This is a story about a dysfunctional relationship. It was between me and my bedroom closet, and I know you know what I'm talking about.
The closet was full and I was empty. Every time I opened the door, I encountered someone I no longer cared about, an outgrown, repetitive personality. Like most of us, I had the requisite work stuff in there, which fell into the category of more (summer wool suit) or less (brocade sheath) mandatory and was therefore defensible in some way. But the play clothes, the rows and piles of stuff that I relied on to reflect my true self-image, were just dead wrong. Minimalist, hard-edged, and appropriate mingled awkwardly with colors and patterns from sprees of unquiet desperation. And for every piece that was wrong, I seemed to have three more just like it (think gray cardigans) embalmed in dry-cleaner plastic.
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I couldn't have told you any of this, of course. Like most dysfunctional relationships, this one had a lot of staying power, and I could bring to it an endless stream of rationalizations: You can't have enough gray. Or black. There is nothing criminal about linen, and no reason to knock the ankle-length silk floral dress that's been trotted out for the last three weddings. Clothes are not that important. I might wear that again. I'm no longer 20, for God's sake. That weird Dutch thing seemed cool at the time. Is that leather? 5 Fashion Choices That Turn Him Off
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When my wardrobe really got to me, I would linger over the closet-organizer ads—the hanger equivalent of romantic getaway fantasies—thinking all I really needed was an intervention, something to get us back on track, to renew the spark that must still be there. In a word, I felt guilty: I could honestly say that good taste was reflected in that 20-square-foot space, and there was no doubt about how much time and money. I swooned over pictures of little suede shoeboxes with individual nameplates and Plexiglas cashmere containers and slim drawers upon slim drawers built to hold one choice item apiece.
When you're in that stoic, confused, overwhelmed, and oddly peaceful frame of mind that so often accompanies accepting the no longer acceptable, you pretty much go with the status quo until something within you—instinct? your eternal love of Pink?—suddenly hurls you in a new direction.