Closet edits inevitably lead to passing items on. If you are strict about keeping a certain size closet, like I am with a one-in-one-out rule, then this happens more frequently. If you let your closet grow over time then at some point you will probably need to do a big purge of items that are no longer useful to you. They are too worn, ill-fitting and uncomfortable, too dated, or they just no longer suit your style preferences or lifestyle. Either way, passing items on can lead to what I call purging guilt. 

My own purging guilt has different degrees of intensity depending on the situation. I seldom feel guilty when passing on perfectly wearable items that no longer work for my style, because they always go to someone else who can get use out of them. I pass on all my handbags to friends (clothes and footwear too if the items fit and are suitable). The rest of the items go to Dress for Success, the Salvation Army or Goodwill. 

Strangely, I can’t help feeling a little guilty when I throw away items that are too worn to be useful to someone else. Although there isn’t an alternative, it still feels wasteful somehow.

I feel the most guilty when I pass on expensive, high-quality better-end pieces that are perfectly current and still in excellent condition. For example, at the moment I have three pairs of designer pumps in a holding zone because I never wear them (the last time was three years ago). Their three and a quarter inch heels have become painfully unwearable for me even as “sitting shoes”. I paid full price for them, and still like the way they look. I should pass them on to a happy second home with the rest of my items. Yet they are in my holding zone for no good reason other than purging guilt.

There is definitely an irrational component to purging guilt. But I think it serves a purpose. It reminds us that clothing is expensive. To us as the purchaser, but also to the environment in general. Do you feel closet purging guilt, and when do you feel it most strongly?