Saturday, June 27, 2009

Wardrobe Changes

That's the entire closet. Not in the pic - the rest that dresser on the right, plus one more, but no more piles.

I have a ridiculous amount of clothing for one person. It won't fit in my closet and dresser drawers and is always overflowing into at least a couple of boxes or laundry baskets, plus coats and jackets piled high in another closet.

Part of the problem is tiny, outdated closets. Not a single standard sized closet in the entire house. And our master closet is, so silly, the smallest of them all, shared with a husband with lots of bulky clothing, plus work equipment, who takes more than his fair share of the cramped space. If I had a walk-in closet, even a smallish one, I'd probably fit everything in just fine.

Another problem, we live in a true four season climate so any combination of outfits only works for several months out of each year.

Even with those real issues, the main problem is that I simply have too many clothes. Or perhaps, had too many clothes? Because my new lifestyle means I've dropped several clothes sizes. I dropped one last year but y'know, I could still wear most of the clothes I already owned, they were just loose. But then I dropped another size and it quickly became apparent that there's a big difference between "loose" and "falling off".

I went out a few months ago and bought a couple pair of jeans, my first purchases of brand new clothing in over a year, since before my refashioning pledge last spring. (Hmmm, maybe I knew change was just over the horizon.) I was pleased with my new options. But then I lost more weight and was teetering on the edge of another size down. I kept thinking it would get warm and I could just make do with skirts and shorts until the end of summer, but the weather stayed cool. Eventually I brought home a bunch of stuff from thrift shops so I'd have more than one pair of pants to my name.

Now I'm close to the weight where I'm hopefully going to stay, just a few pounds more to make it to the top of my BMI chart for my height and age. And I'm still in a sort of midtween size, some stuff fits me in one size, other stuff fits me in the next size down, junior sizing works better than women's sizing, but I haven't figured out all those numbers quite yet.

A few weeks ago I sorted and got rid of the jeans, pants, capris and shorts that I could no longer wear. It was easy to get rid of the pieces that I'd kept thinking "they fit, I should keep them" but never did wear. It was harder getting rid of my favorites. Once they were all gone though, sent off with others or packed into the yard sale stuff, it felt awesome. Just like that, I had less clothing to find a space to store.

It's tough because I'm a pack rat, a raven who collects pretty things, a woman who's lived with little means and lots of ingenuity and hoarding over the years. It has served me well. But it's no longer serving me, it's no longer who I am. I have to remind myself that I don't have to save clothes for growing kids, for pregnancy ups and downs, for "just in case" times. It's time to travel more lightly through life, time to free my time and space for different experiences.

It feels good, but it's also confusing at the moment. Frustratingly it takes MORE time to pick out something to wear (or pack) because it's like trying to get dressed out of someone elses closet. I'm not completely familiar with the dozen or so new bottoms I've brought home that fit and it's still all jumbled in with the rest of my old wardrobe which I was surprised to find, doesn't necessarily fit me either. It doesn't stop with pants. Skirts, tops, even jackets and shoes fit differently. I'll pick out a shirt and find it doesn't look right anymore, a skirt hangs far too low to be comfortable.

This means the sorting isn't finished. Sigh. I need to drag it all out, not just the pants, and try it all on, and weed, weed, weed. And those of you who know me know I hate the process. It's hard. I get attached to things.

Plus I come up with all sorts of ideas for how to take in a seam or fix a shoulder or cut it up into something completely different. Refashioning inspirations spiral around me enthusiastically. I have to force myself to let things go, to remember that new refashioning projects are only as far away as the thrift shop down the street. Or even, in a pile in the studio one door away. Release these items that I haven't worn even when they were already at my fingertips. Let someone else use them.

Throw in my fear of being unecological by tossing perfectly good clothing and it gets really stressful and confusing in my head. I have to remind myself that these clothes (or anything - knick knacks, kitchen bowls, old garden pots) are going to exist whether they're in my possession or not. They are already in the world and I'm not changing that by keeping it all. If something is ripped or stained, we already cut it up and reuse it for rag, reducing our use of paper towels and cleaning supplies. But what about the things that are still in good shape? I feel pretty passionate about what seems like a glut of too much clothing in the Western World. But that's another post, isn't it. This post isn't about the entire Western World, it's about my own personal square feet of it. Now that I think about it, most of what I have wasn't new when I brought it home. It was thrifted. So I'm not really dumping more new clothes into the world, right? It's more like I'm releasing them back into the wild? If I let things go, maybe someone else will really need, wear and and make use of them. Maybe not. But I can't save the planet by trying to fit all the excess stuff in it into my closet.

The one good thing is that the process sort of self selects those items I like the most because there's a lot of things in my wardrobe I bought in an "iffy" size simply because it was the only option and I loved the piece THAT much. Now those clothes, which are mostly the newer pieces, are the ones that fit me best, which makes it easier to get rid of the stuff that is comfortable but worn and outdated. There are items on the bottom of my drawers that when I pull them out, I'm immediately transported back to a time in my life that now feels like it belonged to a different person. Which begs the question - Why do I still have her clothes!?

So the decluttering and organizing, sorting and redefining continues. I have to keep the end in mind. I have to think about how good it will feel when it all fits - not only on my body, but in my closet!


Blogger Connie Carpenter Macko said...

LOL.. I love the image of releasing cothing and things back into the wild! I see all these sweaters running down the street on their "hands" off to another adventure. Giving someone else an opportunity to have their own new favorite outfit can't be a bad thing. Even purchasing new things especially those that come from renewable resources is okay in moderation. Keep up the excellent work and may your closets expand in the night (aren't there fairies that could help with that?!)

8:16 AM  
Blogger Vicki said...

Laume: I love the way you write, the way you examine things. RE: the small storage space challenge set before you from the past is so real to many of us. You describe it so well that I feel as though you have expressed exactly what I wanted to say about these tiny lost-in-space, aka "closets" in our houses. It's not like we are wearing hoop skirts and travel about with huge wooden crates that come with servants to tote them, but just: what were the people in the 1950's and 60's thinking when they built such spaces??!! Really! --Vicki

5:40 PM  

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