Guest Post: "Making Room" by Sal from Almost Pretty

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In case you missed my announcement on Friday, I’m taking a break from blogging this week. It was a last minute decision, but luckily I found a few friends who could mind the shop while I was in my Happy Place.

My first guest is Sal from Almost Pretty. She writes a fantastic blog about style and self image, and also contributes features to well known style blogs such as Joanna Goddard’s Smitten. Her posts range from practical wardrobe advice to battling poor body image. I think of Sal as a stylist for regular girls. She features options that most readers (as opposed to Paris Hilton) can afford and actually wear in everyday life (as opposed to what Paris wears to the clubs). She doesn’t think you have to be stick thin to look fabulous – and I agree. Isn’t she cute?

FYI: She MADE that necklace out of antique brooches! I will be wearing it on my vacation in my head.

Welcome Sal!

MAKING ROOM

It’s nearly April and only just getting warm enough for me to transition over to the spring duds. My house is smallish and my closet minuscule, so off-season clothing lives in the basement when not in use. I’ve just spent the last few hours hauling sweaters and hoodies and heavy wool skirts downstairs, and loading the tees and tanks and slinky silk skirts into the closet upstairs. So I’m schvitzing a little. Just FYI.

This seasonal shift presents a fabulous opportunity to purge my wardrobe – an opportunity I inevitably take. Due to the aforementioned scarcity of closet space, I need to keep a careful count of garments or things get aggravatingly overcrowded. And while it’s fun to occasionally stumble upon a long-forgotten and well-hidden gem in my own closet, I vastly prefer being able to SEE everything in the morning while scrambling to assemble an ensemble that says “stylish professional” instead of “colorblind homeless person. “Seasonal purging keeps my wardrobe under some semblance of control, and, as a self-confessed organizational fiend, I rather enjoy the process of sorting wheat from chaff. It feels good to finally rid myself of those pumpkin orange corduroy pants that didn’t fit properly the day I bought them, and that dingy ivory fine gauge sweater with the freaky-deaky collar. Dangit, girls, it feels downright liberating!

When I purge, I toss several categories of clothing into the giveaway pile:

1. Anything that hasn’t been worn for more than two years. If I’ve passed it over for 24 full months, why on earth would it suddenly acquire irresistible appeal?

2. Anything damaged irreparably: As I am capable of minor mending, and my tailor is capable of major mending, this generally means stained or badly torn. Klutziness takes its toll on my wardrobe with alarming regularity, I tell ya.

3. Anything that doesn’t fit: As someone whose weight fluctuates about as frequently as the flippin’ temperature, I make a practice of trying on any item that gave me even a single wearing’s trouble in the past .If it squeezes or bags, it leaves.

Although parting with brand new garments that have gone two years unworn pains my pocketbook, and bidding farewell to snagged or stained silk skirts makes me sigh, numero tres up there is the most emotionally taxing. You feel me, don’t you? Popping on a pair of pants that once fit, only to find that your body has shifted its configuration YET AGAIN can be surprising and disheartening.

But getting rid of clothes that don’t fit the body you have today allows you to make room. In addition to preventing your closet racks from bowing under the weight of their heavy load, casting off ill-fitting garments can be an important step to accepting your body as it is today, and allowing yourself to adorn it stylishly.

Hanging on to clothes that fit you when you were a different shape both weighs you down and holds you back. These clothes may seem like flimsy bits of cloth when you first hold them up on their hangers for scrutiny and evaluation, but to most women they are much more. Clothes that used to fit are powerful personal symbols: They represent a body that you no longer have, and may never have again. In the course of your closet purge, you drag them out and look at them and heave heavy, loaded sighs. You beat yourself up for the crime of shape change, and sink down into frustration and self-loathing, criticism and negativity. Suddenly, an innocent pair of jeans has become a device of self-inflicted emotional torture.

How about this as an alternative: CHUCK THEM. Jeans that don’t fit the woman you are today are of no use to you! Banish them, and allow only jeans that hug your wonderful curves and make you feel like a sultry screen siren to grace your dresser drawers. Clothes that once fit but no longer do will whisper to you about the past … but you need to live in the present. Purging the ill-fitting can empower you to castoff the deadly nostalgia-judgment mixture that accompanies memories of a previous body shape. Sending these duds packing can be liberating, eye-opening, and comforting: It can help you see yourself clearly, and embrace yourself fully. The today you.

