Enlist a friend to help clean out the closet

Sunday, October 3, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:12 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

It started out innocently enough. On a walk one morning, my friend told me she was trying to get up the nerve to throw out some of her worn out clothing she had been keeping in closets all around her house.

“I’ve tried before,” she said, in a confessional tone. “But I end up keeping most of it, thinking I’ll give it one more season.”

A professional pack rat myself, I dreaded the upcoming season change when I would move tons of clothing from one spot to the other knowing that I wouldn’t wear half of it.

Then I came up with a BRILLIANT idea. Why didn’t we do the purging together? We were close friends, so we wouldn’t have a problem scrutinizing each other’s wardrobe.

We began at her house. We made three piles: definitely gone, take to Florida (where she spends the winter) and let me try it on and then decide.

The first four hangers I removed held floor-length cotton dresses with little matching jackets. These ensembles have been around for a long time. They fit like a sack, lacking any structure, and hide myriad body blemishes. My friend is one of the lucky ones because, at 60, she has a tiny waist.

“It’s time to say goodbye to these shapeless dresses,” I declared.

She looked at me with fear in her eyes.

“ALL of them?” she gasped. “Wait, I can take them to Florida.”

“Oh, so you want to look good in Columbia but not in the land of fun and sun?” I replied.

“OK, pitch them,” she conceded.

Next, I pulled out an oversized shirt.

“And this?” I asked.

“I wear that when I walk,” she answered quickly.

As I sorted through the closet I noticed she had several oversized shirts.

“How many times a day do you walk?” I asked a little smugly.

“I get it,” she replied, and quickly put half-dozen extra large T-shirts in the pitch pile.

Next we come to the pants section. She, like most women, has more than a dozen pairs of black slacks. We looked at each pair and removed four that were either pilled or stained. The rest were put in the try-on pile.

The remaining items were pretty easy to tackle. She had several pairs of shoes. Those with more than an inch of dust were pitched, the others she tried on and only a few passed inspection.

Finally, we perused her purses and belts. My friend had several purses, all of them black. After a few minutes of “too small, too big, and where did I get that?” we had pared down her collection to three.

By now she had gotten into the process and was sorting belts with a breeze. She began a mantra of sorts.

“No, no, not that one. Gone. Yuck. That one’s history.” We had allotted an hour for each purging session and when time was up there was a huge pile of giveaways on her bed. Her closet was more than half empty, but she seemed delighted.

The next day was my turn. I have to admit I was a little nervous. It was too easy to pronounce her clothing unworthy to stay in her closet, and I was afraid of retribution.

We went through the process just as we had the day before, only this time, we added a category: the “could possibly fit into if I lost 10 pounds” pile.

I got to keep all of my big shirts and shapeless dresses — they were the ones that fit. In the end, the “possible” pile was not nearly as big as the “not in this lifetime” stack.

Going through my belts was very sad. Seeing them hanging from the bar in varying lengths, I grabbed the longest and put it around my waist. It went around, but there was no way I could fit the end into the buckle.

Because I had to put so many things in the giveaway bag, I became a little testy when she questioned me about my two dozen purses. Unlike my friend, I have handbags in every color and size. I stood my ground, informing her that I changed my purse often, which was only a little white lie. I THINK about changing bags almost every week. And unlike my clothes, my purses always fit.

If you have a comment or need clothing in sizes 8, 10 and 12, please e-mail me at

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