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Dealing with a problem in my closet

By BARBARA FREDRICKSEN, Arts and Entertainment
Published December 29, 2007


Last year (or was it the year before that), I made a firm New Year's resolution: Before I could buy any garment, be it dress, skirt, pants, blouse, shoe, belt or unmentionable, I had to first give away something similar that I already owned.

I made strict rules.

No giving away a belt in exchange for a new pair of pants, or a pair of socks for a silk blouse. It had to be pants-to-pants, blouse-to-blouse. And, no, socks didn't count as two pieces, and socks with holes didn't count,

The program has kept my overstuffed closet at status quo, but it hasn't accomplished the paring down I had hoped for. At year's end, my oversized walk-in closet is still bulging, and I am still wearing the same eight or nine outfits over and over.

So my New Year's resolution 2008 goes one step further: Before I can buy anything new, not only do I have to give away something similar, I must (and this is the action of a desperate woman), have worn - in public - every single garment in my closet within that particular season (except for my snow gear).

Before I had the courage to make this public commitment, I've been trying it out for a couple of weeks.

It hasn't been pretty.

Some items were so threadbare, you could read a book through them. Those have been cut up to make car polishing rags.

Some were so tight, I couldn't believe I had once worn them. Of course, that's due to the high Florida humidity, which tends to makes thing hanging in my closet shrink a couple of sizes every two or three years.

Some had such huge shoulder pads that they made me look like a right guard for the Green Bay Packers.

Others had shoulders so "dropped" that the seam hit me around the elbow.

Still others had so many little "pills" on them, they could have passed for that fake, spray-on dotted swiss fabric.

The six pair of 1980-vintage pointy-toe shoes have come right back into fashion, but I can no longer balance on those pointy heels, so into the giveaway bag they go.

That pair of expensive high-top leather boots with the fancy zipper up the inside and the teetering stacked heels that I bought in Italy in 1973 have come back into style, but they also presented a problem. The feet fit fine, but it's a struggle to get those zippers to close around my legs now. Humidity again, I suppose.

Bell-bottom blues

My bell-bottom black velvet pants from 1978 once more look in vogue (I think they're called "flared" or "boot cut" now), but they have the same tight zipper problem as the Italian leather boots.

As you might guess, I have an affinity for vintage clothes, only they're not from a vintage clothing store since I bought them when they were in fashion the first time around.

I did give away my brown suede hot pants and long, matching vest with the cream-colored piping at least 10 years ago and not altogether because they were getting too snug.

But getting rid of my vest with the 40-inch leather fringe was pure, regrettable accident. I loaned it out to a lovely young neighbor girl to wear to a costume party and failed to retrieve it before the borrower left town, reportedly to become a sheriff's deputy in west Texas.

Forty-inch leather fringe may not be the height of fashion right now, but the vest had a loose fit, and I know it's just a matter of time before it will be as groovy as the word "groovy" was when I bought the vest back in the 1960s.

[Last modified December 28, 2007, 20:55:06]

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