Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Saturday, December 19, 2020

The Epic Closet Marathon Purging Project

My master closet has always been a walk-in hell-hole of clothing (in three sizes), shoes, Crocs, purses, hats and anything that I want to hide from the world---the volume of which needed to be cut in half before I move. I’ve never enjoyed purging clothing because I change sizes so often that I’m afraid to let go of things that don’t fit. I know, you don’t have to tell me how screwed up that line of thinking is. Life coaches and diet experts say the three-sizes-habit keeps us fatties stuck into the cycle of pushing 15-20 pounds up and down the scales when if we only had one size it would force us to do something about our weight when our clothes get snug with a pound or two gain. Instead, we scale bouncers just grab the next size up in our closets and before we know it, we’re at the top of our fat clothes weight wishing our bodies were like balloons and we could just let some air/fat out until our skinny clothes fit again. Instead, we finally get the wake up call and the D word enters our vocabularies because there’s no way we’re going to buy yet another, 4th set of bigger fat clothes. Oops, I just proved the one size only theory didn’t I. In addition to the three-sizes-of-fat-lady-clothing-curse I had a fair number of “memory-outfits” in my closet before this week’s EPIC PURGE-ATHON took place. Some dating as far as the 1950s, things I’d never wear again but just seeing them made me happy.

One or two years ago I made a meager pass at purged my closet and I did that trick where you take everything out and as you put it back in you hang things up backward so the end of hangers faces outward. As you wear things and they go back in the closet you hang them up the right way. The theory is the next time you purge your closet you purge everything that is still hanging backwards. I still had things hanging backward that haven’t been touched since my last purging but logic and fear were not on my side and I didn’t purge---this time---what the experts say I should have done. My life style will change dramatically after I move and I don’t expect that I’ll be living in sweats all the time like I do now, and all that stuff I’ve been saving for outings outside the house might become my daily wear. The fear comes in because I really hate shopping for clothing, especially when I don’t like most of the newer fabrics in the stores. It’s either too thin or feels like insects crawling on my skin when I wear them.

It took me five afternoons of pulling stuff out of the closet, trying things on and just plain staring into the hell-hole with frequent breaks to jump on the internet. But on Friday I had seven---count them, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7---33 gallon trash bags full of stuff that I dropped off at Goodwill before I could change my mine. One bag was filled with just hangers. If my math is correct what I have left will fit in my future closet, but I will probably downsize in there again before moving. I have too many clothes. One thing I don’t have is too many of is shoes. I’m not a shoe person. Crocs…now that’s another story. I love them but I don’t feel safe wearing them to drive so they end up staying home. In my future home I’ll be able to walk to the post office, the social center for classes and two restaurants on the CC campus so I suspect I’ll be buying more Crocs and they will take over my wardrobe. I even have a bag of Jibbitzs (shoe charms for Crocs) and you can bet your butt I didn’t downsize them out of my life.

So what did go in all those trash bags? It’s easier to catalog what I kept, all of which fits except for 6 outfits on hangers and a small box of clothing marked “slightly too small” (downsized from 3 boxes). Hanging in my closet now are: 3 skirts, 2 pair of dress slacks, 7 pair of winter sweatpants, 15 pair of summer knit pants---10 are black and, ya, I know! no one needs 10 pair of nearly identical black pants---4 pair of crop pants, 2 bathing suits, 9 sweatshirts, 2 vests, 25 short sleeve knit tops, 5 short sleeve blouses, 9 long sleeve blouses, 10 long sleeved light weight knit tops, 10 heavy weight long sleeved knit tops, 7 tee-shirts, 3 sleeveless tops, 7 long sleeve sweaters, 4 short sleeve sweaters, 10 camisoles, 3 summer dress jackets, 6 Pendleton wool classic jackets, 3 dresses (slightly too small), 4 summer sleep sets, 6 winter sleep sets---I was shocked to find all that sleepwear!---2 pair of dress shoes, 12 pair of Crocs, 4 hats and a box of purses that I refuse to count because I really don’t need any of them since I rarely ever changes purses when I go out. The other 3 things in my closet that don’t fit are the only 3 memory outfits that I kept. You don’t have to tell me I still have too many clothes. I will downsize again before I move, then again after I move and I’ve figured out what my life style is going to be.

