Necessary wardrobe losses

Fashion is fleeting; style is timeless.

Or so says a friend of mine who has worked in the fashion industry. She heard me lamenting on the impossibility of getting rid of my clothes - I have too many, my closets are overflowing. I have been trying to downsize for a year now to no avail. She offered her help, because obviously I cannot do it alone. She would come to my apartment and look into my closets and help me make decisions. I agreed with trepidation. Will she find out I have poor taste in clothes or that I’m a pack rat, holding on to outmoded things in the hope of losing a few pounds and having it fit again - that is, if it comes back in style? Will she tell me to give away those items I have not worn in years but love and may wear again sometime in the not-too-distant future?

I am embarrassed to admit that I am attached to my old clothes - even the ones I have not worn in ages; but there are memories attached, like that shirt bought on that small island in the Pacific or the dress I wore at a friend’s wedding.

The downsizing day came - I was surprisingly anxious. My friend took each piece of clothing out one-by-one, taking shoulder pads out, having me try on things that looked great when I was 5´4´´ and a size 8 and not my current 5´1´´ and size 14. I am shorter than I used to be, and plumper.

I have lost my waist somewhere, so anything belted is out. As pantyhose become more of a drag, short skirts and dresses are falling by the wayside unless they can be worn in the summer, bare-legged.

Having enough clothes to last me till the end of my life, we had to become creative. After the lifestyle change I made last year, I don’t need my business suits anymore. Instead, I need leisure clothes in my new retirement community by the beach.

The boring navy-blue suit that has always hung together got separated. The pants now have a striped navy shirt and white jacket, while the navy jacket went over a print skirt, which gave me two new outfits.

Coming from the East Coast, I still think of seasonal wardrobes - like browns only in winter, white and prints only in summer. Of course, here at White Sands, it’s a resort atmosphere all year long, and most people don’t pay attention to East-Coast directives.

I used to have red hair and never wore reds or pinks; my clothes palette was earth tones. Now, with white hair, all colors are possible - the brighter, the merrier.

As one grows older, skin becomes more sensitive, so itchy sweaters are discarded. My friend insisted that I keep only the clothes I feel really comfortable in, the one’s that make me feel attractive - in other words, the ones I really love.

Well, we got rid of about a quarter of my clothes; it didn’t make much of a dent. My friend said it was only a first run-through. We haven’t looked yet at the formals I needed on cruise ships but will never wear again. She’s coming back in the fall to see what I have not worn in the summer. I’m already looking anxiously at what she will tell me to give away. I have not told her that I already retrieved a couple of things from the give-away pile. I am making a point of getting it quickly out of my apartment, so as not to be tempted to keep retrieving more.

If you can’t get rid of your clothes, get a friend to help you - it works.