Friday, April 23, 2010

Coming out of the Closet

by Donna MacMeans

A good friend recently took me on a tour of her renovated house. When the kids
moved out, she changed things the way she'd always dreamed they could be. She expanded the kitchen, changed the light fixtures and paint, and turned one entire bedroom into her very own clothes closet, complete with a handbag wardrobe. My practical self thought this rather extreme...but then another part of me thought this a splendid idea.

You see - this is always an awkward time of year...cold in the mornings, warming up to shorts temps by afternoon. Attempting to dress for the day is similar to planning a day long strip-tease. The layers come off as the sun rises, only to reverse the process as it sets.

Undoubtedly, in a few weeks I'll be able to pack up all the long jeans and winter clothes in big plastic tubs, and cart them off to the basement to summer alongside the tubs of Christmas decorations. When Ohio experienced record high temps earlier in the month, I brought up one of the summer tubs so I could at least have access to short sleeve tops. Now my closet and drawers are crammed with winter clothing and my bedroom floor cluttered with summer clothes. I have an incredible urge to toss everything into a bag for Goodwill just so I can once again see the carpet.

But I won't.

I get attached to clothes. Memories reside in the patterns and textures. I still have some outfits that have been too small for something like twenty years now. I keep thinking that if I lose enough weight...I'll wear them again. Maybe monster shoulder pads will come back in style. Maybe I could just remove the pads and the jacket will still fit correctly. (Yeah, right)

Years ago I cranked out some nice maternity dresses for the office on my sewing machine because you just couldn't find professional looking maternity clothes in the early 80s. I KNOW I won't wear those again, yet they're still in my back closet. I have a fisherman-knit sweater that my mother handknit for me. She misread the pattern and kept increasing the sleeve width. The sleeves bell out at the elbow before reducing to the wrist. I'm not sure I ever wore that sweater - it's not exactly flattering - but I just can't part with it. It's still in the back closet.

Then there are the shirts, skirts, and dresses that I bought because I loved the print pattern, or the color, or the event to which I wore it a long time ago. My closet is jammed full of clothes I no longer wear, and weaning out items to donate to charity is painful.
My writing is sometimes like that. I'll write passages that on reflection I know I'll never use. I can only cut them from my manuscript, by moving them to another "closet," a file called "edit cuts." Simply discarding the passages would be too painful. My manuscript is improved by the reduction and I suspect my closets would be too.
So how can I do it? How can I rid myself of the old memories invested in the clothes? How do you do it? Am I the only one that holds on to these things long past their wearability expiration date? Maybe I should just turn my son's bedroom into a massive closet - what do you think?


Helen said...

Is he coming to my place

Have Fun

Helen said...

Well we are going up the coast tomorrow for my nephew and godson's 21st birthday and I am sure he is going to have a ball. The weather here in OZ is still like summer today it reached 32c which is way too hot for autumn the evenings are cooling down but the days are really hot still should be a great party by the pool.

I am going to be no help to you at all I too keep lots of clothes that I know I will never get into again but they mean something to me so I keep them LOL. My wardrobe needs cleaning out big time at the moment but alas I never send too much to the Salvos I always find a reason to keep it.
I suggest you get that room made into another closet LOL.

have Fun

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Be strong Donna, I know you can do it! Take pictures of the ones you don't feel you can part with forever and make a file, "clothes cuts", think of the people who need those clothes and that can and will wear them, bag them up and give them to the Salvation Army or Goodwill. They need them all year long and this is a bad time for them. (So say the person that has clothes in the basement even the Salvation Army doesn't want.)

Anna Sugden said...

Congrats, Helen - sounds like you have a fun day planned.

Ah Donna - we must be sisters under the skin - I was having the very same thoughts this week about my closet (and I do the same trick about cutting stuff from my writing too!).

We get charity shop donations bags through our door about once a week and I know I should be better about culling, but I can't do it. I've used those space bags over the years, but that's only shifting the problem.

I've passed a couple of items on to Keith's daughters, but I'm still well over-crowded (and anyone who's been to the UK knows how small our cupboards are!)

I did think about a buy one, get rid of one approach as a maintenance strategy. I find it easier to get rid of one item at a time than a big cull.

Memento clothes, like the jumper you mentioned that your mum made, I've put those into a separate box and stored those with keepsakes.

Sorry, I'm no help at all!

Caren Crane said...

Helen, way to nab the GR. I hope you both have a wonderful time together!

Donna, you are not alone. I, too, have "sentimental" clothes. A sweater my boyfriend in college gave me. Another sweater that was THE BOMB in 1987 (it IS way cool, even now). The world's most awesome shiny blue satin-lined suit from the late 80s.

I will never be as thin as I was then, though most of the clothes are classic lines that won't go out of style. I do have a great black wool sweater that I took the shoulder pads out of and break out when the temps stay below 20 for over a week.

