I’ve started doing this year long course on Daily Om called A Year to Clear What is Holding You Back. I’m on Day 27 of the curriculum and mostly so far it has been about awareness and feelings, not about doing anything physically to clear clutter, stacks of papers, or cleaning out closets or anything. It has been about noticing, cultivating a sense of awareness, and noticing how you feel and how things make you feel. Do they make you feel great or do you get a feeling in the pit of your stomach of being overwhelmed by everything or one particular thing? For a long time now, I’ve been thinking about writing a series of blogs about a “Closet That Fits.” Now seems like the right time. A clearing time.
When I moved into my current house, I didn’t place anything in my closet that didn’t fit. I tried on everything before putting it meticulously in my closet in a color-coded and organized fashion – sleeveless shirts (color-coded), short sleeves (color coded) on one rack, long sleeves (color coded) on another rack. Dresses and jackets (semi-color coded and now mostly messed up and in order by how often I wear it) on another rack. Skirts (color coded) on another. Pants on another. PJs, swim clothes, long johns and under clothes, and camp stuff in the built-in dresser drawers. Shoes in the built in shoe racks, generally stacked by color and warm or cold weather use. Slowly over the years, I have accumulated more stuff than comfortably fits in the closet. I keep looking at a pile of things that need to be put away or worn again and I find myself feeling overwhelmed along with a general feeling of “Ugh! I have to do something about those things.”
Thinking about this all week after standing and observing things in my closet and considering the exercises in the Daily Om class, I have had several revelations. I have a lot of “dream” clothes. I could wear this when I __________ [Fill in the blank with some dream, like visit so and so, or a trip to the beach, or on a date, or … the list is endless.] I also have a ton of warm clothes (think, hand-knitted sweaters) and I live a very temperate area that does not require warm clothing. So, those sweaters sit there, waiting patiently to be worn and appreciated. I have a lot of clothes that were meaningful from a work standpoint when I traveled to warm climates. Now those items are too cold to wear where I live except for maybe one or two weeks a year. I have a bunch of clothes that I bought while traveling – some that seemed like a good idea at the time (a lovely jangly, peasant skirt, for example) or items that actually were a good idea at the time but were purchased quickly without a lot of thought in order to fill an immediate need like a beach coverup or a jacket (because I didn’t bring a down jacket and it was inexplicably cold in Seattle). I have a good deal of clothes that I have had for 20+ years. Some that aren’t coming back in style but I won’t give up because I like them or they mean something to me or I can’t bear to part with them (for whatever known or unknown reason). I also have a lot of what can best be described as “memory” clothing. Oh, I wore that when I ___ [Fill in the blank – graduated from college, visited my Grandmother in Florida, visited Barcelona, drove across country, and on and on]. I realized a lot of mental energy is wound up in that closet. Too much mental energy. Way too much!
I realize after thinking about this over the last 27 days that I need to stop thinking about building a closet that fits, one where the clothes fit me and flatter me, and build it. Stop thinking about doing it and just do it (to quote the Nike ad campaign). So, I have begun to systematically go through my closet with these things in mind:
- Does it fit me physically?
Does this article of clothing fit or do I tug on it when I wear it? Is it too tight on the arms I have big biceps) or across the back (I have wide shoulders)? Does it fit now or will it fit 20 pounds from now? My weight has been fluctuating 20 pounds up and down for over 20 years now so to think that this is going to change is ludicrous. I got rid of fat clothes and skinny clothes when I moved into this house so that isn’t really an issue, but I think it is important to figure out if clothes fit to flatter or just fit because I can get it on, zipped, or buttoned.
- Does it look good?
Do I look good in this item? Or is it wearing me? Does it flatter my body now? Not my body three kids ago when I had a pre-C-Section, flat stomach? Be honest with yourself here. Not mean, just honest.
- How does it make me feel?
Do I feel good when I wear this item? Do I feel like a million bucks? Or do I feel ho hum in this item? Do I remember getting or wearing this item for a certain event and do I have good or bad memories about that?
- Is it memory clothing?
Do I have some memory tied up in this that item of clothing I need to honor and let go? Or is it current?
- Am I making excuses to keep it?
I think this one is self explanatory.
I can hear the excuses now…
But… It’s a perfectly good item, I can still wear it, it still fits. I hate to get rid of something that is still wearable, still in good shape, still… Stop. Just stop.
Keep the end goal in mind – a closet that fits. One with clothes that fit me, fit my body, fit my actual lifestyle, not some fantasy lifestyle I have imagined in my mind (apparently, I have a very active imagination). A closet that fits.
Yes. A closet that fits.