Additionally, ridding yourself of clothing that no longer flatters creates a vacuum: It creates physical room in your closet for properly fitting clothing that will help you feel your best, and it creates emotional room for contemplating your natural assets and accepting them as the gifts that they are. What could be better? An action that essentially FORCES you to shop for new duds, and simultaneously helps you embrace your present-day self.

During this particular purge, I assembled quite the pile of exiles. I chucked a shrunken track jacket and a ripped scarf and a gooftastic black blazer with bizarrely poofy shoulders that transforms me into a deranged goth princess. I also sacrificed a gorgeous pair of khaki pants that made me look like Kate Hepburn a few seasons back. Wide-legged and boxy, with a subtle sheen to the twill, they were favorites once. But they gave me unforgivable camel toe when I tried them on today.

So I had to make room.

10 Responses to Guest Post: "Making Room" by Sal from Almost Pretty
  1. Sal
    March 23, 2009 | 3:15 pm

    Awww, that’s the nicest intro anyone’s ever given me. Thanks for the guest spot, beautiful Kate!

  2. Kate Coveny Hood
    March 23, 2009 | 3:23 pm

    I am SOOOO much better about this now. I think I had my wake up call when I decided to FINALLY put those “great silk pants that I used to wear all the time” back into my work wardrobe rotation. I literally put them on and saw Meg Ryan a la When Harry Met Sally in the mirror. And not because I look anything like Meg. I was just wearing pants SO out of date, that all I seemed to be missing was a slouchy felt hat. How old were those pants anyway!?

  3. Cyndy
    March 23, 2009 | 3:26 pm

    Wow, that is such a pleasant way to look at getting rid of clothes! And it’s practical too. Thank you for your graceful advice on the dilemma presented by beautiful clothing that no longer fits.

  4. Suzie
    March 23, 2009 | 4:25 pm

    Just say no to camel toe

  5. Christy
    March 23, 2009 | 6:30 pm

    Oh my goodness this is a timely post! I loved your descriptions of the cast offs!

    I’ve just finished purging my closet of all my pregnancy clothes – my daughter is now 7 months old and I THANK GOD no longer need the. While I didn’t give them away, I did put them in storage for if/when I need them again.

    Now I’m faced with two closetfuls of clothes – one that fits now, and one that I HOPE and PRAY fits again soon. Since I’m in the middle of shape-shifting, I’m not doing anything drastic to the don’t-fit-at-the-present-moment…but I have given myself a deadline, and there will be much purging later this year. Either the current clothes will go – if I fit the other ones, or vice versa.

    Okay – sorry to hog your comment space Kate and Sal, but I really really enjoyed reading this post! It spoke to me! And what a funny ending – say no to the camel toe! And Sal, you have a new reader! I’m heading over to your blog now.

  6. Jo
    March 23, 2009 | 7:57 pm

    Hi Sal, nice to meet you. Great inspiring post! I just did one of those closet purges and now I feel great every time I open the closet! Love your “colorblind homeless person” quip. And absolutely adore the necklace!

  7. 3 Peas in a Pod
    March 23, 2009 | 8:08 pm

    Thanks Sal!

    That put a great spin on cleaning out the closet. I feel so much better about the situation “in there” now. Thank you. See what a change in perspective does? It’s wonderful! Thanks again.

    Much love from NJ,
    Sue
    xoxo

  8. Heidi Ashworth
    March 24, 2009 | 1:29 am

    Very fun well written post!

  9. acte gratuit
    March 24, 2009 | 1:35 am

    Hi Kate! Hope you’re enjoying your blogging vacation. Just wanted to let you know my current blog post was inspired by YOU!!! (Speaking of fashion…)
    :)
    Emily
    :)

  10. Alicia @ Oh2122
    March 30, 2009 | 11:47 pm

    You have no idea how much I needed to see this come from someone outside my own head, and how much of it I could have written.

    I have a hard time parting with things that money was spent on or that could save me money in the future when I fit in them again. I am constantly trying to make do “for now.”

    There are two bags of clothes sitting across the room from me right now. This post strenghtens my resolve to be rid of them tomorrow.

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