Our relationship with clothing is complex and can spill over into the closet. Time for a reckoning.
“Skeletons in the closet.” That term is so marvelous, when one stops to really examine it. A skeleton is the shape of the past, lacking vitality and life force. Stored in our closets, these structures no longer serve us, yet take up space and presence. We still have to confront them every time we slide open the closet, have to push past them, rattling, to dig out what we really need. Which begs the question: What are you holding onto in your closet, and why? Can you create a closet that feels more like a sacred place where you go for a ritual of daily adornment, and less like a messy burial ground?
Oftentimes, closet clean-outs are framed as an unpleasant task involving Hefty bags and a commandment to “sort, keep, donate to charity.” Yes, clothing you no longer need or want can be given to institutions that help others. But charity also means benevolent goodwill, and today, turn that inward kindness toward yourself. Clearing a closet can be a powerful way of letting go of who you used to be, cherishing who you are today, and focusing on who you want to be tomorrow.
Let Go of: Fear
A woman I know was hunting in her home for a business outfit for an important meeting. She did a deep dive and counted 256 dresses in her wardrobe. That was just the dresses! For many, a closet can become a mini boutique, with hangers filled with clothing with has tags still on them and bags of never-worn purchases. Then there’s the issue of multiples. “No joke. I have one dress in 9 different colors,” my friend noted. “I have my favorite tank top in 13 different colors!” If you find you have this type of overabundance, it’s an opportunity for reflection. Is it about fear of not having what you will need? About being scared to wear the same thing twice, i.e., not being good enough for our society? Are you always in a rush, and not having enough time for proper self-care? What is the message coming through?
Let Go of: Hair Shirts
The dress worn on the night of Too Much Tequila. The sweatshirt you had on during the final fight with you-know-who. The outfit proudly assembled for that first day of a shiny new job… that went south and wound up in a layoff or firing. Look, we all do dumb things, and bad stuff happens. That’s part of the human experience. But that doesn’t mean we need to literally wear shame. Remove any penitential clothing, right now, and do not look back.
Let Go of: Unrealistic Life Expectations
Honor the size you are, not used to be five years ago. Honor the feet you have, if that means kitten heels instead of stilettos. If Ram Dass were a personal organizer, his advice wouldn’t change from his teachings as a guru: “Be here now.”
Create intention: Sacred Space
Courtney Carver, a minimalist expert, writes that when clearing a closet, all the contents should be removed, then the space scrubbed down. I love this idea—total fresh start. So, use some essential oils, burn a smudge stick, maybe paint or wallpaper in a pretty color in there. Add back in clothing that is the ultimate expression of your best self. How do you want to present yourself to the world? Save room for a small “altar” area for clothing that is impractical but delicious: a vintage rhinestone belt, a luxe purse, a rhinestone jacket you wear every 10 years but simply adore. By the time your closet has been cleared and clarified, you’ll likely have less in there. Yet, you’ll feel like you have much more.