Pack rat’s closet offers glimpse inside

Mar. 30, 2013 @ 04:54 AM

I firmly believe a look inside a woman’s closet is like a peek inside her soul.

One glance, and you can tell if she’s a control freak, a slob, a romantic or an aspiring Imelda Marcos.

It’s all there, revealed in the garments hanging from her hangers and the shoes lined up on the floor.

I’m a little afraid of what people would think if they saw my closet. They probably would deduce one of three things:

• I’m a widow who plans to grieve longer than Queen Victoria did for Prince Albert.

• I’m housing a family of women who range in age from 13 to  65.

• I’m vying for an entry in The Guinness Book of World. Records for the planet’s largest collection of black slacks and shoes.

You see, I’m bit of a pack rat. But I’m also a determined optimist. My whole wardrobe reflects my view of life: Tomorrow, things are  going to get better.

This explains why, until recently, I still possessed the following:

• A high school letter jacket adorned with sport and music medals. (You never know, I might have a need to wear it again at my 40th reunion in 2018);

• A sequined ball gown once worn to a governor’s inaugural ball in Iowa. (Boy, that was years ago);

• A cool, black shirt that I must have purchased in a fit of typhoid fever and have never worn;

• A pair of size 8 sandals. I think I purchased those when I thought I would lose weight and my feet would shrink from a size 11;

• A sweater bearing a bold motif much like the Partridge Family’s bus (just in case I ever met David Cassidy).

Even after moving, my closet was stuffed, though I only will ever wear probably 30 percent of its contents. 

And for most of my adult life, that was just fine. Until I got that pesky e-mail from a dear friend.

It was one of  those weird organizational, “make a small change towards lifelong fulfillment” things. Even worse, it made complete sense.

This “so-called professional” talked about how demoralizing it can be to frequently look at a closet that’s filled with useless things. Her theory was it’s downright depressing to surround yourself with a bunch of “if only” clothes: If only I could get out that spaghetti stain; if only I could lose 20 pounds; if only culottes would come back in style.

Her advice was to purge your closet of everything that was too small, too big or too impractical to wear right now. 

So last weekend I gave my closet a good, hard look. Oh, it wasn’t a pretty site. It was like realizing the love of your life had a real bad habit.

In a long-ago, short-lived fit of organizational fever, I had color-coded my clothes. Soon after, I grew tired of trying to decide what “off colors” belong in specific category. Now, my clothes of all colors sprout everywhere.

An old shoe cubby held one pair of squashed flip-flops; the rest of my shoes were stacked in a jumble inside a plastic tote.

My eyes scanned the stretched-out sweaters, the legions of too-small pants and the sleek fleet of dresses I no longer  wear. Mind you, I probably should have done this before I moved. But I didn’t.

However, Saturday was a new day. It’s Spring. It’s time to clean my closet. What I didn’t want was going to the thrift store.

When my dear friend, interrupted my cleaning frenzy with a phone call, I promptly told her she had to call back because I was cleaning my closet. “Are you ill,” she said. “Are you sure you want to give that stuff away?”

OK ... so I didn’t give it all away. I did pack some of it away and labeled the box — antique clothing. It seemed appropriate.

I can’t say the experience of closet cleaning was pleasant. I did a little grieving for all my old favorites — and the fact I used to wear a size 12.

Still, it did feel cathartic to have a clean closet filled with things that fit. 

And, just in case, I did hang onto my high school letter jacket. I just couldn’t disappointment my niece. 

Once upon a time, she said, I must have been one of the “cool kids” to have one of those nifty coats.


Wanda Moeller is the publisher of The Daily Courier. She can be reached at