After penning this post, I promptly shut down the computer and padded down the hallway to our guest bedroom, where my “spare” closet exists. Listen, I hate that I even typed those words. It pains me to admit to owning so many articles of clothing that they spill over into multiple rooms, waiting for someday events and “Maybe I’ll need…” and “Whenever I visit…”, all endless justification for my addiction to impulse purchases and indulgent rewards.
I’ll admit – I love being the friend that someone calls when they have a very specific wardrobe dilemma. And I love knowing that I can pack for a conference in less than an hour, pulling pieces from the “events” category, consisting of items I wear maybe twice a year – all much too fussy or non-functional for everyday wear. But what I don’t love is the headspace and energy and wastefulness that surround a closet that is – literally – spilling out of itself. I don’t love the uselessness of it all, the endless combinations of wardrobe options and choices and decisions that we were never created to focus on. Why does it matter?
Part of me is torn. I love the creative expression that comes with styling and mixing and matching. But the other part of me feels hypocritical for wasting more than a minute of time deciding which blouse to wear when there are so many existing without a blouse at all.
I want to donate all of it. Every last item. But if I do, what will keep me from turning around the very next month – when the novelty of a life change has worn off and I’m feeling empty or restless or wanty – and purchasing yet another $20 top I don’t need? How can I make it stick?
I’d been contemplating this for a few days, and then the work of Nadine Goepfert stumbled into my inbox. She explores the idea that clothing is little more than a sculptural object, an everyday work of art that shapes and molds and changes as we move throughout our days. And then I read this quote from French theorist Roland Barthes:
“What is the essence of a pair of pants (if it has such a thing)? Certainly not that crisp and well-pressed object to be found on department-store racks; rather, that clump of fabric on the floor, negligently dropped there when the boy stepped out of them, careless, lazy, indifferent. The essence of an object has some relation with its destruction: not necessarily what remains after it has been used up, but what is thrown away as being of no use.”
I want to rid myself of the excess – to find a use for the waste – to fulfill the destiny of the object itself and gosh, maybe even remove myself from my relationship with clothing entirely. I want to create a reminder of the life change that I feel might be on the horizon.
Any ideas on what I should do with the excess? I’m officially opening the forum and would love to hear. And by the way, if you could comprise a closet with just 10 items, what would a few of them be? Do you guys have weird, fractured relationships with your closets, or am I totally over-thinking this?
(And don’t worry – I’m fully aware that the answer to the last question is always YES.) Please send help (and maybe cookies).
p.s. The labels we wear.