Chores & Change

Its full-on autumn here; crisp, frosted mornings and golden afternoons are the current glory. Leaves in an unbelievable riot of color dress the trees in the season’s evening wear, before leaping from the branches and soaring on the wind like faux, jewel colored birds. The magnificent scent of a New England fall is poignantly nostalgic, yet indescribable. If only I could bottle it, my financial future would be tidily secure…

Unfortunately, from time to time we also get chilly, rainy days this time of year too. A pervasive damp and cold seeps into the bones and inspires even mediocre cooks to drag out their biggest stockpot, desperately seeking comfort in homemade soup…

Saturday was one of those days, the kind of wretchedly wet and nippy afternoon that reminds you that winter is coming. (We’re New Englanders. We all belong to House Stark.) While my own stew-concoction simmered on the stovetop, I decided it was time for the dreaded bi-annual chore – cleaning out my closet.

I usually sift through my clothes spring and fall, in preparation for the necessary shift in wardrobe. It’s time to consign the sundresses and shorts to the back and pull the sweaters and heavy skirts to a more prominent position. During the rotation, I usually fill a garbage bag with things to donate; garments that don’t fit anymore or that I’ve finally accepted, for whatever reason, I’m just never going to wear again.

I may have gotten carried away, for my closet is now looking rather bare.

Here’s the first thing – a lot of my clothes just don’t fit. Most of my cold weather apparel makes me look like I’m auditioning as a bag lady; it’s rather unflattering. Since the whole point of this incredibly shrinking woman routine is to bolster my self-esteem, anything that flapped, sagged, needed constant hitching-up, or could be slipped on (without unbuttoning) over my jeans with room to spare went into the donation bags.

Second phase was to address the outfits that I’m unlikely to wear again. Shopping is not high on my things-I-enjoy list, particularly for clothes. The whole business of trying on 73 million skirts, carrying out critical inspection from impossible angles in a poorly lit changing room, only to find one or possibly two that don’t make me feel drab, fat, pinched, licentious, plain or a host of other confidence-squashing adjectives is not my idea of a good time. For a while I avoided this because my (now ex-) mother-in-law was a shop-a-holic. She was continuously buying clothes, then deciding she didn’t like the length or color, so passed them on to me. Over the past fourteen years I estimate about 98% of my closet was filled by her shopping habits.

Certainly her buying addiction freed me from a distasteful task, but it also gave me a plethora of clothes that I never would have chosen for myself. Moving things around, I came across a particularly horrid grey flowered blouse. Ug. I yanked it off the hanger and tossed it into the donate pile. It started an avalanche. The internal monologue was scathing, if amusing, as the foully patterned tops, ugly shapeless stretchy-pants and dowdy flowered skirts sailed across the room. I actually wore this? What the heck was I thinking? Oh, this looks like it came off the set of Golden Girls; what am I sixty? Oh the horror.

I’ve said it before, I’m no style maven. My innate look is not cutting edge. Honestly, fashion sometimes bewilders me. However, in the flurry of fall rotation I realized that my wardrobe belonged to a much older woman.

No longer. I have five bags for the donation bin, a remarkably roomy closet and a compelling if unpleasant need to do some shopping since it’s impractical to wear the same three outfits all winter long. Not looking forward to the process, but it might be fun to reinvent my style.

Sayōnara frumpy bag lady.


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