I also have a sweater that was a hand-me-down from my stepfather from the 70s. It's mohair and it's the most perfect orangey-gold color with an olive stripe at the waist. Hard to explain, but I get major compliments every time I wear it. People look vaguely appalled that it's from the 70s, but hey: mohair lasts forever. *g*

I would NEVER have a room-sized closet because it would be FULL as soon as it was finished. I need a smaller closet so I will get rid of the shoes I never wear!!

Caren Crane said...

Anna and Donna, I have a file for each book called "cut stuff." Sometimes I go back and read the stuff, just to see if any of it needs to be in the story. Nah. There was a reason I cut that scene I loved...nothing happened in it! *sigh*

Gillian Layne said...

Oh, Donna. It is so painful for me to get rid of clothing, too. It seems wasteful to me, if it still has some good in it. But I find as I'm getting older that I'm less tolerant of the clutter, so it's easier to pass along things to goodwill. Our problem is, then the girls and I go into goodwill, and discover all sorts of bargains we think we need to bring home!

There are several things that I know are never going to fit my hips again. They need to go!

I have large plastic trash can full of old clothes that belonged to the girls. I just love to go through it.

Minna said...

Well, I'm not all that attached to clothes, so I have no problems getting rid of the ones I don't need anymore. The other option is turning those clothes into something else. Like for instance (haven't done these, specically, but one day)


Suzanne Welsh said...

LOL, Donna! I sooooooooooo know your pain!

When I converted one of the kids old rooms into my office I suddenly had an entire closet to myself for "conference clothes", those things I only wear to conferences or DARA meetings or lunch meetings and the occasional mandatory inservice on my days off, if I can't get by with jeans.

But recently I've been purging my house of all kinds of CRAP, with warning to my hubby that once I got our bedroom done his unholy messy office was next. I think the man is quaking in his boots!

So, imagine how fun it's been to try and throw out socks and old tee shirts of his riddeled with holes? There is a memory for every tee shirt. So in compromise, I've gotten rid of one article of my old clothes to a charity bag for every two items, not including socks, that he's let get put in the trash.

I now have two empty drawers for new summer clothes!

Just a word of warning. Later this summer when y'all hear lots of screaming and moaning coming from the direction of Texas....that's the office getting purged!

Deb said...

Donna, I have dresses (and I wore them almost all the time pre-pregnancy and pre-child days) that are 15 years old or older that do not fit. Why do I keep them? I don't moan about my 20+ lb. weight gain (well, I do), but just like to remember when I could wear classic, fitted dresses? I don't know. :( What a sad sack I am.

I used to LOVE shoes and had a closet full of them! Now, I just have what I need to get by.

I HATE to shop, so when I do find an outfit I like, I usually buy it even if it is a tad expensive.

MsHellion said...

No, I have plenty of clothes I can't wear that I won't part with. *LOL* And plenty of edit cuts too. *LOL*

I have no advice because I don't think it's a problem. Unless you have to move into a bigger house to accommodate for the clothing, and then you might have to cull the herd. Then I'd keep the fisherman sweater because your mom made it. Family sentiment is impossible to part with, in my experience.

EilisFlynn said...

I have a suit in the back of the closet that I keep solely to remind myself that I used to wear that size. I also have a cocktail dress that was a gift from an aunt because you never know when you might need one (of course, that was sizes ago too). Hm. Fashion archaeology!

Susan Sey said...

"Figuring out what to wear is like planning a day-long strip tease."

Oh, Donna, lines like that are why I love your writing. :-)

I'm in the same boat up here in Minnesota. Dressing my 1st grader appropriately for the day ahead is utterly draining. I've done my hardest intellectual work of the day by 8 a.m.

But I'm probably no help when it comes to figuring out what to keep & what to chuck. I'm a sentimental soul & would keep everything if I could. But since I can't, I refuse to indulge and EVERYTHING GOES. Seriously. Mothers day cards, my kids' artwork, my business suits from the late 90s/early 00s.

Goodwill loves me.

But I could get into having a closet like your friend's.

Christie Kelley said...

Donna, you can do it! I have moved so many times that old clothes are the first to go. I think I had my maternity clothes out of the closet before the end of the first month.

I do keep one or two items that are sentimental but no more than that. Donate them to a charity. If you have good professional clothes, there are charities who need them for poor women trying to get jobs.

Be strong!

Louisa Cornell said...

Ooh, Helen, that sounds like a fun day! Wish I had stowed myself in the GR's luggage!

Donna, I am SO not helpful in this area. I need to turn my middle bedroom into a clothes closet like your friend did. I would need one entire wall for shoes!

I am just too darned sentimental to get rid of stuff. And my biggest problem is BOOKS! I need a room attached to my house just for my books.

