Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Working Wardrobe Phase 1: The Purge

This is how purging made me feel...repeated cycles of sadness then madness. And yes, as you can see from my closet, I have years and years worth of purging to do. Over a decade, really. 

Weeks ago, I began to purge my closet, all in the name of Phase 1 of Project Working Wardrobe. Why am I doing this? Essentially, I’m a sucker for bargains and know all the best places to find them. This means I have a lot of nice clothes. It also means that I have excess that's muddling my closet and brain, rendering me quite l'espèce d'idiote* in the mornings as I stand before my closet trying to figure out what to wear. I knew my closet was a gold mine. I just wasn't being a very good miner. It was time to separate the diamonds from the rough so I could see how to put things together to make them shine. I began my purge with a pile of clothes stashed in the spare bedroom...

...and over time added a piece here and there. Then went back for a piece here and there. Then delayed donation. Um, purging is exasperatingly difficult.  I thus I decided I needed a method to my madness and decided upon 3 basic categories of clothing to purge. So let’s be rid of them once and for all, shall we? And perhaps we'll learn some valuable lessons along the way. Or just get a massive headache.

Category 1: Clothes that don't fit.  Exhibit A:

 Skirt: Down East. I got it on a sweet sale, but it's too big. I bought it online and didn't want to lose the money in return shipping.  I lost money anyhow because I could never shrink it down enough to fit comfortably.

I have this ridiculous habit of intentionally purchasing, or sometimes unintentionally purchasing then keeping, bargains that are too big because I think I’ll use them when I gain weight or have kids. That’s just plain unhealthy. Who plans for a fatter future? And it certainly won’t motivate me to lose the baby weight when the time comes. So I packed away a select few stretchy items for future maternity wear, then said ciao to all other clothes that don't fit, including the above skirt.

Lesson 1:  Don’t waste money on clothes that don’t fit unless you plan to immediately have them altered. Don’t plan on this unless you really, really mean it and the item is really, really worth it!

Category 2: Clothes that are past their prime but may have sentimental value. This was the most difficult for me. It includes fads that are no longer in style or age-appropriate and items that have lost their shape or diminished in quality. I had a LOT of clothes in this category, so it was tough to narrow it down to just one. I finally did, and I give you Exhibit B, my Pretty Kitty T:

Top: AE, purchased many years ago, as evidenced by my wearing it in 2005 at an early morning after-work breakfast with my Disney co-workers in FL, and again in 2006 as photographed by my then fiancé husband in WV, and again in 2007 while climbing a tree in St. Louis's Forest Park, and yet again in 2008 when taking goodbye photos of my first car (please ignore my foolish pose.)

It's a bit juniorish to fit in with my current wardrobe, is too short, and has stains. But do you see all those memories? And those are just the ones I captured on camera. Fortunate, indeed, as I will now remember it with photos (aren’t photos grand?), bite the bullet, and send my beloved shirt along with other like items to better days where they can get use again, like the toys in Toy Story. Adieu, mes chéris.*

Lesson 2:  Recycling is good. So is dressing your age, and being able to say goodbye. Hoarding is bad. Never become a hoarder. Become a memory keeper with photos instead.  

Category 3: Clothes I never wear, typically due to the misguided shopper syndrome. This particular ailment leads to purchasing an item that looks good in theory. It should work. But it doesn’t. Exhibit C:

Top: Maurices. Though I find it pretty, the last time I wore it was in this photo, 3 years ago at my cousin's bridal shower. I'm pretty sure I wore it a total of 3 times, ever. But what do you think of my short hair? I'd just chopped 18 inches to donate and am growing it out again.

I usually bought it on a whim because of the price, or to try a trend that doesn’t really suit me or work with my wardrobe. I can't pull it off, it doesn't fit well, it's uncomfortable, or maybe I just don't love it or need it. This is tough to accept. But it just doesn’t work out, and I must face that it never will. Another case of the misguided shopper syndrome involves purchasing items that may actually be fine, but don’t really contribute to your current wardrobe. I give you Exhibit D:

Confession: I have 2 skirts per hanger. I'm fairly sure I don't need another black skirt, no matter how enchantingly inexpensive it may be...

