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Random Thoughts: The Memory of Clothes

Last week for my annual attempt at “keep, give, donate, toss” I looked through my closet for clothes I hadn’t worn lately because of the pandemic, and because who gets dressed up anymore? There were things Rip Van Winkle would have recognized, asleep in their protective covers. I confess: a few are still there.  

Aside from keeping certain pieces for years because they still fit, and were bought in this century, I’ve realized it’s the memory of what happened while I wore them that keeps some things in my closet. My life is in those clothes. As my golfing cousins might say, on an 18-hole course I’m approaching the clubhouse. Holding on to these things is a way to hold on to my history.

But a closet can only hold so much, and even old clothes in good condition might make someone else happy, and you don’t want to end up on one of those hoarder shows. So I’m working on getting better about saying goodbye.

The ball gown from what should have been a swell party many years ago, but my cousin and I had a terrible time because a lout kept hitting on us – easy. It went to my niece, who is a brilliant designer, to repurpose into other pieces.

The taffeta ball skirt – not so easy. I had a wonderful time the nights I wore it, being twirled around dance floors until I got dizzy. But this year I’m going to find a non-profit that provides prom clothes to girls who can’t afford them.

The sparkly stilettos – we had so much fun at those charity casino nights, where I discovered two apple martinis is one too many. But now they feel like stilts. A young friend liked them, and they looked good on her, so off they toddled.

A brand new safari suit that was the landing spot for a slab of beef that went flying at a dinner at a hibachi restaurant, and something unpleasant happened every time I wore it after that. It went to a cousin with better luck at theme restaurants.

The cozy cashmere sweaters I bought on sale from Lands End and wore for years (you can wash them in the machine!) went to someone who needed cuddles.

The silk and jersey separates from when I flew for business so often the flight attendants waved to me when I boarded – they might stick around another year. You never know.

And of course, some things don’t fit anymore. Even if they did, they would illustrate the saying that just because something fits, doesn’t mean you should wear it.   

What about you? Are there things you’ve kept long after you knew you’d never wear them again because they hold good memories? Do you get rid of clothes that remind you of not-so-happy times? Let me know.

And, if you’re doing spring closet cleaning and working on your “keep, give, toss, donate” list, here are a few locations where you can donate clothes and accessories.

XO Brenda

Catie’s Closet
63 Sprague St #9, Hyde Park, 617.272.3621

Circle of Hope
1329 Highland Avenue, Needham, 781.449.3700

Dress for Success Boston
989 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, 617.779.2177

The Thrift Shop of Boston
33 Corinth Street, Roslindale, 617.325.5300

Savers has locations in West Roxbury, Norwood, Saugus, Framingham, Marlborough, Wilmington, Danvers, North Attleborough, Plymouth, Fall River, and West Springfield

Women’s Lunch Place
67 Newbury Street, Boston, 617.267.1722

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Sheila Hamwey
Sheila Hamwey
7 months ago

Great article. When I retired I donated all my business clothes to a women’s shelter. It was a nice feeling. My daughter takes a photo of a special item before she donates. She finds it makes it easier to let it go. We will always have our memories! Or at least I hope so for a little bit longer. ????

Susan Nashawaty
Susan Nashawaty
6 months ago

Thank you for strolling through your life. So many of mine are timeless, colors I can no longer find, stretchy to my ups and downs on scale????. Julie’s closet has the cherished long ago ones, dads 40 yr old bath robe, moms , silky from washing ,old 30 yr nightgown. Always sorting every time I go to closet or drawer, and donate..we have Single Mothers Fort Lauderdale ????

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