A few weeks ago I spent an evening with one of my closest friends, Christy Brown. After my droning on and on about my new found closet-related freedom, she decided to take the plunge and let me hack away at her closet too. Having just moved, she didn’t think she’d have too much to get rid of, but, well, she was wrong.
We started by pouring ourselves some glasses of wine, then headed up to her bedroom. The first thing we did was pull every single item of clothing out of her closet and drawers. She kept saying, “Wait. This too!?” And I kept saying “YES!” until everything was piled on her bed and her closet was a clean slate.
We decided on three piles: Must Go, Keep, and Can Decide Later Tonight. Christy had a couple of distinctive issues come up for while cleaning out the closet. Like Julie and me, she had a hard time saying good bye to expensive pieces of clothing, no matter how redundant or rarely worn. She had been gifted with some really nice cocktail dresses over the years, and though she had way to many for how often she wore them, it was hard for her to let go, thinking of all the money that was spent on them at one point. She had also held on to a lot of unique occasion clothes, such as knobbly, knitted scarves and hats she’d designated for skiing (note: I’ve known Christy for 14 years, and have never heard her talk about going skiing before that evening. We got rid of those). She also had a lot of “date night” clothes she only wore to dinner with her husband (she kept most of those, after swearing to wear them more often), and Disney themed items brought home from trips to Disneyland and Disneyworld, but not actually that wearable for a 27 year old, professional, woman (we got rid of most of those, too).
As we were getting down to the end of the piles and about to go through her Decide Later pile one last time, she, somewhat sheepishly, revealed a little secret. She had more clothes stowed away in her husband’s office closet, and these weren’t just your normal clothes-clothes. Christy had saved a pretty significant collection of formals and ball gowns from her many high school and college dances and banquets. Her first two years of college she was a piano performance major, and so had some recital dresses tucked away too. All in all there were about ten major dresses she had saved and carried with her through four moves and ten years.
We giggled our way through a fashion show of sorts, as Christy justified each dress, declared it’s gorgeousness, and explained the sentimental value it held. Our friend Abigail had joined us by then, so the three of us had a lively debate (we’d had some more wine at this point) about the value of sentimental ball gowns, a conversation I never thought I’d have. Abigail firmly advocated donating them all to one of the several Los Angeles charities that donate gowns to lower-income girls who want to go to their high school prom, Christy said she was planning on giving them to her (currently non-existent) children, I thought maybe we could go half-and-half. After a while she decided she could get rid of six, and would save four for a little while longer. We bagged all the clothes she wanted to donate, decided what pieces she could sell, and put a significantly smaller collection of clothes back in her now much roomier closet. After getting rid of about half of her wardrobe, she hasn’t yet missed a single piece.
If you’re looking for more reasons to clean out your closet, don’t. Grab a bottle of wine and some friends, and make a night of it. Whether it be ball gowns or old scarves, you’ve probably got a lot your don’t need, and it’s only weighing you down.