The wait is over. Two weeks ago, I picked up 12 boxes – all of my belongings that have been patiently waiting in storage for me – to move and unpack in my new lovely apartment with an unheard of walk-in closet. Three of these boxes, plus the one suitcase I’ve been living out of, were filled with clothes. The last time these things hung in my closet range from 11 to 20 months ago!
Here was the ultimate test: do I really need THAT much clothing? And secondly, did I ever really need those clothes in the first place? And finally, how do I have any clothes left after all of the closet cleanings I’ve done over the last two years?
Looking at the boxes, I felt a little quiver of disgust. I let the boxes sit there, opened and overflowing, for days as I was overcome by exhaustion just at the sight of them. On the other hand, unpacking my suitcase – the relatively small amount of clothes that I’ve successfully lived in for the past four to eight months – was easy. I quickly hung them up on hangers in the closet, happy to continue wearing these pieces daily.
My boyfriend, clearly a minimalist at heart, urged me to get rid of all the boxes. “Don’t even go through them,” he said. But I was truly delighted to be reunited with some of the pieces.
Others elicited more unexpected, and more irrational, reactions. The Zara blouse that I’m in one too many Facebook photos wearing is the victim of a noticeable laundry error; and though I’m slightly embarrassed to wear it, whenever I try it on to re-determine its fate, I can’t help but feel pretty cute in it. Dilemma! And all of the worn-down, hole-ridden tank tops, knit dresses, and other “can’t-wear-it-outside” wear from Forever21, H&M, and Gap suddenly felt precious; I no longer shop at those stores, and so I know there will be no replacements for these items. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. I certainly didn’t miss these pieces, but I feel simultaneously foolish nostalgia for them and a responsibility, since I know they are headed for the rag pile at the textile recycling center, never to be worn in their current state again after they leave my care.
Of the three boxes that came into the apartment, already one full box is ready to go back out. I still have a stack of “maybe” clothes that I’m not sure what to do with yet. And I would still feel more comfortable if half of my “toss out” pile went to friends (perhaps a swap party is on the horizon?).
All of this ties into changes of who I am – clothing size-wise, but also where I am in my life – not just the major changes I’ve committed to when it comes to shopping. In some ways, the change is natural: I don’t want a lot but instead want fewer pieces of higher quality (isn’t this what every late 20-something says?). But it is bringing up issues of my current style identity crisis: what DO I feel comfortable wearing these days? How can I only wear things that make me feel like my best self? What story am I telling about myself with what I wear? (Questions that led to an intentionally hidden Pinterest board as I tried to collect what I think I would like to wear – call it my closeted “Closet Crisis”?)
Is anyone else feeling this way? Raise your hand if you’re in your mid 20s to early 30s, hate your closet, but can’t figure things out enough to know how to move forward with your style while applying your shopping values (whether of ethics or even of quality). Better yet, comment below or tweet @ThisIWear and remind me that I’m not alone in what I’m going to continue to call my #closetcrisis. But now, I guess, the closet door is open.
(And if you too feel this way, you might like Jess Lively’s recent three-part post on creating “an intentional wardrobe.”)