Photo Notes: The dress at the top was worn in 1964 by my mom for her 25th anniversary party. She wore a gray suit to get married in so this was the closest thing she had to a wedding dress. I posted it on Facebook to just those on my side of the family and two relatives wanted it. The three outfits below are the only "memory outfits" I still have left and with any luck I'll have them until I die. The first outfit is from my man hunting days in the '60s. (The pants are long, I just didn't photograph them off the hanger.) The second dress was what I called my Oscar's Uniform. It's from the '70s when Don and I were dating. There was a nightclub in town that booked fairly well known singers and comedians for a mid-week stopover in between their gigs in Chicago and Detroit. We'd go there almost every week and I always wore that dress. The third dress is hard to see in the photo to really appreciate the cotton fabric. It has a bi-centennial theme and I wore it every weekend the summer of 1976 when Don and I went crazy going to every small town celebration we could find in our state. I call it my hippie dress. ©



EDIT To Add: I counted the purses and I have 15 and I promised myself they will get downsized again before I move. (I'm burned out on the process now.) Last summer I sold four vintage purses on e-Bay, in the $35 to $50 range and three other purses I still have are likely candidates to go that way but the rest I part with will have to go to Goodwill with a tearful goodbye. 

This week I also sold two Pendleton Western cut Wool shirts that were my husband's on Marketplace for $45 each. They were the only memory clothes of his I had left except his Mickey Mouse tie which doesn't take up much room so I'll never let go of that. It was hard to part with those shirts but the guy who bought them was funny with his attempts to bargain the price down---he caved way too easy. That same cut shirt today, in the same plaid sells at Pendleton's website for $160 each so the guy got a good deal and he knew it. He's a brew master at one of the local micro breweries in town and when the bargaining didn't go his way he wanted to barter beer to knock the price down. I don't drink beer so I held firm. But my husband would have loved this silly guy and his unusual job so I was left with a good experience.

40 comments:

  1. God GF now you got me thinking about Purging my Closet SOME MORE! Mostly because, unlike you, Closet/Wardrobe Purges tend to be easy for me with zero Attachments, for the most part. But, there are items I do not wear so it does seem ridiculous to keep them and I like that Hangar idea, so after the newly Inspired by you Purge, I'll hang everything back up backwards and then revisit the balance of it in 6 months to see what probably should just go too? At my Showroom, Oddly, Clothing Sells fast that I've determined fits the ticket for Antique Mall Fare and my Boho and Funky Vintage Wardrobe Vibe. As for Shoes, I only wear Okibashi Flip Flops 99.9% of the time and only keep a few Shoes/Boots for places I couldn't deem appropriate to wear Flip Flops. Not that I go many places that qualify, so... I have few Shoes at all. I Love your Purge Posts becoz it does Motivate me in that necessary direction still. Lately I've been having waking Dreams of the Gauntlet in the RV Garage so I really have to get Serious about tackling that to alleviate doing it in my Sleep Night after Night instead. *LOL*

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    1. So you're saying it's weird to keep memory clothes? With your "off beat" sense of fashion and collector's soul I would have thought you'd get attached to some of your outfits and I can see why they sell at your antique mall. I sold some pieces from the 40s and 50s on e-Bay this summer so I know there is a market. I do have more shoes than what's in the closet, thought. The sports shoes I wear every day I keep in the laundry room.

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  2. PS: The fact you Inventoried what you had left was impressive!

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    1. I'll do anything for blogger fodder. LOL But seriously for once in my life I'd like a planned wardrobe where everything goes with everything else. I need to find a fashion article that tells you how many pieces of what you need. I know some say 40 pieces! One of my biggest fears with clothing is not having the money to buy something new if I change sizes or that I'll have to buy styles or colors I don't like. I should go Bohemian like you do because I don't think size matters as much but I don't see stuff like you have in the stores. Your clothes look super comfortable.

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    2. I haven't bought Clothing at Retail for years, all Chazza finds, so little invested in any of it, except perhaps a few Statement pieces from Fav Designers once or twice a Year as an Indulgence.

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    3. I've never seen clothes like you wear on the women in this area. I think it's the mixed cultures you have where you live that makes a difference.

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  3. Love the story about the guy wanting to barter beer! Sounds like you made amazing progress and that you obviously love tops and purse way mor than dresses, pants or shoes. Have you tackled accessories yet? And do you have a firm move in date on the horizon?

