Thursday, January 17, 2008

A fresh way to clear out the closet

Cleaning out one’s closet might be the hardest thing for some women to do. But thanks to some advice from Vivienne Westwood – a British designer with a penchant for flesh-revealing outfits and bondage wear such as patent leather short-shorts and platform shoes tall enough to give the wearer nose bleeds – I cleared mine out quite nicely over the weekend.

I heard a BBC interview with the quirky designer where she was asked about the state of today’s fashion. She deplored the spread of big chain stores that offer cookie-cutter style with little in the way of individuality, and said she wouldn't be caught dead going to the grocery store in a T-shirt and jeans. But here’s what really stuck with me: Vivienne said you should dress for the people you want to attract.

With the designer’s words in my head, I headed for my closet and storage bins. I scanned my clothes. What kind of people would I attract with my wardrobe? I didn't like what I saw: lots of casual clothes and once-sexy club gear that no longer fit, and few outfits suitable for fancy occasions.

What kind of people – specifically men -- was I hoping to attract? I asked myself. A man who wants a 38-year-old tomboy who can’t be bothered to attend a cocktail party or dress for a really nice night out? I want a smart, funny, fun-loving, adventurous and diverse man in my life. A man as willing to go to the ballet as he is to a baseball game. My wardrobe certainly didn't reflect that.

Suddenly, most of the items in the closet and storage bins were unacceptable. I was finally able to let go of adored pants and dresses that used to fit … three sizes ago. It was time to face reality: if I ever got thin enough to wear them again, I’d want to buy new clothes. I got rid of all the stained, faded, stretched sweats, sweaters and T-shirts. Dumped old jeans. Whenever I started to get upset about parting with certain items, I would take a break to knit, and calm down enough to start again.

I filled two big bags with clothes to give away and two with clothes to throw away. I emptied one of the storage bins, almost completely cleared the closet shelves above the racks, and finished knitting a scarf.

When I looked at my newly spacious closet I had a moment of panic: I don’t have anything to wear! I told myself. To which I quickly answered: you wear the same five or six things over and over again, anyway. But that's gonna change.

Besides, I now have plenty of room to restock my closet with new clothes – a conscious blending of what I like, along with a new found awareness of who I want to attract. Opens up a whole new shopping world. Plus, if I have the clothes, I'll be more likely to expand my social range ... and I'll look great!

Thanks, Vivienne.


Anonymous said...

You go, girl! And it makes total sense, to dress for those we want to attract and impress. I have some clothes like that, but not nearly I will be cleaning out my closet too and replacing with better stuff.

Anonymous said...

It's what is inside that counts -- not what you wear.

Anonymous said...

I agree that when you really get down to it a person's character is the most important aspect. But who walks up to the girl in baggy sweats with her hair all messed up to find out what kind of person she is.

You never get a second chance to make that first impression!

shallow said...

"You never get a second chance to make that first impression?"

Sure you do! Dye your hair, get your stomach stapled, pick up some implants, have a little plastic surgery, insert colored contact lenses, and voila!

Anonymous said...

Great advice. I've heard similar from workplace mentors in the past (where I was a lowly intern), where they would advise, "Don't dress for the position you have now, dress for the position you would like to have." That advice has carried me well into grad school and a career!

Anonymous said...

"I want a smart, funny, fun-loving, adventurous and diverse man in my life. A man as willing to go to the ballet as he is to a baseball game."

Then you want a playboy, not a relationship.

Interesting that you don't mention values such as loyal, kind, loving, honest, forgiving, hard-working ... oh wait, those are things shown by actions, not your wardrobe!

You can tell a lot about a person by the traits she looks for in friends and loved ones. Your list is pretty shallow. If you devoted half the time you spend on "personal growth" on focusing on OTHER people, you'd be a fantastic force for good in the world. Instead, you're just another self-centered woman looking for what she can GET instead of what she has to GIVE (and I don't mean "I'm a professional woman who owns a house and an SUV" so I'm a catch!)