editing != oversimplifying

I. Silliness, but Ted says I should blog this. I have wrinkles on my neck now – more like two separate rings, an inch or so apart. I’m not sure if they make me look younger or old. By human standards, wrinkles always say older, of course. But if you go by tree standards, I’m only two years old!

II. I am reading Tim Gunn. He says you should edit your closet by dividing things into four piles: 1. Soul-stirring (things you love, or things that make you look and feel great, so anything from an exotic piece to a plain black tank – he also suggests you wear these more often); 2. Things to get repaired or fitted (which he suggests you do within 5 days or else maybe you didn’t care that much about the pieces); 3. Things to give away; 4. Things to throw away.

My problem is that for me, that isn’t enough categories. What about:

1. Things you love but never wear. I have a couple of evening dresses which I last wore in about 2006 – I just don’t have occasions that merit evening dresses. But if I did, or if one does come up, I have the right thing to wear. (This also applies to the dress I wore to my brother’s wedding. I have only one brother, and I hope he has only one wedding. But it’s a great dress!) However, these may fall within “soul-stirring” – at least Gunn doesn’t use the usual line about throwing it away if you haven’t worn it for a year.

2. Things that need tailoring but you won’t get it done in 5 days because you have no idea where there’s a good tailor near you. In fact, as all these New York people seem to forget, there may not *be* a tailor near you other than the dry cleaner who can do hems. But then again, maybe there is. (Or maybe there is and he’s only open during the hours you work, so it will take longer than 5 days until you can go to him.

3. Things that aren’t perfect but you made them yourself. I dare even Tim Gunn to throw out a sweater he’d knitted, even if it did stretch and lose that perfect fit the first time he washed it.

4. Things you don’t love but they enable things you do love. This includes the basics and the counterfoils, like the leggings that allow me to wear skirts in the cool weather here, or the cami that lets you wear a beautiful or transparent top to work that wouldn’t be office-appropriate otherwise, or the plain skirt with the right proportions to go with that gorgeous silk top.

5. Things you don’t love but you might love somewhere else, assuming you are likely to go there. I know that sounds weird, but what I mean is that the long flowy skirts I loved in Arizona and Taiwan don’t look or feel right in the Netherlands. However, not only is there such a thing as a beach vacation, but it’s not that unlikely that I’ll live somewhere warmer (at least for part of the year) within the next few years. A similar case may be considering whether to toss all your office clothes when you become a freelancer – what if you decide to go back to working in an office full or part-time?

6. Things that hold memories. Actually he does address these – says to save the memory and toss the clothing. I think he might also say that if you really want to, keep it but just not in the closet. This makes sense because not only am I not about to throw out my wedding dress, I’ not planning to throw away all those regatta T-shirts (might make a quilt of them someday, though).

7. Things that don’t stir your soul but that have practical uses. Workout gear that you actually work out in. Muck boots (I bought mine to take to Antarctica, which I may not be doing again soon but now that we own a house on a lake in the rainiest part of a famously rainy state, I’m pretty sure I’ll have a use for them. Those bespattered pants you keep to paint in. The flannel nightie you love to snuggle in when you’re sick but never wear otherwise. The Ugg boots I wear for the same reason surfer girls originally popularized them; not for a fashion statement but because nothing feels better when you get off the water, your feet are damp and you’re chilled through. Heck, what about work uniforms?

8. That thing you bought that’s a departure for you and you’re interested to see how it works out, but maybe it takes some time to figure out how to wear it.

Those are my categories; some of them might not fit anyone else, but I’m sure everyone has their own. If a wardrobe is an expression of a human being, then four categories is not enough to completely classify it. But I suppose if you get too nuanced* it doesn’t make good TV.

*Actually I suspect this is something Mr. Gunn struggles with. One thing I do enjoy about his book is that he does not restrict or dumb down his vocabulary when speaking to us of hoi polloi, even including quotes in French, Latin and Swedish.

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1 Response to editing != oversimplifying

  1. Sarah H says:

    I love your categories! I have similar ones and my closet is in serious need of thinning.

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