This and That Graphic

A look inside a woman’s closet is like a peek inside her soul – that’s according to my beloved grandmother.

One glance, she said, and you can tell if a woman is a control freak, a slob, a romantic or an aspiring Imelda Marcos.

It’s all there, revealed in the garments hanging from hangers and the shoes lined up on the floor. I’m a little afraid of what grandma would think if she saw my closet. She probably would deduce one of three things:

• I’m a widow who plans to grieve longer than Queen Victoria did for Prince Albert.

• I’m housing a family of women who range in age from 13 to 65.

• I’m vying for an entry in The Guinness Book of World: Records for the planet’s largest collection of black slacks and shoes.

You see, I can be a wee bit of a pack rat. But … I’m also a determined optimist. My whole wardrobe reflects my view of life: Tomorrow, things are going to get better. This explains why I still possessed the following:

• A high school letter jacket adorned with sport and music medals. (You never know, I might have a need to wear it again at my 50th reunion in 2028);

• A sequined ball gown once worn to a governor’s inaugural ball in Iowa. (Boy, that was years ago);

• A cool, black shirt that I must have purchased in a fit of typhoid fever and have never worn;

• A pair of size 8 sandals. I think I purchased those when I thought I would lose weight and my feet would shrink from a size 11;

• A sweater bearing a bold motif much like the Partridge Family’s bus. I was saving it just in case I ever met Shirley Jones.

Even after moving my closet still is stuffed … though I only will ever wear probably 10 percent of its contents.

And for most of my adult life, that was just fine … until I got that pesky e-mail from my dear friend, Nancy.

It was one of those weird organizational, “make a small change towards lifelong fulfillment” things. Even worse, it made complete sense.

The author talked about how demoralizing it can be to look at a closet that’s filled with useless things. Her theory was that it’s downright depressing to surround yourself with a bunch of “if only” clothes: If only I could get out that spaghetti stain; if only I could lose 20 pounds; if only culottes would come back in style … well they sort of are but they’re called gaucho pants, now.

The author’s advice was to purge your closet of everything that was too small, too big or too impractical to wear right now. So I gave my closet a good, hard look. Oh, it wasn’t a pretty site.

Long-ago in a short-lived fit of organizational fever, I had color-coded my clothes. Soon after, I grew tired of trying to decide whether a sage shirt legally could be hung in the green or yellow category. Now, my clothes of all colors sprout everywhere.

My eyes scanned the wool sweaters, winter coats, the legions of black pants and the sleek fleet of dresses I no longer wear. Mind you, I probably should have done this before I moved. But I didn’t.

However, Sunday was a new day. It was time to clean that darn closet! What I didn’t want was going to the thrift store.

When my dear friend, Nancy, interrupted my cleaning frenzy with a phone call, I promptly told her she had to call back because I was cleaning my closet. “Are you ill,” she said. “Are you sure you want to give that stuff away?” I didn’t give it all away. I did pack some of it away and labeled the box — antique clothing. It seemed appropriate.

I can’t say the experience of closet cleaning was pleasant. I did a little grieving for all my old favorites — and the fact I used to wear a size 12. Still, it did feel rather cathartic to have a clean closet filled with things that fit.

And, just in case, I did hang onto my high school and college letter jackets. I just couldn’t disappointment my niece.

Once upon a time, she said, I must have been one of the “cool kids” to have one of those nifty letter jackets.