Vintage Thierry Mugler dusty rose ensemble
A few summers ago a stylish older acquaintance took me out to tea at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills and then invited me over to visit her closets. I got to look through a lifetime’s worth of vintage dresses, jackets, coats, feather boas, and boots. After I tried on some items she had pulled from a deep corner of one of her neatly organized walk-in closets, I came away with two vintage pieces by Thierry Mugler – a lipstick pink bolero jacket and a dusty rose ensemble: a jacket, with signature Mugler snaps, and a pair of matching short shorts. Despite never having worn the shorts, I regularly wear the jacket with casual pants and the bolero over sleeveless dresses. That afternoon ranks high in my memory for its treasure hunt aspect as much as it does for its display of generosity. I had never before seen such well-manicured closets; impressed by the experience, I vowed from that day on to cultivate the habit of regularly cleaning out my closet.
Even for someone who takes pride in having an edited wardrobe, it’s not an easy thing to dispose of one’s belongings; everything entering a closet puts down roots. Women’s fashion magazines are full of advice about getting organized for such a chore. Their recommendations usually break down into categories: items you’ve never worn and/or have forgotten owning, small sizes that you hope one day to fit into, trendy items in outlandish colors or prints, nostalgic pieces such as concert t-shirts or the cutoff shorts you cheerfully wore in your youth, and the bridesmaid dresses you were obliged to buy. Invariably, the verdict comes in in favor of dispensing with these groupings.
I’ve added over the years to the above categories the following shorthand criteria: selling the clothes I’ve grown out of, gifting others to friends, and passing along items to Goodwill. In a matter of hours, having satisfactorily completed the job of sorting, I could bask in my success at maintaining a functional wardrobe. Knowing what to store for future use is the most challenging aspect of closet cleaning. It’s difficult to part with a pair of shoes, once cherished, that have long since begun gathering dust, when you don’t know if in subsequent years you will want to wear them. Objects with purely sentimental value are far easier to handle, as they take hold of you, stubbornly defying every attempt to remove them with their continued promise of happiness.
Now, in my forties, burdened by the decision of what to disperse and what to keep, I find myself clinging to the items in my closet. This may in large measure be due to the fact that after years of being so careful about the things I have kept and the things I have disposed of, I’ve finally reached a point where each object has been so thoughtfully considered that the idea of letting go strikes me as impossible. It’s likely that there are people who don’t regularly clean out their closets and regard such an undertaking as cold hearted. How could anyone ever part with something that in the face of all reason they had at one time so desired?
In thinking it over, I can’t say I have ever regretted the things I’ve disposed of. Rather, it’s happened on more than one occasion that I’ve felt remorse over what I did not acquire. To me, regret lies in what we haven’t allowed ourselves to experience first hand, or what we haven’t given ourselves the freedom to know.
Parting with certain wardrobe items is akin to setting off on an unfamiliar path, one less encumbered by the past. I’m usually happy to see my things go to another home. I like to think I’m giving my possessions a chance to live on in a new setting, as my beloved Mugler jackets have come to experience an afterlife of sorts since arriving in my closet, one memorable summer afternoon.
Vintage Thierry Mugler bolero jacket