Step one: Throw away "weight loss motivation" clothes.

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Approximately 68% of women in America are considered plus-size, but there's a clear lack of industry representation and shopping options for this majority. In Plus-Size Diaries, columnist Olivia Muenter dives into all things plus-size, from sharing her personal experiences to speaking out about plus-size culture at large.

In past years, attempting to clean out my closet has always felt like a battle—a chore that must be done for the greater good. Sometimes, the endeavor was successful and I ended up with a closet that I could finally see the floor of and a wardrobe that I actually want to wear. Other times, the task left me feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and insecure. In years when I gained weight, I would become devastated by seeing the items of clothing that no longer fit me. Sometimes, I would even keep them in my closet—dedicating an entire section of the space to too-small clothing so I could use them as "motivation" to lose weight. Other times, I'd keep clothes to try on every month as a way to see if I'd lost inches.

Was the item tighter? Looser? It would be a way to cross-reference my size against the number on the scale. 

It took me many years to realize that while cleaning out a closet from top to bottom might always be just a little bit exhausting, it doesn't have to be a process that makes me feel defeated. Instead, it can be a way to build confidence—to focus on my current body and what makes it (and myself as a whole) feel the best. So, over the years, I've developed a method of spring cleaning my closet that not only provides me with the wardrobe that I want but also makes me feel my most confident. Here are the three rules I use to guide the process. 

spring cleaning closet confidence plus-size
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1. Get rid of clothing that doesn't fit.

If something doesn't fit my current body, I get rid of it. Unless it's an extremely sentimental item (say, the dress I wore when my fiancé proposed to me), I make a point not to hold onto it. I've found that holding onto items that no longer fit is never, ever healthy for me. Not only does the clothing take up precious closet space, but more often than not it triggers negative thoughts and other toxic habits. Instead, I tell myself that I am going to honor the body that I currently have, and that means filling my closet with things that do the same. Uncomfortable tight (or loose) clothing doesn't do that, so I make a point to donate or sell it

2. Don't hold onto "motivation" clothing.

This goes back to the last point, but it's worth emphasizing. Motivation clothing has no space in my closet now. Instead of making a point to hang a tiny string bikini in my closet to motivate me to lose weight or go on a new diet, I simply buy a string bikini for my current body size. Building a closet that makes me feel my best means believing that I deserve to wear the clothing I want to wear on my current body, not a smaller version of it. 

3. Ask yourself why you're holding on.

In the past, I'd find myself holding onto items simply because I thought I had to have them. I had to have a slimming black dress, or I had to have that top I didn't like but everyone said was so flattering. Now, I don't believe I have to keep anything other than the items I actually want to wear. So, when going through pieces and deciding if I want to have them in my closet for the next season or the next year, I now ask myself why. Why do I want to have this? Do I love it, or do I believe someone with my body shape should own clothing with this silhouette? I've learned to think critically about what I want to wear in ways I never did before—it's liberating. 

spring cleaning closet plus size confidence
Credit: Unsplash

When I keep the above three rules in mind, I find that I gradually curate a wardrobe that makes me feel my most confident not only during my weekend-long spring closet cleaning sprees but also year-round. Of course, I'm only human, and these rules don't mean that I never hold onto clothing for longer than I should occasionally (I certainly do). However, they do give me a set of parameters for choosing clothing that's based on how I feel rather than how I think I should look. I don't claim to have the cleanest, most perfectly curated closet in the world, but I do know that I have a closet that has been built to celebrate my body and my sense of style exactly as it is right now—and that feels pretty great.