Category Archives: Mycloset

Elegy for a Blue Cotton Button-down

This morning, I put on my old blue cotton Lands’ End button-down shirt and discovered that it has a large rip in one sleeve. It’s not repairable – the shirt is gone. Before I take it apart for its second life as rags and extra buttons, pause with me a while as I sift through the closet of my memory.

I bought the shirt from the Lands’ End catalog in 1998. I bought a size 14 because that was the only size large enough to fit around my 38-inch ribcage, and I didn’t want the buttons gapping. I lived in Atlanta back then and worked at dot-com consulting company iXL. I used to wear the blue shirt to the office tucked into high-waisted brown pants, accented with a brown scarf around my neck.

me in the blue shirt

Me in the Blue Shirt, New Orleans 1999

Then I lost weight, moved to Charlotte, NC, and got fashion – the way some people get religion. The big blue shirt was relegated to the back of the closet, but I didn’t get rid of it because it was a Good Quality Classic Piece.

A couple years later, married and living in Columbia, SC, I found a new use for the shirt. I sprayed it down with Deep Woods Off and wore it while gardening in the back yard to fend off mosquitoes. It remained my go-to mosquito shield for the next several years.

Two children later, living in Aiken, I’ve gained back all the weight I lost all those years ago and then some. While looking desperately one morning for a shirt large and long enough to cover my belly, I re-discovered the old blue shirt. It still fit and button-downs were coming back in style, so the shirt once again became part of my regular wardrobe.

And now, after fourteen years, it’s gone. Well, it’s probably about time for a new shirt.

Spring Cleaning

I decided to participate in Simple Mom’s Project Simplify, a project where you tackle one clutter “hot spot” in your house each week for five weeks. Lo and behold, the first hotspot is my closet.

This is a little earlier than I usually switch from my winter to spring wardrobe, since I know we’ve got at least one cold spell left before warm weather settles in for good. But what the heck, I can layer a few light sweaters, right?

I’m going to do the clean and purge with a slight modification, focusing only on spring and summer clothes. This is because I have some nice winter clothes that I’d like to consign, and I can’t do that right now. So I’m promising myself that I will conduct another purge in the fall, post-Labor Day.

Clearing Out, Giving Away

It’s been a while since I last posted. In the intervening months I’ve had my baby and watched him grow up and take his first steps. I realized recently that my closets were full of maternity clothes that I didn’t need anymore and baby clothes that Ducky had already outgrown.

Fortunately, I have a friend who is expecting a baby in April and another friend who has a baby boy a few months younger than mine. All the extra clothes have been collected, boxed, and I’m giving them away this week. There’s no point in hanging on to these things I don’t need, especially when I know people who will really use and appreciate them.

Giving away these clothes is also good practice in letting go. I know there’s a lot of junk in my closets that I’m needlessly clinging to. The more I can get used to giving things away, the more I think I’ll be able to improve my ability to conquer the clutter in my closets.

September Switcheroo

It’s after Labor Day, which means it’s time for me to reorganize my wardrobe for early fall. This year, though, I’ll be doing things a little differently: since I just began my third trimester, I don’t want to buy a bunch of new clothes. I’ll need to take stock of my existing maternity wardrobe and see if it looks like enough to get me through the next three months. Other than that, my fall wardrobe switch-around routine is the same as always.

  1. Put away anything that looks too “summery.”
    I start with the obvious pieces: white sandals, white shorts, white shrunken cardigan. Next, anything that just seems out of place in the fall, like this dress and skirt:
    dress and skirt

    I know all these pieces will either feel brand-new when I take them back out next spring, or else I’ll wonder why I ever wore them and send them off to the thrift store.

  2. Bring out the jeans and long-sleeved tees.
    My closet is going to be a little crowded during this early fall time when I’m still wearing summer tops along with fall ones depending on the weather, but I know it’s only for a month or so. Then, the lightweight tops will go away to make room for sweaters.
  3. Review my shoes.
    Now is the time when I take a good, hard look at my sandals and flip-flops to determine whether they’ll make it through another summer. I hate getting rid of shoes I love, but I also know that I’m not doing myself any favors by going out in public wearing beat-up, falling apart shoes. This year, I decided that I can salvage the gladiator sandals but the brown flip-flops are too far gone. I ought to look for a replacement pair right now during summer clearance sales.
    old shoes
  4. Put away or give away anything that doesn’t fit.
    This year, that means all non-maternity clothes go into storage. Normally, this is also when I have to admit that the skirt I didn’t wear all summer (or all last fall/winter) because I just needed to lose a few pounds is probably never going to fit before it goes out of style, and it’s time for me to just let it go.

There are times I wish I had a bigger closet, but I think it’s probably better that I’m forced to pare down my wardrobe to just what I can wear right now. That makes it easier to get dressed in the morning and helps me curb my pack-rat tendencies.

My Closet

Buy a Lot, Save a Little. Buy a Little, Save a Lot.

As you may already know if you read my personal blog, I’m expecting our second child this December. Last time I was pregnant, I didn’t start to “show” until August, so most of the maternity clothes I have are for the fall and winter.

This time, I needed maternity clothes by early June. Realizing it would be a long, hot, summer, I decided to invest in a few nice summer tops. Since I’d had a lot of success buying lots of clothes for my little boy on eBay, I thought I’d try it for myself.

I easily found large lots of nice summer maternity clothes, many “NWT” (new with tags). I calculated what I was willing to pay per item, including shipping, and got to bidding. But I kept losing the auctions, even when I waited ’til the last minute to bid. I saw that new maternity tops were $16.99 apiece at Target, so I was unwilling to pay more than that on eBay. Actually, I didn’t want to go over $10 per item, though a couple bidding frenzies got me up to $13/item. I still lost.

maternity shirts
Two of the shirts I bought on eBay.

Frustrated, I decided to check out the auctions for small lots and individual items. In children’s clothing, these are usually worse deals: items selling for twice or three times what you’d pay for them in lots. But surprisingly, in maternity clothes, individual items were much cheaper. I ended up buying nine shirts that ranged in price from $1.25 to $13. Even with shipping calculated in, they averaged only $5.32 per shirt (two of the small lots were from the same seller, so I saved a little on shipping).

Why were people paying so much more for the clothes in lots? Maybe it was the perception that buying in bulk saves money. Maybe they didn’t want to bother searching through the other listings to find individual items. Whatever the reason, I’m going to be a lot more cautious of lot sales on eBay in the future. Just like in the grocery store, it always pays to calculate the per-item price so you can really see what you’re paying.

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