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    1. The beer barter would have been attractive to many because those micro-brewery beers are expensive. He was just so funny. He's say, "Would you take $30" then before I'd have a chance to answer he'd say, "I can do $45." Two minutes later he'd say, "Can you do $40" then he'd talk himself back up to $45.

      If the pandemic doesn't shut us down again they are saying well be able to start moving in in August.

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  4. I don't keep Memory Clothes, either, unless you count my wedding gown, and I think I'll donate that at some point, too. I haven't looked at it since the day I sent it to the dry cleaner's to get packed in a big box. Who knows--I might have someone else's dress in there! I never even checked.

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    1. Yup, a wedding dress counts as a Memory Clothes. That's happened before---the wrong dress in those preservation boxes.

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  5. Holy moly, that does sound like a lot of clothes. At first I thought you were just upping your word number count to help you finish your post quickly. :)
    I purged my closet last spring (COVID chores) and got rid of most of my work clothes since I am now retired. I just can't see wearing a dress or skirt for any reason and nobody needs to see my old lady legs. I just want to be comfy.
    You are doing a great job of getting ready for your move. Bit by bit you will get through it all and be all set for August. How exciting!

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    1. I was thinking that same thing about keeping the dresses---don't want to get that dressed up anymore and half the wool jackets I kept need to go too.

      For someone who doesn't like to shop I somehow accumulated way too much stuff, but mostly I don't get rid of enough as I go along.

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  6. Purging is the hardest chore on earth. It was so much easier with an organizer! Best $100 I've ever spent. I did get rid of all my memory outfits. Just no darned room.

    When I traveled with Mr. Ralph, I had 3 weeks of outfits that ALL went together and I actually used. Black, khaki and white. A reversible flowing skirt. Some scarves of bright colors. I don't know what I'll do when I have to be out in public again! Jammies are just so comfy!

    Keep up the good work!

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    1. By 'organizer' do you mean a person who comes in and tells you what to keep and what to get rid of? I can't imagine that working for me. If I had unlimited money I could see hiring a stylist and starting a wardrobe from scratch...that's my dream. Love your travel wardrobe and would love to have everyday clothes that worked that way.

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  7. If I tried the backwards hangar idea now, nothing would get worn — my sweatpants and tops are in drawers. Maybe after normal life returns!

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  8. I understand, completely, having multiples in basic colors. You mentioned having 10 prs of black pants. No doubt, I'm old fashioned, but I really like casual clothes that are cotton with a bit of spandex. Nowadays, it seems that everything is man-made fabric and I really don't enjoy wearing it. I keep buying items (esp leisure wear), but I never want to wear it. I think you made very good progress. Your upcoming move is certainly a motivating factor. Sometimes it's easier to purge when you have a purpose.

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    1. That's probably why I keep buying pants too! I like wearing cotton with under 20% of something else like spandex or polyester. I wear some of the blends they have today and after a couple of hours I have to change because the fabrics feel creepy on my skin. You don't always know that until you've worn something.

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  9. I did the backward hanger thing with my husband's clothes because I knew he was avoiding some and I wanted to pitch them. The experiment backfired when he took it as a challenge to wear everything at least once even if he didn't like it. I finally just started pitching what I didn't like. Ha!
    I'm impressed you donated seven bags! Sounds like you did great even if you aren't quite finished. You definitely deserve an attaboy!

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    1. That's funny about your husband taking that as a challenge. I'll bet my husband would have done the same thing. LOL

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  10. I have found that if pants have nylon in them as opposed to rayon then I can live with the polyester portion. I have no idea why that is. I wear good black pants from ruby rd and try ones with nylon are all I can wear. Having said that most of my pants are like a minimum of 65 percent cotton wit a little spandex and or poly mixed in and come from Christopher and banks. Proud of you for all that declutterung, I tell ya.

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    1. Thanks! I'm proud too because it was SO against my nature to let go of clothing.

      I'm going to start paying attention to which of pants feel better or worse and what the fabric content is. Maybe that will help with my next round of pursing.

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  11. I’m in the same boat as you, Jean...only slightly ahead. I purged my closet before I moved and soon I’ll be purging it again as I adapt to my new lifestyle and climate. Good luck! You’ve made great strides already.

    Deb

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    1. You are one of my inspirations for moving and you did it during the pandemic. With any luck it will be winding down quite well by my move.

