First, I should explain the above reference. Moe, the bartender in the Simpsons, once referred to Homer as being “fancy” for calling his garage a … garage. When asked what it should be called, Moe responded “A car hole”. My closet has been the place I throw clothes I’m not currently wearing for the last several years, so calling it a “clothes hole” seemed appropriate.
The basic organization of my side of the closet hasn’t changed since we moved from Alberta. To be honest, there really wasn’t much organization to begin with: one small section for “work” clothes, one section for sweaters and shirts, and one section for “other”. Unfortunately, much of the space in this closet had become cluttered, confused, and generally unhelpful for the purpose of actually locating anything to wear. Golf shirts that I wear at work were mixed in on the shelf with T-Shirts I wear at home and not hanging on hangers where they belonged, because the hangers were all occupied by pants that hadn’t been worn in years. It was like someone had taken all the clothes from a Salvation Army drop box and thrown them willy-nilly onto various hangers, and then pushed me into the room and said “get dressed- you’ll look marvelous”.
There was one other set of factors that led me to the conclusion something needed to be done: much of the clothing in my closet was no longer something I would wear. “Stuff I wouldn’t wear” fell into two basic categories:
- pants with waist sizes that mocked my now portly midsection
- other clothes that I was keeping more because of fond memories than out of any expectation I was going to wear the item again
It was time to take action.
I decided some time ago that I was going to finally clean out my side of the closet during the Christmas holidays. Irene prodded me to get started a week or so ago, and I jumped in with my usual “I’ve delayed this so long it is now an emergency: get me the forklift!” attitude. I set a really simple rule: if I wasn’t going to wear the clothing within the next year, throw it in the discard pile for recycling. I would discard fanciful notions of losing weight soon enough to justify keeping the clothes, or perhaps substitute the idea that if I *did* manage to lose weight, I could always buy new clothing.
For several hours, Irene stood outside the closet saying things of the form “do you have any (shirts/socks/pants/etc) left to wear?” Any pants with waistlines of less than 38 inches: gone. Any socks that I didn’t like: gone. Shirts that I hadn’t worn in the last twelve months- gone. This includes things like the shirt I bought in South Africa when Irene and I went there a year or two after we married, or the T-Shirt I got from the one and only science fiction convention I ever attended. They might have sentimental value, but sentiment is what kept me from tossing old stuff out in the first place.
When I was done, I had restored order to my side of the closet. I had also built a four foot high pile of clothing to redistribute to less-stout relatives and/or the disadvantaged. This includes two hand-tailored cotton shirts from my suit-wearing days, several pairs of suit pants from that same era, and a double-handful of ties. Much of it was perfectly usable- some even barely worn. But I stuck to my rules.
A week later, and I still have space. I have decided I will add some new clothes to the closet early in the New Year. For now, I’m just happy to have space to hang my shirts that is actually clearly designated as “shirt hanging space”.