Tammy Swift column: Packrat's closet offers glimpse inside soul
A look inside a woman's closet is like a peek inside her soul. One glance, and you can tell if she's a control freak, a slob, a romantic or an aspiring Imelda Marcos. It's all there, revealed in the garments hanging from her hangers and the shoes...
A look inside a woman's closet is like a peek inside her soul.
One glance, and you can tell if she's a control freak, a slob, a romantic or an aspiring Imelda Marcos.
It's all there, revealed in the garments hanging from her hangers and the shoes lined up on the floor.
I'm a little afraid of what people would think when they saw my closet. They probably would deduce one of three things:
E I'm a widow who plans to grieve longer than Queen Victoria did for Prince Albert.
E I'm housing a family of women who range in age from 13 to 65.
E I'm vying for an entry in The Guinness Book of World Records for the planet's largest collection of black shoes.
You see, I'm a packrat. I'm also a determined optimist. My whole wardrobe reflects my view of life: Tomorrow, things are going to get better.
This explains why, until recently, I still possessed the following:
E A size 8 jacket (for when I lose weight);
E A slinky ball gown once worn to a masquerade party (when I lose weight, I'll start attending more coronations);
E A cool, see-through, black shirt that I must have purchased in a fit of typhoid fever and have never worn (just in case I ever marry Heath Ledger);
E A pair of size 7½ sandals (when I lose weight, my feet will also grow shorter);
E A sweater bearing a bold motif much like the Partridge Family's bus (just in case I ever marry David Cassidy).
My closet was stuffed, even though I wore probably 8 percent of its contents. And for most of my adult life, that was just fine.
Then my friend, Lulu, forwarded an e-mail to me. It was one of those pesky, organizational, "make a small change to baby-step toward lifelong fulfillment" things. Even worse, it made complete sense.
The author talked about how demoralizing it can be to frequently look at a closet that's filled with useless things. Her theory was that it's downright depressing to surround yourself with a bunch of "if only" clothes: If only I could get out that spaghetti stain; if only I could lose 20 pounds; if only culottes would come back in style.
Her advice was to purge your closet of everything that was too small, too big or too impractical to wear right now.
That night, I gave my closet a good, hard look. Not pretty. It was like realizing the love of your life had a scratching habit and a beer gut.
In a long-ago, short-lived fit of organizational fever, I had color-coded my clothes. Soon after, I grew tired of trying to decide whether a fuchsia shirt legally could be hung in the red category. Now, clothes of all colors sprouted everywhere.
A flattened cardboard shoe cubby held one pair of squashed flip-flops; the rest of my shoes were stacked in a jumble in the corner.
My eyes scanned the stretched-out sweaters, the legions of too-small pants and the sleek fleet of business suits I no longer wore.
That was it. I called Lulu and invited her to come over. What she didn't want, I would send to the thrift store.
I can't say the experience was immediately pleasant. I did a little grieving for all my old favorites -- and the fact I used to wear a size 10.
Still, it did feel cathartic to have a clean closet filled with things that fit. And, just in case, I did hang onto the see-through shirt.
I just couldn't disappoint Heath.
Tammy Swift writes a weekly column for The Forum. She can be reached through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .