Most returned missionaries come home to discover that their wardrobe is badly outdated or MIA. As an RM, this can be frustrating because after two years of “looking the part” you understand the importance of being well groomed and well dressed. Don’t worry. We have specifically tailored advice on how to rebuild your wardrobe.
This article is divided into two parts, “The Cleansing,” and “Acquisitions.” Today we will cover “The Cleansing.” Make sure to look for “Rebuilding a Returned Missionaries Wardrobe Part 2: Acquisitions” in a few days.
As our title indicates, you’re going to be throwing or giving away some clothes.
The first thing you should do is sort through the clothes that you brought home from your mission. You need to dispose of any items that are looking run down. This can be hard since there is a sense of attachment to your mission “uniform.” It also seems contrary to our pioneer heritage, “fix it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” Trust us, most of your clothes are worn out and beyond repair.
Since you wore your mission clothes everyday, you’ve likely became accustomed to the way they look, and may not be aware of their dilapidated state. That’s why you must have a friend or relative help you view your clothes with an objective eye.
First, examine your white dress shirts closely, paying particular attention to the collars and sleeves. If they look grey, dingy or frayed you need to replace them.
Second, you should examine your dress pants, looking for fading, fraying, rips or other irreparable damage. While you’re at it make sure they still fit properly. Missionaries often have weight fluctuations leaving their clothes too baggy or too tight. Once again, if these articles are damaged or badly worn, its time to replace them.
Third, repeat the examination process described above for your ties, belts, and shoes. Holes, stains, gouges and fraying, all mean one thing: throw it out.
Fourth, your beloved suit must be examined. No offense, but chances are the knees are shiny and it smells like a wet dog. Again take an honest look and enlist the help of someone you trust to give you an objective opinion.
The bloodbath is nearly over and we will pause to give you some hope. Many of the items you tossed out above will not need to be replaced. Most 21-year-old men don’t need 5 white, long sleeve dress shirts in their wardrobe. With that encouraging news let’s move forward.
The second step of the great cleansing is to examine what remains of your pre-mission wardrobe. There may be nothing left – thanks to siblings “borrowing” and wearing out your clothes. If your siblings did divest you of your precious threads, you may as well thank them for doing you a favor — a lot of the clothes would be outdated and thrown out anyway. You may have some emotional reluctance in throwing away pieces of your pre-mission wardrobe since they serve as a link to the person you used to be. However, it’s time to grow-up and put childish things behind you, or something like that. So what makes the cut?
First, we will look at your jeans. If you were on the cutting edge of the skinny jeans trend, it’s time to ditch the tights. It’s still a trend in a narrow segment of the population but the pendulum is already swinging the other direction — convenient for the fashion industry, no? Plus, let’s be honest, you may think of yourself as being young, but the idea of seeing a man in skinny jeans makes most people laugh.
Second, take a look at your casual shirts. Fortunately the trends move a little slower here. T-shirts with graphics on them were in style when you left and that trend will probably continue into 2011. Companies like Threadless.com, who sell t-shirts with pithy and sometimes inappropriate statements and logos on them are also popular. Polo shirts can be pretty safe but there is a range of acceptability. Which is why once again, you need the advice and help of a friend to identify which shirts make the cut.
Third, keep that friend handy and go through your remaining shorts, belts, shoes and watches with you. They don’t have to be a pro to give you a good sense of what works and what doesn’t.
A Clean Slate
At the end of the cleansing phase we expect you will be left with ties, some dress socks, a pair of jeans and a bunch of old t-shirts. At this point don’t panic by going on a reckless — fiscally and fashionably — shopping spree. See our other advice about taking things slowly. The rebuilding process will take some time.