Conventional wisdom dictates that, if you haven’t worn an article of clothing for a year, you should just get rid of it. If twelve months have passed without it being taken off the hanger, the reasoning goes, issues of style or fit make it highly unlikely that you will ever put it on again.
I disagree with the conventional wisdom for two reasons. First, I’m cheap. Second, I think that, if you haven’t worn that jacket or pair of pants for a year due to weight gain, you should keep them around as a tangible reminder of how far you’ve let yourself slide. Stepping on a scale, unpleasant as it might be, is an abstract exercise. What difference does six pounds make, really? But if you try to put on trousers that you haven’t worn since last fall and you realize the waistline now cuts off your circulation, you’ve got a powerful, concrete, and embarrassing indication of where you stand.
I have a sport coat that is about 30 years old. I know this because I have a picture of me, UJ, and Dad taken in 1986, and I’m wearing it. It’s been hanging in my closet since, donned with decreasing frequency until all wear stopped during the 1990-2010 interregnum. At that point, my packed on poundage made any effort to struggle into the jacket look like the scene from Tommy Boy where Chris Farley rips David Spade’s jacket to shreds. It was humiliating — but I resolved to keep the sport coat, anyway, as a reminder and a goal.
At the start of 2012, I decided the time had come to get back into “jacket shape.” Nothing extraordinary — just trying to eat a little less, drink a little less, and exercise a little more. I’ve made progress, and recently I took the plunge and tried on the jacket. Happily, I was able to put it on without spraining a shoulder or sending a button rocketing into the bathroom mirror. It’s still a tad snug, but I felt a real sense of accomplishment. I’m glad I’ve kept it around.