by LAURA EDWARDS
Sometimes there isn’t any better therapy than cleaning out your wardrobe.
It’s as if throwing away all those unused clothes signifies a clean slate, a fresh start – or at the very least room for newer, better things.
I did this recently.
Most of my clothes went to charity but I decided to make some money from the rest and sell them at a vintage market.
I set up a stall and as I carefully hung my clothes on the racks, they suddenly looked like new again – shinier, glossier.
I had gone into this ‘sales’ mode: sell the clothes, pocket the money, done and dusted. I was hoping to be as clinical as a clinician. I never thought emotions would come into it. Selling a house, yes. A car, maybe. But clothes?
Yet I still felt the sting of rejection when shoppers flitted nonchalantly through my clothes and abruptly turned on their heel, uninterested.
There was a pang of regret when the designer baby doll dress I bought for $300 – and had never worn – sold for $40.
And then came bitterness when a woman who is smaller than me, tried my Sass & Bide jeans that I can no longer get past my hips and looked…better than I did.
“Look away,” my friend consoled me, as the girl happily walked off with the jeans for $30.
“At least they went to a good home. It’s like the sisterhood of the traveling pants! Except they, er, just didn’t fit you.”
It’s not just the pain of someone looking better than you in your own clothes: it’s the many memories that come swarming back when you remember what you were doing when you were wearing them. Like perfume, a piece of clothing can instantly trigger a moment in time.
As I pulled together my unworn, crumpled clothes from the back of the cupboard, I was piecing together those significant moments in my life, good and bad.
The jacket I wore on my very first date with my now partner.
The dress I wore to my school formal.
The sweatpants I was wearing when I was told my grandfather had died.
The red dress I wore when I spent the night crying in a nightclub toilet after a break-up.
The top I proudly bought with my very first pay cheque.
Although some of these clothes didn’t even fit anymore, I wasn’t sure I could bring myself to put them on the sale rack. I felt like selling and watching someone else walk away with them, was like throwing away a memory.
I always had visions of me, old and gray and losing my marbles, suddenly being able to connect the dots through said garments.
One of the shoppers at the market approached my stall and held up the lace skirt I was wearing when I had my first kiss.
“This is beautiful,” she said shyly.
“It is,” I smiled, secretly wondering how I could somehow snatch it back from her without causing a fuss.
Although it didn’t fit me anymore, when I looked at that skirt the same butterflies I felt back then entered my tummy again. I could even almost smell the (copious amounts of) Lynx deodorant my date had been wearing and the scent of lavender outside my house.
“I was thinking I could wear this to my engagement party,” the woman said.
Watching her eyes light up, my urge to snatch the skirt slowly faded.
I knew I was being silly, that I’d always have my memories, no matter what – and rather than sitting in the back of the closet collecting dust, this lace skirt could have a new life, creating new memories for someone else.
Resisting the urge to tearfully whisper: “take care of it – it doesn’t respond well to water above 30 degrees when washing,” I packed the skirt into a bag, pocketed $30 and locked away a memory in my mental filing cabinet. A filing cabinet, which will hopefully be easily found when I’m eventually old and gray and losing my marbles.
Laura Edwards is a Canberra-based journalist and freelance creative writer, who graduated from her degree last year and has just landed her first print journalist job.
What piece of clothing gives you the most vivid memory? Are you still holding on tight to that garment?