i have always been the type of person who cannot accomplish anything in a messy space. in college, i would delay writing paper after paper by first doing my laundry, then sweeping my floors, and perhaps making my bed. i might even go so far as to do the dishes, and i loathe doing the dishes. it never felt like procrastination though. perhaps it was. perhaps it still is. but i just like writing in a clean space. i like to be distraction-less. allowing my eyes to find nothing array when they wander from the white rectangle of pixels illuminating my poorly lit bedroom.
for over a week, i let the rainbow tiled floor of my friend’s borrowed bedroom remain covered with my endless piles of clothes. when i set out to organize, i inevitably first take on the role of hurricane sara. scattering items over every inch of open floor space. then piles begin to form. then counting ensues. and then…
…it loses priority…
…until it doesn’t.
i finally came back to my clothing purge. putting a number to all the bottoms in my wardrobe. all the leftovers. and now i have a mostly accurate calculation of the utter ridiculousness of my twenty-six years of overconsumption. here goes nothing:
long sleeve: 23
dressy long sleeve: 27
short sleeve: 21
nice t-shirts: 19
workout tops: 19
total tops = 255
dress pants: 4
work out pants: 13
work out shorts: 14
pajama pants: 10
total bottoms =104
formal dresses: 6
total dresses = 34
sports bras: 7
total extras = 181
total shoes = 42
take a moment for the shock to die down.
yes. i could go 138 days (104 days with bottoms plus the 34 days of dresses) and never wear a duplicate article of clothing except underwear and socks. pretty impressively disgusting.
although i found some old gems. i found some hidden pieces of hideous. i found some memories. i found some nightmares. i found myself drifting back into the exact moments that i had acquired those items. it gave retail therapy a whole new meaning for me.
like that beautiful cobalt blue satin dress that i mentioned in my last blog post. i bought it in 2008 for a fancy valentine’s day dinner at a fancy restaurant in a fancy hotel. the one where i was definitely over dressed but did not care at all because i was so in love that no one else in the room mattered. (ex protected in this modified version of a prom photo.)
it has been over five years, and i have never had an opportunity to wear that dress again. it hangs in its plastic dress bag and occasionally gets taken out and tried on.
do you keep it? or do you let it go?
or how about the really awesome fleece zebra pajama pants that are the only piece of wearable clothing that i have ever made entirely by myself? freshman year of high school in fashion design class with mrs. kroll. 2001. those pants are 12 years old. they still keep me warm. they still stand out in a crowd. and hey, a high school senior i had a crush on told me they made my ass look good. so that’s important right?
do you keep them? or do you let them go?
or there is that one skirt that sat in the window of anthropology for a month. he told me i would love it, and when i saw it, i loved it. the price tag was way too rich for my blood at the time. but as luck may have it, a year later at an anthropology in california, there it was…on double clearance…with a very small dirt smudge (for which they discounted it even further). i bought it without a second thought. i think it was around $30. a year or two later and the tags are still on it.
do you keep it? or do you let it go?
this purge has been an exercise in realizing who i am and what kind of clothes i actually wear, what kind of clothes i actually need. i am a self-employed creative that spends every free minute participating in some form of physical activity. what that means?
i do not usually stray far from sundresses, yoga pants, jeans, and v-neck tees.
so why do i have six formal dresses and four pairs of dress pants and ten pairs of heels?
i am learning to answer that question.
they tell you to “dress the part” (or some other cliche variation of this phrase) when you are younger.
i spent preschool through eighth grade with about fifteen people in my class at any given time. the dress code was two pages long. don’t wear strongly scented lotions or perfumes. no “swishy” pants. t-shirts must be tucked in. every monday is dress-up day. no jeans unless it is jeans day. no nail polish. no make up. blah blah blah.
it was the nineties. fashion was not really something that penetrated our fifty acre wooded campus. we wore sweater vests that were pre-sewn to the collared white shirts below them. we wore shiny, synthetic dresses with thick, wool tights to escape a dress code violation. inevitably, i always got a dress code violation. it’s hard to remember and adhere to two pages of rules while staring into your closet at 6am.
and then i started high school in a white upper class suburb of chicago. i quickly learned to “dress the part.” i sucked up my friends’ secondhand name brands without giving them a chance to even consider giving it away or worse, throwing it away. tags like bebe, bcbg, abercrombie, and urban outfitters started appearing in my closet.
they are still there.
and then i started college at a prestigious big ten university in michigan. i began acquiring “professional” clothes. button down shirts and pants with creases down the front and back. if i wanted to load up my resume with professional experience, i knew well enough what i had to do. so i bought the heels with the pointy toes that make your feet look abnormally long and mastered strutting into every interview like i knew what i was doing. just ask my first boss jon. i knew absolutely nothing about video production, but i got the job as production assistant freshman year. all because of those pointy toed fancy shoes.
those heels are in the giveaway pile.
and then i started my own business helping small businesses and nonprofits with their online marketing needs. i work from home mostly, or the laid back portland office of one of my clients. i never wear button down shirts or pants with creases. i never wear heels or really anything other than my chucks, rainbows, and moccasins.
maybe one day i will. and if that day comes, i know how to play dress up. but until then…
i should let them go.