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Health & Wellness Articles  ›  Emotional Health

5 Reasons to Get Rid of Your Skinny Jeans

Your Old Clothes Could Prevent You from Losing Weight

-- By Nancy Howard, Staff Writer
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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.
    Continued ›
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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

  • I had a pair of pants that I loved to death and had gained about 5kg so I didn't fit into them. They JUST fit, but were uncomfortable. I finally threw them out about 12 months ago, and I'm glad I did because I would fit into them again now but they were very faded and the materiel felt awful because they were so aged and well worn. They were my version of 'skinny jeans'. I haven't been able to find another pair and doubt that I ever will, but I'm keeping a hold of the memory of how good I felt in them and I'm sure I'll have another pair that do the same eventually :).
    Not having those pants sitting there as a constant rebuke was so freeing that I now don't have a single item that I own that doesn't fit me. If it's too small when I buy it and it's too small a month later, I give it away because my losses aren't justifying holding on to them. - 1/13/2014 12:07:41 AM
  • I personally kinda disagree with this article. Most of my adult life I have had to shop mainly at plus size clothing stores. I always LOVE the things in regular size stores and I really want to get A PIECE that's on sale. It has to be timeless (somethings just are) and only a couple sizes smaller. To me I am losing weight it's just how it is. I'm not going out and buying a whole new wardrobe but a piece that I love IS encouraging to me. We all find our encouragement somewhere. - 8/23/2013 11:13:14 PM
  • I struggle with this. In fact, the article almost made me cry because it really hit home. About 6 months ago, I cleaned out my closet and dresser and sat in a big pile of clothes that I was too big for and just bawled my eyes out. My poor husband... I'm not a crier so he had no idea what was going on and did his best to comfort me but I just wasn't having it. I needed to let go and that's what I did. Although it was sad at the time, it actually made me feel better to get rid of the sundresses and size 9 jeans because they were constant reminders of what my body was prior to having a baby and putting on weight. I've lost nearly 30 pounds now and still have quite a bit to go but I am looking forward to the day when I can go shopping for new, cute clothes and purge my closet and dresser of everything that is too big. :0) - 8/22/2013 11:32:27 AM
  • Everything in the article makes sense and could be completely true, but I'm glad I kept some of the clothes that didn't fit me. I purged my closet about a year ago or two with the philosophy of the article - why keep depressing reminders. However, I kept anything I could barely fit into, even if I'd never be seen in public the way I bulged in it. Right now after losing 25 pounds, I'm wearing many of the clothes that have been sitting in my closet unused for five years or so. I'm hoping not to be at my current weight permanently, so I'm glad I didn't have to go out and buy clothes this size. It's a difficult balance. - 7/30/2013 7:02:33 AM
  • I have all sizes. I keep all my sizes. If I lose wait and then happen to put it back on like now I still have clothes to wear. From 24w to 18w. Some 16&14 but not that many. So I keep them all. - 7/16/2013 4:08:46 PM
  • I got rid of my regular clothes when I gained weight, never thinking I would fit into them again. I did manage to lose down to a normal size and part of me wished I would have kept those skinny jeans. But then i realized with age and body changing shape, what looked fantastic on me 10, 15 years ago , no longer did.
    Not every women has the shape or body for skinny jeans, but they squeeze there too big bottoms into them anyway and they look ridiculous. The waist hits them half way up the butt. and that does not flatter anyone. Unless you are a skinny teanager.
    I bought jeans and clothes that fit my figure now. I am stylish and yes I look great in jeans and they fit.
    Sizes of clothes have undergone changes in the last 30 years. A 12 is now a 6 and 14 is a 8. Don't worry about the size, just how do you feel and look in a piece of clothing should be the deciding factor whether you buy or keep it.
    Hanging on to older over sized clothing, doesn't give you the confidence to maintain your healthy fit weight. You always think I have larger clothes if I gain it's OK. Give up the big size, you can always go to the thrift shop and buy more if you relapse and gain. But here's hoping you won't.
    dress for comfort, style and live for today. - 7/16/2013 12:57:43 PM
  • BAMAJAM
    Nope--! I will keep my skinny jeans, and I WILL get into them.

    The best suggestion from this article is to donate your unwanted clothing to charity. There are many people who would value what you no longer wear or want. I grew up with "hand me downs" from my cousin. Each time she gave me a box, I was delighted over my "new" clothes.!! - 7/5/2013 10:53:20 AM
  • ANIMATOR606432
    I don't know, I think buying that "little black dress" might actually be a great motivator for losing weight. I feel like it just another reward for you reaching your goals and make you feel proud of yourself. I don't step on a scale each week to measure my weight, I'm just looking for a physical change. - 7/4/2013 8:17:33 PM
  • Disagree with this article about purchasing clothing that is small in hopes of later fitting into them.

