Marie Kondo listened for a while, but couldn't stand it any more

I thought I'd see if I could assemble some of my little groans and moans into one cohesive issue, and then discuss that cogently and maturely. Or at least without whining. Like most good intentions, however....

Upon reflection, the issue, properly phrased, might be this:

The Effect of Climate Change on Closet Space
 in an Already Crowded Urban Area
 with Particular Attention to Factors 
of Weight Control and Inaccurate Size Labels.

Naturally I left Ms Kondo's name in the post title, because clickbait.

So, first, weight. Mine fluctuates, and I deal with it the best I can. I don't have a live-in trainer, and my past has left me with a number of physical consequences, which I also deal with the best I can. And where I live there are four main seasons. Actually so far this year, we've had a couple of those seasons more than once. We also recognize lesser, or assistant, seasons like "resort," "holiday," "back to school." We celebrate pre-spring, pre-fall. Oh, and what about the transitionals. These are all ill-defined and fluctuational. This is why someone who does not have a financial interest in the merchandising of clothing or in closet organizational gadgets or in diet foods and programs needs to head the team that studies the effects of climate change on closet space. I'll try to hold back on expansion until the study is published.

The easiest way to start making more closet space would be to have a giant throw-out session, the kind where you mutter to yourself I wouldn't want my family to see this if they had to clean up after I was mashed by a truck... leave, shoulder pads! Begone, leather micro-mini (Mom's? that was Mom's?)  So the idea of a closet cull in the here and now has some appeal. But it needs an identifiable  stopping point, or one will find oneself shopping again (how could I have tossed that blue silk shirt that went with everything?)

So what does one realistically need for the day-to-day, month-to-month? Let's start with pants. For winter I need pants in black, gray, taupe/olive - definitely. Plus there are "Electives": wine, dark green, navy, tweed or plaid, in winter weight (wool, lined); then spring weight (cotton, silk), summer weight (light cotton, linen, lighter colors), fall weight (see spring, add corduroys). Add dark jeans and white jeans. Snappy white linen pants. Work requires work attire, social events require whatever may be called for, and hanging out with Himself calls for anything from LBD to silk pants and dressy top to jeans and tee, to - whatever. We toss into this algorithm this year's Usual Size, this year's Usual Size plus one, this year's Usual Size minus one, this year's Optimistic But Marked Down Size, this year's Realistic Goal Size, and this year's Dreaded Emergency Larger Size. You do the math.

there was going to be a picture of the closet
interior here, but it was really really depressing

Naturally, I don't rush out to buy new every season, or even to replace. Would I get rid of something just because it doesn't fit now? Life has taught me that what I throw out or give away this week, might very well fit next week or next month or next fall. And might in fact be desperately needed. If I dispose of something, I'll only have to replace it, sooner or later. And replacement these days leads, dangerously, to cheap fabrics and shoddy construction. Another consideration: allergies and intolerances to certain chemicals and various skin conditions narrowly limit the choice of fabrics, soon to fabrics that will be found only on the wives and girlfriends of Oligarchs and similar. Is this hoarding?  Hoarding is an ugly word: how about "this is why I stockpile"? Better? How about an example? At a time in my life when even knowing that Paul Stuart carries clothes for women was, um, above my pay grade, I found a sale. I bought a pair of ivory-colored raw silk tailored pants. I have treated the pants carefully, because that fabric simply isn't being produced any more. Its contemporary substitute is inadequate and may even self-combust. So you can be sure of this: I.Am.Keeping.Those.Pants. And whenever they happen to fit in an appropriate season, I might be wearing them.

OK, have the above reflections given you enough time to come up with a number for the pants collection? Are you ready to consider tops? Skirts? How about jackets, blazer and other? I'm a jacket girl, raised to believe that the third piece completes the outfit, and so - I have jackets. When Browning wrote of his Duchess, "She had a heart too soon made glad," was he thinking of a flirtatious noblewoman, or of me trying on another jacket?

And so, where has all of this left me?

Determined to streamline at least something, and hence I have resolved the following:

No more plaid shirts. I really have enough. I should donate some.

No more pink or pinkish sweaters. I've actually succeeded in giving many of those away. Now, of course, lately we are seeing a lot of pink, so work on this resolution has slowed. Still, I'm too well-raised to ask for them back.

No more salmon-colored anything. Repeat: I am not a lox, so I will not dress like one.

No more pea jackets. I love 'em, I just have enough to stock a small and (mostly) chubby naval force.

No more rain jackets - I'm already way oversupplied for the few times a year when I might make good use of one, but really, if the weather is wet enough to cover your top half, shouldn't the rest of you be kept dry as well? Same goes goes for short raincoats, which differ from rain jackets only by (1) price and (2) half-hearted attempts at teeny skirts.

