Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Three Ladies and a Closet

My mom came to visit a couple of weeks ago. When mom visits, things happen. Things that should have "happened" weeks, months or years ago, but nevertheless they get done and more weights than I can count are lifted from my shoulders! One weight in particular was gloriously dealt with and I've been giddy about it ever since - my closet! My closet was not a disaster. Things were not spilling out of it, but there were definitely more clothes in there than I could ever wear and some items that saw their best days during my high school years. They clearly needed to go, but I needed help. What is our problem with clothes (I use "our" here to make me feel better. This is an universal issue, right?)? We hold on to things for YEARS that we don't wear season after season somehow convincing ourselves that we just might need them someday. Well, my reinforcement (mom) came in, guns blazing, and spoke some sense to me when I tried on something, hesitant to get rid of it for sentimental reasons, or for no good reason at all (i.e. it's been in my closet for so long that I can't imagine my closet without it). Here are some of the tips that she shared:

*Only have what you actually WILL wear in your closet. Get rid of things that you don't wear and keep a separate bin of things that you might wear if an occasion should arise in the near future.

*Take stock of what you have. You can only wear so much black. If you find you have an abundance of one color/type of clothing, pick your favorites and give the others away.

*Take note of what colors, styles, shapes, etc. look good on you and stick to those. Shopping will be a lot easier if you can bypass all of the beautiful boat-neck tops in the store if boat-necks just don't suit you.

*If one comes in, one goes out. You've probably heard this rule before. I'm not going to be a stickler about this if there's really nothing that I'd like/need to toss out, but I do think it is a good general rule.

*Take pictures. This sounds really cheesy, and frankly it probably is, but if you try on an outfit that you really like, take a picture so you'll remember it. You could also write it down, but one click of the camera might be more time efficient.

*My favorite rule: if you're having a hard time letting some sentimental piece of clothing go (because you remember the fun you had wearing it on that date 8 years ago...), remember that if you're not wearing it, someone else could be! It's so helpful when making the decision to know that another person could actually wear (not just stare at it on the hanger) it and really enjoy it. What's old to you will be new to them!

Okay, so what's with the title of the post? While I only had my mom with me for my closet showdown, I went back to my hometown the following week and we did the same thing with my mom's closet and my sister-in-law's closet. Three seemed to be the perfect number for the task and here's why. First, we all have similar taste, which kept things simple and easy. Second, we know each other. We know which stage of life the others are in and what is and is not practical for our needs in the immediate future. Finally (and finally to the main point), when someone was trying something on, we had a conversation about why she should or should not keep the piece/outfit. We were honest, but in a gentle (most of the time) way. Discussing these things together eliminated the possibility of throwing something out without considering all the ways it could be used. For example, a top may look worn, but under a sweater or scarf it could look great. Or a top may look blah, but worn with the right accessories, it could be vastly improved. On the other hand, if both are telling you that a dress has got to go, you'll feel more confident sending it on to Goodwill.

This post may be a waste of time for those of you who are more naturally oriented to the world of fashion, accessories, or putting an outfit together. But, at the ripe old age of 31, this is new territory for me and the necessary help transformed my closet from a walk down memory lane to a pleasant, practical and manageable display of things I'll actually wear!

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