Retirement Closet Detox: What To Do With Your Corporate Clothes

Retirement Closet Detox: What To Do With Your Corporate Clothes

By Joanna Lovering

Retiring from work doesn't necessarily mean that all of your workwear needs to retire too. You’ll want to offload some pieces, but others will fit nicely into a wardrobe that reflects your new day-to-day life and priorities. Here are our suggestions for what to keep, what to rejuvenate, and what to bid farewell. 

Keep and wear as-is:

Comfortable “go-to” dresses. Like that jersey wrap dress you wore to important meetings and office holiday parties. Or the maxi dress you wore on casual Fridays and while traveling in Paris. If they still fit, are comfortable, and are “you” keep a few of these versatile dresses to grab when you need them. 

And let’s be honest, if there’s anything that makes you feel like a million bucks, KEEP IT. There’s zero reason to ditch anything that you really love. At least, not right away.

Keep and re-work: 

Suit Blazers. Suit blazers probably conjure up images of board meetings, conferences, and the like. But fortunately, these (often pricey) garments can have another life...paired with denim! Style them with your favorite jeans, a casual blouse or tee, and a statement necklace. BOOM: you have a modern, structured, put-together outfit.

One thing to keep in mind when assessing your blazers: generally speaking, the fewer buttons a blazer has, the more modern it will be. So, blazers with zero, one, or two buttons will typically have a more modern feel than those with three or four buttons. If you’re deciding which to donate and which to keep, hang onto the modern ones--they’ll go best with your casual wardrobe. 

Here are some looks we love:


Designer Heels. Retiring means not having to wear uncomfortable high heels anymore, unless of course you want to! If your heels are going to sit in the back of your closet, it’s time to pass them on. Luckily, there’s a huge market for designer shoes, and it’s easy to sell them online. 

Our recommendations for online marketplaces are:

  • Tradesy. Not just your regular re-selling site, because they have Tradesy Closet Concierge. If you live in NYC, a consultant can come to your home and help organize, sort, and recommend which items to sell.

  • The RealReal. This is one of the biggest online luxury resellers. It's easy to use, it extends the life of your designer shoes, and it puts money back in your pocket.

  • Vestiaire Collective. A European competitor of The RealReal. If you’re in Europe, it might be easier to sell here than Tradesy or The RealReal.


Your “it’s freezing in the office” sweater. You know what I’m talking about: it’s the old, pilled sweater that hung on the back of your office chair. Or the one from your office closet with the shoulders stretched from hangers. Thank you, Office Sweater, for keeping us from getting hypothermia during the Office Ice Age. Thankfully, those days are over now.

My favorite places to donate your gently-used workwear (including well-loved sweaters) are: 

  • Women’s empowerment organizations such as Dress for Success (worldwide) and Bottomless Closet (in NYC).

  • Housing Works, an organization that works to fight against HIV/AIDS and homelessness. They accept store drop-off donations in NYC only.


Uncomfortable bras. Underwire bras were clearly designed by a man. (Actually, it was Howard Hughes, but that’s a whole other article!) If you found yourself unhooking your bra the moment you started your commute home, you know what to do...trash ‘em! 

When purchasing new bras, look for ones that clasp in the front and have comfortable, thick padded straps. Your back and shoulders will thank you! 

Giving your workwear new life, whether on your body or someone else’s, is such a wonderful way to pay tribute to your new life. And while purchasing your corporate wardrobe might have felt like a chore, we promise that this part is a lot more fun. 

Joanna Lovering is the founder and CEO of Copper + Rise, a New York City-based style coaching service dedicated to personal and professional empowerment through wardrobe.

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