I have a confession. After seventeen years, I finally parted with my baby dress.. It’s my job to help people declutter so yes, this is embarrassing to admit! The truth is, it’s very easy to talk yourself out of getting rid of something, clothing especially. “It was expensive!” “I got a great deal!” “It was a gift.” “I might fit into it again.” Sound familiar? In my case, my baby dress was sentimental. I feared (irrationally so) that if I let this dress go, that my ingenuity and ability to create would go with it. I had to shift my mindset and start asking questions like “What purpose is this dress currently serving? Answer: it’s serving no current purpose. Conclusion: it’s clutter.

Well, the initial dip of the toe set off a ripple effect. I also let go of the dresses I wore to my graduate school graduation, bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner, and baby shower. For years, these dresses hung in a garment bag at the back of my closet. Year after year, I cleaned around the garment bag, donating other articles of clothing. This season, it was time to stop ignoring the clutter. How did I feel afterwards? So. Much. Lighter! I do not miss these items like I feared I would. My memories of these events are intact because they’re within me, not my dresses. Most importantly though, I am happy that my sentimental items will be useful to someone else.

Sentimental clothing is a different type of clothing and should be treated as such – seeing your sentimental items hanging in your closet with ordinary items you wear every day takes away from their “specialness”. Move sentimental clothing off the hanger and into a bin with other keepsakes.

Make a plan to revisit these keepsakes every year to gauge if your feelings towards them have changed. Ultimately, we recommend pairing your collection of sentimental clothing to five items or less.

Get to the root of why you’re holding on to the item. Is there a way you can document or honor what this item means without actually holding on to it? Is a photo enough? Can you clip a piece of the fabric and frame it as art?

Remember, parting with the item does not mean parting with the memory.

This season, challenge yourself to part with even just one piece of sentimental clothing. Your closet (and mind) will thank you!