Building a Wardrobe for Life

An article in this month’s More magazine struck a chord with me. More‘s tagline is “for women of style and substance,” which I take to be marketing code for “women in their forties who are smart and look good for their age.” Since I will be one of those women in a few short months, I’ve started reading the magazine with some regularity.

In this piece the author, Jennifer Braunschweiger, forces herself to consider every last item in her closet. “If I put it on, and then take it off, I have to give it away…If I wear it to work and feel uncomfortable, out it goes as well.” (You can see a slideshow of Braunschweiger’s closet project in More magazine online, but the essay is only available in the hard-copy magazine, and it’s worth a read.)

She continues, “a closet isn’t a museum or an archive. It should be a simple storehouse of clothes that reflect who I am today and that I can wear to work tomorrow. .. Letting go of clothing is letting go of who I used to be.”

Closet as Archive

That’s true, but for me there’s something more. The truth is, and I say this without meaning to sound like the world’s biggest Debbie Downer, but I have had little success to date in building the things most women my age have. Through many missteps for which I take full responsibility, a couple strokes of bad luck, and a select few cases of good old-fashioned getting screwed over, I haven’t as yet succeeded in building a lucrative, flourishing career or a family of my own.

But a wardrobe? Now that, I have managed to build.

Don’t get me wrong. I have managed to grow as a person these last years and I’ve certainly had some successes.  But the truth is that one of the few very tangible things I have to show from my last 10 years is my wardrobe. If I dismantle it blouse by sweater by skirt, what do I have to show for the last decade? Continue reading