Sunday, October 10, 2010

Spring Cleaning, A Bit Late

Happy 10-10-10 everybody!

In response to my day in the closet, my Anonymous friend (Pat?) wrote:

Good job of laying the guilt on my head. I really need to get into the closets to do a cleanout/inventory. I have stuff stashed away in several places and I really need to go through what I have and weed out the garden. My problem is that I have the bad habit of talking myself into keeping almost everything.

Eighteen months ago, that was me.

My default position is "packrat". Maybe it's backlash from growing up in a small apartment where there wasn't room for anything. Maybe it's because every time I get rid of something I need it One Day Later. I don't know.

With my girl clothes, it's much worse. Early on, getting each article of clothing was a chore. It took stealth or courage. I had discards from others. I stood in the store while everyone stared at me and laughed as I tried to get away with the "it's for a friend" ruse. You know what I mean ~ that's how it felt. I bought mail order, shipping to a PO box which I kept "because it's convenient", by which I meant it would be inconvenient if a friend saw a package from a women's clothing store, or even a department store and "why don't you open it? I want to see what you got."

So there's a tendency to keep what you worked so hard for. You'd keep your sketch that you worked on all day but feel free to crumble the drawing you did in a minute while playing Pictionary. My paycheck gets spent before I ever see it, but I kept the dollar bills I received for my patents. I worked for those!

And like Anonymous, I have clothes stashed away in different places. Shoes in my desk drawer and under my desk. There's a trunk in the basement with clothes and shoes. I've gotten better at consolidating though.

I don't think I ever told the story of how I got involved in the clothing swaps. I will. For now, let me just say that Kim, the woman who runs the swap, is a great friend of the community and when she contacted me about joining her first swap, she thought it was fine that a guy would want to give/get female clothing.

Kim seemed so nice that I knew I couldn't disappoint her and show up with little or nothing. So I dove into my closet and started looking at clothes and decided that I loved and wanted everything and Too Bad Kim.

I did want everything. I did love everything. I needed a different approach.

What doesn't fit? I'm not fat, but even though I wouldn't mind, I'm not going to get thinner. I've weighed the same more-or-less for close to twenty years.

So I tried clothes on. If it was too small, it went in the swap box. This is easier for tops and dresses. My shoulders are not going to narrow. The zipper that doesn't close now never will. The sleeves that don't button won't. Ever.

Get rid of those shoes that I can only wear for three minutes before screaming in pain.

Too big? Well.... I kept most of these if I liked them. I can wear them, at least around the house. Back then, I was in more than out. Now, I'm focusing on getting rid of what I can't wear out of the house (more below).

How many black skirts do I need? Technically, All Of Them. But pick one, grit teeth, get rid of it (skirt not teeth).

That's how I started. I got rid of boxes and bags of clothes. I still had a full closet.

For other swaps there wasn't as much clothing, but as I said, I'm looking at clothes I can wear out of the house. So see-through tops that show hair I can't get rid of are OUT. Too too short skirts, too tight skirts (there's only so much I can hide!) ~ out. I kept a couple of short skirts because I do like them around the house, but most are gone. If I ever decide that I can get rid of that body hair I can buy new tops. There are thousands in every store. The challenge is finding nice tops that cover.

Each swap, I think "this is it. I'm out of stuff". It never is. I never will be.

And there's always places to shop for more clothes.

My new rule is: clothing in, clothing out. If I buy a dress, I will get rid of a dress, or top and skirt, or pair of shoes.

And I literally just remembered ~ I have a few cotton camis with the built-in bra-type material. I don't like them under tops or dresses: I prefer lighter fabric. I don't like them under male clothing: the bra elastic is uncomfortable. It's a good thing I still have that bag! Out they go!

Even though I'm getting rid of old friends, I'm discovering clothes I forgot I had, or never even wore because they got lost in the crowd. And it's an enjoyable task. Changing clothes every five minutes is something I can do all day. And, last Saturday, I did.


  1. I loved the encouraging post about cleaning out the closet. I'm a bit of a pack rat for the opposite reason as you. My mom threw almost EVERYTHING out. (And I'm not just talking clothes) She kept a few sentimental things and has more now... but when I was young and in school, nothing of mine was "sacred." I struggle with this subject frequently and it's nice to know other people have the same problem.
    My closet has been filled with clothes that I love but no longer fit for far too long. I went through the first part of the summer and got two large bags ready for goodwill (and by big bags, I mean of the garbage variety). One left, one is still hanging out for no reason. I think I'll take it by tomorrow. I am trying to take the advise I give to Penny "If it fits and you love it and it makes you feel good to wear it, keep it. If not, don't."

  2. Isn't it "fun" just have a few hours to just "be girly" looking, checking, and trying on, alone with no cares of the day!
    I've bought a LOT of stuff at EBAY, problem is sizes suck. An xl from england is a american 14, I need 18 20. So I've learn check size better and if item is xl check measurements(in cm or inch) to be sure. I haven't had as good of success at thrift shops as some put all sizes together. I guess, until we go "full time" we really need to limit oursleves to a few dresses
    (yeah! like that going happen!) but we can sure try!

  3. Meg
    There have been occasions when I have cleaned out some of the stash. Last year my wife and I spent the weekend going through the entire house. I ended up taking two car loads of bags of clothes, knick-knacks, etc down to Goodwill. At least one full black bag was from Pat's collection.
    I remember musing at the time about whether the next owner of Pat's clothes would know, or even wonder, if these items came from a guy's closet. Then I flipped the thought around and pondered the next female owner of my Pat items.
    So much of being CD plays out in the mind's eye. I smile even now as I relive the irony of the situation.


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