No more purchases of red, white and blue and no more bleu, blanc, rouge.
they run a little small
I even have patriotic sneakers, thanks to Target's collaboration with Superga. This is because a substantial section of my closet is taken up by the components of outfits appropriate from VE Day (May 8) through Memorial Day through June (D-Day, also in June I recall the famous speech of Gen. DeGaulle, an ancient recording of which my cherished lunatic French teacher would play at top volume every spring, while across the hall in desperate competition the 8th grade Latin class would chant Veni vidi vici. The Latin teacher hated noise of any kind and was generally bad-natured, but also was afraid of Mademoiselle, so he didn't attempt omnia Gallia in tres partes divisa est.) 

And from June we run into July 4th and its surrounding long and getting longer weekend, July 14th, the Liberation of Paris in August, Labor Day, break for Hallowe'en, finally Veterans' Day and the starry tanks, the stripey shirts of varying necklines and sleeve lengths, can rest until the following Spring. So although patriotism and love of country continues year round in the form of hopeful feminism, the color scheme takes a rest. Interestingly, these items and their accessories don't wear out, but the collection increases year to year. A critical mass has accreted and I don't want to risk adding one more neutron. Or micron. Or whatever it is.

A subset of this resolution is : No more striped tees. I really, really have enough. I should really donate some. Except of course that they get a lot of wear on patriotic holidays - striped shirt, red hoodie, jeans; striped shirt, white linen pants, navy blazer. etc etc.

The more discerning of you will have perhaps noted that the word "shoes" hasn't yet appeared. (except of course for those sneakers, which are event wear?) Perhaps it would be more practical, in terms of decision-making, to table the question of shoes.

And of course to table the question of coats and jackets. I'm thinking I might feel up to considering that topic in cooler weather. Right now it just seems like a North Pole fairytale - coats? parkas? woolly accessories?
North Pole fairytale
(hot weather treat)


  1. Abandon the Tricolore? My summer is always all about the RW&B, thanks to a Kate Spade tweed suit I copied from Dani BP a couple of years ago.

    Long story, I've been cleaning out a lot of stuff and have four big piles in the garage:
    1. Donate
    2. Dump
    3. Great-Aunt's creepy doll collection
    4. Mr. Hex's boxes o' junk that I should throw away without telling him.

    In the "donate" pile is my circa 1998 roller carry-on suitcase, because this year I upgraded to a spinner. But as I was walking past the pile this morning, I thought to myself, "But what if I have to flee the country?" AFAIK no one in my lineage has had to flee anywhere since the Highland Clearances. But still, how can I get rid of a perfectly good suitcase? If the Apocalypse happens, I might need it.

    1. oh, the redwhiteblue/bluewhitered is how I dress from May to November, I just want to leave a little room so I can consider branching out to, say, cream and pale taupe.
      Amazing how many people are thinking of fleeing, no?

  2. Ha! As someone who goes up and down I totally relate! I tried Marie, but discovered I'd tossed things I needed! Nevermore!

    1. My anxiety dream: I'll be heading somewhere in a hurry and wind up not being able to take off my coat when I get there... and while I'm waiting at the bar a shaggy but very well-dressed homeless lady strolls past the window wearing the shirt I couldn't find.

  3. HI WFF,
    I wish I wasn't so busy with work, because I would love to comment on each and every one of your oh-so- perfect points. I am going to commandeer "this year's Optimistic But Marked Down Size".
    AS you know, you are singing to the choir about fabrics that are endangered, such as good silk charmeuse(Dana Buchman), wonderful wool(old Brook's Brothers) and even some old J Crew Merino pieces. I. Just. Can not. Dispose of items made before the plasticization of textile.
    I hope you are having a wonderful summer. I'll recognize you, I expect, as you will be in RWB.

    1. Ellen Tracy silk paisley blouses
      Ellen Tracy satin blouses
      Lauren Ralph Lauren 100% silk cable-knit sweaters - heavy thread
      prehistoric lady to friend: weren't the threads from the flax we picked last autumn heavier?

    2. Funny, I wrote Dana Buchman, but you are right- it was Ellen Tracy. ALso ancient- original Sigrid Olsen and Adrienne Vittadini.
      Echo your sigh.

  4. My should-purge categories: Converse. Vans. Denim, I have so much denim. Chinos. Chino shorts (these breed in the closet). Boring t-shirts. Cardigan sweaters that I never wear but I might need them some day. J. Crew wool coats (like I would ever actually purge these ha). Rain boots (I might actually cull a few pairs from the herd). Scarves I rarely wear but they're so pretty/warm.

    1. Cate, I actually tossed a JC wool (blend?) coat - the one that looks like a Paddington Bear coat if bears ever wear mourning? gray, black, dark gray, toggles... It was adorable. It only looked warm. It kept fooling me. I thought if I gave it away I would lose a friend, it was so not-warm.

      I could never say goodbye to a scarf.


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