Wardrobe Detox: Well THIS is embarrassing

Recently I was thinking how great it would be if I could figure out a way to fit another wardrobe storage unit into my small bedroom. Then I could organize my clothes and actually find something to wear in the morning!– I thought naively. Lucky for me, as I was surfing the sewing blogosphere, the Wardrobe Architect crossed in front of my face just in time. It made me realize I didn’t need more storage for my clothes, what I needed was to detox my wardrobe: pare it back to a more manageable size, and make sure it contains only clothes that make me feel and look great.

Just part of the pile of clothes Iā€™m getting rid of. Not pictured: shoes, purses, more clothes. Yikes.

Just part of the pile of clothes Iā€™m getting rid of. Not pictured: shoes, purses, more clothes. Yikes.

So here are two embarrassing facts to come out of this detox:

  1. I pulled over 65 garments that I just don’t love enough or wear enough out of my closet and dresser for the give-away pile. Over sixty-five! It’s embarrassing to me that I could pull that many articles of clothing out of my wardrobe and still have plenty of pieces left to keep me well dressed all year round.
  2. Prior to the detox I had two drawers just for socks. JUST. FOR. SOCKS. In my defense, they weren’t two LARGE drawers, and granted, in this climate one does need a variety of socks for a huge range of weather conditions, but two drawers full was just plain insane. Just the socks I got rid of would have been enough to keep my feet clothed for more than 2 weeks without doing laundry. Why on earth would someone need so many socks?? After detox: just one drawer for socks.

Once I got started, the only difficulty I encountered was resolving to get rid of those pieces that I had really loved at the time I bought them. Even if I hadn’t worn them for years or they didn’t really suit me, I’d still remember that feeling of spotting that amazing print, or getting a great deal, or how that geometric pattern and colour combination got me so excited, and it would make me feel like I couldn’t possibly get rid of this thing. I also had pangs about clothes I had received compliments on or had worn for a special occasion. But I was ruthless, sticking to some of the principles that I’d really always known but that reading the Wardrobe Architect brought into stark relief for me:

  • if you don’t feel great in it, get rid of it
  • if it’s not a style that suits you, get rid of it (WA’s section on understanding sillhouettes was really helpful on this one)
  • if you haven’t worn it in forever, it’s highly unlikely you’re going to wear it again, so get rid of it

Embarrassing fact #3: You’d think I would have loved every item of clothing I bought at least at the time I bought it — I mean, why would a sane person buy something if they don’t love it? — but sadly that’s not the case. These are some of the reasons I seem to buy things that I don’t love. Maybe you can relate to these:

  1. Sometimes I go shopping to relieve anxiety or stress, in which case I often make poor buying decisions, because it feels better to complete the mission (i.e. buy something) than to leave empty-handed, even if it’s not a good choice.
  2. Sometimes I’m on the hunt for a particular thing that I think I need — let’s say a black long-sleeved tee — and eventually I’ll settle for buying one where the neckline is a little too deep or it rides up around the tops of the sleeves but I buy it anyway just to get that thing crossed off my list.
  3. Sometimes I buy something just because it’s on sale and seems like a great deal. (In my defense I believe this might actually be genetic — my parents are both chronic bargain hunters who never buy anything if it’s not on sale and will drive across town to save 20 cents on cheese!)

    Lovely silk dress. Original price: $140. Bought at a second-hand shop in a shi-shi NYC neighbourhood for $20. Bargain? Nope. Waist is too high, it needs a belt that I don't have, and the colour isn't great for me.

    Lovely silk dress. Original price: $140. Bought it with the tags still on at a second-hand shop in a shi-shi NYC neighbourhood for $20. Bargain? Nope. Waist is too high for my liking, it needs a belt that I don’t have, and the colour isn’t great for me.

  4. Worst of all, I sometimes buy things to make up for a previous poor buying choice. Example: a year or two ago I bought a pair of jeans with a pinky-coral and navy paisley print on them, but I had very little that I could actually wear with them. So, I decided I ‘needed’ a coral T-shirt, so I bought one, and for cooler weather a lightweight cardigan that matched would be ‘needed’, so I bought one of those, and then it turned out the coral t-shirt was shitty quality because I had done that thing where I bought one that didn’t quite fit the bill anyway just to get it off my list, so I bought a navy t-shirt instead, and really I don’t like the neckline of that navy t-shirt after all…. I have been trying to make those fucking jeans work by buying more things ever since. Cripes.

    The offending jeans in question.

    The offending jeans in question.

