Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Closet Psychotic

Every time I open my closet, I hear voices.

They are from varied eras. Some have accents. Others speak in tongues. And they are all fighting.

A vintage suit circa 1960 is disgusted hanging next to the patchwork peasant skirt with a handkerchief hemline. Dirty hippie. Get a job.

The metallic disco shirt made without one stitch of natural fibers wonders rudely from what Mongolian rock the tribal wool coat has crawled. You're itchy and stink of yak.

The menswear bullies the delicate florals. And the ridiculous pair of skin-tight spandex pants that lace up the back is rocking back and forth in a corner begging to be taken seriously, muttering over and over, "I'm more than the bottom half of a pirate costume. I'm more ..."

I mean. Really. Look at them.

Look at them!

The waist ends at the top of the rib cage. And they are so long that you need to wear four-inch heels just to keep them off the ground. How could the same person who bought this elfin disaster have also bought the fully lined Italian linen hunting jacket hanging right next to it?

Who indeed. That's my point.

So, I've decided to let them fight it out. The strongest will remain. I'm not betting on the vintage suits or the hippies. A pencil skirt is simply too tight. And everyone knows hippies can't fight. And I worry about Disco. It's going to be hard to find a new gig. But the remaining rock-n-roll, equestrian, military-inspired, 1940s USO factory worker personalities will integrate and emerge anew. Regenerated. Reinvented.

The old me, with her divergent styles requiring too much attention, too much time and too much hanger space, none of which is in surplus, will become a streamlined individual who will breeze from school drop-off to client meeting to playground to drinks without the need of a costume change.

No more will I ask, "So, who will it be today?" The multiple personality sartorial disorder that is currently my wardrobe will no longer be a constant re-run of Sybil. The ill-fitting, the ill-conceived and the ill-behaving pieces who don't go with anything will be banished. I will soon be able to reach into my closet with only minutes to spare and achieve the "Oops, I look fabulous" effect.

This won't be easy. But I'm inspired by a woman I know. Diagnosed with multiple personality disorder, I once saw her change from a frightened child to a foul mouthed bar tramp to a middle-aged male trucker in the space of one hour. That was years ago. Now her personalities are fully integrated and, when last I saw her, wonderfully accessorized to boot. So, I know this is possible.

I will miss the personalities that don't survive, though. They have accompanied me all these years and have taught me much. Things like: Don't trust hanger appeal. And, showing a little clavicle is infinitely more sexy than showing a lot of cleavage. Color choice comes first. Beige is a death knell. Browns need to be tweedy and the reds need to be bluish. Grey is my new black. But, of course, black is golden. Florals must be Asian. And patterns must work with my crazy mop of curls and glasses. It can be a lot of look. And just about any mistake can be fixed with the right coat, especially a sweeping military one; so, have plenty on hand.

Create a mantra and repeat it aloud as you're tempted to buy the Same Mistake. Talking to the clothes helps. Undefined empire waists? No thanks. I've already done the maternity thing. Fitted-waist peplum? Get your pretty self over here. Bold geometric color blocking a la Mod? No. I'm no longer That Girl. English countryside tweeds and woolen riding pants? Well. Don't you look smashing. Let's put a kettle on.

You must be willing to spend quality time together and to talk it out. As with all healthy relationships, communication is key.