Clothes Closet Confessions

Closet Confessions -

Hi, during Slow Fashion October, I did some thinking about my clothes closet. I took this photo earlier this month (a brief glimpse of my closet). It’s getting crowded so I’ve contemplated doing a KonMari on my closet but the thought of taking everything out and going through old clothes has been a bit daunting. The closet pole is full so I’ve hooked my Pilvi Coats and other jackets on the crates on the shelf above. It’s a mess. Here are some of what I’ll call my clothes closet confessions:

  1. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo I bought Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (affiliate link) but I haven’t read it. The closest I got to the book was reading this 2015 New York magazine profile on Kondo, which is what made me buy the book. Who doesn’t want more “spark joy” in their life?
  2. Over the years, I have given clothes and shoes to Goodwill (job training) and Out of the Closet (benefits AIDS Healthcare Foundation). But in 2012, after reading Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth Cline (affiliate link), I stopped buying fast fashion and stopped donating clothes. Donated clothes often end up in a landfill, with textile recyclers, or sold overseas. (Read my review of the book.)
  3. I have pants from five or so years ago that are now a bit too tight. My subconscious still thinks that someday I will magically lose the 20+ pounds I’ve gained and be able to wear them again.
  4. I have clothes that I don’t want to give away because I’ve told myself I can refashion them. I get inspired by Sarah Tyau’s posts on Instagram (@sarahtyau). I even bought a felted wool sweater from Goodwill with the intention of making it into a handbag. But I still have not done any upcycling.
  5. As a participant in the 2018 RTW Fast, I haven’t bought any new clothes this year. I thought it would give me more incentive to make some pants but so far, pants have not quite made it into the sewing queue. I’ve made skirts, tops and a jacket. I have a pile of pants patterns and accumulated fabrics for pants. Part of my hesitation is that I have gained weight and if I make pants, I have to fit them to my current body. And I think, “Hmmm, what if I lose weight? Then I’ll have to start all over again with fitting. So do I make pants with an elastic waist? Are there good patterns with elastic waists?”

Pants patterns

If you have any pants pattern suggestions, let me know. I do have this Vogue pattern – V1464 – Today’s Fit by Sandra Betzina, which I like because it doesn’t have a waistband and it’s similar to a pair of RTW pants that are getting rather worn out. (V1464 is now out of print but I’m sure you can find it on Etsy or Amazon.)

V1464 - Today's Fit by Sandra Betzina, Vogue pattern

I also have this Butterick jeans pattern. I want to make the trouser jeans – version E. Both of these pants have been on my list for a while. In fact, I mentioned both patterns in my 2017 Make Nine blog post. (sigh) Well, sometimes it takes while to get to going – especially when new patterns are released. It’s all too easy to get distracted by the next new thing.

B5682 - Butterick sewing pattern - jeans

Where to donate clothes

But I digress – so back to the challenge is what to do with the clothes you don’t really want any more? Look for nonprofit organizations in your community that will make sure your clothes go to people who need them. For example, I searched “donate clothes oakland” and found Wardrobe for Opportunity, which “provides low-income job seekers with professional attire for interviews and work.”

I think some of my business attire pants can go there. They are not accepting any new donations until January 2019 so check back then and see when their next curbside drop-off will occur.

You can also donate business attire to Dress for Success, which is an “international not-for-profit organization that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.” There’s an affiliate in San Francisco.

What about nonbusiness attire? Find a local clothing swap or maybe an upcycle or refashion meetup and see if they’ll take your clothes. At least you’ll know that someone will actually do something with them.

Gently worn or new shoes can go to Soles for Souls, which lets you send shoes via Zappos for Good or by dropping them off at a DSW store (you get 50 DSW VIP points for your donation).

Side note: It is tempting to donate clothes to fire victims in California but the best way to help them is to donate money to a reputable charity. Then the funds will go to whatever their immediate needs are (food, shelter, etc.).

What do you do with clothes you no longer wear? Please share your ideas!

Author: Chuleenan

Chuleenan sews, collects hats and shoes, and is a fabric addict. She is also the organizer for the Bay Area Sewists Meetup group.

