I Redesigned My Closet for My Midlife Lifestyle: Here’s What Happened.  By Daisy Foster

I Redesigned My Closet for My Midlife Lifestyle: Here’s What Happened. By Daisy Foster

. 5 min read

I know what you must be thinking: “Ugh! Not another closet cleanout…” Well, it’s not. Nor is it one of those insidious you-can’t-wear-this-after-40 “advice” articles. First things first: wear what you want to wear no matter what your age. And keep all of your stuff forever if you choose. For me, though, my body and my lifestyle have gone through some radical changes over the last few years, and my closet didn’t suit either anymore.

Some might say I was lucky in that my weight hadn’t shifted too much since college, and, when it did, the changes were too insignificant to demolish my self-esteem. I worked at my weight rigorously though, with calorie restrictions, weekend warrior workouts–it was closely monitored and accommodated. Conquered, is more like it. I saw my weight as a battle to be won.

Enter midlife menopause, and suddenly all the clichés are true. Your body somehow takes on a shape you never knew possible. What’s worse, I’d seen this coming for years and none of my old tricks were working. I went to doctor after doctor and they all said the same thing: “Women of your age don’t need many calories.” I was in my early to mid-40s and trying to find a way to restrict even less. All that did, now I know, was mess things up even more.

Then, one day, at the end of 2020, I woke up and quite literally, none of my clothes fit. Sure, plenty of people had gained weight during the COVID lockdown, and now I was working from home, but the weight seemed to be more stubborn than ever. I found myself going to bed every night fearing getting dressed in the morning. And if you think for a moment this is a privileged problem—as if I had nothing else to think about, or nothing else going on in my life—I’ll have you know that’s not true. However, throughout life’s inevitable trials I’d always found solace in my morning ritual of costuming myself, in a sense, for the day to come. I collected clothing, I loved every piece of it. I invested in it. My clothes gave me an armor of joy against life’s tougher times. With nothing fitting me now, that joy felt fruitless. I decided to try and clean out my closet.

I’d tried more traditional closet cleanouts—like the dozens you’ll find on YouTube—but had trouble relating to the gaggles of young women trying cropped halter top after cropped halter top, puffing their lips and swaying from side-to-side pretending to debate which ones to keep. The women who were cleaning out their closets for body fluctuation had either just given birth or, to my eyes, were still quite young and thin. I didn’t relate to any of them. I wasn’t seeing any women cleaning out their closets for their midlife lifestyle.

That’s when I realized I didn’t need a closet cleanout, I needed a redesign. You see, closet cleanouts are primarily about trying on your clothes to see what fits or what you no longer like/need, and then making decisions about what to do with these clothes. In my case, nothing fits me. Most importantly, I couldn’t relate to the women I saw in the videos because I would never be those women again. While I still hope to lose some of this newfound weight, I'm never going to go back in time and be a young woman. I’m never ever going to go back into an office (I hope). I’ve already had power meetings and led presentations with starched shirts. I’m in a different stage of life now—in every way.

The terminology here is important. “Closet cleanout,” to me, feels like an aggressive, immediate task. A “redesign” feels much more intentional, personal, and something that should take all the time it needs to get it right, down to the very last detail.

So far, I’ve donated four huge bags of clothing to local charities. Here’s how I made my decisions so far:

Fit for My Life & Style: Again, I don’t think there’s anything a human of any age can’t wear. But my personal style has changed dramatically over the last few years. So, after doing a quick sweep of my closet, I examined the pieces that didn’t fit my body or my lifestyle anymore and decided to only keep a few choice pieces that were close to my heart. Those I put away in storage.

Does this trigger me? Why clothing triggers you runs deep: shame about your weight as a child from a parent, disordered eating throughout the years, so many reasons. My clothing being too small was triggering for me, and that was reason enough to let things go. Just as important, I wanted to get rid of articles of clothing I’d purchased to hide my body, anything that wasn’t aesthetically pleasing or made me feel ashamed. One dress in particular was perfectly fine on the hanger, but when I put it on, it reminded me of a house dress my grandmother wore in the last decades of her life. I have many lovely thoughts of my grandmother, but this particular dress made me look and feel older than my years. It was pretty and great quality, but didn’t belong in my closet at this time.

Is this “me”? Ever watch those makeover shows where they get a whole new wardrobe and they walk out in front of the stylists, looking amazing, beaming and vow that “this” is the style they’ve been looking for? For many of us, this takes more time. As my body evolves, I expect my style will, too. I’m relearning what it means to get dressed every day, and to embrace the ritual and the joy. If this redesign is right for you, take all the time you need to get this right. This redesign is all about you.

If you love me as much as I love you (and I really do love you!), then please help me grow by forwarding this {love} Letter to a friend! And I'd love to have you join us on instagram, facebook & twitter.

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