Musings

Past+Present+Future

Where Does Your Closet Live?

Happy day, dear reader!

What a pleasure to see you! I know you are incredibly busy… This time of year is bananas for many, so thank you for taking the time to be here. One of our family traditions during the weeks leading up to Christmas is to read Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. As that’s been in my imagination, today’s style thoughts are about the ghosts of the past, present, and future living in your wardrobe!

A well curated wardrobe should be firmly rooted in the present, support your goals for the future, and pay tribute to your past. That sound like a tall order doesn’t it? When I get into a client’s wardrobe, sometimes it feels like I’ve entered a time machine crossed with a crystal ball. Some closets are stuck in the past, some live only in the present, and others are filled with clothes for a future self. Let’s talk about the reasons for some of these…

The Past

Lots of closets live in the past… You’ve probably seen some! (Check out TLC.) The Past Closet is full of old clothes. I’m not talking about vintage, just old. Some fit, some don’t. There’s a wedding dress, possibly boxed, or maybe on a hangar. There’s the sweater he was wearing on their first date, the dress she wore when he proposed. There are clothes in three or more sizes represented, and some maternity clothes still hanging there… Okay, but the baby is in Kindergarten! The Past closet is more than a wardrobe; it is a treasure trove of memories. I’m all about memories, but they don’t need to be stored in your closet! Your closet should be a working space, stocked with clothes that fit your body and your life, and make you feel good.

There are a few reasons closets live in the past. Closet as a scrapbook is a common one, but if your wardrobe still looks caught in a time warp after clearing out the posterity pieces and storing them away safely, we need to look deeper. Maybe those old clothes represent a time when you were happy, or felt great about yourself. Maybe those locked-into-an-era clothes are an attempt to hang on to youth. (This one is seen in many a man’s closet, too!) Unfortunately, those old clothes do just the opposite. Wearing them head-to-toe makes us look dated and older than we are. Sadly, sartorial irony works best on the very young, and the eccentric.

The Present

The Present Closet sounds like it should be the ideal, right? All the clothes in it reflect where and how you spend your day, your work life. That may be compensated employment, raising a family, or volunteer work; wherever you spend the majority of your time! The up and coming young executive has lots of work clothes, and some old college sweats for hanging around on the weekends. The mom has lots of casual easy to wash clothing for taking care of baby, hanging out at the playground, and shuttling kids in carpool. So far, so good!

Often the Present Closet is the result of a crazy-busy life (Surprise!), lack of planning, and (commonly) a tight budget. When you go out shopping, it makes sense to buy the clothes you need for the daily grind. Why buy for something out of the ordinary? You’ll worry about that when it comes along. When the budget squeaks, justifying a purchase that won’t be worn on an everyday basis is hard. Especially when there are little people to clothe… It feels like their growing bodies need new clothes weekly!

The limitations become apparent when the Present Closet is asked to do something out of the ordinary. Mom needs to testify in court on someone else’s behalf, and isn’t equipped. So the stress of appearing in court is compounded by the last-minute hunt for something to wear. (I see this all the time for funerals, and it makes me sad…) Young exec struggles to figure out what to wear to dinner to meet her new beau’s parents. And the newly retired executive is wondering what to wear to brunch with the women from the book club she joined… None of these women need the extra stress of finding something new to wear when their focus should be on the people and events in their lives that need their attention!

The Future

The Future Closet is a very tricky place, full of hopes, and dreams, and mines! It can be built on chunks of the past or the present. Built on the present, Future Closet is full of clothes you’ve bought, but keep for “good” while wearing the same old thing day after day. (I am related to someone like this.) You know, the lovely items in your closet with the tags still on… That are waiting for a special occasion? Let me help you. Today is special. If you are reading this, you are alive and breathing; that’s a special occasion. Take off those $#%@ tags and practice styling them. Or call me! I’d love to help…

Built on the past, clothes you’ve outgrown (physically) may be filling the Future Closet, too. “I’ll get back into those jeans again.” If you are not actually on a regime, let them go. If they are pre-children, also let them go. Chances are that even if you get back into them, your shape will have shifted, and they won’t fit the way you remember. If you can’t bear to part with them, at least get them out of your working wardrobe and into a storage box. They don’t need to be hanging in there taunting you.

Future Closet can be populated by clothes you buy, hoping for the life that wears them. The woman who owns more sparkly cocktail dresses than she has fingers, but spends evenings on the sofa in footie pajamas because she doesn’t like to go out at night, needs to take a closer look at her wants and dreams. If you want the life for the dresses, there’s nothing wrong with that! Let’s work on it. I know a couple of coaches who specialize in helping women get out of their own way, and claim the life they want.

Honoring All Three

It’s important to honor all three, the past, present, and future; they all have a place in your wardrobe. Spending time on a Lifestyle Analysis to figure out how much of your wardrobe should be of the different levels of refinement is key. And having a few (I mean two or three few, not 10!) outfits for those special occasions, may they be pleasant or unpleasant, has you ready when they arise, and less stressed. And we can all use less stress!

Where does you wardrobe live? In the past, the present, or the future? Do share! I love to hear from you!

Stylishly yours,

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3 thoughts on “Past+Present+Future”

  1. What a thought provoking post! I wonder how best we asses if our own circumstances strike a healthy balance between all three?

    1. Thank you for visiting, Ruth! It takes a really honest assessment of how we spend our time, what our goals are, and sometimes some hard work to let go of what’s no longer serving us from our past. When I do a Lifestyle Assessment with clients, I have them break out their calendars and a couple of credit card statements (A decade ago, I’d have said checkbook.) to determine how they are really spending their time… And allotting their wardrobe accordingly. For example: If you spend 10% of your waking hours at the gym, then 10% of your wardrobe should be PT Gear. I think of it as a Wardrobe ReBalance

    2. Thank you for visiting, Ruth! It takes a really honest assessment of how we spend our time, what our goals are, and sometimes some hard work to let go of what’s no longer serving us from our past. When I do a Lifestyle Assessment with clients, I have them break out their calendars and a couple of credit card statements (A decade ago, I’d have said checkbook.) to determine how they are really spending their time… And allotting their wardrobe accordingly. For example: If you spend 10% of your waking hours at the gym, then 10% of your wardrobe should be PT Gear. I think of it as a Wardrobe ReBalance!

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