Friday, August 13, 2010

Contemplating Closet Cleaning

Sorry about the alliteration, but I've been thinking about selling some of the items I don't wear. I'm not a believer in the maxim that if you don't wear something in a year, out it must go. Maybe this works for people who live in the same climate all year round, like LA, but like so many people who live in areas where there are four seasons, temperature variations can result in an item being left unworn for over a year. Take this summer for instance. With a less than warm spring and horribly hot, humid summer where the cooler days are generally rainy, I've opted not to wear most of my silk summer dresses. As anybody knows, humidity and/or sweat and silk is not a great combination. If the fall is cold, several beloved dresses may very well stay unworn for a year. And, no, I'm not selling. I also have several pencil skirts which are currently very much out of rotation but I'm certain they'll be back in at some point. Likewise party dresses (no weddings, bar or bat mitzvahs or anniversary celebrations this year), but I know that won't be the case in every year. I also have some longer dresses--I prefer above the knee but some can't be altered without destroying the design. At some point, hems will dip again and these will be ready for me.

I could cite more, but this is evidence enough that this rule doesn't work for me--although I'm sure retailers and advertisers love it. Besides, I remember the time I had a huge, merciless purge in Madison. Out went my favorite draped jersey halter top, a vintage green and purple trapeze dress that was very Mad Men (wide at the back, narrow at the front), a black halter that had been very useful in the summer months, a pair of wide legged black pants that I had loved amongst things I was happy to see go. Even today all of these pieces would still be great--if I still fitted into them. I also must have parted with my beloved vintage 1942 red silk utility blouse with tiny square buttons (it was a work of art, more so because it was made with such limited fabric during rationing and yet still draped perfectly). Several months later, I scoured my apt., looking for these items, only to remember that they went in a black bin bag and out to a charity store.

Granted, I tend to be sentimental and hold onto things for longer than needed, based on memories and even fantasies these items embody. But paradoxically, I also believe you have to let the old go to let the new come in. And with limited NYC closet space, sometimes a purge is a must. It's nearly a year since the last one and as I've added more items, some of the old ones are on line to go.

When I say old, I actually mean new. Most of the pieces I'm thinking about selling, on this very blog, are ones I haven't worn. In most cases, this is because they duplicate other items and have not been the pieces I chose to wear. For instance, I will probably list my Mayle Nieves dress as it is somewhat redundant in a closet that includes Bibi, Pina and Mirabella in black--all of which essentially have the same purpose and get picked more often. A fourth black sleeveless summer dress isn't as necessary as I thought. Likewise, I may sell my ivory Anais as I opt for the purple more often, even though the ivory is incredibly lovely with its yellow trim.

Other decisions are more tricky and hear-wrenching--especially as I know everything I'll part with I'll likely never see again. And it isn't as though there is a new Mayle collection every few months to distract me. Still, I ponder whether I should keep Monica and the matching slip when I have yet to wear them or do I wait for longer dresses to come back in style? What should I do with Penilope given that it isn't a dress I chose to wear often? Does Araceli look right on me--it's beautiful for sure, and having seen it on Alison Lewis the other day, I'm wondering if I could part with it. But does it look even half as good on me? What about the Lyell moon print dress--I've never worn it and will I ever wear it? It's so pretty but is it just a tiny bit too small for me?

That's just the Mayle part of the equation. Granted, those decisions--and those over the Lyell that I'm going to sell--are the toughest. How do people purge? I can hand over shoes that have crippled me on the one (in the house) wearing, or donate most old Club Monaco, J. Crew, or Rebecca Taylor items to charity with nary a twinge, but how do you part with something that you still love but may not wear enough to hold onto it? I have to make some decisions soon or else I'll not be able to buy any more clothes this fall--and Evan will soon be collecting his fall clothes from the dry cleaner, so I have to find some way to remove my clothes from his closet and clothing rack. Your advice is welcomed.


joyce said...

It can be really tough deciding what to sell, donate, or keep. Many times I've kept something just because of the designer's rarity, even if I never wore it.

I'm trying to be better, though. Getting rid of things that just sit and not buying pieces I wouldn't wear in the first place, just because of the name on the label.

Cindy said...

so, so tough! one way to think of it is to remember you have some extra special silk friends coming to join you shortly! and obviously you need to make room for your mayle covets...

i try to pare down by identifying my favorite pieces in a category (say, extra warm coats) and benchmark the others. then i figure what i can re-purpose, perhaps with alterations, if selling/donating don't seem like the right choice. the hardest decision for me is how to decide what to keep because i think it'll come back - i usually give up at that point! i'm such a sucker. :)

Marti said...

Its so hard - there are so many pieces that I sold that I now miss - like the violet vincennes or the black valentine from spring 07. I think its so tough to part with Mayle (unless it doesnt fit)... think about it Moya. And I bet Monica looks great on you. you just need to wear it.

lsh said...

It's hard to let go of things more for some people than others, so I can really understand. Also, just because it looks great on others, it doesn't mean that it's something you would easily grab when you walk out the door. Thus the problem of unworn clothes clogging up your closet. I would first dispense with just one piece, and see if you can let go of another. Step by step. I sold a few of my Mayle pieces that way. I still miss one or two pieces, which were beautiful and they looked fine on me too, but for some reason, I just never wore them. I miss them sometimes, but I know that even if I had them still, I would never wear them. I like the idea of someone out there making use of it. So it's fine; you move on. It's like baby steps:)

Moya said...

Thank you all for the advice. It is so tough. I've decided to go for the duplicates first--if I want to wear Anais, I wear the purple. If I chose a simple black dress, I go for Pina first.

I'm taking your advice, Ish, baby steps. I tend to get attached to things and we really don't have the space.

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