It always goes like this: I feel like my closet is on the brink of disorganization, I see that my closet is on the brink of disorganization and then suddenly — as if I never saw it coming — I am like a drunk attempting to add a tip to the bottom of a restaurant bill: completely incoherent. Unaware of how to move a decimal, or what part of your person a sweater is supposed to cover.
And every time this happens, like clockwork, I Marie Kondo the shit out of my closet. If there is even a question mark about the validity of a garment’s place on the rack, it goes.
This last happened following the Spring 16 season of Paris Fashion Week. I returned home with the same (carry-on) suitcase I left with, bringing back exactly nothing new save for one knit dress, yet none of the contents of my tiny luggage fit back into my closet. So I freaked out — Who fed the armoire steroids? — and started cleaning.
Do I need more than one bright red sweater? Probably not. Discard. And what’s the deal with these three nearly identical white shirts? Dis, dis, discard. When’s the last time I wore that blue dress? Bye! And as for the towering pile of jeans right there to the left? By the end of this cleanse, you will be a tidy, small stack.
Now pause. Right here is where I make the most curious decision to jettison not one but two pairs of my most frequently worn jeans. Both are vintage Levi’s. Both are cropped. Both have weathered the elements, resulting in authentic rips, which I have cultivated with my own two knees. But both, too, have abandoned their responsibilities to cover my ass and now feature neither a pocket nor any fabric over their respective left cheeks. And so, we separate.
I thought exactly nothing of this detachment while it was in motion. I reasoned that beyond these pants there were many others and that removing myself from the comfort of their fade would force me to make The Hard Decisions about who I want to be, you know, from a denim perspective.
Surely there is more to me than a couple pairs of pre-owned jeans, right?
Much in the same way you don’t divorce your husband if you’re happy and in love, you do not throw away a pair of pants that your legs regularly frequent nor do you assume you can live without them.
Or at least that’s how I felt during the withdrawal phase. I was pretty sure that like Samantha Jones in that episode of Sex and the City where she is convinced she lost her orgasm, I had reached my fashion climax. Had tried too hard for too long and my load had been blown. My brain could no longer process outfits. Henceforth, it would be just myself and some cable knit sweaters, trudging along as though amphibian specialists based in Rhode Island.
What was it that impelled me to eliminate precisely what made getting dressed and feeling good easy? Who does that?
But I didn’t concede to defeat. I experimented with new stuff: new jeans (not vintage ones) that did not slice my vagina lips in half and skirts and trousers and dresses and such. It was uncomfortable, which sounds trivial, but is, I think, a metaphor for forcing yourself to step away from the stuff you know and dive into the cleavage of what you don’t. Because then, like that lighthouse beacon that people love calling “hope,” a cool lesson did emerge: it had never been about the jeans. Obviously. This was all about me and my reluctance to evacuate The Comfort Zone.
Those pants represented a safety blanket. Having them (just knowing they were there) eliminated my needing to think. They meant I didn’t have to try. Getting rid of them, then, was an exercise in stretching my style. And I was relieved to learn that I could do it — it’s important to know that you can fall asleep without blankie.
But now that they’re gone and the lesson is learned, I feel much better about the truth: I want my jeans back.
Collage by Emily Zirimis