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A Letting Go Experience


I find it interesting that all of us have moments that could be a rite of passage, but they do not always overlap. For example, most of us leave our parents’ homes, though it may be at different ages, for any of a multitude of reasons. I could go on…

Some of my friends have found it a large hurdle to let go of their childrens’ baby clothes. I don’t mean holding on to a christening gown or special handmade sweater, I mean the daily things that support raising a baby like sleepwear and tee shirts. There is something of a commitment involved in that sort of letting go, and some find it difficult.

I did not have children, and therefore did not experience that particular heart-tug. However, I discovered my own version of this letting go/commitment dilemma this last few weeks.

My Recent House-Emptying Project

I have determined to pare down my belongings in the entire house, one room/area at a time, to things I actually use or which hold sentimental value. I am also redefining sentimental value so that it does not include as many clothes.

suitgoodbye20.jpgI had a rack full of skirts pull out of the wall it was screwed into (with nobody standing anywhere near it), because I had so many skirts hanging on it. Then last weekend even after I’d given away a lot of clothing, another clothing rack became overburdened and folded up from imbalance. I do love clothing; all alone on a hanger it can be an artform… and combining items on a body is the arform I call “costuming.”

Some clothing items which were once favorites, remain sentimental in my mind long after they do not fill any other need in my life. I have joked before that I need to put things away for a while and let them “age” before I can give them away. This is not far from the truth.

The Story of THE SUIT

Well, a few weeks ago I gave away 5 suits and/or high-quality wool blazers. That was hard enough. I tossed one cream linen jacket last week because it did not age well in the closet, thus could not be donated.

But this week I found it very, very hard to let go of THE SUIT. This suit I visited in the store over and over before finally purchasing, for an incredibly pricey $200 back in 1985.

It was funky at the time, with shoulder pads when they were just sneaking into fashion for women. It was also made of an incredibly high quality worsted wool gabardine in navy blue.

It was tunic length and double-breasted. It had a looser-fitting torso than had been popular (this was not long after Lady Di had married Prince Charles, when suit jackets were shorter and fit closely to the body).

The skirt was longer than others of the time, and straight rather than pleated at the waistband. These days it looks like a normal navy suit, but at the time I had seen nothing like it.

I loved this suit. It made me feel modern, well-dressed and prosperous. I would tuck a colorful silk hankie in the breast pocket and feel like a million bucks.

I have always loved good wool, and this may well be the best wool fabric I have ever owned. It was a standard Navy blue… but the quality was wonderful.

My “New” Life and its Reality

I have been self-employed for 10 years. For all of those 10 years I have not needed or even chosen to wear a suit. I found a dry cleaning tag attached, dated 1998. It’s clear there is no use for this suit in my life now or in the forseeable future.

But it was very hard to let go. For one thing, I remember what a struggle it was to come up with $200 to buy it, even though it clearly paid for itself over the years.

I also think in the past, I figured that this was my “interview suit” whenever I might find myself wanting a job-job again. It was my ticket out, my exit ramp if I felt a need to bolt for the door out of any particular work situation. However, I’m pretty darned sure I do not want any job any more, that would require me to wear this sort of clothing.

The Plan, The Letting Go

I learned years ago that if I was having trouble letting go of something, I could take a photo, keep the photo and let go of the something. So yesterday, that was what I did. I took this photo of THE SUIT with my last business suit dress (hanging behind it) on my almost-new purple porch… then made a drop off at the charity resale shop.

I hope someone who needs a good interview suit is as delighted with this find, as I was. I surely did get my money’s worth out of it for the 13 years I actually did wear it.

I guess I made it through the quite-unexpected life transition there. I can not help but wonder what will be my next one.

A Question

Have you felt a similar pull in your own life? Did it come about when throwing/giving something away? I find it fascinating to see how symbolic some fabric can become, to me. Anybody want to share in the comments?

3 Responses to “A Letting Go Experience”

  1. Martha Says:

    When I am in love with the fabric, however the garment no longer appeals to me, I often cut it up and make it into something else — a purse, a scarf etc. Although, this ‘interview suit’ will surely be snapped up by someone at the thrift shop needing just that ….. an interview suit.
    Good luck with the purging — it’s always good once it’s over!

  2. Jean Marie Says:

    I find as I get older, I have much less patience with “stuff”, and the shifting and moving and stacking and re-stacking of it…although I do have stashed fabric and yarn and the tools that go with that, and a fairly large collection of books – but beyond that I’ve managed somehow to reach a point not wanting to have much clutter to clean and store and manage…

    DH, on the other hand, wants to keep everything, as we might need it someday! (even a few things that just belong in the trash, or “finds” at yard sales or placed out for pickup – i.e. old lawn mowers, nice bureau, chair…the large box of his grandfather’s clothes – nothing new or really nice, but the things his mother I guess couldn’t donate…).

    He finds the purging and cleaning process painful. If he does create a collection of things to donate, he’d prefer to give it to our friends, and will routinely hang on to a pile to see if anyone we know wants it (this can take several months) before reluctantly taking it to donate. The piles are beginning to increase again, so it must be time to move houses, he finds the process of moving the “stuff” slightly more painful than going through it and donating some… Guess I’d better go through the towel closet that no longer has room to hold all the towels. Sigh.

  3. Caroline Says:

    I moved to the US from Germany 15 years ago and still have a shirts and pants from way back then (my twenties), that I could only fit in if I lost about 10 pounds. Nonetheless I find it hard to get rid of this stuff. A lot of it is brightly patterned and of a distinct style that brings back a lot of memories, almost like a photo album. I’m thinking about sorting items out that I can repurpose and boxing the rest up for donation at some point, but then I’ve been thinking about doing that for quite some time and never get around to it. Once I actually made an attempt but my hubby saw me toss a slightly moth-eaten cardigan to the side and cried out “what, you’re throwing out my FAVORITE SWEATER????” He’s no help…

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