I am the queen of rubbermaid tote storage all with neat little tags telling me what is inside and when it went inside.

Sometimes I go into the back bedroom - better known as The Storage Hovel - and browse through the totes and take a trip down memory lane. I always say I am going to cull stuff. Never happens. SIGH!

That's me, no help at all!

gamistress66 said...

When mom finally had us all out of the house, she didn't turn a room into a closet but did take over the closets/dressers in the other rooms so that she had her clothes spread between 3 or 4 different rooms.

As a kid, I always hated the "change of season drawer change" that you're going through. Now I keep everything in together so I can always find the right thing to fit the weather outside assuming I don't need to do laundry.

Every so often I do a big purge and take everything to goodwill or such (assuming it is still usable). I still have a few things that I know I'll prob never wear again but can't bare to get rid of, but for the most part I try to think of the benefit & good use that some else can make of it. That and the fact that if there's more room I can buy some new great clothes. :) :)

Claudia Dain said...

Your memories are not stored in your clothes; your memories are stored in your head.

Throw out the junk in your life, darling Donna, and breathe the fresh air of new beginnings and great bargains at your local mall.


And, yes, I'm the same way with my words. I throw them out, hitting that delete key with abandon. They're only words. I have more. I have an unlimited supply of more.

Donna MacMeans said...!!!

Yay Helen! You'll have to be quick on the draw tomorrow so the GR can go to your nephew's party. Sounds like fun!

Good to know I'm not the only one who keeps clothes for sentimental purposes - and yes - the wedding gown -complete with red jello stain on the front - is packed up somewhere in the basement and stored away. (At least I got that one out of the closet!)

Donna MacMeans said...

Dianna - I like the idea of "clothes cuts". While I've applied life principles to writing - hadn't thought of doing the reverse. Neat idea!

Yes, I've hauled bags and bags of clothes to Savation Army and AMVETS over the years, but a deeper cull must be made. Part of the problem, as well, is finding the time to weed through everything. It's such an ominous task - I open the closet, see the stuff packed so tight, they don't need hangers (grin)- and close the door. Thanks for the photo idea!

Donna MacMeans said...

Anna - Hope you're feeling better. Maybe that warm desert island virtual vacation did some good (grin).

You know - I was thinking something along those lines. Rather than pack up the seasonal clothes that DO fit and still are fashionably viable - I should pack the clothes that for some sentimental reason I'm having trouble losing and put those in the basement. (Of course, the basement is also overstuffed, but at least I don't see it daily.) I may do that with the sweater. Thanks!

Donna MacMeans said...

Caren -

LOL - the same woman keeps all her shoes in their original shoe boxes and labels them with a description before stacking them on layered shelves...and we're talking a lot of shoes! Did I mention that this lady is married? I have no idea where her husband keeps his things, but I'm starting to understand why I always see him in a blue shirt and khaki pants (grin).

Another sentimental clothes keeper - bless you. I feel so much better knowing I'm not the only one.
I can totally see you in that orangey sweater - the color would look great on you.

Does anyone else have trouble donating clothes that your husband gave you? He buys clothes for me because he likes the way they look on the mannequin - but when I look in the mirror, I know these things won't see the light of day. Still, I don't want to hurt his feelings - so I keep the orange sweaters that make me look horrid. (LOL if I didn't already know that the sweater would dwarf you - I'd bring my brunette colored clothes your way.)

Donna MacMeans said...

Caren -

Sometimes something comes out of edit cuts, but it's rare and usually is only a sentence - yet the file is probably as big as the manuscript (grin). I'm obviously much more objective about cutting out writing than I am cutting out clothes!

Donna MacMeans said...

Gillian - Isn't that the truth. As sentimental as I am about my clothes - I'm even more so about the kid's clothes. At least - those things that aren't ripped and ruined. Certain outfits I've tucked away in a cedar chest thinking that some day - when they have kids of their own - I'll pass along to them. It's hard to reconcile that tiny jumper, or the tiny frilly dress with the tall fully grown adults they are today!

Deb said...

I have my wedding dress boxed up. The HS music department put on a wedding dress fashion show for a fundraiser last year, but I hesitated to break open the seal.

I have saved a couple of my daughter's baby outfits.

My dad's Danish cousin knitted a blue dress that my sisters and I and all of our daughters wore around age 2.

Then there is the lace baptismal (baby) gown my mother crocheted for my niece and each of the grandchildren have worn it for their baptisms.

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Minna!

Good on you that you don't hang on to clothes - it's a blessing.

I've thought of using some of the clothing for things like quilts. I think it would be a great way to preserve the memories, yet still free up space - but not every fabric is conducive to quilting...and there's the issue of time. Everytime I embark on a craft project, or a painting - I feel like I should be writing. My life is seeped with guilt - LOL.

