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May 23, 2011 / Danielle

The Great Purge (Part 4)

Another weekend, another work-on-my-closet Friday night. Part of my moving anxiety is manifesting itself in the organization of my stuff; I’ve chipped away at the mammoth to-do list until I’ve basically accomplished everything that’s on this segment of the timeline. Now I wait, research details I don’t need yet (best deals on car insurance? California fuel-emissions standards? Pods.com vs. Upack.com?), and get organized. And since going through my pile of papers is way less fun? Curating my closet it is.

I took everything out of my drawer of tops and folded a pile of “must-keeps” (Almost all of which you’ve already seen, and the few you haven’t? I’m working on fitting into rotation.) I then made a pile of “must-gos” – most of them older, lots of them just nice enough pieces I haven’t fit into or found use for for ages. And then? I made a pile of “should-gos-(but-I-really-don’t-wanna-let-em)”. The majority of this stack were pieces that didn’t suit my lifestyle, or are no longer flattering  . . . or . . . honestly? Contain too many memories for me to toss them out just yet. (I maxed out my Bloomingdales credit card to buy that French Connection top**, and wore it nonstop when I was falling in love with the boyfriend  . . . I broke up with three years ago. Who’s now living with a blonde named Steffanye*).

I alternate between feeling brutally harsh with my must-gos (“it’s over, you’re just distracting me from the greater good, please, for the love of God, get out of my closet”) and vaguely nostalgic/apprehensive (“but, ooh. Remember how you once wore that? Remember you never got a chance to try it with that dress?”) It leads me to think that once again, I’m expressing my moods through my wardrobe. Sometimes I feel capable, alert, alive, competent, assertive; sometimes I feel clingy, needy, regressive. (“But – what if I am making a MISTAKE?”) My biggest fear is having to stalk something down on Ebay two years after I’ve gotten rid of it, because I’ve finally realized it’s perfect? (  . . . yes, Danielle. You’re going to need that floral-striped cream-colored silk Ralph Lauren skirt with the ruffle. Because absolutely nothing. else. will ever do.(Even if you can’t remember when you last wore it.))

I sold three of the new additions to the “get rid of” pile, and added a tidy $15 to my pocket. (And. umm. Basically that just replenished my account after my tequila-burrito binge on Saturday night.) (To which I say – no regrets.) But the rest isn’t necessarily up to resale quality, or is no longer super-on-trend. And of course, half of what  I’m ditching? (Some of it very nice – anthropologie, Ann Taylor, Free People – good-quality pieces) Is winterwear. And that’s not something I can take to the consignment store just yet, frustratingly . . . so it’ll sit, tidily folded in a Trader Joe’s bag, taunting me from the corner of my bedroom. (“Danielle, are you suuuuure? Remember those good times we had together? Remember the day that you bought me, and I made you so beautiful, and you swore we’d never be apart?”)

I slashed and burned at my shoes and accessories; knocked out a couple of necklaces and a handful of headbands. (They’re lovely, but if I’ve never worn them? And the only mental image of when I would that I can conjure up is “Well, what if I was a mod for Halloween?”  . . . I’ll make do at that point. It’ll be okay.) (And yes, more of the  uncomfortable high heels went out of the door.)

So now. I’ve got three bags (and one tentative ‘should-but-can’t-yet’ pile) of “goods to go away”.

. . . now what?

Selling them is one thing – if I ask myself “Would I rather have $5 or wear this again?” and the answer is $5? Well, that’s a no-brainer. But while I have absolutely nothing at all against donating clothes to charity (I wholeheartedly approve in fact), it’s definitely tricky to give them up completely when I’m getting nothing in return. I don’t mean that to sound so mercenary; it feel more like my sneaky subconscious, trying to cling to my security-as-percieved-through-my-closet.  “Well, if I’m not gaining something else from it . . .what harm is there in keeping it…?” (And yes, there’s a potential tax deduction there. Don’t think that hasn’t crossed my mind.)

For some reason, giving away things – because, yes, they are just things – (artistic, beautiful, expressive things) – equates, somewhere in my mind, with no longer valuing the experience I associated them with. And when I get my emotions involved? It’s so tricky to be rational. As well as that, there’s the part of me that thinks “well, the money’s spent now – you might as well enjoy the spoils, keep it! You’ll get some more love out of it, somewhere! It’s free joy, just waiting to happen – be patient! Stay cluttered!”

There are some clothes – a rare few – that I do so highly connect with the places I wore them that I’ll keep them for the foreseeable future. (I’ll talk about those in a post to come.) But as a general rule, self? You know better.

Tossing out something that no longer works for you doesn’t mean you no longer value the memory of wearing it. And neither does it mean you were stupid to buy them in the first place. It’s just a a symptom of your evolution; it’s okay that you’ve changed, that you’ve moved on from the person you were then. It’s okay that you made this closet detour (let’s not say mistake) and it’s no longer who you are. It’s good to accept that. And move forward.

. . . And yet?

These three grocery bags are sitting in the corner of my bedroom, quietly explosive. Tempting me to let them stay. Silently urging me for clemency.

I don’t need them. I wasn’t wearing them. Some, I had forgotten even existed.

But . . .  I crave ’em.

. . . .I’ll keep you posted.

*And who is a very, very lovely kind good man for whom I wish every happiness because he wholeheartedly deserves it. And I’m sure Steffanye is wonderful.

**and that top has not been out for a stroll in minimum? Four years.

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5 Comments

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  1. Loren / May 23 2011 6:34 pm

    I held onto a pair of blue sparkly flats for about 18 months past their ‘expiration date’ because I wore them on a first date with a boy that I kinda fell in love with (we broke up in less than 3 months). Trust me these shoes REALLY needed to go.
    Nice job chipping way at your unused stuff. I can pretty much promise you that it will eventually feel better to have ‘less stuff’. (I did a big closet purge a couple years ago after graduating.)

    • Danielle / May 23 2011 8:47 pm

      Hey Loren! I know – I feel pretty confident that I’ll emerge from the other side feeling way positive about getting rid of everything not useful. At the moment, though, what I’m nervous about is not so much the getting rid of things? As the ‘getting rid but not immediately wanting to run out and replace’-ing of them.
      But I’m with you – I think (I hope!) I’ll emerge victorious!
      And I love your story about your sparkly flats. 🙂 (And I too have maybe fallen a little too quickly head over heels for someone over the course of twelve weeks . . . sigh. We live and learn, right?)

  2. Rachel / May 23 2011 6:53 pm

    Good for you for filling up three bags. If they’re going to “speak” to you from the corner of your bedroom however I think it’s best to get them out of there. How about donating them to a women’s shelter, or maybe you can donate the work-appropriate items (if there are any) to Dress for Success? Then you’d have the satisfaction of helping other women who may need a leg up.

    As Loren said, it can be very freeing to let go of things.

    • Danielle / May 23 2011 8:52 pm

      Rachel – that’s a really, really lovely idea. I’ll investigate.
      Like I said above, it’s not so much the getting rid of that’s hard – though that has its own tricks, of course 🙂 – so much as the not wanting to immediately go out and buy more. I’m definitely working on shifting my interpretation of enough (self denial’s good for growth I hear . . .!)

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