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Article 20 - Aug 30, 2010
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Cleaning Out My Closet

By Jessica Lynn Harris

Cleaning Out My Closet

It may seem odd that, in writing about fashion, todayís topic is getting rid of clothes. You heard me. Donate it. Throw away what canít be donated. Or, if you have to keep it...organize and box it. 
This advice is not new. In Tim Gunnís Guide to Style and The Pocket Stylist by Kendall Farr, the first suggestion is just that: get rid of what doesnít work. On the television show What Not to Wear, hosts Stacey and Clinton rummage through the participantís wardrobe to rid it of dated clothing, too large or small garments, and tacky pieces. Persons of true sophistication will tell to rid yourself of any piece that isnít perfect. Which, if you are most people, doesnít leave much. 
Despite vicariously enjoying the reinvention of self through the purging of bad clothes via reality television, Iíve never followed this advice. Recently, my closet expanded so much that I decided to take out the doors. Because I still live with my family, Iíve been lamenting that an apartment is just what I need, so that I can fill it up with the accumulation of all the clothes I never wear and all the nicknacks I never use. It wasnít until recently, when a very fashionable friend of mine, Sarah, (who is a New Yorker, so itís rather expected) shared an article from The Times called Six Pieces or Less (link: The concept is to pick six pieces from your wardrobe and wear only those for a month. The purpose is to show how little we really need and limit consumerism. Plus, itís an environmentally friendly practice. Sarah decided to go through with the challenge. 
But I canít. Simply put. I guess Iím too vain and obsessive about what I wear, too much of a fashionista to risk a repeat. But her dedication (and yes, Sarah has an expansive closet as well) to reduce, reuse, and recycle has led me to de-skeleton my closet. 
When I buy clothes, I buy for potential--I imagine altering this or that--rather than looking at the actual fit. Usually, the alterations (if I ever get to them) donít really work because these pieces just arenít meant for my body type, no matter how much I want them to be. So, the first thing I rid my closet of was clothes that looked great on the hanger but poorly on me-- shoulders that were too wide, bust lines that were too low, pockets that were disproportionately large for my 5í frame. This was the hardest thing to do because the garments looked gorgeous hanging. 
After I had rid myself of unflattering trousers, blazers, blouses, sweaters, skirts, and dresses (many of which were hard to part with because I made them myself) I decided to add clothes that I simply never wore (for whatever reason) to the donation bag. Next, I searched through my sock drawer and threw away mismatches that had been lonely for ages and tights with holes in them that I felt the need to keep, just in case. (Just in case what, I donít know.) 
I donít wear pajamas. I wear t-shirts to bed. But I had two drawers of pajamas. So, I set aside all pj pants but one fleece, two cotton. I also donated any t-shirts that did not have a particular sentimental value, which left me mostly with various Harry Potter shirts. Then, I repeated all of this with my accessories.  
Finally, I organized everything by piece and color. I viewed my complete wardrobe, clutter-free. Now, Iíll be able to see if thereís anything I need. And Iím more than able to see that thereís plenty I didnít.
Iíve always thought that what a person wears tells an important story. But now I realize that what a person doesnít wear tells a story, too. My two overstuffed trash bags headed for Goodwill have a lot to say about me. The piles of unfitted dresses show that I often choose the world of ideas over the world of reality. The tattered garments I havenít worn since ninth grade reveal I revere objects as substitutes for the people who gave them to me. And the pieces of fandoms and subcultures Iíve outgrown but am not willing to entirely give up show that there is still a little bit of me that holds onto my childhood. These may or may not be good things, but one thing is for certain: cleaning out my closet has proven to be more revealing than I thought.  


Chic Weekly: on-line Fashion & Sewing Magazine
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copyright 2010 Love To Sew
Article 20 Aug 30, 2010




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