Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Urge to Purge

Ever so often, especially when my life seems to be veering off-track or moving in a less-than-ideal direction, I try to impose some sort of order and predictability onto my universe. Most notably, through a wardrobe purge.

This is an elaborate ritual wherein all the clothes, shoes and jewelry I possess are laid out in a circle around me. This is followed by a sorting-into-piles (based on multiple variables e.g. age of item, cost of item, color, occasion appropriateness) and an almost shamanic exercise in which I try on almost everything I own. Even though I know exactly how each outfit is going to look. Items which seem dated (or do not otherwise make the cut) are dispensed with. The surviving stacks make it back into my cupboard, and I emerge from the mess with my arms aching (all that folding and pulling on and off!) and with an inexplicable sense of achievement.

What does the purge accomplish? Why bother channeling my inner Trinny and Sussanah (or for that matter, my summer-special Oprah) 3 or 4 times a year?

For me, the clothes in my wardrobe are a little bit like the people in my life. They're markers of evolution and taste. They are a way in which to cling on to the past and to another self - a younger self, a thinner self, a goth/preppy/decade-specific self. And since relationships remain infinitely more complex than fashion, clothes are easier to shed. If clothes maketh the (wo)man, the purge is a decisive step towards fashioning (pun unintended) the new, emerging self. The purge is also an exercise in control and simplicity (if simplicity can be defined as shedding thigh-high boots one bought 3 years ago and wore twice). It's therapeutic, a striking-back-against and a taking-charge-of.

Wardrobe purges are a bit like Facebook-friend-deletions, paperwork-filing marathons, and post-crisis haircuts. In some mystical and entirely irrational way, these tasks seem to re-order circumstances and render them more manageable. But as with most forms of pruning, its best to proceed with caution. I still feel pangs of regret for that dress I hadn't worn in 6 years. It was perfectly suited to this summer...

1 comment:

Tal Benisty said...

Why anyone would throw away thigh-high boots is simply beyond my comprehension... especially since I started spending my days thinking very positive thoughts about a world filled with thigh-high boots and thigh-long skirts... Mmm, maybe I should read The Secret again, must have missed some detail about the execution because here I am, reading about discarded thigh-high boots. Something's awfully off in the universe, and it's my fault.

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