Old Clothes

Today I started my semi-annual cleanout of my closet. It’s a bit early, but I have a charity truck coming by in the morning, so that helped me jump-start the process.

Five items of clothing have managed, year after to year, to look winsome enough that they were allowed to remain after my culling sprees. I haven’t had them on my back in years (well, for no more than a minute or two, anyway), and yet they kept being saved from the charity pile. This year, those five items finally got the heave-ho, and I have to ask myself, why did I wait so long to get rid of them?

The first is a Saks Fifth Avenue terrycloth robe. The robe was a gift from my husband, which is probably why I hung onto it. It’s a very heavy terry, and it was great when it was new – soft and cuddly. However, it’s also a pale cream, which meant that eventually it had to be washed. And dried. And after its maiden voyage in the dryer, I discovered it had shrunk up in the length. So after that I hung it to dry, and it took forever, and it never had the soft texture that I’d liked so well. Eventually I was given a flannel robe, which was just as warm and not as heavy, and the terry one got relegated to a hanger in the closet.

Second is a dress I bought when I was on tour. I got it at a very trendy store in Saratoga, Florida. It’s one of those one-size-fits-all jobs called an Everything Dress. In theory, because it’s made of two unfitted layers of drapey fabric which can be flipped, knotted, belted, shawled and twisted every which way, it’s a dress that looks great on everyone. And it looked good on me, at first. The fabric had a great swing to it and Lord knows, there was plenty of it – the damn thing hit me at mid-ankle. But after I’d worn it a time or two, it had to be washed and guess what? it had to be line-dried and then ironed, a process which seemed to take years. After every wash it got progressively more and more shapeless. I began to feel like some sort of bloated 1960s Wiccan reject every time I put it on (and took it back off again). In retrospect, I think I held onto it because it cost a bundle.

The third item is yet another dress. Now, this was a print dress in autumnal colors that actually wore well and looked good on me. I’ve had it for a good eight years and it’s been a great dress. But in the past couple years, every time I put it on and looked in the mirror, I felt a bit foolish. The dress ties in the back and maybe that was the problem – I’m a mature woman and the dress, in which I had once felt pretty wearing, now looked a bit childish. The result wasn’t quite Baby Jane, but it was getting there. The last time I put it on and felt like bursting into “I’ve Written A Letter to Daddy,” I realized that while the dress hadn’t changed, I definitely had.

The fourth and fifth items are vests. One is a print and the other is black. Again, they’re items that I’ve had a long time and wore a lot. But let’s be honest (and use our best Elaine Stritch voice while being so): DOES ANYONE STILL WEAR A VEST?

So those five items are bagged up and ready for Value Village to pick them up in the a.m. The odd thing is, after all that agonizing, I don’t feel anything one way or the other, except perhaps some relief that the reminders of my age, my lack of fashion sense and my failure to read laundering instructions won’t be around to haunt me any longer.


  1. StephenGregorySmith

    UGH! I have several vests that have avoided the spring and fall sweeps every year…I know the feeling! Yet everytime I go through and throw heaps of stuff out, I feel ten times better!Ahhh…maybe I will be inspired to do so next weekend!

  2. Donna Migliaccio

    Yeah, it’s just a hair early to start the spring cleaning. But now I’ve got the kitchen and my closets done; next is the downstairs office, which is where I keep my old scripts. Why do I feel compelled to save old scripts?

  3. Editaur

    Jeez, I still have vests. I also have a pile of clothes on my bedroom floor, as big as a single mattress, that I will eventually take to Goodwill. But I keep adding to it — a bunch of now-undersized exercise/hiking gear last night.

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