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June 4, 2011 / Danielle

The Great Purge (Part 5)

All right, y’all; after my initial panic and terror, I’m descending kamikaze style into gettin’ rid of shit.

I’m tired of this mess. I’m tired of having so many many things that not only is making decisions difficult, but merely maintaining the collection is a challenge. Keeping things properly folded is somewhat impossible; fitting it all into my closet is a constant struggle.  I’m tired of having so many clothes that I can’t properly keep up with my laundry; of having such a wide range of sizes, that it spans both my size 2 and my size 8 days. (And yes, while that’s proved useful, I think it mostly proves that I need to pick a size and stick to it.) (Which, yes, on its own note, speaks to my lifestyle.)

I’m tired of the clothes draped on every surface as I struggled to get dressed that day. I’m through with feeling guilty about what I’m not wearing. Bizarrely, I’m even fed up with the sheer volume of options; while it’s fantastic to discover yet one more thing I’d forgotten, I just don’t like it; I don’t like having to add one more thing to my “ooh, yes, wear this!” list.

Most of all, I’m beginning to really enjoy acknowledging that fact that I’ve grown and changed. To allow myself to do that; to let go some of my past and accept that (as Oprah’d say) now I know better? I can do better.

I spent an evening many weeks ago going through my ex-boyfriend box. It’s a little shoebox I keep tucked under the bed (where it belongs), full of letters, mementos, lil goodies and odds-and-ends of my romantic history. I slashed and burned it; got rid of every thing aside from a Tiffany necklace and a certain ring (well, not that certain a ring), tossed out every letter and printed-out email that had broken my heart, and carefully sorted the remaining notes and pictures in chronological order. I don’t mind carrying with me a reminder of my past; I just don’t want to take unnecessary baggage. I wanna leave room to grow.

And that’s kind of how I’m feeling about my closet. I’m trying to carefully pick out the items I’ll be able to wear in my shiny new academic future; it’s going to be a far less stylish look, I fear, but I’m excited about it.  And yes, there’s lots I love that I want to hold on to; and yes, there’s plenty to enjoy within that look, and for special occasions when I’ll get to step out of it.

But I feel like I’m really finally getting to a place where I can realize that my things are not me.

I noticed today on my train ride home that shopping? Is no longer my first go-to time-waster/pleasure. After a rough day at work, I don’t think “well maybe I’ll stop in at Bloomies before I go home” or “Ooh, I wonder if I should swing by the anthro sale room, just see what they’ve got.” It’s been ages since I made any pilgrimage to the Southport Corridor, or to Wicker Park (for a reason other than brunch.) The first impulse is to get home quickly, to spend some time in my favorite corner of my sunlit bedroom, to read a new book, to re-listen to a newly downloaded song. (This bringing new annoyances, of course, when I forget my headphones or lose the book somewhere.)( Somewhere in Chicago, my copy of When Will There Be Good News? is still waiting for me to take it home.)

I love my clothes. I always have, I absolutely do. But they’re beautiful, pretty things that I coveted and caught, mostly on sale, mostly at discounts, and always for the right time . . . . and now?

Okay – it’s worth it to put half of them in a box for the future. (For my as-yet-uncertain career.) I’ll be hanging on to a bunch of them – my favorites.

But in general? They’re just clothes. They hold my memories, sure. But I hold them too.

So. Another round of culling’ll be coming soon. And this one? More brutal.

(I’ll admit, my vehemence here has really taken me by surprise. But as I’ve been starting to clean and sort in prep for The Big Move (coming in August 2011), I’m shocked by what I have by sheer virtue of long-time hoarding; who needs eleven nightgowns and six pairs of pajama shorts?? No wonder I never end up doing laundry. )

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2 Comments

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  1. jesspgh / Jun 6 2011 7:01 pm

    I read this today and thought a lot about my relationship with things. Thought it has some relevant content to your project and your philosophies:

    http://nplusonemag.com/the-accidental-bricoleurs

    • Danielle / Jun 10 2011 5:17 am

      Jess – I’m annoyed that it took me so long to find time to sit down and read this, because it’s wonderfully well-thought. I’m in the midst right now of considering what feels timeless and what feels current in my closet (and therefore, after five months of not shopping, what feels like it’s still wearable and timely vs. what feels completely wrong), and I think this is really, really interesting and poignant.
      On a tangentially related note, I keep thinking of Tina Fey, quoting a friend, saying; “Wear what fashion designers wear, not what they put on the runway.” I remember Vogue articles about prominent designers who would wear nothing but oxford shirts, black blazers, dark straight jeans and ballet flats with pearls; Anna Wintour famously hasn’t changed her haircut in decades. Why is it that we feel staid and drab in the same-old-same-old, but the leaders of fashion themselves tend to live in the same styles? (And why does a new dress in an identical cut to one I already have still feel shinier and more attractive?)

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