My husband remarked at dinner last night that my posts for the past several weeks have been more “serious.” Serious? You can’t be serious! So in an attempt to lighten things up a bit, I will return to what I know best: absurdity. Absurdity in the form of cleaning out one’s closet.
I get a hankering every now and again for complete and total order in the house. Yes, there is some deep psychological underpinning here but I have neither the time nor the financial resources to figure out what that underpinning might be. Heck, I have enough trouble struggling into my own personal underpinning—aka my bra—every day, so why delve into the psyche? Too much time, too much trouble, not enough money.
OK, where was I? Oh, right, back at the closet. Child #1 and I share a closet. As those of you who live in an old house know, closet space is at a premium. In this three-bedroom, nearly one-hundred-year old house, we have but three closets, and one of them is in the dining room. The other two are in the kids’ bedrooms, and are shared by the liked-gendered members of the family: Patrick/Jim, Dea/me. It is a struggle to keep our clothes unwrinkled and in some kind of orderly semblance when they are interspersed with those of the other inhabitants of the house. Suffice it to say, I have worn more than one un-ironed dress shirt to a business meeting that definitely has the smell of Eau de Field Hockey about it.
This past weekend, I pulled everything out the closet, which resides under the stairs to the attic. I found seventeen tote bags, three mismatched shoes, countless unpaired socks, two flower girl dried-flower wreaths, a box of beads, and a third-grade math workbook. Then, I set about pulling out every garment that I own and store in the closet. This unearthed one vintage mink jacket that my mother gave me (and believe me, I’m going to wear it the first chance I get; sorry, PETA), a size eight skirt (I must have had that since the sixth grade because I haven’t been a size eight since around 1975), and countless white dress shirts, the origin of which is unknown to me (I mostly wear pullovers and turtlenecks as I loathe looking down and seeing buttons stretched across my ample bosom).
Cleaning out your closet reveals all of the fashion errors that you have made and reminds you of what not to do in the future. I’m more Ethel Kennedy than Jackie Kennedy, albeit with fewer children, less money, and no hint of scandal surrounding me. As a result, I was surprised to find a pair of black pumps with a retro sixties’ feel and little bows on the toes. Was I channeling my inner Jackie when I bought those? What of the polka-dotted bolero jacket? Or the blazer with the Nehru collar? Or the gold silk chantung blouse that I wore once and didn’t even remember that I had?
I made some hard decisions regarding items that I had forgotten I had, crammed as they were in the back of the closet, but that I knew I wouldn’t wear again. I loaded up a bunch of items—four bags in all along with countless other things on hangars—and took them to Good Will, where the woman at the donation center eyed my cache with glee. It makes me happy to think that many of the things that I consider cast-offs—despite some being new and never used—would be sold at a fraction of their original price to someone who might get use and pleasure out of them.
Cleaning out the closet is a daunting task, but ultimately, a cathartic one. It’s interesting to take a trip down Fashion Memory Lane, but for me—someone who considers cleaning an extreme sport—it’s even more satisfying to see room where there used to be none.
Stiletto Faithful, does cleaning out the closet—either literally or figuratively—give you the joy it gives me? What treasures have you unearthed in your cleaning expeditions? Do tell! (P.S.–Pictures of me in the vintage mink jacket to come. Stay tuned.)