Donna MacMeans said...


Good for you on the purging! Hey - next time you're in Columbus, feel free to come over here and ruthlessly attack my closets - LOL.

I redid my office last year. It all initiated with a trip to IKEA. We went just to look around and came home with a new desk and overhead cupboards. Well - you can't put up a new, bigger desk without removing the old one - and moving the filing cabinets that flanked it. And you can't do either of those things unless you clean out & toss all the crap that has accumulated for twenty odd years. The trash I threw out was amazing! We painted the office, added more file cabinets, put everything away - it was beautiful...back then. Now a year later, the office is buried under paper once more. Does it ever end?

Donna MacMeans said...

Deb -

I'm telling you - we're sisters of the soul (grin). I'm not a big shopper either - I think it's those three way mirrors that scare me away (grin) - or the incredible time it takes, so if I find something I really like, I don't mind spending a little more. Shoes? I think at the moment I only have about three or four pairs, and one of those is at least two years old (they're comfortable).

Funny thing - I don't have any of my old clothes from my college days - but I do have some of my husband's. Now that I've lost some pounds - I might be able to fit into his skinny clothes again.
70s - here I come!

Donna MacMeans said...

Ms Hellion - LOL - It's a problem. Believe me.

Sometimes I think the reason I'm drawn to writing about the Victorian period is that I live a life of clutter. I have collections of all sorts of things strewn about the house, and clothes are no exception. You know - from the Victorian homes that I've toured - they didn't have a lot of closet space - so what did they do with all the clothes. I guess the servants had something like a department store thing going on up in the attic (grin). This is especially interesting when you consider that the clothes hanger wasn't invented until 1903. Before then it was all hooks and pegs.

Donna MacMeans said...

Hey Ellis !

Fashion archaeology - love it!

Funny how it's so hard to let go of a small size that I'll probably never see again - yet easy to dispose of the "fat" clothes that have more liklihood of seeing return use.

I'm determined to toss out three items today in honor of this blog. Wish me luck!

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Susan -

From one of your big fans (just a reminder - Money Honey is due out June of this year - can't wait) I thank you for your compliment.

Of course, part of the reason we do that "layering to remove" routine is that we're just so anxious for warmer temperatures. Just the possibility of weaing shorts and feeling the sun on lily-white winter calves is too strong to resist.

I remember when I had to clean out my mother's things, I discovered she kept a scrapbook with all the cards she'd ever been given. Lots of our homemade cards were there with the storebought ones. I doubt she ever looked at it, but I think having the scrapbook gave her comfort.

I wonder if the local college theater department would have an interest in some of this stuff? Young college co-eds would more likely fit into the small sizes (yes, I was small once - sniff, sniff). That way i met actually see the clothes again - on stage. Wouldn't that be a blast!

Donna MacMeans said...

Christie - Spoken like a true realtor LOL! And those less cluttered closets show better as well!

I cringe at the thought of ever moving. The propect of new surroundings excites me, but I can't imagine weeding through all this stuff to move it to another location. There are so many hidey-holes for accumulated stuff.
i don't know how you do it.

Karyn Gerrard AKA~Drew said...


I get attached to clothes too. But, there comes a time, when you have to let go, fill those boxes or bags and drag them off to a second hand place or some such. Except for a few that really hold such wonderful memories.

LOL at the shoulder pads! I was saying the same thing looking on my closet, 'They'll come back in style, everything always does...acid wash jeans will come back!' *snort*

Minna said...

Donna, well, if they are not all suitable for quilting, there are plenty of other options, like that knitted carpet or something else. There are a lot of fun ideas on the pages of Strömsö. You don't necessarily even have to understand the language, as there are plenty of pictures, but if you want to have a gist of what has been written in Swedish, there are some handy translation programs all over the internet, like this one:

Donna MacMeans said...

Louisa -

I hear you on the books. My daughter reads as much as I do, but in a completely different genre. We have tubs of books in the basement and on every conceivable surface. My husband worries about the stress on the floors by the mountain of books upstairs.

We are doing better about donating books to the library, though. It helps to know that if I need to retrieve one of those old keeper romances, I can most likely find it online. So we run a box of books at least weekly to the library. Unfortunately, I think we sell buy new ones more than we donate the old (grin)

Donna MacMeans said...

gamistress66 - Believe me, like your mother - I've already taken over the other closets (very big grin). Not only does that eliminate some of the problem, but it hides it as well. Alas - I can no longer count on finding storage space there (sigh).

I envy you having all seasons at hand. The only way I think I'll be able to do that is to more to a one-climate town. LOL! Of course that would require throwing stuff out so we could move (sigh). Back to square one...

Donna MacMeans said...

