Sunday, October 11, 2009


I’ve been cleaning closets. This is one of those chores that I’ve been putting off for months. There’s always something better to do than this, isn’t there? The problem with cleaning a closet is that it doesn’t stop with just one. One closet bleeds into another and before you know it your entire house is a train wreck. There are jeans that you should have banished to the rag bag 5 years ago, shoes that you never should have bought in the first place and clothes that haven’t been in fashion since the 80s (and, let’s be honest, can we really call what happened in the 80s ‘fashion’?)

It’s simply not a quick chore. You try going by that old saw “if you haven’t worn it in the past 2 years, give it up” but you can’t help but talk yourself out of it. “Well, no, I haven’t worn it in the past 5 years BUT it goes perfectly with that …” or “Well, no, I haven’t worn it BUT I love it and as soon as I lose that 5 pounds it will fit perfectly.” Tell me that you’ve been there with me. Or, even worse, the jacket or pair of pants that’s too big. And I’m holding on to these because - what – I think I’m going to grow into them???

And then there’s the joy of discovery. That pair of Capri pants you searched all summer for but didn’t find because they were stuffed in between 2 winter jackets. The 3 blue tanks that you bought in exactly the same shade because you couldn’t find the first one because it slipped out of the pile of laundry and got jammed in the back of the drawer. That dress that was actually part of a Halloween costume back in college. That old bowling shirt of your Dad’s.

This exercise is a good one. It forces you to make decisions, cull the herd so to speak. My old grad school roommate, Marcee, was addicted to white blouses. She must have had 30 of them in her closet – she said you could never have too many. That may have been true for her (and may have been true for me about something other than white blouses, if the truth be told) but I’ve decided that I can have too many and it’s time to bite the bullet and start weeding. If it doesn’t fit – out. If it hasn’t been in fashion for over a decade – out. If it isn’t flattering – out. If it isn’t comfortable –out.

Admittedly this culling has gotten easier since I started doing more of my shopping at Savers. Let’s face it, when you’ve paid $4.99 for that top, it’s far easier to make the decision to dump it then when you’ve paid $49.99. It’s also easier when there’s a place for it to go. Value Village and Savers both take donations. I can drop off a bag of clothing (and anything else I need to weed out of the house) and know that there’s another life for it. I’m not throwing away something perfectly good (I am my Mother’s daughter, after all, and she did manage to beat one or two things into my hard head!) or contributing to a landfill. Someone else – someone who doesn’t have a lot of disposable income, someone who is between jobs, or someone who simply likes a good deal and wants to live more green by recycling whenever possible can get perfectly good, usable, wearable, and even fashionable clothing at a great price.

But the best part of all of it is the sense of freedom that comes with it. There’s less stuff to dig through, there’s less stuff to move around, there’s less stuff to weigh you down. There’s less stuff and when there’s less stuff there’s more room. Room to breathe, room to grow, room to invite others in. So get going – cull that herd. It’s good for others, it’s good for you, it’s good for that closet.

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