Comfortably Numb

Sheila Kumar's Storehouse

Published on: 02/15/13 8:40 AM

Feature: You Are Your Closet!

You are your closet!

Let`s sift the cottons from the chiffons and help you get your sartorial act together.

You are your closet. It’s true, we swear to it. A closet is a form of philosophy, a world in its essence. The act of selecting your clothes, accessories and your look, calls for a Zen-like rigour; it is a self-defining act, creative, flexible, and glamorous.

In fact, the closet should be a Zen space in itself — fresh, neat and something that makes you feel good every time you open it.

Your closet is a record of the person you were, the person you are. The efforts to stand out, the attempts to blend in, the bold, the prudent phases, all are reflected in the choice of your clothes. Those sparkly, spangly clothes that you wore to such dramatic effect to the disc have been replaced with formal (and expensive) trouser suits for the efficient working man or woman you now are.

So okay, you may have done away with purple coats and elephant pants but hey, they once defined you! Embrace the person you were sans a wince, he or she helped you become the person you are.

Your closet is a place where you can re-imagine and re-invent yourself. The key here, though, is to wear your clothes, not just to have lots of clothes. Many a closet is like a photo album, instantly bringing back memories of times good and bad. It’s the place where we can go back in time, try on clothes that will instantly take us back to our heady teen years, our experimental young years, right to the spot we are in now.

It’s also a place which can defeat you if you let it. Sometimes a closet grows and grows, and finally, becomes so intimidating that you find yourself operating from the small pile at the top right- hand corner and ignoring the rest of the wardrobe!

The Greeks have a term for the uncontrolled…oniomania. Now, one can’t resist this: are you a closet oniomaniac? A well-balanced closet, with a combination of good quality clothing, some trendy items and a few key pieces, shows you to be the well-balanced person you are.

So, get it all together. If you can manage your home, husband/wife, kids, domestic staff, office staff, with such skill and dexterity, surely a closet shouldn’t faze you!

No more stuffing your closet!  No more using it for anything other than clothes, accessories, bags, shoes. A walk-in closet is, of course, the closet of everyone’s dreams. However, in case you have the common or garden version of a closet a.k.a cupboard, well, let’s get down to a de-clutter job.

What are you looking for? You are looking for a chic, polished, understated, avante garde yet age-appropriate wardrobe. Now that you know it, work towards acquiring it.

Just as you have evolved with time, time for your closet to evolve, too. Introspect on the person  you are now. Chuck those clothes that no longer suit your image. It’s a 3-step process. You need to identify your style. To purge those items that don’t fit that style. To stock those items that define that style.

Review your wardrobe every January. The first step would be to give your closet a thorough inspection. Cull those clothes you haven’t used for a minimum of six months , those you won’t be using in the near future, and those you are sure you won’t use at all. Some clothes start ageing in the closet, weed them out now!

Replace dewy sentiment with clear-eyed pragmatism. You may have run around for that outfit, made a zillion trips to the tailor to get it altered but now, you know you won’t wear it. Not this season, not this year. So why are you keeping it? Those are the ‘someday clothes’,  and that someday will never come.

Learn to recognise classy items for their inherent potential and to keep them aside for use another day. The ‘day’ clothes; pile ought to be small but vital.

Draped velvet, leather waistcoats, tired tees, jackets that shine with age, hats fraying at the rim, silk scarves with floral patterns, loads and loads of long beaded necklaces, an ancient Madras checks cotswool shirt that fits great and feels like heaven, pink beaded slippers, well, it’s your call to keep or chuck (if you ask us, we’d say keep, keep, chuck, chuck,  chuck, keep, keep, keep, keep).

Toss stuff meant for when you lose weight or gain weight: won’t happen.  By which we mean, you won’t wear those same clothes when you do gain your objective; you’ll celebrate by buying new clothes! Also, toss out all sartorial mistakes immediately.

See that you own more classics than trendy items. Trends come and go; a quality classic will last forever. Omissions in clothes and accessories to be noted and rectified, not immediately but one good piece after another, over a period of time.

Buy clothes that do an adept job at concealing your flaws and highlighting your assets. Forget what’s in fashion, buy only what flatters you. Most important, buy clothes that fit and sit well on you. Toss whatever doesn’t fit well.

Manage your closet; don’t let your closet manage you! Get one great pair of pants, a pair that will give your image an instant boost. Great fit, flattering line and length, superfine texture, is what we are talking here.

Get one classic white shirt. Or three. The shirt’s got to be fitted, of course, imparting an air of measured glamour. Embellishments at cuff or collar need be minimal.

Get your own personal version of the LBD or if you are a man, the formal black suit.
Get the blue jean. Stove-pipe or flared. Cigarette-shaped or boot-cut. Light blue or indigo. Plain or embroidered. Levis or Cavalli. Just make sure your bjs show your legs off to perfection.

Get party shoes. Sequined slippers, Jimmy Choo heels, worked leather mojdis or boots, Oxfords and loafers.

The disposal job
What to do with your discards?
Give them to someone close to you who you know will love them. Give them to the needy. Give them to charity. Just give.

 Clear that clutter!

– Stack your wardrobe on the basis of frequency of wear, colour coding and formal/casual wear. Colour-coding your clothes gives you a clear idea of the colours you lack in your wardrobe.

–  Air your closet, line the shelves afresh, put in sachets of pot pourri, neem leaves and pine balls. Line your shelves with floral or cheerful liner paper. Indigo is a great colour for the interiors of a closet, it’s a natural insect repellant!

–  Party wear and fragile textiles need to go into cloth or polythene wraps.

–  Keep your clothes clean, dirt attracts moths and insects. Wash what you can, dry clean fragile fabrics, store them well. Mend torn hems; sew buttons that have fallen off.

–  Everything you need in a hurry should be placed at hand/ eye level. No rummaging around.

– Get an extra drawer put in for undies, socks, scarves, ties.

–  Invest in good hangers, always fabric lined, never wire. Hanger hooks must face the wall.

– Every time your clothes come back from the laundry, put them at the bottom of the pile in your cupboard so you don’t repeat clothes.

– Hang pants in delicate or expensive fabrics, file and stash jeans and cotton trousers. Jackets should always be hung. Jersey knits can be folded and kept as can woollens.

–  Buy some sari cases. Keep sari and choli together. Wrap embroidered saris and suits in tissue or muslin and keep.

–  Hammer small nails in the doors of the closet and hang stuff. Roll up belts, panty hose and long churidars.

– Quality footwear goes into shoe bags.  Keep heels wiped down clean always, that’s also a great way to check for scuffed footwear, which you can either repair or alas, throw out. Remember, nothing looks more down at heel literally, than hells that are er, down at heel! Stuff tissue paper into the toes of closed shoes.

This ran in DECCAN HERALD of  15 Feb 2013.



Sheila Kumar • February 15, 2013

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