Claudia - you are the Queen of good advice. Yes the memories reside in the mind, but the clothes are the triggers. I'd be tempted to keep a swatch or so to trigger tactile memories, but that would render the garment useless for charities. (sigh).

You're right - I should just Do It!

Virginia said...

Congrat Helen, have fun with him!

Sorry no help here on getting rid of things. I am not good with this sort of thing myself! I hate cleaning out closets, and tell myself I may ware that again!

Donna MacMeans said...

Deb -

Your post made me remember a dinner party (hosted by the same woman with the room turned closet). All the ladies were supposed to wear their old wedding dresses. I took mine out of the box just to see if it would fit. LOL - Not a chance! I expected that the zipper wouldn't be able to close - and I was right. But what surprised me was the placement of the darts for the boobs. I can not believe I was ever THAT perky! Good Grief!!

Which of course is another reason why it's so silly to hang on these outfits. Even if I were to shrink in size to fit the clothes...the parts aren't necessary in the same place as they were! That old tube top is now a cummerbund, if you know what I mean, and yet still covers the same territory!

I need to bite the bullet and do this thing.

Donna MacMeans said...

Karyn -

Unfortunately, saving a couple of sentimental things is what has gotten me into this mess! That and really good sales at stores closing their doors.

I'm afraid I'm a victim of - it's such a good deal! buying of outfits that I've worn once.

So here's what I've decided to do. Well over half of the closet bar holds old, old, clothes. I'll clean out the winter stuff and that section and box up the special sentimental things in a marked plastic tote. That tote will disappear in the basement while I contemplate it's final destination.

Non-sentimental -if it doesn't fit me today, it goes to charity. If I haven't worn it in the last year, it goes to charity. All else I'll pack up and mark for next winter.

Summer - here I come!

gigi said...

I also get attached to clothes but I tell myself I can't keep everything.
Special things I won't ever buy but I can't part with are tucked away in the attic. I try and keep a bag ready to put clothes into for the goodwill. Ratty old t-shirts get cut up into dust rags and rags for the hubby to use in the garage.
When cleaning out a closet just dive in and take the stuff off as soon as possible or you will find yourself digging back through it.
Trust me yo never miss the stuff once it is gone and you love the added space.

Donna MacMeans said...

Minna -

Nope - no time to do the rag-rug thing. I remember my mother doing that - only she made seat cushions for the wooden dining room chairs. I'm better off just donating to charity...but maybe one day, I'll do the quilting.

Donna MacMeans said...

Virginia - See we're of a similiar mind! But alas, postponing the problem has presented me with this dilemma. I'm going to have to roll up the shirt sleeves and dive in.

Donna MacMeans said...

Gigi -

You know - this helps. Hearing someone say - "when it's gone, you won't miss it." I know that intellectually but it's good to hear it reinforced.

i keep a bag on hand for goodwill donations too. Seems like I'm always running stuff over - but the problem still grows. I used to keep my husband old t-shirts and undershirts for rags - but then the rag bin started to overflow! (Of course, it might help if we actually used the rags - but that would entail cleaning LOL)

jo robertson said...

Ooooh, congrats, Helen. Sounds like the rooster will be well entertained today!

Great post, Donna, and very timely as summer rushes into northern California.

I, too, have trouble "throwing out" passages, phrases, or entire manuscripts I've written. There's something so final about it.

I'm not troubled as much by throwing out clothes I've worn, but I do fool myself into thinking I'll fit back into those size 8 suits one day. And then I think where would I wear them anyway??

I finally picked through my wardrobe and donated all those nice expensive skirt and pants suits to a charity. And yes, it was painful.

Laurie said...

I'm a hoarder and it's horrible. Clothes litter my room and spill out to the adjoining one. I tell myself that I have to get rid of stuff but it's hard to know which to give away as my weight keeps going up and down. Also, my sister gives me a lot of clothes. Of course her coloring is different than mine so I never know what looks good on me. I know I need to dig in and just try on stuff and weed things out. Unfortunately, I keep pushing aside the chore for another day. *roll eyes*

So, I feel your pain!

Kirsten said...

Oh Donna, I also have a tub full of "memory" clothes! T-shirts from events I did in college. Sweaters that were knitted for me that also have a few mistakes. Sweaters knitted for the kids that I was scared to put on them because they were so beautiful. My high school prom dress (yes, I've still got it!)

On the other hand, I'm rather obsessively tidy, so I do weed out the regular clothes collection regularly. Things I haven't worn for a year or so go to the consignment shop or goodwill. I just don't have space or interest in keeping them around.

But those memory clothes...oh, I could never get rid of those. I just limit it to one tub. One very happy, full of love, tub. :-)

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Oh Donna,
I can soooo identify with this post! Thank you thank you for admitting something I have the worst time doing -- TOSSING OUT CLOTHES! TICD is right, we need to just DO the deed. We'll still have our memories... but ACK! I just can't seem to force myself.

