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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Cover Up

The thermometer hovered at 40 degrees this morning—I pulled out my first wool. Ah, New England. There’s so much to endure—humid summers, tropical storms, leaves covering the ground, freezing rain, nor’easters, snow, and my least favorite, the annual “changing of the closet.” I wonder what it is like to live in a climate where you wear the same clothes year-round.

I’m not blind to the fact that our seasonal chore offers a fashion refresher. Uncovering apparel that has been hidden away for six months results in a mid-year wardrobe update. On top of that, the two season closet is conducive to expense management. If you wear your clothes half the time, they’ll last twice as long, right? Go ahead if you feel the need to check my math.

It’s only that swapping closets also means confronting the shortbread cookie recipe you perfected in June; the batches of gingersnaps that followed. It means pulling up zippers while praying that the apple crisps you refined over the last few weeks were magically infused with weight reduction properties. It means the pasta sauce with heavy cream—well, forget the pasta sauce with heavy cream—just remember that the rule of changing closets includes purging clothes that no longer fit. OK, at a minimum, it means discarding those that will be long out of style before standing any chance of appearing on your, err, curvaceous body again—a process never offering much in the way of fun.

Confounding that proposition are the light weights and the cottons of spring and summer most of which still hang unworn this year, in my bedroom closet. When May rolled around, I dutifully swapped out my wools for warm weather garb, a lot of which I used to wear to the office. That apparel has hung, neglected for the last several months as I cavorted around in shorts, jeans and athletic Capri’s. Now that it’s time to retire them, is it a permanent retirement or do I simply lug them one room over to off season storage?

Growing up, our out-of-season clothes hung in a cedar closet—a paneled compartment in an upstairs section of the house that was big enough for our family of eight. The cedar, supplemented with mothballs, helped to stave off holes in our woolen garments. In the two houses my husband and I have owned, there was no such innovation until two years ago, when we had the 50-year-old-floor to ceiling closets in our home reconfigured. I’m 5’3” on a good day; our ceilings are 9’ tall. Let’s just say that there was a lot of wasted space.

We had the closets framed in and replaced hollow core doors with colonial looking six panels which offered character to our modest home. Our daughter’s room sported the largest closet, a 7’x 9’ monstrosity—too big for a teenage jean queen. When the doors popped off track which happened frequently, they swung half way across her room. Since the majority of her closet pulled duty as storage space anyway, we framed a third of hers into a separate unit that my husband lined with cedar panels. Now, we too have a cedar closet. Currently it's stuffed to capacity with her old dance costumes and my wool jackets and pants, which I am debating whether to relocate this afternoon. Given the current state of self-employed affairs, most of that wardrobe, I probably won’t wear.

I sit here at the computer though, contemplating that last sentence. My feet are cold, my hands frigid. (Remember, no heat until October 15th. Oh hallelujah, that’s tomorrow.) In particular, I’m pondering two boiled wool dress jackets that I used to wear with flannel pants on the coldest of days. Is there some rule that says that I can’t wear them around the house? The old company was a business casual environment. My home “office” is even more so. It seems acceptable to merge the two when I realize if I pull out my wools, I may actually stay warm through our next dose of winter. If I’m this cold at 40 degrees, I can’t even contemplate 20. Cedar closet here I come.

Personal comfort aside, another reason to switch those work wools out of storage is for our daughter. By their nature, summer clothes are thinner. That leaves room in the cedar closet for her to hide her unfolded laundry basket on the weekly occasions that I evoke motherhood and demand that she clean her room.

Just don’t tell her I know.


Ginger B. (Barbara) Collins said...

Reading this post I thought for a minute you were peeking over my shoulder! Just this week I finished the closet switch ritual, and since I've been experimenting with wheat/gluten/dairy-free recipes for my sweet-toothed husband, I've also been wondering if the wool pants will make it up and over my hips for the winter season.

Thanks for another glimpse into your life and the chance to see how many of our experiences mirror each other.

Ginger B.

Liza said...

You are more then welcome Ginger! At 42 and raining, I'm glad for the woolies today.