Wednesday, May 19, 2021

The careful curation of a professional wardrobe. Or not.

Back to what I started last week before the dead mice took over. (Which is one of the weirdest openings I’ve ever written but welcome to my life.)

 Closet cleaning is a seasonal ritual involving the single closet on the first floor of our old farmhouse. I move the summer clothes to the back and the winter clothes to the front in the fall, then move the winter clothes to the back and the summer clothes to the front in the spring.


During these migrations, I thin the herd. I’ve never been much of a fashionista, probably because I don’t have the closet space to encourage that kind of behavior. If you constantly bring in new clothes without downsizing old clothes, your house will eventually explode. Or so I'm told.

Plus, I don’t need power suits for my job. I started work-from-home in 2018 so when the pandemic hit, I was already in tune with an uber casual dress code (i.e., pajamas) and was a pro at keeping the camera off for Zoom staff meetings. But the world was still spinning normally in 2018 and 2019, which meant I routinely had to put on real clothes and venture out among the public to do newspaper stuff. 




Overnight, not only did I not have an office to go to, I didn’t have anywhere else to go, either. It’s not an exaggeration to say I’ve downsized at least 50 percent of my wardrobe in the last 14 months. I went Marie Kondo on my clothes. Did it spark joy? If not, off to Goodwill it went. Even as we approach a return to normal, life’s too short to wear clothes that are uncomfortable, no matter how good they look.

 When I think of the things that spark joy in my life, clothes aren’t at the top of the list but hey – I can’t run around nakey. I live in Iowa so it would be more than naked and afraid. More like naked and frostbit.


When culling clothing, I have simple standards. Can I wear the garment in question in the obedience ring? Does the color complement my dog? Does the fabric and cut allow for comfortable range of movement during heeling, signals and throwing of dumbbells? Do dog hair, mud, paw prints, spilled soda and fast-foot stains easily launder out? Yes? It’s a keeper! 


Beyond that, hoodies, jeans, cargo pants, flannels and fleece rule the closet. If a garment doesn’t show dog hair, that’s a bonus but I have a lint roller drawer in the kitchen so that's not a deal breaker. Some people have junk drawers. I have a lint roller drawer. Don't judge.

Fortunately, I can add a few strategic accessories to my show ring outfits, grab the lint roller and I’m good to go for church, holiday gatherings or the random funeral. My black show ring pants are my black funeral pants. My dog showing friends are laughing now. I can hear you. You know this is true.

 If the occasion ever arises that I would need a dress, I am screwed. I don’t own a dress. I do own several skirts. I like the idea of long, swishy skirts that can be paired with boots but actually wearing them remains a fantasy. Every six months I take them out of the closet, admire them, sigh and put them back in. 


During the spring of 2020 and fall of 2020 closet cleanings, I used the technique of turning all the hangers backwards. When it was time to switch out for the next season’s clothes, I could tell what had hung there for six months without being worn and knew it was time for that piece to move along to a new home. This might have been more effective if I’d found a way to employ it to the folded garments on shelves as well (my vast collection of hoodies and fleece) but it did allow me to eliminate some things without feeling guilty.


I like to think my Harry Potter closet under the stairs reflects a deliberately curated professional wardrobe—it’s just that my profession is a stay-at-home dog mom/farm wife who juggles four community newspapers and writes fiction in her spare time. Not a lot of call for high heels and coordinated separates when you're running out to watch gates or ferry pickups from Farm A to Farm B.


A good closet purge is a refreshing feeling and in the process of, I’ve learned some things.

Number one: anything worth having one of, is worth having three of. In my case, it was four zip-front fleece jackets, all in minisculely (MS Word says this is not a word. I say it is.) different shades of teal.


Number two: no one really needs four pair of Taos, Bjorn and Ariat boots but—oh screw that, you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. Keep the boots. (I’m justifying this by getting rid of three of the teal fleeces.)


Number three: cleaning out your closet will reveal your favorite colors. Mine are blue. Navy, royal, sky, periwinkle, slate, mallard and turquoise. Also teal, which is a subset of blue. And what a friend calls peach-y/coral-y/salmon.

I think it all comes down to what a former co-worker once said regarding work-from-home. 

"As long as you remember to put on pants before you leave the house, it's all good."



1 comment:

  1. I simply cannot love this enough!!! Here it’s tons of reddish short-haired hound coat (Staffy/foxhound mix) & long haired white cat 😆 thank you 💕