One piece of advice on those sentimental items like the sweater (and I have a granny square vest my mom made me that will NEVER be tossed no matter that I NEVER wore the thing)-- buy a nice cedar chest and store them in there. That's what I've done with my wedding dress, my first formal dress (GAH! Was I EVER that skinny?!?!) an outfit an aunt sent me from Hawaii, my son's baby nightgown I embroidered for him -- they are all in the cedar chest for future generations to deal with! :-P


Donna MacMeans said...

Jo - You've had so many under your roof I have to believe you are very good at keeping the closets under control.

Cutting in a manuscript - it is painful, but so necessary. I think that's one of the things you learn with each manuscript you write - the need to be ruthless with a scapel.

Hmm - I wonder if the tendency to have overflowing closets varies by the genre one writes. (grin)

Donna MacMeans said...

Laurie - I so understand that "chore for another day". When it comes to housecleaning (and closet thinning) - I follow Scarlett O'Hara's lead.

Hugs on the sister's gifts. It's so hard, sometimes, to be objective and realize which colors work and which don't - especially if it's a really cool garment otherwise.

Donna MacMeans said...

Kirsten - one tub - that's it?'s worth a try. I may have to keep one tub for sentimental, and one tub for "love the fabrics - future quilt or other craft projects" Did I mention that I have some things that I keep just because their colors brighten up my closet? I know - I'm a sad, sad case.

I do love the "one tub of love" though.

Donna MacMeans said...

AC - Well, you know we're sisters - right!

Actually, I do have a big cedar chest that I inherited from my mom. Right now it has all the sentimental baby and little kid clothes. Didn't save much from there teenage years (grin). And it has the photo that's another area that requires weeding. I have a hard time throwing out photographs. A major benefit of digital cameras is that there's no longer packs of photographs and negatives all over the house. I wonder if someday this will bite us where it hurts.

One of these days - I'll have to clean out the photographs and photograph albums - but first the clothes!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Oooh, Donna! I feel your pain. Grins. I have a huge closet - which is great, but of course I only have 1/2 a huge closet because I share with hubby. Grins.

I have, however, learned to "make room" - I finally figured out (like Suz) that if I cleared out, I got cool new stuff! I loike cool new stuff!

BUT, that said, I had to have help. My BFF came over and between us, we cleared out 7 -yes, really, SEVEN - large trash bags of clothes to go to various charities. The suits I no longer wore went to women breaking into the workforce from less than financially great beginnings. The other stuff, Goodwill or Salvation Army.

I had some sentimental keepers, but I boxed them up with preservative stuff and Moth-a-way, and got 'em out of the closet.

I would NEVER have been able to do it without her there, saying, "Really, you'd actually WEAR that again?"

Snork., even as I get back into lower sizes after kids, nothing fits the same. It's all rearranged itself. (Side note: how and why does THAT happen? HMMMMMM!) So, even tho things fit, they don't fit.


Purge. It's good for the soul. Call me, we'll go through the closet together. My sis and I do this.

Donna MacMeans said...

See - I knew a suspense writer would have little trouble hacking through the sentimental ties (grin).

Yes - even when the weight comes off, things don't fit the way they used to. Guess this is part of my spring cleaning.

Pat Cochran said...

Clothes still in my closet today:

-the dress I wore when Honey and
I met 51 years ago
-dress I wore to his senior prom
-my wedding dress
-my favorite "little black dress"
from when I wore a size 8
-the children's baptismal clothes
-the dressy outfits worn to com-
pany Christmas parties
-several outfits that were bought
because I'm almost down to that
size (my goal clothes)
-my "fat" clothes (those clothes
that no longer fit because I did
reach my weight loss goal of 50
plus pounds, but then I thought
what if that weight comes back!
I can't toss them out! Those outfits sit at the back of my closet and act as an additional
guard against weight gain!!!!!)

Pat Cochran

Beth said...

Donna, I'm just the opposite - I'm way too eager to toss something that's just taking up space. I've regretted throwing out a few things (several pairs of boots come to mind) but other than that, I'm happy to fill the space in my closet with something new :-)

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Helen, I hope he's behaving himself! He loves to visit you!

Donna, your post made me giggle. There must have been something in the air. I have a BIG built in cupboard in the main hallway that basically I just shove stuff into. It had reached a stage where when I opened the doors, the stuff shoved back and I drowned in debris. Anyway, I had a clean-out yesterday. It's not exactly tidy but I've sorted out the worst of it and thrown out stuff I'd kept (honestly if bubblewrap was money, I'd be a billionaire!) for ages thinking I'd use it and then never had. It was bin day too so everything went before I could start regretting it and nutting through the rubbish to get it back.

