published Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Pierce: Dieting not the best way to recycle clothes

After buying a third rolling clothes rack because I'd run out of closet space, I decided it was time to start cleaning out.

Actually, it was past time. As I began sorting through closets, I realized I had accumulated wardrobes in seven sizes ranging from the junior 13 I wore in college up to size 3x. No wonder I had no closet space!

I once heard an organizational speaker say, "If you haven't worn it in two years, you won't miss it. Toss it." That was my criteria as I began pulling items from the closet.

It was like a "This Is Your Life" fashion retrospective. There was a satin gown with sequin trim I'd worn in an early 1970s UTC All-Sing (what were we thinking!) and a number of city shorts with coordinating blazers from when that fad blew through town. In all, four decades worth of fads were represented.

I had saved all these clothes because "someday I might wear them again." (Don't judge ladies, you know you've all done it.)

But since the day I'd wear them again still hadn't arrived after two children, the start of a new millennium and untold dollars spent on diet programs, it was time to let go.

I did what any suburban entrepreneur would: held a yard sale. (Made $160 in two hours!) Very little of that cash came from sales of clothing, though, probably because of the dated styles.

I asked Tabi Upton, a licensed counselor with Richmont/CBI Counseling Center who writes a column for this paper, where does that false hope spring from that deceives women into thinking old clothes will be worn again?

Then I asked Tabi whether it was really wise to give away "fat clothes" like diet counselors suggest. I've yo-yo dieted long enough to know it will cost me money in the long run when I eventually spend dollars to replace those larger sizes.

The day Tabi got my email she had been visited by a friend giving Tabi her old clothes after she had lost two sizes.

"She's regained and lost those pounds over the year more than a couple of times," Tabi said. "Giving her large sizes away hasn't actually stopped her from gaining weight back, but I think it makes her feel good in the moment, and that has to be worth something."

Tabi suggested dieters choose to keep only a couple of items in their closets they hope to wear again.

"But I don't think it should be more than a couple. To me, that borders on hoarding and wishful thinking. Besides, someone out there can wear those clothes right now, so perhaps generosity would be best," she said.

So before a crew from A&E arrives to do a "Hoarders" intervention, I'm delivering all those unsold clothes in my basement to The Samaritan Center on my next day off.

about Susan Pierce...

Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...

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