Kenny has an unwavering philosophy about my handbag. He doesn’t go in there. Ever. He’ll stand right next to my purse and announce “I need the checkbook,” and no amount of cajoling, stated permission, or exasperated replies on my part to “just get in there and get it” will persuade him to stick his hand in there.
He feels the same way about my closet.
Women’s closets, he informs me, are personal, with everything organized “just so,” the way a woman wants it, and a man would have to be fundamentally insane to go in there and start handling stuff or moving it around.
So last weekend, when I asked him to add an additional shelf inside my closet, he replied, “Only if you move your clothes out of the way. And all your shoes.” I tried every argument I could think of to convince him that this task was unnecessary, but he wasn’t budging. Fine. Out it all came. As I laid an entire walk-in closet full of clothes across the king-size bed, I learned that while women’s closets are forbidden territory, the bed is everybody’s game.
Hubs began to pick through the stacks, holding up item after item, saying “I like this. Why don’t you wear this?” over and over again, until it began to feel like a Hindu mantra and he started to wonder why he’s believed for years that all I owned was two pairs of black slacks and three pairs of yoga pants. I couldn’t tell him that my closet was living a life I no longer had. It appeared to be time for some serious revamping.
With my new shelf installed and Hubs shooed out the door for a blissful afternoon of uninterrupted televised sports, I began to sort, vowing to eliminate anything that no longer fit my body, my life, or (ouch) my age. Buh-bye to the following:
1. Anything that doesn’t fit. I’m talking about the body I have right now, today. Not the body I’m going to have after I lose the same 10 pounds I’ve been working on since 1989. Not the body I’m going to have once I start working out again, someday. This body, right now.
2. Stilettos. Red patent, 4 1/2″ heels, pointed toe. Hubs immediately zeroed in on those, with a big grin, underneath a sweater pile. But who am I kidding? I have Parkinson’s. I’ve fallen off my Reeboks. I finally decided to just toss them in Hubs’ closet for trips down memory lane.
3. Anything that looks better on my DIL than on me. If I’m unsure about something in my closet, I have my 26-year-old daughter-in-law try it on. Then I try it on me. If it’s obvious to my 6-year-old grandson that it looks better on Mommy than on Grandma, and was clearly designed for a body whose breasts are still up near her clavicles, and whose butt is not yet showing the effects of gravity or an expired gym membership, DIL gets to take it home.
4. Cowboy boots. Filed in the “What the hell was I thinking?” section of my closet. I don’t live on a ranch, ride horses, or farm. Kind of like walking down the street in a wetsuit when you’ve never been in the water.
5. One-piece Miracle swimsuit, “guaranteed to make you look 10 pounds thinner.” Miracle, my ass. When you stuff a size 10 body into a size 8 piece of flesh-crushing lycra, you get the swimsuit version of muffin top, with fat squishing out like errant toothpaste over the top and under the butt cheeks. Lesson learned. No item of clothing can make fat disappear like a Las Vegas bar trick. Cramming it into one area is just going to shove it out somewhere else.
6. Trendy jeans for a body I don’t have. Low-rise jeans on a woman with a long waist guarantees a porno peek down your backside every time you bend over or squat down, and since the world does not need to see another 57-year-old butt crack, I’m retiring these. Ditto for my beloved boyfriend jeans, with the comfy, slouchy fit, that caused Kenny to remark, “I’m surprised that a woman who cares as much about how she looks as you do would wear those jeans.” Boom. And gone.
7. Palazzo-style jumpsuit. Recently purchased, surprisingly flattering, and stupidly expensive, but never worn because it makes me feel like a bleached Donna Summer, looking for a disco ball and a karaoke machine for a slightly drunken wailing of “Last Dance.” The problem with living through a trend the first time is that it feels costumey the second time.
8. Spandex dress. Super hot when Kenny and I were first together, I was 15 pounds thinner, and we were…well, dating. Dinner, dancing, foreplay. All that dating entails when you’re falling in love and the other person’s breathing fascinates you. Now a blissful day together is spent working on the house or cleaning up the yard, and nothing screams “I’m trying to look younger, but now I just look ridiculous” than a middle-aged woman topping her arborvitaes in a spandex dress.
9. Faux accessories. I’m talking mostly handbags here. Knockoffs may suit the budget and fashion needs of the 20-something set, but by the time you’re 50+, they seem a bit like we’re trying too hard to pretend to be something we’re not. I buy the best I can afford, and leave the pretend labels to the young.
10. Maxi dresses. I have two. I’ve never worn either one. By this age, we pretty much know what our best features are and what body parts we should be flashing. Maxi dresses look best on tall, willowy-thin women with toned arms. I’m 5’3″ and curvy, my legs are my best feature, but my arms could use a few weeks with a Shake Weight. Maxi dresses hide my legs and show off my jiggly guns, and unless I’m in 4″ platforms (see #2), make me look like an Amish hobbit.
So now my closet is beautifully organized, with two pairs of black slacks and three pairs of yoga pants. Nordstrom is having a sale. I’m going in.