When I was in high school, I think I owned maybe two pairs of jeans, and one of those was a grubby pair for doing yard work. I was totally into skirts and dresses and silk blouses and all sorts of other things that were a nightmare of dry cleaning and ironing – but not for me, since I was a spoiled brat and my mom did all my laundry (and paid for the dry cleaning too).
Then, I went to college, and had to do the laundry myself. That instantly and completely changed my whole wardrobe. I got rid of all things that needed special laundering or ironing and pretty soon nearly everything I wore consisted of leggings with oversized t-shirts and sweaters.
Then I graduated and went to work in the corporate world, and again it was back to dresses and skirts and slacks and high heels. And I begrudgingly did the ironing and dry cleaning necessary to maintain that wardrobe. I did begin to integrate some jeans into the rotation, but I still spent most of my waking hours in corporate wear.
And then, in the last 10 years, I transitioned from the corporate world to the non-profit world to freelance. And with each job change, my wardrobe got progressively more casual. And now, I probably wear jeans 90% of the time. I still have about 4-5 casual skirts, but my typical uniform for fall through spring is jeans and boots and some kind of top, and in the summer it’s shorts and sandals and some kind of top, with the occasional sundress thrown in.
I also spend a ton of time in workout clothes. When I get up, the first thing I do is put on workout clothes, walk the dog, eat breakfast, and check email. Then I workout. Sometimes, however, the “check email” phase turns into answering a LOT of email, blogging, and recording voice over auditions, and before I know it it’s lunchtime and while it’s likely I won’t get a workout in that day, I’m still in workout clothes. So whether I use them for the intended purpose or not, I probably spend more time in workout clothes than anything else.
This is all to say I devote a lot of shelf space to workout clothes and jeans, because they are truly what I live in. And I have a lot of both – look:
The first picture with the double shelves of all the black and blue items are my shelves with jeans and workout bottoms. On the top shelf I have pants (black/white/navy capris for spring/summer) and sweats, next to a stack of black workout pants. On the bottom shelf I have a stack of jeans, and wedged next to that are workout shorts and skirts. It’s a deep shelf, so behind those two stacks are summer shorts which you can’t really see (I keep them in the back because in Oregon you only really wear shorts from about July-mid September, so I don’t need them to be that accessible). The other single shelf pictured holds all my workout tops -from L-R the stacks are: heavy cold weather hoodies, lightweight hoodies, t-shirts/sports bras, and workout tops.
I really do wear a lot of this stuff – it’s the majority of what is in the laundry for me every week. So that makes it hard to part with it. But if I’m honest, I have my favorite workout clothes, and my favorite pairs of jeans. If I’m going on a trip, I don’t even have to think about which ones I will pack. Per the laws of wardrobe editing, those are the only items I should consider keeping.
I decided to set quotas for my workout clothes – for me, that quota was the number seven – seven items from each category–or, one for each day of the week. I culled my workout clothes down to seven pairs of long workout pants, seven shorts, seven workout tops, seven t-shirts/sports bras, seven heavy cold weather hoodies, and seven lightweight hoodies. I felt like I had to keep a bigger variety of things, since the weather in Oregon can be so varied, and I didn’t want not having the right stuff to wear to deter me from working out.
A few of the decisions were easy, like these odd colored shorts, which look good with…well, NOTHING:
But other things were harder, like the jeans. I found one lone pair that was just a little too tight, so I gave them the axe. But I had to admit that I do wear all the other ones on a regular basis, and would miss them if they were gone. Same with my long workout pants. I tossed a few ancient capris that I haven’t worn all spring or summer, and a pair of black slacks that have always made me feel like a fat ass but I kept them because I felt like I might need them someday (I haven’t. Because when do you need to feel like a fat ass?). I also got rid of some t-shirts and workout tops that are really new and I do like them, but not quite enough to make it into my top seven. It feels weird getting rid of these barely worn items – it makes me anxious, and I can’t help but wonder if something were to happen to the stuff I kept, would I regret not having back up items. Then I look at the some of my keeper items that I’ve had for about six years that still look brand new, and stop worrying.
Here are the after pics:
Again, still more stuff than I probably need, and hopefully with time I’ll be able to cut it back even further. But this category is a tough one. Baby steps. BABY STEPS!
Next up: Hanging closet space
Whenever I get a new friend on Facebook, one of the first things I do is scroll through all their photos. You can learn a lot about someone from their photos–their partner, friends, favorite activities, pets, family, what they do for work, etc. I was just doing the picture scroll for a recently added friend, when suddenly it occurred to me to look at my own pictures – what story would they tell? What would someone learn about me? I went to my photos, and here are the themes that emerged:
- I’m married
- I love my dog, but she looks like she is only tolerating me in almost every picture
- I have a core group of girlfriends that I spend a lot of time with
- I travel
- I do theatre
- I am always stuffing my face
The last one came as a slight surprise – I mean, I know I love food, but at some point I thought, “Jeez, why are people always taking pictures of me when I’m trying to eat or drink something?” And then it occurred to me, that maybe it was because I am always eating, and people just get sick of waiting for me to stop and take the picture anyway.
Here are just a few examples of what I’m talking about:
And trust me, there are many, many more.
But I do notice how happy I look in all these pictures. And why wouldn’t I? I am about to devour something delicious. I love food, and will happily add extra cardio to my workout to compensate for eating all the treats I want – especially desserts.
I just finished doing a show where I had to be in my underwear during part of the performance. I was no more exposed than I would be in a bikini, and while I was in Florida this fall I walked around in a bikini on the beach several times a week and never thought twice about it. But I will tell you, it feels very different exposing a lot of skin on the beach where pretty much no one is looking at you, than it does on a brightly lit stage where everyone is SUPPOSED to look at you. Doing it onstage is a lot more vulnerable. A lot.
So needless to say, while working on this show, I was paying attention to my eating and exercise habits. But maintaining a hardcore of a level of fitness? Not lagom for me. I could probably stand to keep up the extra exercise since it’s good for me, but I definitely am looking forward to eating with gusto again. And I realized that my current weight/fitness level is probably the most I’m willing to strive for and maintain.
Which means anything in my closet that doesn’t fit me now, never will. If I put a pair of jeans on and feel like a sausage about to bust out of its casing, then those jeans have to go. Because I am not willing to diet or work out any harder than I already do.
So I went through my clothes and kicked out anything that proved unattainable. I won’t miss those items.
They will never make me happier than stuffing my face: