September 29, 2015

A Confession from My Closet.

girl closet

I reach into the mess and grab out something that’s got a pull on me.

Then I realize: every time I go on a trip, I pack far too much to wear.

I stuff in the red shirt that must be right for there since it never works out here. The shirt rarely flatters me, no matter the angle, and there’s always something better I could throw on. You know what the red shirt flatters? The hanger.

Some clothes go back and forth, back and forth each trip, collecting their own passport stamps.

They weigh down my backpack and take up space as, despite the fact they’ve never suited me, something in me insists on dragging them absolutely everywhere. I lament the bad habit, and repeat often.

Then there’s the fuzzy green sweater from decades ago that I just can’t part with.

Even though it’s too tight. Even though the elbows are worn out, the seams have split, the threads are unraveling, moths have made feast of it and the stains from past mishaps are mapped in my visual memory like the scars of a lover.

I look mournfully at its threadbare state, shake my head, insist it needs to go. Its day is done.

But then I pull it close to my chest, breathe it in and it’s unclear. Did I slip it on? Or did it slip me on?

Nothing should be this comfortable.

Much of my wardrobe is habit, staple items I don’t think about. I just reach for them again and again. The black tank. The blue jeans. Do I feel amazing? I feel like me.

Here’s something I never think: if I were to walk into a changing room, and see myself, would I pick this out all over again? Maybe not. Maybe these jeans are a bit snug around the hips, constricting. Perhaps this tank does nothing for my shape. Never mind, these clothes are on automatic.

If I were getting dressed while sleepwalking, they’d end up on me.

When I reach the fed up point, there’s no stopping the desire to purge. I become overwhelmed and must evict anything that is superfluous.

I sort through and grab out this t-shirt and those shorts and that scarf, and despite some fierce last minute instinct to cling, I commit to let go.

Invariably, I feel lighter, less burdened by all the weight I’ve accumulated along the way. I wonder why I ever believed I needed this crap in the first place. Maybe I’ll chuck it all away and live naked.

I swear I’ll never acquire another unnecessary thing, now that I’ve cleared space in my life.

Goodbye once and for all.

I live in a community where the women from time-to-time have clothing swaps. We all bring along things we’re tired of, dump them in a big pile, and dig like scavengers. One woman’s eyesore becomes another woman’s find. We walk around town recognizing our dresses and skirts and hats on each other. We nod at the nimble sneak who unearthed the jewel. But occasionally, after time, this happens. I reach into the mess and grab out something that’s got a pull on me.

Then I realize.

It’s mine. I thought I was long rid of it, but it’s come back to me like a boomerang.

I’ve got different things in my closet. Too much and too little. Some are archived favorites of an hour, consumed like a summer fling before their allure faded. Some of them I wear cyclically, stuffing them away and then fishing them out again when they appear fresh to my eyes.

Some have been passed down to me. Others I’ve been gifted. Some I’ve got no clue how they ended up here. Others are pure color and play. That one’s been painstakingly hand-stitched.

A few I just gaze at from time to time, maybe reflecting on who I was when I wore them, although they no longer fit and likely never will again.

I’ve got different versions of me in my closet.

A woman is a skilled curator of her contradictions.



What I’ve Learned from my Clothing Fast: 5 Guidelines for a Conscious Clothes Buyer.


Author: Aimee Hansen

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Helga Webber/Flickr

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