One afternoon not too long ago, I threw in the towel on the dismal day and threw on my Double Bubble-pink fleece bathrobe, a Christmas gift from my daughter some years back. When I settled into the big blue chair with a book, my husband said, “That’s your happy place, isn’t it?” He didn’t mean the chair—he meant the bathrobe. He was right. It is. That pink schmatte comes on, and it’s official: I have gone to ground.

My bathrobe is hardly unique. All the clothes we wear send messages, whether we intend them to or not. They bruit to the world how well off we are, how old we are, how carefully we sit when we are starring in Basic Instinct.

But what messages do old clothes hanging in a basement closet send? I don’t know about you, but the clothes I’ve demoted aren’t subtle. Some days they shout that I am ditheringly indecisive (Will shoulder pads come back in my lifetime?). On other days, they snicker at my sodden optimism (More zumba and for sure I’ll get back my 22-inch waist). Given that neither message is optimal for my self esteem, I don’t know why I can’t let these garments go. They’re not suitable for weddings or funerals. They’re barely suitable for the 7-Eleven. For Halloween? Maybe.

canstockphoto0405980.jpgActually, when it comes down to it, isn’t every piece of old clothing a white sheet with eye holes? Isn’t every piece a ghost that reminds us of who we are not now? Maybe it’s hard to clear out a closet because it seems disloyal. Are we discounting who we once were?

Honor the past, but don’t get trapped by it, we are told. Our memories should serve the present and the future, not leave us waist deep in pompommed ponchos. Our memories shouldn’t make our brain closets explode. That’s why there is great wisdom in the suggestion often made by professional organizers: take a picture of a special piece and then wish it well and send it on its way.

Unless, of course, it’s a fuzzy pink bathrobe. That present makes the immediate future perfect.


I went into a clothing store, and the lady asked me what size I was. I said, “Actual.” I’m not to scale. Demetri Martin