Finally, we don't want to forget the footwear we never wear because of unwarranted pain. Like those last season pointy toed shoes. Which I wore twice. And regretted each time. Breaking in does not always work. It’s time let go and say bon voyage*, all you trickster items, you!

Lesson 3:  No matter how great of a bargain it is, it’s not a great deal if you don’t really love it and won’t comfortably wear it. Or don’t need it. Like I need those 7 black skirts. Yeah…

Finally, I also found the need to address clothes that need mending. These usually fall under Category 3, but for potentially fixable reasons. I present Exhibit E, epitomizing the curse of the torn seams:

Capris & Sleeveless Top: Gabes (Express). The pants also have a tear in the seam, though it's in a rather unmentionable location, so we won't highlight it right now.  Let's just say I can't bend over or take long strides in this outfit.

You see, a lot of my wardrobe is from Gabriel Brothers. I'm currently preparing an entire post about Gabes, but for now you just need to know that they sell fantastic clothes, at unbelievable prices, that are sometimes damaged or irregular. I have a lot of clothes from Gabes. Several of my Gabes finds are in fine condition. Others need mending. Which I am not very good at. Which means I’ve collected 2 shopping bags worth of clothes that need mending. A tear in a seam, missing button, small hole or rip, uneven seams, small stain, etc. Thanks to a free hour of mending I won at a recent church auction (I was ruthless, I tell you) I’m down to 1 bag. It’s time to pick out what I really want (apply Lessons 1-3), do what I can, take the rest to a pro, and be done with it!

Lesson 4:  Don’t purchase clothes that need mending unless they are needed in your wardrobe immediately, meaning you’ll mend them right away. Also, quickly decide to mend or donate items that were purchased in good condition but have since acquired the need for mending. Clothing does you no good if it’s not wearable, and that growing pile with do nothing but stress you out!

Whew, that was quite a bit. However, I’m already feeling lighter and airier. Amazing how such things can affect you mentally, n’est-ce pas*? Here’s my collection of purged items, ready to be sent off to the world.

Next phase to create a working wardrobe: Assess. In case you haven't noticed, I'm following Kendi's tutorial on creating a working wardrobe. It's marvelous advice, and I found her bit on purging most helpful.

*espèce d'idiote = fool; adieu mes chéris = farewell my darlings; bon voyage = have a nice trip;  
n'est-ce pas? = is it not?


Jaime said...

is that downeast skirt navy? if so I would totally take if off your hands if you still have it.
Oh and I actually have to talk to you about some ideas for those clothes before you gift them to goodwill.

Cassi said...

Sure! And yes, not only is it navy, but I also have an olive one just like it. You can gladly have them both :)

LyddieGal said...

Want to come to my house and do my closet next? I know it is way to full, but I can't get rid of things! Sometimes I will move things out into closet purgatory, and say that if a few months go by and I don't miss them, they should go. but then I go to look in the bag and immediately want them all back.

Chic on the Cheap

Cassi said...

Dear Lyddie: I had that same problem for years! I suggest a goodbye photo shoot with pieces that need to go but are tough to give. This is great fun, and it also helps you see any flaws, providing you reason to let them go. Or, if you already have photos with that particular piece, make a collage like I did with my Pretty Kitty shirt. Either way, you have a really nice keepsake and feel better about passing them along :) It sure helped me!

The Cat Hag said...

Haha Sweetie, this entry is hilarious, how cute are you! ♥♥

"Who plans for a fatter future?"

Hehe, but I totally understand bout the de-cluttering of the wardrobe bit.

I am such a hoarder, I have not cleared out my wardrobe in say maybe 8 years or even more. Eeks!

The Cat Hag

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