Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Gail Carriger on Cleaning Out the Closet and Gail's American Dream

I'm purging right now, Fashionable Reader, some books, a few pairs of shoes but mostly . . . clothes.

The vintage stuff is by far the hardest to let go. Each dress represents not only the events of its attendance but also a hunt and a success. Then there is its uniqueness and the mere fact that it fits me . . . properly. 

I have to step back and really assess how much I've worn each piece.
  • Is it worth the space it takes up in my closet?
  • What event will I wear it to next year?
  • Does it have things that go with it?
  • How many black dresses does one woman really need?
Harder questions, I think, than I had at my viva.

After that, in order of difficulty, comes shoes. I adore each and every one of my shoes, they are, perhaps even more of a hunt than the vintage dresses. Because they need to be very comfortable and they fill a niche. I buy in sets of three as a rule. That is to say, I try to get each basic color in a closed toe pump or stiletto, a flat, and a sandal. But then there is the matter of spectators to consider, with their two colors, and my love of peep toes (which I also often have in each color), and waterproof flats to add into the mix for rain. Also, I must judge whether the companion dresses are too summer to need pumps, or too wintery to need anything open toed. And that doesn’t even include boots!

It's a science, I tell you, a science.

Then there are a few pairs I keep because, even though they hurt to wear, they are kind of works of art.

I did take the drastic step (ha, shoes = step, I made a pun there) of eliminating one of my two pairs of black and grey flats, and dyeing my purple pumps (more comfortable) to brown so I could get rid of the brown t-straps.

What else is difficult to get rid of?

Costume elements. Today I gave up on the idea that I would ever build a steampunk outfit dedicated solely to this corset.

I popped the grey and black teared skirt (I've had for four years and never worn because I was waiting to make a top skirt) into the give away pile and I also pulled this black bottom skirt from my spoon outfit:

Knowing that I have a 1850s ball gown with a grey black and wine skirt that will do for all three outfits. Here it is worn with the spoon outfit back at the first Steampunk convention in 2008.

See, not so bad a match, it'll do for multiple outfits. You might even see me in it at Teslacon.

I guess what I am saying, my dears, is that if I can purge, so can you. And in the end the feeling is rather cathartic. I'm not really complaining, my dears, I do this to others all the time. I'm one of those friends called in to help people throw things away. I should be able to do it for myself too, shouldn't I?

I'm asking myself the same questions I ask them:
  • Have I worn it in the past year?
  • Does it go with anything else?
  • Is it out of style (completely, rather than retro)?
  • Does it fit?
  • Is it old or warn looking? Pilled, stretched, shrunken, in need of mending?
  • Can the stain be removed?
I've got my eye on furniture solutions, of course, like the shoe storage ottoman or velvet lined shoe tower. sadly we won't have the space in our new place, but maybe someday.

Of course what I really am looking forward to is the day, some five years or so down the line, when we can opt for a slightly bigger place with a walk in closet. That's really all I want in life, a walk in closet. My american dream.

So what are some of the clothes I am getting rid of that you might remember from this blog?

In Memorial


  1. OMG, we have that red dress (American Living right? )at Providence Pin-Up and it is gorgeous on so many women. It readily accepts massive alterations by safety pin. Someone will enjoy it now that you're letting go.

  2. You should just snag a room (assuming you have one available to use as say, a guest room) as your closet space. Imagine a visitor spending the night with 50 pairs of shoes staring at them.

  3. I'm sure most people would rather sleep in a room full of shoes than a room full of dolls.

    I'm weird in that I have no problem parting with a lot of my clothing. (Except for concert t-shirts or Star Trek ones because I know they don't make those ones anymore.) The one with a problem with getting rid of my clothing is mom. I've got a few pieces I've been trying to get rid of for years. But every time I take them out of the closet and put into the give away/garage sale piles, she starts crying and puts them back in. I know I'll NEVER be thin enough without massive plastic surgery to ever fit in them. Even if I did lose 100 pounds I'd still be 20 pounds too fat for them. But she still won't let me get rid of them. I either will have to wait until she dies - which I've told her she's not allowed to do (I'm sick and tired of losing the people I love) - or find a way to sneak them out and drop them off at the Salvation Army or something.

  4. My closet is full of sizes - I always think I will get back in my skinny clothes (a girl can dream) but then I get depressed and clear them out. Of course that's the time I work on losing weight and need some new clothes - see, it's a good plan.

  5. Alas, just recently I had to comb through my wardrobe for moving purposes. It was a painful process that became even more so when I arrived at my new apartment to find a second closet (that I swear had been magically concealed). Still it let me demonstrate some sort of control and the bright side is that I can now start incorporating new pieces again.

  6. "Have I worn it in the past year?
    Does it go with anything else?"
    I avoid throwing out clothes, because I'm always thinking "well, I might wear it again eventually," but the two questions above made me realize I just need to throw some stuff out.

    And SGpeighs, my sister and I actually dog-sat at a house with such a room before. It was a room transformed completely into a closet with a bed stuck right in the middle for visiting guests. It was both amusing and awesome at the same time. Well, there were two guestrooms, actually, so we stayed in the room not transformed into a walk-in closet.

  7. I'd say you are a CLOSET GENIUS, but I'm afraid it wouldn't exactly sound as flattering as I mean it to be!

  8. I have a lot of old T-shirts I keep thinking I'll wear as pajama tops, but I never do. I may have to get rid of them...

    What I want to know is what to do with Halloween costumes. :\

  9. Light - when I can, I try to work parts of the old costumes into new ones. Like I separated my Masque Of Red Death costume. The cape from it became my Little Red Riding Hood cape, the robe became my Gryffindor House robe.

    Couldn't work them into my Hippie nor TARDIS costumes, though.

  10. You're giving away your red dress? Poor red dress!

  11. When we moved into our house we had to do a great deal of renovation. The house is 1960's modern and the bedrooms had very little closet space so one of my priorities (besides the bathrooms) was turning a small office off the master bedroom into a huge walk-in closet complete with built in dressers and a wall of shelves for my shoes. *Sigh* It is heaven! I hope you get to have your walk-in closet some day.


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