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Thursday, August 21, 2014
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Published: Sunday, 3/23/2014

Snow day is perfect time for cleaning out clutter

BY MARY ALICE POWELL
BLADE COLUMNIST
Mary Alice Powell. Mary Alice Powell.
BLADE PHOTO/LORI KING Enlarge

Snow days aren’t only for schoolchildren and teachers.

I took advantage of the most recent locked-in days by spending them cleaning closets. When the blouses were so jammed in one closet that I had to press the sleeves before wearing one and when I was on my hands and knees in another closet looking for my red shoes, I decided some of this stuff had to go.

I got out two empty cardboard wardrobes in which to hang the discards neatly. There was also the thought that the throwaways would be in better condition in the wardrobe than in boxes and easy to find in case I changed my mind.

I don’t understand people who proudly announce that if they haven’t worn something for a year, they get rid of it. Isn’t that extravagant? They must have more money than sense. Don’t they change sizes too?

I keep clothing so long it comes back in style.

Leafing through my closets, I never considered discarding my year-old clothing. It’s here to stay even if I only wore it once and no one uttered a compliment.

How about things that haven’t been worn for five years?

That’s more reason for consideration. An almost new Austin Reed jacket went into the wardrobe. When I wore it to a fashion lunch a friend said it was becoming because it matched my hair. Well, it doesn’t match anymore because the hair is a different color, so out it goes.

Most of the 10-year-old candidates in my closet-sorting frenzy are pricey things in the “dress-up” closet, going back to Jacobson’s and its high fashion and great sales. I will always keep the Carol Little and Platinum ensembles; I just like to see them and remember they weren’t on sale, but I had to have them anyway.

It’s still too cold to warm up to getting rid of coats, especially the heavy vintage ones that felt so good on those sub-zero days this winter. I even crammed into an old full-length mink coat a couple of times. It’s a 12. I am a size 16. The coat was a secondhand mink given to me at least 40 years ago. I may be an animal activist, but I also must admit that nothing is warmer than fur even if it’s a couple sizes too small.

I envy women with large walk-in closets that are organized. In my old house the closets are small, but I still separate clothing into categories. Jackets, skirts, slacks, blouses, and sweaters each have designated space, though it is not much.

The dress-up group is the more formalwear I hang on to in case I decide to spend $100 or more for a Toledo fund-raiser ticket. In that rarely worn group there are four ankle-length black skirts, long dresses, sequin-trimmed lace jackets, and sparkle jackets. You know the styles that make such a splash the first time you wear them they also stand out the second and third times, so we put them to the back of the closet.

I did manage, almost with tears, to add the sequin trimmed silk suit worn only when I received an honorary doctorate from Adrian College to the discard wardrobe. Perhaps someone with an equally special occasion can use it.

I don’t wear as much red as I once did except that I am crazy about red shoes. Is that an age thing? For whatever reason a red knit suit and two blouses are no longer taking up space.

Then there’s the animal print silk jacket. I remember the day I couldn’t afford the $50 for it at Mark Klaus. I even had it altered to a more up-to-date style two years ago, but I have finally given up.

The 10 or more skirts are challenging for several reasons. First, how long should they be for daytime wear? Every time I wear a skirt, I feel good in it and feel that I walk more gracefully. But skirts call for hosiery and the gymnastics required to put on pantyhose isn’t always worth it. Knee-highs, you say.

Is there any tackier look than a woman crossing her legs to reveal where the knee-highs stop and the bare legs begin?

Mary Alice Powell is a retired Blade food editor. Contact her at: mpowell@theblade.com



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