I recently returned from the sweltering Midwest where it was over 100 degrees every day. I knew this going in, so I shouldn’t complain. The bright side of packing for a heat wave: options are limited to small items: bathing suits, shorts, sandals. No need for pants, sweaters, boots or jackets, the bulky things that take up way too much space in my little Hideo red roller suitcase.
It was unbearable to be outside. Even pool time was limited as the water was stagnant and lukewarm, not cool and refreshing, having been over-stuffed with sweaty bodies and suffocated by the sun’s severe rays.
And so we spent long afternoons in the Lake Geneva Public Library, lounging by the giant windows that overlook the beach and the suckers growing more clammy and pink by the minute.
I can’t remember the last time I was in a library. This made seeking refuge among the periodicals and shelves even more exotic.
I picked up books on cats and clothes, becoming riveted by “I Have Nothing to Wear!: A Painless 12-Step Program to Declutter Your Life So You Never Have to Say This Again!,” by Jill Martin, known for her “Ambush Makeover” and “Steals and Deals” segments on the Today Show, and fashion stylist Dana Ravich; they both also co-authored “Fashion For Dummies.”
We all know that feeling of owning hundreds of pieces of clothing yet having zero to wear. As I flipped through the worn-out copy of “Nothing to Wear” in my worn-in Current/Elliott cut-offs, white Loomstate tee and leopard-print Givenchy flat sandals, I thought of packing for this very trip. Everything I packed had to a) fit into my red suitcase and which meant b) I could only bring a few things that c) could be worn multiple ways and go with everything else and d) make me feel cute and e) make me feel 10 degrees cooler. The result? Getting dressed in Wisconsin was quick and easy, and I felt fab everyday. Which was the premise of the book: It’s liberating to have a well-edited collection of clothing you love that makes you feel great wherever your life takes you without any excess baggage.
While pondering a twelve-page lake-front lunch menu full of awful options (onion rings! fried mozzarella sticks! club sandwich!) it hit me again: when faced with too many choices, all of them obvious, poor quality and completely inappropriate given the situation (extreme heat) it blows and you end up feeling like crap after the meal. Do you ever say afterwards, “wow, I’m so glad I ate that – I feel great!”
If I can live out of a suitcase, I can live with less in my closet.
Ever since I’ve been back home, I’ve been riffling through my wardrobe and getting rid of things that don’t make feel 10 years younger, 10 pounds thinner or 10 times richer. What makes me feel fantastic? Here is my list (many of which appear in some form in the book):
1) The fit must flatter, no matter the style.
2) It must be comfortable and feel “like me”, or I’ll fuss and feel insecure.
3) It must be well-made and/or a label of importance to me and feel good on my body/against my skin.
4) Bonus points if I bought the piece on vacation, from a favorite local retailer, with JSlow or has a great story behind it.
5) It must be something I won’t see on a million other people, at least as worn by me.
6) It must make me look and feel as beautiful as I am capable of being on any given day.
We all need to set the bar higher in our closets by hanging less on that bar. Today, get rid of just one thing. And tomorrow another. Keep going. We’d love to hear what you tossed and what you keep as inspiration to others.