I was putting away laundry this morning, and as I sorted tops into the three piles I use: work clothes, normal clothes, and Wear in Public clothes, I had that little nagging in my head that says “if you can’t wear them in public, you should probably throw them out.”
I’ve been throwing stuff out a lot lately, and I like it. I was talking to my sister, and she mentioned chucking a plaid hair ribbon she’d had since college recently. It is very hard for children of those who were raised during the depression to throw out something that’s still good. It’s hard for anyone who loves the Earth to discard something that is still good. The problem is that sometimes it takes so much effort to find someone who can use whatever it is, it’s easier to just keep holding on to it.
People are always full of useful suggestions: “Purge your closet of clothes you haven’t worn in a year, that look like each other, that you don’t fit, that you can’t wear in public.” Brilliant idea, except “not”. This is based on the assumption that you can always ‘just’ go buy a replacement any time you want. You can’t replace the sweater your grandmother made, even if you had the money and you never wear it. Even taking it out and hugging it once a year when you clean the closet justifies keeping it. And lots of people DON’T have the money to replace things. It’s easy when you have money to say “it’s only” some amount that seems insignificant to you, but that number is different in different situations.
My categories work for me. I LIKE the category of work clothes. When I put them on, it means I’m going to be accomplishing something I want to do- working in the garden, organizing the attic or pantry or backs of closets, maybe cooking. These may not be things that would bring you joy, but they feed my soul. You could probably recognize an artists smock as a “good grubby”, but my apron that is permanently stained where my belly hits the counter also speaks of the joy of making wonderful meals and treats to me. The clothes at the back of my closet (that may or may not still fit) are the ones that I only pull out for public occasions like funerals. You can’t rent them, and I have no use for them at other times. When wearing them, I feel not attractive, but uncomfortable. “Am I going to ruin this?” is a constant hum in the back of my head. I prefer the clothes that if I wipe my hands on them when I have flour, or soil or paint on them, it doesn’t make a huge difference. I’m getting something DONE! Yes, I would look out of place in the board room or at a cocktail party. Tough. I will give you the respect of assuming that if that’s your choice, you do actually like wearing those clothes, being in those places, and doing those things. Please give me the respect of knowing that when I put on my stained shirt and skirt, not only will I be comfortable (unless I’m out somewhere where people will look at me like I don’t know where I am), I will be happy in the knowledge that I’m not going to ruin a nice piece of clothing.
The theory seems to be that I won’t be happy unless I’m wearing new clothes*. I’ll give you clean clothes- those feel great! But clothes that fit well, keep me warm or cool, are in colors and fabrics and styles I like make me feel good, and especially when I’m not worried about ruining them. Modern (cheap) clothes seem to be unwearable after a half dozen wearings. Good quality cotton, wool, and linen clothes usually don’t stain as easily, and can wear for generations. I also make my clothes because frankly, most of what’s available for fat women is ugly. I think they’re trying to go with an image in their head of a fat aunt they didn’t like too much, and design what they remember her wearing. Sorry, I am a large canvas, I will paint a flamboyant painting on it! When I’m out in those clothes, other fat women ask me where I got them. I know they look good (until I destroy them).
I’ll try to remember to put on clothes that don’t make you feel uncomfortable when I go out, but let me wear the clothes that make me happy the rest of the time.
*score one for the modern advertising industry!