What Do You Do With an Unwanted Fashion Gift


In this podcast episode, Jill Chivers of 16 Style Types and I discuss the conundrum of what to do when you receive a gift of fashion that is not to your taste.  It’s not your style, not right for you in some way or other.  Yet, you don’t want to hurt the feelings of the gift giver.

What to do?

Do you wear it?  Do you try and upstyle it?  Do you just put it in your wardrobe and let it languish (and according to research, gifts of fashion are the items in our wardrobe that hang around the longest).  Why is this?  It’s because there is emotion attached, particularly if you love the gift giver.   You feel that by getting rid of the gift, you are rejecting the love in which it was given.  That’s why it’s so hard to get rid of gifts.  I’ve written about this issue before here.

There may also be some guilt attached in getting rid of a gift.  You may feel that you’re being disrespectful of the gift giver.

Is it Really a Gift?

What Do You Do With an Unwanted Fashion Gift
This scarf was a gift from a lovely client. Not at all unwanted – she knew my colours and my taste and so it fit seamlessly into my wardrobe.

How do you feel about being left with fashion gifts that you don’t want?  You may have been given a bag of clothes from a friend or family member who was cleaning out their own closet and didn’t want these garments anymore.  Yet you may not want it either, yet feel obligated to take them.  Suddenly you are left with someone else’s problem.

So if you are someone who gifts clothes that you don’t want to others – it’s important to think about this:

  • Am I giving them a burden or am I giving a gift?  
  • Does the receiver really want what I’m giving them?

Many people find it very hard to reject another person’s ‘gift’ to their face.  So they may say they want it, yet really they don’t.

Before you ‘gift’ someone your stuff that you don’t want, do make sure that they really want what you are giving them, and let them know that they are under no obligation to keep any of it, that you’re happy for them to give the whole lot to a charity store if they don’t want it.

Arm Yourself with a Response

Do you worry that if you get rid of a fashion gift that you’ll be found out?  That the giver will demand to see the item, or will march into your closet and want to see the item hanging there? 

Has this ever happened?  I doubt it!  But just in case, I find that my clients feel so much more comfortable releasing a gift from their wardrobe when they have a great excuse they are ready and prepared to roll out if ever asked. 

“It got a stain that I couldn’t get out”  is a great excuse.  Or  “I snagged it on something and ruined it” is another one.

This allows you to get rid of the burden of these gifts without the guilt.

Dealing with Serial Fashion Gift Givers

What happens if you have someone in your life who is a serial unwanted fashion gift giver?  Yet what they give you is never to your taste?

Then it’s time to have a conversation with the person about their gifts not being to your taste.

It’s important to inform them that you have a particular taste that is very hard for others to define, so it’s best not to give a fashion gift to you.  Or it’s about educating them on what you do like and what does suit you.   They may not be aware of what works for you.

Let them know that you appreciate the thought, the love, the emotion in which they give you the gift, it’s just that it’s not the right gift and you’d rather they didn’t waste their precious money on you in this way.  Let them know that maybe you’d prefer to go out to for a meal together instead.  Or that something else is more appropriate for you.

Is Gifts Your Love Language?

If you’ve read about or know of the 5 love languages, you’ll know that one of those is gifts.  And those who have this love language enjoy both giving and receiving gifts, as they are a sign of their love.

Gifts may not be your love language, but they may be the language of your gift giver.  It could be very hurtful if you straight out reject their gift.

If someone is a fashion gift giver – even if it’s a bag of old clothes they don’t want – then check in with them before you accept the garments and say to them:

“I’m only going to keep what I absolutely love and what works for me and my lifestyle.  I’m going to give away everything else.  Is that OK with you?  If that’s not OK with you then I would prefer you gave them to someone else who would appreciate them more than me, but I really do appreciate you thinking of me.” 


Given that according to research fashion gifts sit in your wardrobe for an average of 8 years, yet are the least worn garments, yet space is finite, it’s important to be able to move these items on more quickly and let someone else get wear out of them.

Can You Upstyle or Repurpose the Gift?

Sometimes with a few alterations or a redesign or remodel that you could do with a garment may make it wearable.  This could be something you consider doing.


It’s a Burden

Wear your fashion gifts.  See how they feel on.  If it’s not right, let it go.  If you keep seeing the garment in your wardrobe and you don’t love it and never wear it, that feeling of love becomes a feeling of heaviness and it stops feeling like a gift.  Allow yourself to move items on, let someone else appreciate that gift in a way that you can’t.

Linking Up to: Not Dressed as LambStyle with a SmileThursday Fashion FilesAgeless StyleVisible Monday 


I'm not sure if it's for you but how would you feel if you learned all about the colours and styles of clothing that suit your individual personality, shape and style? Just imagine what it would be like when you can open your wardrobe and pull together fabulous outfits that make you look and feel amazing every day? If you'd like to stop wasting money on the wrong clothes and accessories plus join an amazing bunch of very special women also on their style journey - then my 7 Steps to Style program is right for you. Find out more here.

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  • I have a relative who does this to me regularly. Fortunately, she does not live nearby, so I just snap a picture of myself in the item and send it to her, and then I am free to pass the item on. I’ve tried letting her know that our tastes are different, but to no avail.

  • I sometimes offer my fashion mistakes to friends or relatives, if I feel it might be more them. They would be virtuely new, just maybe lost the receipt and can’t take back or something like that. But the word is “offer”, saying its quite OK to say no, and I will take to charity or put on ebay instead. Sometimes they take up the offer, sometimes not, but I would never give fashion gifts or jewellery, far too personal and I hate such gifts myself. If I do receive them, and they are wrong for me, I try to at least wear a few times, so they can see them being worn (in the best way I can integrate with my own taste and colours) and then give to charity shop afterwards. The thing I really hate is relatives who give me cool tone blue or pale pink scarves (which suit them) when I clearly have warm colouring, greens and browns and reds – I forgive on the grounds that most people are just not that visually aware!

  • When my mum clears out her wardrobe she always offers things to me before she takes them to the charity shop. She will often say things like “they’re just your thing – you’ll love them!” or “I can just see you wearing it – it’s very you”. The items are usually unworn, but have been stored for a few years and are never my colours or style so I refuse. But my mum always looks and sounds hurt when I refuse and I hate being put in that position.

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