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  12. I don't much care about clothes, so only have about 5 pair of pants and 15 tops and 4 pair of shoes, and one denim barn coat. I could be happy with less than that but it would mean I'd have to go shopping more often when things wear out. 'Never' is a good time frame for clothes shopping for the likes of me.

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    1. Wow, I'd be nervous to only have 5 pairs of pants. I'd have to wear PJ's on laundry day. Barn coats are get, aren't they.It just dawned on my why my clothes don't wear out! Duh, I have to many so nothing gets worn enough.

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  13. A good clean out is good every so often

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    1. I wish I'd done it along time ago. I'd really like to be in the habit of doing it yearly going forward.

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  14. Good job! I hope you rewarded yourself afterwards.

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  15. I finally gave my wonderful, soft, fuzzy, marvelously warm sheared mouton jacket to the daughter of a friend. I've been telling myself for decades I don't need it. I live in southeast Texas, for heaven's sake. But it was so nice to touch, every time I tried, I just couldn't. Now, it's gone, and to a good home. The young woman who has it now lives in upstate Maine! She can put it to good use.

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    1. It's much easier to let go when you give something you love go to a good home. Just yesterday I gave a goose down L.L. jacket to my great-niece. Those sheared mountain jackets are cool and so practical in the right climate.

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  16. I don't have any memory clothes of my own except for my wedding dress which I cut apart to make something for my daughter on her wedding day. It will probably end up in the garbage some day! I have my moms wedding dress which is so vintage and beautiful that I will never get rid of it! I wish I would have kept more of my kids clothes, though!

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    1. Wow, that's really special what you did for your daughter. If you do ever have to let go of your mom's wedding dress call your museum and see if they take vintage clothing. The one in our town has a huge collection and I donated a couple of classics from the early 1900s.

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  17. Well done. I applaud you. I've done starter purges but never the whole nine yards. And like you, I keep thigns in multiple sizes because I know myself. And I hate clothes shopping. I've lost 15 pounds since March and my jeans hang like butt crack pants but somehow the smaller ones don't fit right either. I must be losing in weird places! That's a generous goodwill donation -- I hope you catalogued it well and are deducting it! I think the last time I wore a dress was my retirement party in 2013. You are going into a dressier environment. I'm firmly in the fleece/denim camp, more or less. Cozy sweaters, a few blouses.... I really do need to make that a 2021 priority! Well done!

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    1. Down the road I want to actually plan my wardrobe and purge again. I need to be honest with myself and let go of the dresses and Pendleton jackets and some expensive sweaters from back in the day when I wore better quality clothing than I do now. I just can't see me ever wanting to get back into wearing things that need to go to the dry cleaners. But I made a huge start in letting go...

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  18. You made me think of my Pendleton gray/blue pleated skirt from my Senior year in high school. Mother took me up to East Lansing to Jacobson's, which in itself was quite a treat for a farm girl. Afterwards, we toured the campus across the street, where I was going to attend the next fall. I was quite the sensation when I went back to school, after winter break, with my powder blue sweater set, Pendleton skirt, bobby sox and black penny loafers. Small town, smaller school (200 kids, K-12)--it didn't take much to be a clothing sensation, but everybody said I was dressed like a "college girl".

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    1. Your memory made me smile. My mom was in love with Pendleton and so I, too, had the Pendleton pleated skirt in high school. Mine was mostly midnight blue. In college tailoring classes I even sewed with Pendleton.

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  19. That's a LOT of work. And a lot of purging. I had some work clothes (jackets, sweaters, etc.) that I struggled to part with when I retired. But after looking at them in the closet for a couple seasons, I finally decided I really had nowhere to wear them. My lifestyle is much more casual now and they were taking up room. When we moved, I did another small purge, and of course now I'm in my pandemic uniform most days - leggings or jeans and tops. Honestly, I wonder if I'll ever wear some of my nicer clothes again. Comfort is very seductive. LOL. And same story with shoes. I keep the boxes and they're stacked on the top shelves in my closet. My feet won't allow me to wear a few of them, but dang it's hard to part with them.

    I love the memory clothes you kept. I still wish I had kept a beautiful suede coat from my youth, but I'm sure I couldn't close it anymore, so that would be depressing I suppose.

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    1. I don't know how I overlooked responding to your comment in a timely manner. I'm sorry!

      Ohmygod, those suede coats from long ago were really neat!

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