02 December 2014

breaking up with my wardrobe

For awhile now, I feel my wardrobe and I have fallen out of cahoots.

Retrospect: growing up, when back-to-school shopping my mum always tried to gently sway me in the direction getting what she emphatically called The Eight-Piece Solution, or eight simple pieces that would all pair together -- which, ok, I got it...but I thought eight was insane. 

(I still think it's insane.)

But tis the principle of the thing. And, as seems to happen more with age...it turns out that my mum -- as French women across the ages have been -- was right. 

And, of the French. This is no news. But, Paris is on my mind. I'm doing French rosetta stone. And we'll be traveling there in the near-ish future, and I was thinking to myself, well, I've got quite a number of things I'd be happy to wear through the streets of Paris. I've amassed an impressive variety of black flats and dresses, and white silk blouses over the years. There are the simple tees, the skinny jeans, the black skirts, the gray sweaters...

...and so, it is not a bad lot, resting there in my closet. 


Here's the best way I can think to explain it. It's like when you are first moving into a place. And you bring in your bed. And there it is, looking so simple and neat -- so accessible, and useful there on its own. You unpack your first box of books (the prettiest ones) and you are proud of how things look in this reduced space. You want to re-read that favorite collection of poetry. In your bed. With nothing else. (Maybe just the white dishes.) And you would be fine if the truck whisked away all your other belongings to some other town. You feel all the romance of small-apartment-in-the-city-life washing over you. And you are pleased. 

It feels good to be unencumbered. 

I have never been too terribly fond of shopping on-trend. Aztec prints and fringe-draped sweaters are not my thing, you can have them. My predilection has always been toward the softer tones, the simpler, feminine things -- 

(I'll illuminate the details of this soon. For now, my pinterest board is as good a visual as any.) 

The things that, allow me to re-invoke the sentiment, would be worthy of Paris. 

But, somehow, I have managed to accumulate a collection of things that doesn't feel like...me. Then I drape myself in these things, and feel exponentially further from myself than I even did looking at them in the first place. 

Things given, things thrifted, things acquired impulsively. And in a collection of things, the bad ones are gadflies to the good -- they are garrulous, really, demanding attention simply by being loud. This is what misguided acquisition (and the clinging to it) brings. 

(And I am slowly facing the reality this has happened more this year than ever before. More on that soon.)

My goal this year was simple: live with intention. 

And, acquiring things (or doing anything at all) impulsively is antithetical to that end. 

(And I think it's because I want a baby, and infertility is the pits, and you would rather not have the time to shop, but time is all you have, so you fill that time up doing things you'd rather not, and sometimes buying something frivolous fills that void for a half-second and you feel a little better, is all.) 

I am finding that doing anything impulsively is to implicate your entire soul in a crime committed by a restless heart. 

I said to Robert on Saturday night, 
I am breaking up with my wardrobe. 

And he said, 

And I said, 
because I am not attached to the things in my closet, but attached to the idea of them as a collective whole.  

And I don't like feeling that way. 

We spent until the early hours of the morning piling most of our clothes in a heap. The heavier-laden our arms and the floors of our apartment grew, the lighter our hearts became. (And I mean that.) 

That idea of the perverted-gestalt-wardrobe-concept is important here. It is ok to be irrationally attached to a thing or two in your wardrobe. I think it's all right to cling to a dress you might never wear again that for some inexplicable reason, you can never seem to send to the round bin. But at some point, I stopped conceptualizing of pieces in that way, and started to romanticize the whole lot of them -- together -- like that. 

(When you have this deep compulsion to nurture, and you want a baby, but you can't seem to get one -- you make all the other stuff in your small universe some weird semblance of a proxy. You know you can't sustain this. You know it won't make things better. But you do it. Impulsively.) 

So, the moving truck does not drive away with all your other stuff. This is not reality. The rest of the boxes come upstairs. They're in a heap, toppling over each other. You are overwhelmed. There is no peace in stuff. (And you know this. But you have learned to push that aside.) You unpack them...

What's inside? 

