my clothes, and I often do end up bringing pieces back into my closet later on.
Conclusion – and Your Thoughts?
Not everyone needs a wardrobe holding zone. Some people maintain a very consistent weight and have a clearly defined sense of style. Such individuals usually keep their clothes until they either wear out or become out of style (either in general or just for them). I envy women like this, and I hope to be able to emulate them one day! If I keep working on honing my style aesthetic and cultivating a more workable wardrobe, perhaps I’ll get to the point where I won’t need to maintain a holding zone. But until such time arrives, I’m happy to have my holding zone bins and a system for managing them.
Now I’d like to hear from you… Do you maintain some sort of a wardrobe holding zone? It may look very different from mine but serve a similar purpose. Perhaps it’s a spare closet in your home or a box that you keep in your main closet. But if you do have a holding zone, I’d love to “hear” about what it looks like and how it works for you.
Do you modify the way you manage your holding zone in case of major body or lifestyle changes? Most of us had lifestyle changes related to the pandemic that affected the way we dress for work or other areas of our lives. I welcome your thoughts on these and other issues related to wardrobe management.
Feel free to share your experiences and tips in the comment section of this post. It may take me a while to reply to comments because I’ll be out of town, but I appreciate what you share and will respond when I’m able to do so. As always, thank you for reading!