When I was nine or ten, I'd dream that I went to my closet and it was full of new clothes. It's not that I had only a few sad dresses. My wardrobe was extensive and lovingly chosen.
Maybe that was the genesis of my problem: my young brain seized on the full closet as a symbol of love.
These days, I had a surfeit of 'love': The happily-discovered new, the standbys. And tropical wear for once-a-decade Caribbean vacations, odd blouses ("someday I'll find something to wear with this"), half-size too-tight skirts. The pants beginning to shine on the seat. I call this The Clothing Archive, and it was the bulk of my wardrobe.
Enter Lucille Hume of Enhance Your Style, image consultant and tiny, closet-attacking fury. She spent three hours with me while I modeled The Archive. We sorted into Keep, Alter, Trash. Her size-0 manicured fingers pointed regularly to the last pile.
Pitiless woman, she did not care that the magenta tunic was a souvenir of the last Grateful Dead concert I ever attended. She did not think padded shoulders would ever come back. She was not enchanted by vintage Hermes. (Our first spat.)
Twelve garbage bags later, I whittled down to about 35% of what I once owned. Lucille says she has never known someone to have so many clothes, but I think she tells this to all her girls.
She took the bags to charity when she left, knowing items would creep back in my closet if they stayed in my house. Sold a few designer items on eBay.
More clothes were stashed in other rooms of the house. I didn't confess then, so "Lucilled" them on my own a few days later, while my courage was intact.
I recommend this exercise heartily but it does hurt. The consultant doesn't care how expensive it was, or conversely, that it was the bargain of your life; the baggy, ill-fitting, over or never was...goes.
The amazing thing is, I've forgotten about those things I couldn't part with. Came across the eBay listing photo for my classic Hermes camel blazer and thought, "What is this?"
Lucille is a member of the Toronto chapter of the Association of Image Consultants International; you can find one in your area through their web site, or search "Image consultant (your location)".
How's my accumulating?
I've replenished summer skirts and, determined not to let the wardrobe grow like monster dough in the back of a fridge, apply the "one thing in, one thing out" rule. Not perfect, as incoming skirt takes up more room than outgoing tank, but once in the groove, I can keep on top of this.
I'm also refining my selection strategy; more on this as it shapes up.