There are a number of unusual and brightly-hued things that I will cling to. But for awhile -- a month, all winter, a year? -- I am on hiatus. In suit with Natalie's (and others') capsule, I boxed up the whittled-down assortment of ones to remain, and pushed them to back of the closet for temporary disuse. And, now hanging up: a series of white blouses, a black one, a gray one, basic tees, and a striped one. Black skirts, a leather jacket. A pile of desaturated sweaters. A pretty lace dress. The beloved camel coat. A black purse and a brown one hang in the corner. A watch. The tiniest row of black shoes: pointed flats, mary janes, ankle boots, clogs. You feel all the romance of small-apartment-in-the-city-life washing over you. And you are pleased. 

It feels good to be unencumbered.


  1. The 8th paragraph beginning "Here's the best way I can think to explain it" - that is exactly what I think all the time - I think to myself why do I have to own all this stuff, I want to live simply and have a small amount of possessions. But I find it incredibly difficult to let go of things, I wish I were ruthless but it just does not come naturally to me. This was a great post, it hit me with an extra wave of 'let it go, keep a small amount of what you need and you will feel so much better!' - sounds easier than it is!


    1. I completely understand. There's one exact night I constantly reminisce about, after first moving into our apartment. Most of our things were still in the old place -- and we were just there with our bed, and one change of clothes. I go to this memory when I want peace of mind. It seems to achievable for a moment, but that feeling fleets. But, you're right. For me, it's easy to get rid of a lot of things -- but then...there's still this pile that, for whatever reason, I can't part with. I'm realizing the pile is bigger than I thought, though. And how much it weighs on me. It's those last remnants -- of former self, or imagined self -- that I'm trying, and trying to whittle down.

  2. I switched to everything plain, neutral and as much simple as possible lately,
    I came to Los Angeles with 7 suitcases of my wardrobe life (carefully hand-picked, obviously), and after my first month here I started to feel something's wrong. And then, hello Goodwill and hello boxes in the darkest side of the wardrobe. Welcome, black/gray/white tshirts, denim and all-seasons style staples!
    It's totally feels better this way.

    Oly / TLV Birdie Blog

    1. I like that. : ) Thanks for sharing & encouraging me with your story!

  3. here, here! i just have a freestanding wardrobe rack in our bedroom. it does not allow for any pieces that are not extremely useful and well-loved. our new bedroom is pretty small so i swapped out my dresser for a sliding drawer thing i got at ikea. it's hard to describe but you can see it in a pic on my recent post. my husband got the dresser and closet, haha. anyways it's also open so literally every item of clothing i own is visible all the time and it has reeeeeally made me rethink every item i own. i swear my wardrobe has been procreating and repopulating because i never think it's possible but yet i always have bags and bags of clothing to donate. bridget! you better never stop writing, because you've got real talent.

  4. I have so much trouble with this same issue - and even though it's tough to let go of that shirt I wore to that concert, or the sweater I wore on my first day of that school year, etc. it feels so good to, as you said, be unencumbered, and it doesn't hurt to have a nice clean close too!

  5. This is exactly how I have been feeling lately. I too am finding it difficult to let go of many items, but 3 trash bags full last weekend was a good start :). Here's to feeling unencumbered!

  6. Random cleaning/simplifying sprees are the absolute best. Less clutter, more organization, less stuff, lighter heart!

    Also, I've been following your lovely blog for a while now, and I'm excited to read that you'll be headed to France sometime soon-ish!! France has been my home away from home in my 20s. Seeing as we're both Seattle natives and Denver transplants, I would be happy to share my list of secret and wonderful gems in Paris and elsewhere in France, if you wish! The whole country is a dream; you will love it.

    My best to you for a happy Christmas and fruitful New Year!

  7. this post is perfect - and something i've been thinking about a lot lately. just looking at my closet makes me feel anxious, the overload of stuff, that don't feel like me, are somehow really confronting. guess a big clean out is needed!
    xo, cheyenne

  8. I love this post. I am constantly going through clothes and cleaning out my closet. I am finally at peace with it, I think, but now it is the rest of my home that needs breaking up with. I love what you wrote about the simple, neat bed and the prettiest books. You have inspired me to sort through and get rid of things until I have the whole home equivalent of "the prettiest books."