16 thoughts on “Clothes Closet Confessions”


    goodwill is an A+ rated charity, but still it receives much more clothing than it can ever give to people here who need clothes. it sells what it can in it’s stores and after a suitable time it sells the remainder to middlemen by weight. the clothes are bundled and shipped to third-world countries to be sold to anyone wishing to buy them. once there, the clothes are processed and resold to local customers, mostly in african countries. so many clothes are available that people know the difference between good and poor quality and only buy the good quality clothes. the leftovers are then burned behind the fleamarkets where the stalls are. the burning cloth is creating water and air pollution and the nigerian government is trying to crack down on the illegal importation. the trade is also fostering tax evasion in countries that badly need that money for it’s schools and infrastructure. sending old clothes to third-world countries may seem charitable, but it’s a highly profitable business and does the people no lasting good. it creates no true jobs and destroys the environment. the only way to end the cycle is for first world companies to manufacture less. first world customers have to relearn how to shop seasonally for what they need. when american companies open factories in poor countries and pay slave wages to the employees they aren’t being charitable and generous – they’re being greedy at the cost of lives. the factory jobs being created are of such inhumane nature that they almost aren’t jobs at all. better to have fewer better paid ones and produce less to be thrown away. did you know that it takes about 1800 GALLONS OF WATER to produce the cotton for one pair of jeans? really, does the world need another pair of jeans? when you reach for your next impulsive purchase, ask yourself if you really need it.

    1. Yes, Bella, I am aware of the problems of donating to Goodwill. I’m not sure if you read all of my second point, which also says: “I stopped buying fast fashion and stopped donating clothes. Donated clothes often end up in a landfill, with textile recyclers, or sold overseas.”

  2. As for making pants in a larger size then you hope to be at a later date, you could add elastic inside the waistband, slightly smaller obviously, so that as you begin to lose inches around your waist they will fit a while longer. Alternatively, again with waistbands or faced waistbands, if you set the waistband (or facing) in the men’s trouser style, you can take the pants in via the back seam for a period of time with reasonable ease.

    1. Thank you for the suggestion, Christine! I think I’ll best testing some waistband elastic. I’ll have to look at some of my husband’s pants. He’s got some “relaxed fit” Dockers that have elastic at the side seams and the waistband expands as needed. 😉

  3. Hi Chuleenan!
    Have you found any free online tutorials for re-fashioning too-small pants or jeans? (I’m in the same boat as you.)
    Thanks, Gale

  4. I recommend two Today’s Fit pant patterns by Sandra Betzina—Vogue 1411 & 1598. Both have a diagonal back seam (1411 has front ones too). Use that seam to fit under-butt wrinkles. Both work great in ponte & stretch wovens. I prefer a zipper opening in stretch wovens to alleviate excess waist fabric necessary to fit over hips. Full disclosure—have made 1411 in both ponte & stretch woven.

  5. Another good source for clothes that u no longer want/need is hospital nearly new sales. Here on the East Coast USA, we have a very large hospital initiative and sale that nets hundreds of thousands of dollars for the hospital and it’s needs. Some other charitable organizations do the same. Love your site

    1. Thank you, Claire! You remind me that there is a hospital charity store in Oakland. I’ll need to check them out and see what they do with the clothes that don’t sell. Thanks for the kind words. 🙂

  6. Thanks for this post. I’m 65 and a clothes hoarder, especially those well worn designer clothes from when I was much younger, the designs of which are interesting.
    I’ve put on weight over our Australian winter, but want to sew dresses that will accommodate a smaller frame (as I lose weight).
    I’ve never made pants, but am tempted to try Papercut Patterns new Palisade pattern.
    Love reading your posts.

    1. You’re welcome, Jill! It’s hard to give up old clothes.

      Knit fabrics and wovens with stretch are more forgiving to changing figures. So I think I’ll be sewing some knit pants. I love the pocket on the Palisade – and the elastic at the sides makes this a good one to try! 🙂

  7. You of course got my interest with making pants. Any pants can be pull-on pants if the fabric is stretchy enough, but consider giving Style Arc’s pull-on pants a try. They have them in at least three cuts. And Stonemountain has been carrying some good stretch wovens. Plus all that stretch makes them easy to fit and sew!

    1. Thanks for the suggestion, Meg! I don’t think a regular pants pattern would stretch enough to go over my hips and then fit my waist – unless the fabric were really stretchy and had good recovery. 😉

      I will check out Style Arc’s pull-on pants. I have a ponte fabric that I bought to make some pants. Maybe I will finally sew it!

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