Donna MacMeans said...

Pat - Congratulations on the weight loss! Fifty plus pounds - that's fantastic!

I would say toss the fat clothes as incentive to keep the weight off but I'm too practical to do that myself. I did toss some stuff in the donation bag today. They were nice clothes - but either the color didn't suit (Jeanne gave me the courage to do that), or they weren't the most flattering, or I hadn't chosen to wear them in a couple of years. Gone.

Donna MacMeans said...

Beth -

You obviously don't have my accountant gene (grin). I wish I was more aggressive about tossing the old to make room for the new. Bummer about the boots. I have a wide foot and thick calves so it's really hard for me to find shoes/boots. I hang on to the few I have - even the old sneakers. Now those I CAN easily replace, but old habits die hard.

Donna MacMeans said...

Beth -

You obviously don't have my accountant gene (grin). I wish I was more aggressive about tossing the old to make room for the new. Bummer about the boots. I have a wide foot and thick calves so it's really hard for me to find shoes/boots. I hang on to the few I have - even the old sneakers. Now those I CAN easily replace, but old habits die hard.

Donna MacMeans said...

Anna -

LOL on the bubble wrap. I do the same thing!!!
I think my hoarding tendancy on bubble wrap started when I signed my first contract. I had visions of needing to wrap books and prizes and whatnot in bubble wrap before shipping. I think I've used some of the wrap for filler when sending packages - but nothing like what I've accumulated.

Before I published - bubble wrap was mainly used to pop and irritate the dog (grins). It's one of those versatile items.

Anna Campbell said...

Donna, I kept a lot of packing material (I keep padded bags which I find are fantastic for putting inside the rather fragile prepaid plastic envelopes Australia Post provides). But there's just so bloody much of it! Yeah, had a good time stomping on some of the bubblewrap - sounded like a firing range here yesterday!

Donna MacMeans said...

I think Cassondra's ears just perked up.

PinkPeony said...

Hi Donna...I feel your pain. Your post reminds me of Lillian (who resembles Paloma Picasso but much prettier)the mother of a close friend. She turned a spare bedroom into her closet. She's the kind of woman who always looks put together, perfectly coiffed, effortless style. Years ago, I had to travel for business and she taught me how to pack my clothes in a suitcase (lots of tissue and dry cleaning bags) so they wouldn't wrinkle.

As for me...ugh. My best friend gets first pick before I put anything in the Goodwill bag. When we moved, I had a garage sale and sold 40 pairs of pumps and flats...half of which were never worn or worn just a few times. I know that sounds terrible. I work at home now so I don't need to dress up. I do have some nice pieces that are almost 20 years old but they're classics and I will keep them...along with my Camp Fire Girls uniform (circa 1970) and the coat my aunt made me with my name sewn in the back (circa 1968). I have clothes that are so old that they were made in the USA. LOL! Pedal pushers from the GAP that are 15 years old, A Tommy Hilfiger school girl jacket made in Japan from the early '80's. I still wear them.

It's not my intention to add to your burgeoning closet but if you like vintage clothing, here's one of my favorite sites.

Have a great weekend everyone. Congrats, Helen.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Pat said: -my "fat" clothes (those clothes that no longer fit because I did reach my weight loss goal of 50 plus pounds, but then I thought what if that weight comes back! I can't toss them out! Those outfits sit at the back of my closet and act as an additional
guard against weight gain!!!!!)

PAT!! YOU ROCK!!! This is awesome! Hey, get rid of all but a couple, 'cause you aren't ever going back there, right? Grins. Keep a couple, ditch the rest. It'll feel great. I have a friend who did this and she said it was very liberating...

EIther way, GO YOU!!!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Donna said: They were nice clothes - but either the color didn't suit (Jeanne gave me the courage to do that),

Woot! Go you!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Pink said: along with my Camp Fire Girls uniform (circa 1970)

Oh, my....I wonder where mine is? Grins. Hello fellow Camp Fire Girl!

Suzanne Welsh said...

They were nice clothes - but either the color didn't suit (Jeanne gave me the courage to do that), or they weren't the most flattering, or I hadn't chosen to wear them in a couple of years. Gone..

See Donna, you can do it, one step at a time!

PinkPeony said...

Jeanne wrote...Oh, my....I wonder where mine is? Grins. Hello fellow Camp Fire Girl!

Hey, Jeanne...I still have the Camp Fire Girls Handbook, the beret and the bolero with all of my beads and badges my mom sewed on it.

"I will strive to grow strong like the pine tree...and follow the law of the fire." :)

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Pink said: Hey, Jeanne...I still have the Camp Fire Girls Handbook, the beret and the bolero with all of my beads and badges my mom sewed on it.

