I have been successfully avoiding an easy starter task because somehow it didn’t seem all that easy to me–cleaning out my clothes closet. Clothing says a lot about us. I have a dear friend who used to just buy clean clothes rather than face the dreaded washer and dryer. I have walked into a room in a house that had a temperature-controlled space for the furs and every exquisite piece of clothing ever owned by a woman from 1920 to 1965. Her closets held fascinators, beaded couture, embroidered satin gloves, dresses fit for the theatre, a garden party, tea with the Queen. She had beautiful jewelry, watches, and handbags. And an alarmingly large stash of vodka. At 12, I envied her and pitied her. No matter how beautiful the stuff–it was not her friend, or a lover, or a life.
I have hung on to clothes for a variety of reasons: 1. It’s not easy to find stylish clothes in plus sizes. (This is a lie, I can direct you to 30 great places to buy plus clothes–even second hand plus clothes.) 2. I might need it or fit into it or fall back in love with it at some point. (Who am I kidding?) 3. It’s too overwhelming. (Bullsh-t. I’m procrastinating too much.)
I have heard that we are supposed to look at things we have and ask ourselves
- Is useful and functional and do I actually use it
- Does it have a great sentimental value that makes me just want to keep it because
- If it’s not something I use and not something I love, why am I hanging on to it.
- If it’s on the way out is it reusable (off to the thrift store), recyclable (something I will make into something else) or trash.
I went through my dresser and my closet. I will admit it was not a tiptoe down memory lane except that I pulled up Aretha and Mary Chapin Carpenter on my Spotify list from which to draw strength. I tossed out lingerie that hasn’t seen daylight in years. Gone are the pinching push-here and suspend-there bras. I have old breasts. They like being comfortable. Deal with it. All of the nightgowns that I wore in the hospital when I had cancer? Not even saving them to cut up for doggie tug toys. I moved on to the clothing proper. All things pastel are gone. I detest fence-sitting pastels. I wear Colors. All of the items waiting for a miracle cure for that stain are history. As are my depression clothes. That’s right–you know what I mean. The faded tee shirt with paint and pizza stains that you put on when you feel funky. Mine are gone. What I have left are my drinking pajamas. If you don’t know what they are or want some, this is what you need: Any roomy tee or sweatshirt and a pair of pajama pants that are both baggy and speckled with some hideous print. My three pairs include green with cardinals, black with lipsticks and martini glasses, and blue with snowflakes the size of dessert plates.
In the end, I had a stack of hangers about 3 feet tall, 3 bags of clothes for the thrift store and two bags for the trash. It came down to one purple plush zip jacket. It was my mom’s. She wore it with pockets stuffed with Kleenex and butterscotch candies when she ran errands. In the autumn before she died, she sent my little girl home wrapped in it because the weather had turned cold. My daughter wore it through high school and consigned it to the discard pile when she left for grad school. I tucked it into my closet. The cuffs still smell like my mother’s cologne. The neck smells like my daughter’s shampoo. I will never wear it. It will not bring my mother back. What I possess is the strength and love she gave me and the daughter I named after her. The thrift store only got the jacket.
I want someone to walk up to me and say, ‘That self-confidence looks fabulous on you.’ So that I can tell them ‘It’s one-size-fits-all.’ – Alyse