Out of the Closet

His side of the closet

His side of the closet

Here is the post I had planned for January 7. I think I’m ready for it now:

One of the things I love most about my house is the huge closet in the master bedroom. It is about ten feet by fourteen feet and lined with rods on the sides and down the middle. I thought when we bought the house thirty years ago that we would never fill that closet.

But, of course, we have.

Or rather, I have.

We have scrupulously divided the closet in half. My husband’s side is neat and orderly. Mine is crammed full of overstuffed hanging bags to protect seldom worn clothing, sewing projects I’ll never complete, and an old doll bed of my daughter’s I can’t bear to give away.

When my now-adult daughter was home for Christmas last month, I made her go through my closet with me. She had made me hunt for a couch for her new house earlier in December, and I thought it was only fair that she should have to participate in a similarly dreadful project with me.

My side of the closet (AFTER)

My side of the closet (AFTER)

Besides, she often ridicules my lack of fashion sense. Let her have some input into what I kept.

We started with my professional clothes. I’ve been retired for eight years now, and some of the pieces had been around for several years before I retired. I wanted my daughter—now a professional woman herself—to tell me what would still work on the odd occasions when I need to look like a lawyer.

“No,” she said when she looked at the first pants suit I pulled out. “No,” on the second. “No, and no, and no.” In the end, she let me keep one suit.

We dug further back in the closet. “I borrowed this blouse when I was in the fifth grade,” she said. “No.”

On a black dress: “This was part of my Halloween costume one year. No.”

The pile of skirts and jackets and pants and dresses to be given to charity grew.

“My God, Mother,” she exclaimed about one dress she recognized. “This is from the eighties. My childhood is flashing before my eyes.”

“But it’s in good condition,” I protested. “Can’t I keep it?”


The vest I rescued

The vest I rescued

I pulled out a vest, which was a gift about fifteen years ago. I wore it to a Christmas party this year.


“But my friends at the Christmas party liked it. They told me to keep it.”


“I’m keeping it anyway.” I still have some parental authority.

She shrugged and pulled out the next item, a striped shirtwaist. “This dress is so old it’s coming back into style—”

“Then I should keep it?”

“—but not for you.”

I never knew there was a double standard on who can wear retro, but apparently there is. If you wore it the first time around, it’s a fashion faux pas to wear it when the styles recycle.

We moved on to my dressy clothes. I only attend one or two formal events a year, so I had built up a collection of once or twice worn garments. My favorite was a lovely velvet and silk taffeta dress, complete with petticoat, that made me feel beautiful on the one occasion I wore it to a fancy dinner. I knew it was going before she said anything, because it no longer fit, even if my daughter liked it.

“No,” she said, with only a swift glance. My Cinderella gown didn’t even make it out of its plastic bag.

In less than an hour, we had seven 39-gallon trash bags full of clothes, most still in excellent condition. I itemized them all and took them off to a local thrift shop, the ReSale Shop run by the Assistance League of Kansas City. I’m on the Advisory Board of the Assistance League, and I wanted that worthwhile nonprofit organization to have the items my daughter rejected. Surely there is someone in the metropolitan area whose daughter is not as cruel as mine who might benefit from these seldom-worn items.

Now, I just have to psych myself up to organize the few clothes my daughter let me keep in my closet.

And go buy a pair of black pants. Can you believe it? In my whole closet there was not one pair of black slacks of which my daughter approved.

When have you had a hard time giving something away?

P.S. Did you know that January is “Get Organized” Month? As I mentioned on January 14, the whole concept of organization is beyond me this year.

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  1. Like you, we have a large master closet. Over the holidays one of my ‘sturdy’ rods pulled loose from the wall. I came home to find a heap of clothes on the floor. That was my cue to do an overhaul. I always donate a bag of something each month, but this time, I was on a mission. Yesterday, the Disabled Veterans and the Kidney Foundation picked up three bags each. It feels really good. 🙂

  2. I don’t have a walk in closet but it spans the length of one wall in my bedroom. I’ve had my sister help me (more than once) organize all of my shoes and some of my clothes. But, I’m afraid to go all the way back to see what’s in there! You may have given me the courage to do that…time for some donations.

  3. I absolutely can not get rid of any of my maternity clothes. I have tried over the years, but looking at them reminds me so much of my pregnancies and my children as infants. Perhaps some day I may part with them to give to my daughters when they have children; until then every time I glance at them hanging in the closet I can recall one of the most miraculous times of my life.

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