Health & Wellness Articles

5 Reasons to Get Rid of Your Skinny Jeans

Your Old Clothes Could Prevent You from Losing Weight

Peek into a woman's closet, and tucked amid all the clothes is something that almost every woman keeps. She strives to wear it again someday, no matter how unrealistic or out of style it may be. What is it? Her "skinny" jeans. Whether yours take the form of pants, swimwear or even an old suit or dress, women and men alike keep these too-small clothes for years. Some are even brand new, tags attached, bought as inspiration to lose weight so that garment would fit.

Recently, I started to wonder: Is it detrimental to hold on to your skinny jeans? I must confess that up until three years ago, I, too, had my own little cache of one-day-I-will-fit-into-these-again outfits. As with many trends in fashion, if you hang on to something long enough, it will eventually come back in style. I am not sure whether fashion itself or the desire to be a smaller size again was my motive. Not only did I still own the little black sundress I wore the night my husband and I met 27 years ago, but I also had my very first pair of Levi's 501 button-fly jeans tucked away in a drawer. But I’m not alone.

In 2006, a Talbots National Fit Study poll asked 2,200 women ranging in age from 35 to 65 about their clothes-buying habits. Here's what they found:
  • More than 33 percent admitted to having clothes in their closet that were too small for them to wear.
  • Surprisingly, 85 percent “determined if something fit them by looking at the size tag,” not by how the clothing actually fit.
  • Forty percent purchased clothes that were too small in hopes that they would one day be able to wear them after losing weight.
  • Shockingly, 25 percent of the clothes women buy never leave their closets!
Does holding on to clothes that don't fit really motivate people lose weight, or could it be holding them back? Here's a list of honest reasons why keeping too-tight clothes might actually hurt your self-esteem, weight loss efforts and more.
  • They become a constant reminder that you are not at your "ideal" size. While it may seem motivating, this thinking can lead you down a destructive path to lower self-esteem and self-worth. And not only for people who are losing weight, but also for those who have experienced a change in body shape due to childbearing and/or age. When you are constantly measuring your self-worth based on the body of your youth, you'll never learn to embrace the person that you are today.
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About The Author

Nancy Howard Nancy Howard
Nancy is an avid runner and health enthusiast. A retired pediatric nurse, she received her bachelor's degree in nursing from Texas Woman's University and is also a certified running coach and ACE-certified personal trainer.

Member Comments

  • Like other readers, I am ambivalent on this. I in fact held on to a whole load of my "skinny" clothes, mainly because they were nice garments which suited me and had cost a bomb, and I would get nothing for them second-hand. And I'm glad I did: my "skinny" jeans are now my "big fat baggy jeans" that I wear for gardening! But my "fat" wardrobe, on the other hand, went to the charity shop as soon as I grew out of it -- including a whole load of nice clothes I had never worn and that were still in their shop packaging. That's a big incentive not to get so fat again that I regret my decision! - 7/20/2015 7:37:27 PM
  • I read this article a little doubtfully and I am glad I was not alone. I do understand that keeping clothes from your teenage years may not suit you when you're in you middle age. After all, women grow hips and change shape sometimes. But I know I had a whole closet full of great clothes and then I went and gained 20 pounds and now they don't fit so great. But I am not interested in purging the closet and buying a bunch of "fat" clothes that I will just have to get rid of later. I've lost some of my weight and my clothes are beginning to fit better again. - 7/12/2015 9:07:34 PM
    I a point...I have some "skinny" clothes that I hold onto, including a pair of expensive "skinny jeans" that I DO now fit back into and which I keep as a "measuring-stick" - when they start feeling a bit too snug, I know I need to be a bit more vigilant on my maintenance program. Having said that, I have gotten rid of a lot of my skinny clothes - but more because I am twenty years older and they just don't suit me anymore. It has actually been harder for me to get rid of my "fat" clothes...and I'm thinking this is just as negative because it suggests two things: 1. I still think of myself as a fat person hiding in a skinny body and don't have enough confidence in myself to move on from this; 2. I'm allowing myself the option of being "comfortable as a fatty.
    - 7/12/2015 6:16:23 PM
  • I went to the opera this weekend in a beautiful silk dress that fit me last fifteen years ago... Having held onto a wardrobe of 'thin' clothes, and having slimmed to fit them I have realistic advice on this (and a wardrobe of recently discarded 'fat' clothes that I've put aside now, out of disbelief I'll stay slim for all that long - which is why SP is so important still!).

    1. Don't keep fat/skinny jeans. This article is right about them not being motivating
    2. Buy bigger clothes when you need. I remember feeling I'd shoehorned into my clothes (couldn't face ever buying above a UK 14, so I shopped at Gap and Monsoon), and now I see women the size I was looking sad and uncomfortable. I stayed at my 'large' size for ten years - that's way too long to never look or feel good. Wish I'd told myself to enjoy where and who I was when I was bigger.
    3. Keep the unique and expensive 'investment' pieces. Many I've reworn as is, others I've had adjusted and made fashionable again. But the trendy or cheaper stuff aren't fashionable any more or i wonder why I ever kept it.