Yes, I’m a basket case. But I’d like to think I’m now a reformed basket case. New questions I must ask myself when shopping:

  1. Is this truly a style that suits me and I feel good in? (Avoid buying styles I admire on others but aren’t really my thing. Avoid buying things that maybe have one great feature about them like a fantastic colour but something else about it isn’t quite right for me.)
  2. Do I already have something in my wardrobe I can wear with this? Or will buying this one thing necessitate buying a bunch of other things in order to build an outfit?
  3. Am I heading to the cash with this in my hand just because it’s on sale?
  4. Do I really need another damn brightly coloured and/or busy-patterned article of clothing, fercrissake? (It’s important for me to swear at myself on this question to really make sure I’m following it. A closet stuffed with a riot of colours and patterns does not make for easy dressing each morning, trust me. At some point in my life I seem to have forgotten how elegant and easy black, neutrals, and solid colours can be.)

I also have new rules about choosing knitting and sewing patterns, as well as selecting fabric and yarn, but I’ll save those for another post.

What about you? How do you manage your wardrobe? Do you have rules for when you shop, and rules for when you’re purging your closet? Do you stick to them?

Spring Farm Babies!

If you live anywhere within several hundred kilometers of where I do (Toronto), I’m going to safely assume you, too, are ready to poke your own eyes out with a dull spoon if this damn winter doesn’t f%#k the f%#k off really soon. Until then, here’s a little vicarious treat to tide you over: spring farm babies! I recently returned from a volunteering trip to Honduras, Central America, where my students and I went to shoot video productions for the charitable organization El Hogar and volunteer on their agricultural school farm, and it was baby season on the farm. It’s good to know it’s spring somewhere!

Winter-weary people, I give you…BABY CHICKS!

Baby chicks!

Lots of baby chicks!

Baby chicks cozying up under the heat lamps.

I think this might be love.

I think this might be love.

I give you…BABY GOATS!

Baby goat!

Just a few days old.

Three-day-old baby goat jumping its way towards me and straight into my heart.


More ridiculous jumping baby goat! So young it still has its umbilical cord attached.

Baby goat!

Baby goat snoozing in my lap! (Photo credit: Brooke Finkelstein)




K, this one's not a baby but that Mona Lisa smile is pretty irresistible.

K, this one’s not a baby but that Mona Lisa smile is pretty irresistible.

I give you…BABY COW!

One day old and mom is already able to leave this kid unsupervised. Why can't human babies be this easy??

One day old and mom is already able to leave this kid unsupervised. Why can’t human babies be this easy??


Lori patting baby calf

Happy birthday, baby! One day old! (Photo credit: Ashley Lewis)


Who is cuter? Tough call.

Who is cuter, the puppy or Brittany? Tough call! (Photo credit: Ashley Lewis)

Mikael figures it's time for this pup to learn to walk upright. :)

Mikael figures it’s time for this pup to learn to walk upright. šŸ™‚



Look at the tiny spotted one! Look at those noses! Squeeeeee!


A Family of Turkeys!


Right, so baby turkeys win the booby-prize for least cute farm babies. But their father is rather handsome.

Unfortunately not all the farm babies were healthy. The little lamb below was born too early. One night about 10 o’clock a wolf came visiting the farm looking for a meal, and made one of a hen and some of her chicks pictured above, and scared the ewe below into early labour. In the morning, not realizing what had happened the night before, I came to the goat & sheep pen for a visit and the little lamb below was lying on its side, struggling, while its mother bleated piteously. The mother can’t feed it unless it can stand up on its own and reach her udder. We all thought the lamb would be dead very soon. I ran and got a towel to wrap it so it wouldn’t be cold in the cool air of 6 am. Miraculously, later in the day, I could see that the lamb was making incredible efforts to get itself up, and by late afternoon, it was standing! I never thought it would make it that far. I took the picture below using my zoom lens because I didn’t want to get anywhere near these two and risk disturbing the delicate feeding procedure they were trying to undertake. I went to bed that night worried, but optimistic that this lamb might just beat the odds.


Early the next morning things weren’t looking so good. The lamb was back on its side and weak. I helped a couple of the boys on the farm capture the ewe and lay her down on her side, and we gently force-fed the lamb with her teats. Unfortunately the lamb died right in my hands just a few moments later, and I’ll tell you what — it was super-traumatizing for this city-slicker. The mother was traumatized, too; she didn’t stop bleating for 2 days straight, maybe more — we had to leave to go home later that same day so I don’t know for sure. I try to make myself feel better by remembering that I did my best to make the lamb comfortable and happy in the few hours that it was alive on this earth.

And I focus on the happy, healthy goat babies that made me laugh and smile the whole time I was on the farm, and I am content. šŸ™‚


I’ve never thought I could be so happy sitting around in piles of goat shit. šŸ˜€