I think Taylor Swift got it wrong.
I was driving to help downsize a three-generation (!) closet when – prophetically? – Swift’s song, Style, came on. She name-checks red lipstick, tight skirt, white T-shirt – all the elements of classic 50s Americana that have, of course, remained tried and true. But hours later, when I was knee-deep in fur coats with giant shoulder pads, matching pastel ski outfits, florescent hats, belts, shoes, bags, all hailing from different decades of the recent and not so recent past – and all in urgent need of being hauled out– I realized her song is wrong. Bag-full, crate-full wrong:
Stuff does go out of style!
You don’t need to be a hoarder, or a compulsive shopper, or a storage addict to possess, somewhere in the darker, dustier recesses of your closet, clothes that went out of style quite a while ago yet never found their way out.
Think of this as a confessional:
My name is Anna. I'm a professional stylist and I still have square-toed shoes. Probably at least two pairs of them. More.
I don't think I've ever thrown away a pair of acid-bleached jeans (and no, not from their unfortunate, if you ask me, recent re-incarnation). Mind you, I enjoy purging. I advise people on how to prune their closets on a regular basis. And yet. I know where the wild things are, deep in my closets.
We all have them. Items that we hold onto for a variety of reasons. We think they're “classic” (like a Brooks Brothers suit we got for our first job interview). We ascribe mystical sentimental value to them (like that pair of ratty, paint-splattered jeans-overalls that our first serious really cute boyfriend wore when he helped paint a wall in our apartment). We consider fashion a cycle (surely a pair of barely-worn velvet pumps that cost half a salary will make it back into the light...). Or the best excuse of all: We hang onto a shirt once purchased in Paris (or Paris, TX) for our daughters (because how will they be able to resist something so cool?!?)
Well, ladies, let your stuff go. Even if you loved it, let it go. Having trouble loosening your grip on something you suspect is out of style? Ask yourself the following questions, and if your answer is ‘yes,’ let it go:
- Haven’t worn something in over a year? Let it go. (This, ladies, is the most basic rule of closet management).
- Something no longer fits? Don’t wait to ‘lose x pounds.’ Let it go.
- Is there a stubborn stain on it that you keep hoping will disappear? A bald patch from too much wear? Pilling that resembles an irate hedgehog? Yes. Yes. Yes? Let it go.
Oh, and if you still have square-toed shoes? Let ‘em go (I did).
Your closets will thank you.
And you will never go out of style.
Anna Katsnelson is a full-time fashion-obsessed mom to two sartorially-controlled children; most-of-the-time academic art historian to scores of sartorially-unformed university students, and part-time stylist to the sartorially-perplexed.