    I've purchased jeans that were small to help motivate me to lose weight to fit in them and it worked for me. I really liked them and wanted to push myself to be able to wear them and it didn't effect my self esteem at all.

    The only part of this article I agree with is women holding on to clothing from like 20-30 years ago. This won't come back in style, give it up. - 7/4/2013 5:13:57 PM
  • Maybe I was lucky... I started fitting wonderfully in most of my dream clothes, purchased after I had my son when I was the smallest I had been in almost a decade. Life happened, I got bigger... and I was making real progress back in that direction before I got pregnant with this one. Dieting and pregnancy are not a good match, but I will be going back to it soon.
    Things that used to not fit magically slid up over the hips and not only buttoned, but they also didn't leave a muffin top! - 7/4/2013 4:51:43 PM
  • I keep clothes for sentimental reasons whether they fit me or not, whether I plan on them ever fitting or not (I have the dress I wore for my 6th and 8th grade graduations they were special items my grandma and I picked out together, if she had still been around for my high school graduation I'd have the dress we picked for that too.) So I don't see anything wrong with keeping clothes as a remembrance of the past as long as you aren't depressed over the past. I also have some clothes that I want to fit into again. I don't have too far to fit back into them , they are clothes I wore rather recently and they were bought for special reasons. I understand the points made, but I really think it's highly individualised. The clothes I want to fit back into are a super strong motivator for me. Visualising myself fitting into my super cute "skinny" clothes and seeing myself healthy, strong and looking how I imagine myself looking in my dreams keeps me pushing that little extra bit and gets me to pick up that apple instead of that candy bar. I figure, even if I never do fit back into them, if having them there motivates me then it can only lead to me being healthier. So, I understand how it can be detrimental to some, but I don't think it's an across the board thing. - 7/4/2013 3:15:00 PM
  • I see the point, but I just recently got too big for the jeans. If I toss my "skinny" clothes, I'll not have anything to wear at all ever. It's not about self worth (completely), it's about finances and needing to wear my clothes again. Wish I was rich enough to go buy a new fantastic fitting wardrobe, but no can do. It is depressing though...so like I said, I see the point. - 7/4/2013 2:45:57 PM
  • Like so many others, I too have a large wardrobe (although smaller today than it was a year ago) ranging in sizes from 6-16. While I have gotten rid of most of the 16's and 14's (some them I have had altered to fit me now) as well as a few things in other sizes (things that were not in good condition or I didn't like anymore), I simply refuse to get rid of really nice stuff that I love that is in very good condition. Thank goodness I had all these clothes during my weight loss journey this past 18mon - I would have had to go out and spend a lot of money to buy a whole new wardrobe if I didn't have the wardrobe I did.

    For many years, I always bought really nice, designer clothes (especially for work or special occasions) and have absolutely no intention of tossing a lot of them out simply because I lost some weight. Good grief!!! If it's something you love and it's still in great condition, then get it altered. For me, to have something really nice altered is less expensive than going out and buying something comparable brand new.

    For the things that are still a little too small (the size 6's and some of the 8's), I have no doubt in my mind that I will get into them again real soon. I'm wearing most of the 8's and a few of the 10's now and I am keeping the 12's because if I do happen to gain a few pounds, I won't have to spend a lot of money on new clothes.

    Nice clothes are expensive and it would just be stupid and foolish to waste money on new clothes when I have perfectly nice ones in my closet; It's not as if they are taking up precious room (I have a large walk-in closet). As for making me feel bad about not reaching my goal yet - not a problem whatsoever. As far as I'm concerned, I'm already a winner - I've lost 62lbs and I look great! - 7/4/2013 1:27:21 PM
  • Loving my skinny jeans! I worked hard to fit into them! - 7/4/2013 11:27:51 AM
  • I have a whole arsenal of too-small clothes which range from size 10 up to 20. I currently wear size 22. I simply kept my nice clothes as I gained weight and now that I am finally losing weight, I will gradually fit them again and do not have to buy entire wardrobes, especially during transition. I still plan on adding a few things from the thrift store, but not too many. Also, I try buying dresses and simple skirts and shirts when I do buy new clothes. I can easily wear a slightly too large dress with a belt for definition and skirts are easy to alter into a smaller size. I plan on keeping some of my big clothes as I lose the weight, not to wear them in their current state, but to alter them by either making them smaller or creating new items with them using my friend the sewing machine. This way I can keep some of my favorite pieces without allowing me to gain the weight again just to fit them. I am, by the way, just beginning to learn how to sew and there are tons of free tutorials online. ;-) - 7/4/2013 2:12:28 AM