The Closet Cluster


After reading a recent article in the Wall Street Journal,A Closet Filled with Regrets,” I was inspired to clean out my closets. I felt the article was directed at me; I do have items of clothing that seemed perfect in the store but at home seem so wrong.  And I do have trouble getting rid of them because I know what I paid. So there they sit—actually, hang—filling my closet and reminding me of my impulse buying that resulted in mistakes. What went wrong between the store and my closet? Perhaps I will never know. Maybe I bought it during an emotional low—retail therapy always works for me.

According to the Wall Street article, most of us wear only 20 percent of the clothes in our closet on a regular basis. So what are we doing with all these fillers?  I mean, how many shoes do we really love, how many black pants do we feel killer in? And how do I rid myself of the other 80 percent of clothes in my closet that I know I will never wear?

Sometimes I read an article where a woman claims she couldn’t live without her shoes or jeans. So I go in pursuit of the labels, assuring myself I will look like her if I buy the same brand. 

The “sale!” sign is a magnet for me.  I always think I am saving so much when I buy on sale, but if I never wear it, I’m really the big loser.  And then there’s the problem of buying online since, often, the items cannot be returned if they’re “final sale.” Do I take the risk? It can easily turn into shopper’s remorse without “many happy returns.”

Sometimes I try to branch out from my beloved black; that usually ends up in a crisis—me buying a print dress that I will wear one time, feel uncomfortable in the entire evening and ultimately retire it to the rear of my closet.  When I try to do the Sunday closet-elimination game with my husband while he’s watching golf or basketball, I’ll walk into the room and say, “What do you think?”  He usually says, “That’s nice, is it new?”

I’m too old for bare and/or flashy. I don’t want what I wore to be remembered. I’d rather be recalled for something witty I said.

I recently gained 12 pounds and I do think it’s forever. Do I keep the Versace size 4 jeans or donate them to charity?  I know in my heart I can never make myself suffer to be able to fit into the size 4 again.

And really, I’m not a jeans person, yet last year I bought the Ralph Lauren cowboy collection of rodeo jeans with scrolls on the pocket, a wool plaid shirt (I live in Florida) and a hunting vest. What the hell was I thinking? I was not planning a vacation to Montana. I offered the vest to my daughter when she was going to Alaska; I photographed it and sent it to her via text message. “Thanks Mom, but I prefer Patagonia for travel,” she said. “It’s much lighter.”  The tag is still on the vest and shirt; I wore the jeans in Europe and felt like an imposter the entire time.  I am so not a jeans person. So I guess the entire collection will go to charity, tags and all. A lesson learned?  Not sure, but I will continue to try to eliminate the 80 percent that I do not wear, however painful it may be.


Mistaken Identity?


Everybody complains about their license and passport photos. You stare into the camera, don’t smile and end up looking like you’re being booked for a felony. My friend believes in putting her best face forward, especially when it’s a photo of herself that she has to show to someone else on a fairly regular basis. With all ID photos there are some accessory restrictions (no sunglasses on head, no baseball hat), but there is no law that says you can’t look good and wear makeup. So in keeping with this, she proceeded.  

My friend—who I also mention in my book I OPRAHED—who prepared for her driver’s license photo with fresh makeup and a turtleneck to camouflage her neck recently had to renew her passport.  She invoked the same philosophy as she did with her license photo. She’d have to look at this photo for many years, and she was in her very late 60s.  The new passport picture would last for 10 years, at which point she would be so old she simply would no longer care. 

This time she went to the Lancome counter at Dillards for a professional makeup job.  Then she went to her hairdresser for a blowdry of her newly highlighted hair. Again, she chose a high neck shirt of a flattering pastel color.  She looked in the mirror approvingly before setting out for the photo at her local post office.  The first shot did not make the cut and she rejected it.  The second was phenomenal; even the clerk said, “It looks like a fashion shot!” Beyond pleased, she sent in the photo along with her passport renewal form.  When it arrived back, she opened the passport book and was stunned to see a glamorous, beautiful woman who looked maybe 50 years old staring back at her.  Now she had a dilemma.  Whenever she handed over her passport while going through security or customs, the agent would look at her, and then at her photo, and then back at her, wondering if she’d had a rough year. But now she had a reverse dilemma. Would she have to put on a full face of makeup and blow dry her hair for every flight?  Would she have to live up to this photo? She felt boxed in to a corner.  She thought she maybe should have gone with the basic mug shot—much less stressful.