I’ve finally figured out why chic Urbanites wear basic black.
It’s not just because they’re Too Cool…it’s because their closets are so small.
There’s no room for color. Or frills. Or fads. Or any of those little nouveau-bohemian type numbers I’ve been stocking up on at Anthropologie for the last 10 years. (Yes, I discovered it long before my kids did. Granny’s Too Cool, too.)
When you’ve got 12 inches of closet space, you have to exercise the K.I.S.S. principle. (Keep it simple, stupid.)
I’m really stupid.
So now, even though the bulk of my wardrobe rests, unworn, on the East coast, I am still facing the dilemma of drastic down-sizing as I move from modern apartment to Munchkin-sized cottage.
In fact, it actually could have been inhabited by Munchkins at one time. We’re moving from Westwood to Culver City, a part of L.A. where much of The Wizard of Oz was filmed in the 1930’s. Our new digs are just a block from the main drag, and were erected in the ‘20’s…so it’s entirely possible. Thinking that might have been the case gives it an aura of the exotic, and makes the 12-inch closet more acceptable. It would have been completely adequate for a Munchkin of the 1930’s. During the Depression, no one had that many clothes, anyway.
We have too much of everything now.
(Background info for those who missed this part: While Katherine was still at Casa Colina, the rehab hospital in Pomona, a little house they’d visited frequently came up on the market. We helped them get a loan to purchase it. A rental property that had been occupied by various members of their Sunday School class at Bel-Air Pres, it has two tiny structures in the back yard. One of these is to be my Granny Shack. Or I may christen it the Love Shack. The renters are finally moving out this week, and we’re moving in.)
I made my way through the flooded streets of LA to measure. My new bedroom turns out to be just over 9 x 11. My husband probably won’t be able to fit into the bathroom. So, please just imagine the closet. And it doesn’t have a door, so I’ll have to stare at the mess from the bed. If the bed will even fit.
The hail crashing on the windshield all the way back to Westwood was a fitting accompaniment to Mimi’s mood. Wagner was playing in my head. At least I had the roads pretty much to myself. Californians can’t drive in weather. Half of them just pulled over to the side of the road, politely allowing this native East Coaster to zip right past them. We’re used to rain. All of my wrecks have been in rain.
Anyway, returning to the warmth of the apartment I’m beginning to really appreciate, I fix some tea and stand in the walk-in closet, surveying the challenge. How did I let myself get into this predicament again?
I have to confess that I am prone to getting into a little (a lot of) retail therapy every now and then. One of my spiritual mentors, a unique old bird who would occasionally show up at church wearing metallic gold sneakers, once told me, “Don’t we girls just always like something new?” Is that it? The novelty of something new? Then we get it home from the store, try it on in regular lighting, and go “What was I thinking?”
Getting dressed is much more complicated these days. Stores are unfriendly. It used to be so simple…as a teenager, I’d walk into Heery’s Clothes Closet and helpful salesladies or the cool college girls who worked there would bring you the Villager skirt, blouse, and sweater that all WENT TOGETHER. And a pair of Pappagallo shoes to match. It was a no-brainer.
Now, it’s like rocket science. This kind of top can’t be tucked in. This kind has to be tucked in. These jeans show the benefits of age spilling out over the top. Those make the rear view look as wide as Nebraska. The shirt’s supposed to hang out under the jacket. Leggings? At my age?
I can stand in the closet for half an hour just trying to figure out what works. What will most effectively hide the flaws?
And so, in the quest for self-acceptance, the accumulation continues. (These jeans would work if I could just find a top long enough to cover the derriere…)
The irony is that, with clothes crammed in so tight I can hardly see, I end up just wearing the same thing day after day. When you find something that works, you stick with it. I’ve been known to pick it up off the floor and put it back on in the morning. That way, you don’t even have to expend the energy of hanging it up.
Okay, I’ve stalled long enough. It’s time to face the beast. It’s time to admit that, no, Kim, it’s not likely that will ever fit again. Quit saving it until you 'lose some weight.' That one looks like something your daughter would wear. Give it up. Put it in the bag.
It’s not like you’re lighting a match to it. You’re just sharing…giving someone else a chance to enjoy it.
Repeat: Less is more. Less is more.
As I contemplate the effects of my conspicuous consumption, I remember a precious little book I read long ago called My Heart, Christ’s Home. It spoke of a man receiving Christ as a visitor. He was just fine with allowing him in the front parlor, but when Jesus suggested a tour upstairs, the man balked. When Jesus started to open the door to the closet, he freaked. I would, too.
I wonder what clutter lurks in the closets of my heart. Are there still tight belts of unforgiveness? Designer bags full of unfulfilled needs? Elaborate costumes designed to cloak insecurities? Shoes dirty from going places I shouldn’t go?
Dear Lord, please help me clean out all my closets. Forgive me for holding on to things I need to let go of. Enable me to embrace the freedom of simplicity.
Clothe me in yourself.
Does anyone else share these struggles? If so, I'd love to hear from you.