Winter closet cleanup leads to clothing revelations

Wednesday, October 31, 2001

With frost on the car and my breath visible in the early Sunday morning air, it seemed safe to do the annual clothes switch/closet cleanup.

That's when, as a Missouri resident, you are led to believe winter is imminent, so you put away all your shorts and polos and pull out all your sweaters and wool pants. And then, when your warm-weather clothes are pushed to the very back of that really inconvenient closet under the stairs, it heats up to about 80 degrees.

Mother Nature hates Missourians.

Even though I knew this would happen -- and, sure enough, we needed short sleeves Tuesday -- Sunday seemed like the day for me. The Other Half was on an excursion to St. Louis with the guys, I had the place to myself and my closet finally had reached critical mass. It took me about 10 minutes to find a matching pair of shoes last week and another 20 to find a silk scarf. Ends up it was resting under my ironing pile, which never seems to get smaller due to my complete hatred of ironing.

Thank heaven polyester is back.

To properly switch out seasonal clothing and organize your closet, you must start with several piles on the bed and bedroom floor.

Pile 1: Closet trash, including enough plastic dry cleaning bags to suffocate the entire Taliban fighting force, a watch that hasn't worked since 1992, clothes pins from who knows where, catalogs, invoices for catalog purchases and roughly 3,000 wire hangars.

Pile 2: Winter clothes that you definitely will wear, including anything with an elastic waist and anything that doesn't have to be ironed.

Pile 3: Winter clothes that you could wear if you hadn't gained 10 pounds since last winter but you might wear again someday if you can lose those 10 pounds.

Pile 4: Wishful thinking clothes -- including that great dress you poured into on New Year's Eve 1996 with the assistance of a girdle and control top pantyhose -- you will never wear again but can't throw away because you paid too much for them.

Pile 5: Summer clothes that needed to be ironed but now can be packed in boxes.

Pile 6: Summer clothes you have been hanging onto for several years believing that each is the year you will drop three dress sizes.

Pile 7: Clothes bound for Goodwill. (Note: I only put clean, somewhat stylish clothing I've grown out of in the Goodwill pile. I figure the other big girls of our community will appreciate it, and believe me, we're out there. And we don't want your sauce-stained, out-of-style junk.)

The closet cleanup made me notice something: My winter clothes are far superior to my summer clothes. Every year, I promise myself I will invest in professional-looking summer clothes. And every year I end up wearing the same ugly stuff to work.

I think it's because I show so much less skin in winter, I am more inspired by those styles.

But the one exception is my thick, winter robe, which I uncovered Sunday.

My mother-in-law gave it to me six years ago as a Christmas present. It was gorgeous then. I almost felt like the woman in the Epil-Stop commercial, who, having removed all her unwanted body hair, stands in her free robe from Igia, caressing her upper body in a contented manner and smiling coyly.

Trust me, nobody gets that excited about a robe, but I was close.

Today, my robe has a lot of strings hanging from it. The collar is beige with makeup, there are spaghetti sauce stains on the front and the pockets are detaching.

But it went into my final pile: warm winter clothes that look horrible but you wouldn't dream of discarding.

Happy closet cleanups to all of you!

Heidi Hall is managing editor of the Southeast Missourian.

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