What to Do When You Think, “I Hate All My Clothes”

I hate all my clothes

It’s a familiar scenario: standing in front of the closet, feeling frustrated, and thinking, “I hate all my clothes.” While this is sometimes a wardrobe issue, it could also be tied to body image. Struggling with body image may make it feel like every outfit you try on highlights something that feels wrong. This feeling is the worst and it can send  you into a tailspin of anxiety. What do you do? After all, you have to wear something! Don’t worry- there’s a way out, but it requires a bit of strategy and process.  

The Steps to Getting Dressed…When You Hate All Your Clothes

Having that “I hate all my clothes” feeling happens to all of us, whether we struggle with body image or not. While addressing the root cause of your discontent is super important, it doesn’t have to be done at that very moment. That’s something you can address with a registered dietitian like myself.  Our nutrition therapy work will break down what’s behind the “I hate all my clothes” feeling and make getting dressed less of a struggle. 

With that said, there are a few quick things you can do in the moment. 

First, prioritize this thinking: what can I wear that will help me get out the door? Keep it simple, keep it basic, and keep it neutral. You don’t have to love the outfit; you just have to wear it.

To get this done:

  1. Take a deep breath.
  2. Try on an outfit you recently felt good (or okay) in.
  3. Choose a few tried-and-true pieces you feel comfortable in. 
  4. Stick with the classics. This doesn’t have to be the moment you take a major fashion risk or try on the jeans that sometimes fit but sometimes don’t.
  5. Ask yourself, “What can I wear that will be the least distracting for my brain so I can stay present?”

These five steps are what to do when that feeling of crisis strikes. They’re not long-term solutions. Instead, they’ll help you get out the door and go from point A to point B. Once you’ve gotten that far, the next step is to take a little inventory. Do you have the feeling that you hate all your clothes a lot? Does it often feel like no matter what you wear you won’t be comfortable or confident? If that’s the case, it could be time to explore the source of your discontent and think about working with a nutritional therapist.

Recognizing the Source of Your Discontent

This is where the inner work comes into play. You have to ask yourself, “Do I hate my clothes or do I hate how I feel in them?” This is a tough question and one that might elicit an uncomfortable response. Feeling unhappy with everything in your closet could be a style issue but it could also be related to your body shape and size. Please note that there is nothing wrong with your body, no matter what type of clothes you have or how they fit. Noticing that you don’t feel good in these clothes, however, may be a sign that it’s time for a shift. Whether that means different cuts of clothing or changing sizes, finding clothes that really fit will make getting dressed every day quite a lot easier. 

Out With the “No’s,” In With the “Yesses”

Once you’ve identified the source of your discontent, the next step is to do an overhaul. Take inventory of the clothes you have in your closet and ask yourself how they make you feel. Marie Kondo is famous for her decluttering methodology that encourages people to hold up each item they have in their homes and ask themselves, “Does this spark joy?” Not every item in your wardrobe needs to spark joy in order for it to stay, but it is worthwhile to take stock of how your clothes make you feel.

If you’re routinely met with the “I hate all my clothes” and “I have nothing to wear” conundrum, consider doing a full closet cleanout. Separate your clothes into four piles: 

  1. I Like Wearing This
  2. This FIts
  3. This (technically) Fits But I Hate How I Feel In It
  4. This Doesn’t Fit

Piles 1 & 2 can stay and should be moved to the front of your closet or dresser. Pile 4 should be put in a donation bag, as should pile 3 (as long as you’re left with enough clothes). Once you evaluate the clothes you have that fit and that you feel good in, you can start adding to your wardrobe with shapes and sizes that promote a positive self-image. Not ready to actually donate or get rid of these yet? No problem. Organizing your closet or drawers so that the first thing you see are the clothes you like and clothes that fit you can positively impact how it feels to get dressed each day. 

Working with a Registered Dietitian on Body Image

If we haven’t yet met, it’s time to get acquainted. I’m Brenna, RD, the voice behind The Wellful. In my work as a registered dietitian, I’ll often work with clients to help them notice and label the things that influence their body image. These include the positive, negative and the neutral influences.

There are so many things that can contribute to how we feel about our bodies. Some of the most common factors that tend to stir up emotions around body image include:

  • Being around certain people 
  • A pair of pants that always fits snug
  • Seeing old photos of yourself
  • A comment from a friend or family member
  • Liking a photo of yourself
  • Disliking a photo of yourself
  • Comparing your body to others online
  • Feelings of uncomfortable/comfortable fullness
  • Travel
  • Being in or out of your typical routine
  • …and so many others

It can be helpful to identify these influences because it may take some of the pressure off of you and your thinking brain. Knowing that these are common triggers for a lot of people could help you practice a little more compassion for yourself. The next thing to address is what to do with feelings of discomfort around your body image.

Why You’re Not the Problem

The chorus of the Taylor Swift song “Anti-Hero” has the lyrics, It’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me. That may work for the song but it doesn’t hold true for the narrative of your life. Spoiler alert: you’re not the problem. More specifically, your body isn’t the issue. A lot of people think that if they feel uncomfortable in their clothes (and, as a result, in their bodies) that the solution is to change their bodies, either through diet, restriction, exercise, or other means. 

But what if you’re not the problem at all? What if the changes that you’re experiencing in your body are just a part of being human? Our bodies are designed to grow, change, and evolve over time. Age, life experiences, and so many other factors contribute to changes in our physical bodies as well as our mental space. Your body is not the problem. The way the media and society as a whole have trained us to think about our bodies is the problem. Although it can be hard, try your best to remember that when you’re staring at a closet filled with what feels like zero options. 

The Takeaway

Unfortunately, we can’t change the unrealistic beauty standards society has saddled us with with the snap of our fingers. What we can do, however, is control how we approach getting dressed when it feels really hard. Asking yourself, “How can I take care of myself in this moment?” is a simple, but not easy question. You might not have time or the capacity to unpack all of the thoughts that bubble up, but you may be able to find clothes that fit and that feel comfortable – and that’s enough. 

If you’re having a tough time getting out the door because you hate all your clothes, try to reframe and refocus. Ask yourself why you’re going wherever you’re going AND what will help you feel more present there? For example, sometimes it’s helpful to say “I’m excited to go see my friends, I want to be able to focus on them and be present. I’m going to choose clothes that help me get there and stay there, mentally and physically. The goal is to have a good time and that doesn’t include obsessing about my body. Body image is super complicated, but this is a fantastic starting place!⁠

If you’re looking for a way to break free from the obsessive thoughts around food and body image, I can help. As a registered dietitian who works with people with eating disorders, I’m here to be your personal cheerleader. Whether you’re having wardrobe woes  or need additional support, I’ll hold your hand through this tricky time. To get started, schedule a free 15-minute consultation with me or give The Wellful a call at 925-722-4109. It’s time to dress for body image success – I’ll help you get there.


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