ClosetConventional wisdom says, “The eyes are the windows of the soul,” but a woman’s closet runs a close second.

As spring approaches each year, I get the itch to clean out my closet (partly so I can justify shopping for new summer stuff).  What I realized this year as I stood at the door of the moderate closet I share with my husband, is that his stuff takes up too much room.  Just kidding.  What I really realized, is that combing through the stacks of t-shirts and sweaters, racks of hanging clothes, and boxes of shoes is more about seeing myself more clearly than it is about donating cast-offs to Goodwill. More specifically, it’s about weeding out who I used to be or who I wish I were, more than it’s about discarding logo’d t-shirts or the jacket I haven’t worn since Linda Evans and Joan Collins duked it out on a nighttime soap.

Who Am I . . . Really?

It’s interesting to consider, through my clothes, who I wished I were . . . but will never be and don’t really want to be anymore.  The sharp suits and businessy pumps say I wanted to be a career woman on the upward path, negotiating deals, wheeling and dealing, traveling weekly and eating take-out five nights a week.  I spent twenty years in the Air Force wearing a uniform, for heaven’s sake!  For the past ten years, I’ve been a novelist and stay at home mom.  At no time have I ever needed more than one suit appropriate for funerals in my closet, and yet there are half a dozen.  Time to give them to an organization that helps disadvantaged women find interview-type attire.

Va-Va-Voom

Then there’s the rack of slinky evening wear.  My evenings are more commonly spent in my sweats watching NCIS re-runs with my fam than gliding around a ballroom floor or knocking back shooters at a glamorous nightclub.  In my twenties (when most of the evening wear dates from), I actually had a lifestyle that required some of those clothes, but that was not yesterday.  So why are they still in my closet?  I tell myself I’m saving them so my girls can wear them when they’re old enough (some of the cocktail dresses and evening gowns are classic and expensive), but what are the chances my style will suit them?  I’m saving them because it’s hard to admit that I will never be that sophisticated, carefree twenty-something again, capable of bringing any man to his knees with the right hemline, plunging back, or swathe of caressable velvet.  Time to find a good consignment store and let go.

Alas, I’m a Land’s End Gal

On Christmas (opening a package containing a fleece shirt), I joked with my husband about being a bit sad that I could wear Land’s End or LL Bean for 95% of my activities and be perfectly appropriate.  He responded by saying he’d be grateful if he could wear Land’s End or LL Bean most of the time.  I was surprised to find that, at heart, I’m grateful that comfort, good fit, and casual style define my life most of the time.  I can satisfy my urge for tailoring and spiffy dresses a couple times a year at conventions or book events.  Arriving home, I’m always grateful to free my aching feet and pinched toes from designer stilettos and kick back with my athletic trainers and jeans.

When I’m done with the closet this spring, I may have to start on my jewelry box . . .

What clothes do you find it hard to let go of?  Do you hold onto any garments that represent a fantasy you that never really existed?  (If not, maybe I’m just less in touch with reality than the rest of you. Totally possible.)