"I will strive to grow strong like the pine tree...and follow the law of the fire." :)

OMGosh! Wow, does THAT bring back some memories. I'm going to meet my sis to go through some of my Dad and Mom's things. Wonder if my vest and beret and badges are all there? :) I'll let you know...

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Okay, vanity here...I just changed my icon to my new cover because I was jealous of Donna and Anna's new cover icons. Grins. Gotta see if it posts right...

Donna MacMeans said...

PinkPeony - I have been called many things - but never "perfectly put together." LOL. Have no fear, that spare bedroom will become a library before it ever becomes a closet.

Woot on connecting with Jeanne on Camp FIre Girls. I'm an old GIrl Scout myself, but haven't a clue where my badge sash went. I found my dh's old Boy Scout shirt, and I have my son's Cub Scout shirt carefully tucked away. Funny the things we save that way.

Donna MacMeans said...

Jeanne - That's one hot cover! I love the predominant black and the skin tones really pop. The cover gods smiled on you, girl.

Donna MacMeans said...

Suz - Thanks. I've already gotten one fat bag stuffed to haul to Goodwill.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Thanks, Donna! You and I - well, all the Banditas, really - have had such great luck with covers!

I'm in love with this one, have to confess...

Pat Cochran said...

Thanks for the suggestions about
my fat clothes! The nicer pieces
I'm going to box up and save for
the Flea Market at our Fall Fest.
The rest will be donated to the Salvation Army or Goodwill.

Pat Cochran

Cassondra said...

Hi Donna,

I have conquered this problem. The last holdout was the clothes my mother made for me when I was in high school and early college. I could still wear those until about five years ago, but I never will again. Even if I lost weight, my body has changed shape and they just won't fit. I held onto them for years, thinking I'd do a quilt from the pieces. But I eventually just ran out of room!

So now I realize that they are not my mother, and I will still have the memories of her without keeping everything her hands ever touched. As to the BOUGHT clothes that I've loved, I help myself by thinking there are people who can use those and they NEED them, and I'm being selfish by holding onto them. And when I let go of them, it always feels good--lighter--like I'm making room in my life to move and for new things to come in.

And here's how I did it. I set aside a tub for things that I know I will never wear, don't look good on me, don't suit or are out of style. I packed everything into it and labeled it "charity box" and I put it in the garage. After six months of having no desire to open that tub and get anything out, I put it in the back of the van. I DID NOT OPEN THE TUB. THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN A MISTAKE.

Then when it had ridden around with me for six more months, I took it to Goodwill and handed it over. Didn't open the tub. I drove away.

That's how I did it the first time. And that space in my life felt so good to me that next time I was able to do it much faster. Now I pull stuff out, look at it, ask myself whether, realistically, I'm ever going to wear it again.....

Three questions.

1) Do I love it?

2) Does it fit?

3) Does it suit my style NOW the way I am NOW?

If the answer is not yes to ALL THREE, it goes. No remorse.

I have never regretted letting go of things. Never. Not. Once.

But I had to come to the place where space and clear energy flow through my home and being able to find stuff easily meant more to me than clinging to the things. Everybody comes to that in their own time. You can't really rush it.

Oh, and I read some books about the psychology of why we hold onto things--that helped me get my mind around why letting go of stuff was so painful and helped me put my head in a better place. I don't think I would have been able to let go of the stuff my mom made without the books.

But it was bogging me down. We just don't have a lot of space here. I still have too much stuff, but I've conquered the clothes hoarding problem. Now I just need to get my closets built and systems installed so I have a place to put the things I decided to keep!

Christine Wells said...

Donna, I get very attached to clothes, too. I still have beautiful clothes from my skinny days that remind me of good times. I'm not going to part with them even if they don't fit me any more. Maybe one of my nieces can wear them to a retro party one day:)

Congrats on the rooster, Helen!

Cassondra said...

Okay I just remembered something because Kirsten said t-shirts.

T-shirts are my downfall because I ran events for so many years--music events and film events. And with each event, there is an original t-shirt with original art on it. Oh yeah. I have over a hundred t-shirts between those and the t-shirts from search & rescue, SAR dog teams, fire schools I've attended for training, Shirts with figure eight knots and carabiners on them that say PMI Dynamic, etc etc etc on and on and ON.

I have WAY too many t-shirts, but I do love all of them, and yes, I wear each one on occasion, so none of them are completely useless space hogs. Still, I have too many.

Cassondra said...

Posh said:

Another sweater that was THE BOMB in 1987 (it IS way cool, even now).

Okay Posh, you have to bring this to the next gathering where we all are. I must see this most awesome sweater.

fearja said...

HI - I too have clothes that no longer fit - or are disintigrating even - but I have an emotional attachment to them. I had a silk blouse that was wearing out although the body was fine. I had a friend make a pillow out of it. I see it across the room - and it just brings me joy.