    So, as I've slimmed down, I've binned (or rather recycled) the cheaper fat clothes, bought stuff I needed as I needed as I dropped dress sizes, rather than making do with clothes that were the wrong size, but kept the bigger clothes worth keeping. It means I haven't given a tonne of space to stuff that doesn't fit, and currently feel nice in what I'm wearing. It's a much happier way to be, honest! - 7/12/2015 4:52:31 PM
  • I have the opposite problem, I have kept all my 'big' clothes in case I slide backwards and need them again. I'm 8 months into maintenance at this point, I was thinking I might get rid of them after I've been maintaining a year (or two). - 7/12/2015 1:13:40 PM
  • When I started on Sparkpeople a few years ago, I lost enough weight to go down to a size 14 from a 16 ( UK size so) and I bought myself new jeans. They fitted great. But then Christmas came along, screwed my eating and resolve and the weight went back on again and I was glad I'd kept my 16 jeans. But I still kept my 14's as I know that I Did get into them and so there's a good chance I will again - 7/12/2015 2:06:38 AM
  • Oy. I just got rid of a closet full of clothes that were too small. Reason 1 - too small. Reason 2 - I retired and don't need so much business casual anymore. 3 - Out of fashion, or will be by the time I can wear them again. 4 - downsizing. There are a few pieces however that I'm hanging onto as they looked great on me 20 pounds ago and I'm finally motivated enough to be successful. I agree with another write who mentions 'size creep'. A pop-up ad that appeared here indicated that a women's large size catalog carries size 10! Since when is size 10 in any decade fat??? This stuff sure doesn't help my self image. - 6/17/2015 12:03:15 PM
    i have to disagree. if i put on my favorite skinny jean and they feel snug it reminds me that i need to get myself back on target. i lost 35 lbs over 5 years ago and i want to stay that way. i don't squeeze myself in clothes that make me look like a stuffed sausage but if something is just a bit tight it motivates me to do things like skip seconds or pass on dessert. if i kept buying a bigger size to accommodate every few pounds i put on i'd be a size 12 in no time. just my two cents... - 4/26/2015 8:26:14 AM
  • Friends and members,

    I agree and disagree. For some people it's not a good idea to hold on to a whole closet full of clothes that are too small. It's also not good to hold on to too large sizes for some people. But for me I have a realistic goal. I need to lose 50 lbs. The clothes in my closet will definitely fit me when I lose the weight so I'm keeping them. They are not clothes that used to fit me before I had my two children. Those clothes are long gone. Lol. They are neutralclothes that don't lose their fashion, too. For some people purging clothes is cleansing and uplifting, but for me, having clothes even visible gives me an incentive and motivation to lose weight. Plus,there are some people that can afford to get a whole new wardrobe. I can;t afford one. So, in the end, it's a purely individual thing, Just the other day I looked at a bathing suit I can't wait to wear. I'm almost able to fit into it. It makes me happy just to imagine what I have to look forward to. Actually, once in a while, if I see something I would love to wear one day, I buy it. I have a small collection of incentive clothes in my closet. I'm so looking forward to being my old size 10 and I know I can do it, too! :)

    Thanks for reading my post :) - 1/24/2015 7:42:27 PM
  • In my case they would have to go to a "vintage" clothes shop. I'm no longer that flower-child of the 60s, but I'm keeping those clothes.

    They remind me that once at 120 lbs (5'6") I wore a size 10. I gained 35 lbs as I aged and STILL wore a size 10. Sizing Creep and scale avoidance kept me in denial.

    Now at 130-135 I wear a size 6. Hah! The fashion industry does women no favors by making them "feel better about themselves" No wonder we have size zero. By the measurements, we used to call it a size 8. - 9/14/2014 2:30:26 PM
  • For Sunflowernut: In our area, Goodwill helps support people with intellectual disabilities. Besides providing an opportunity for work or volunteering, the money generated at stores goes back into housing, employment & social services programs.

    p.s. and, Yes, Salvation Army is a wonderful charity, too! - 9/13/2014 5:03:49 PM
  • Leaving clothes to the "goodwill" was mentioned. Instead of them why not the worth while Salvation Army or other local group of the sort? Those mentioned in the prior sentence have good intentions to help others, not their pocketbook as the fore mentioned. - 9/13/2014 12:38:45 PM
  • I used to hang on to some too small and some too big clothes, since I roller coastered up and down so often. Now that I am maintaining my goal weight, I got rid of everything that was too big, except for the one giant pair of jeans that were getting too tight when I started this final weight-loss journey. I like to put them on every now and then, just to marvel at how much different my body is now. - 9/13/2014 10:18:05 AM
  • Sorry, Nancy. I celebrated when I got back into my skinny jeans from10 years reminded me of a time when I felt good about myself.I went out and bought more skinny jeans.I do agree that we hold on to too many clothes. I only keep those special pieces that I felt great in, smaller or larger. - 9/13/2014 8:51:50 AM
  • I disagree. My weight doesn't define me, but I need tangible reminders of my goals--like those skinny jeans that I still have on my Sparkpage. And also having goals that are real challenges don't discourage me -- they spur me on to victory. It's been 3 years getting back to goal weight, but I'm here again, and loving the look of the fit of those "skinny" clothes. - 9/13/2014 8:31:10 AM

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