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.

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  • Reply Katie May 23, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    What a timely subject as we’re about to move to a condo from our spacious home with closets that we designed specifically with my closet clutter in mind…down to space for the number of shoes that I owned back when we built the house 12 years ago…with room to grow! I’ve done a pre-sort but it was barely noticeable, despite packing more than a dozen huge bags to take to a local charity resale shop and gifting another several bags to family and friends. And that was just my primary closet!

    I am eager to hear what your other readers have to say…I need help…desperately!

    Hugs to all closet clutter companions!

  • Reply Deb Knowles May 25, 2013 at 10:33 am

    I have to admit, I’m a minimalist and I’m happier with ‘fewer’ things rather than ‘more.’ But I’ve found the rule of “don’t add an item to your closet without giving one away” works for me!

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