The first part of organization is ineviably, paring down. And that brings with it the sometimes heartbreaking exercise of detaching yourself from things you once loved. (Yes, loved in the lower, materialistic sense, but nevertheless, loved.)
So, in my effort to cut down my wardrobe, I gathered all my clothes from off-season storage and the cranies of the laundry basket and heaped them on the bed. I did the same with all my accessories: purses, scarves, shoes, and jewelry. Then the winnowing began: ruthlessly purging the unfit: clothing that was stained or getting straggly, clothes that really didn't fit me except in my fantasies, clothes that I never got around to wearing, and so on. Then I further winnowed out the remaining spring and summer clothes (farewell blue and green, till summer when we meet again!) as well any clothes that won't fit my third-trimester-pregnant figure. Also excised were maternity clothes from the last baby that were just too worn or out of style.
I continue to ponder how some expensive garments really do last longer than cheaper ones: a red sweater turtleneck I begged my husband to buy me despite the price is still going strong and unstained, while an nearly-identical blue one of a cheaper brand has become dingy beyond repair, and I sadly retired it. I know that not everything expensive is well-made: but figuring out further criteria is difficult...
I had to make a special post of this particular shirt, which I sewed in high school. When I was about seventeen, I walked into a fabric store, beheld a fountain of patterned green-and-plum flowers on a background of palest pink, and fell instantly in love. I approached, I dug out the price tag -- and flinched. But before I left the store, I gathered my courage, put down the earnings from my waitressing job, and bought three yards of the floral challis, while cringing at the price. That evening I sewed it into a boat-necked, loose-fitting shirt. I still remember how easily the fabric yielded to being cut, folded, and sewn. And it was beautiful. I loved it. I kept it in the back of the closet, and pulled it out for special occasions and fun occasions. I wore it to dances with patent leather heels and a black satin poufy skirt. I wore it to church with a forest green sweater and plum skirt (ah, the colors of the 90's). I wore it with maternity jumpers, matched it with different shades of green and burgundy and purple, and it always worked with black. I just wore it yesterday with black maternity pants and mj shoes.
And the shirt still looks fresh and intriguing and not discernibly dated, even after nearly a decade of use. How often can you say that, especially about a homemade sewing project?
So in a burst of anthropomorphic sentiment, I want to honor this shirt with its own picture and congratulate it on surviving yet another round of wardrobe reductions. And despite the fact that I'm nearly twenty years and six pregnancies older, I rejoice that it still fits me. :)
This reminds me again how Catholic life and love is such a delicate balance between appreciation and detachment. The Catholic soul feels free to delight in the sheerly material: in the color and texture and sheen and grace of fine fabrics and leathers and jewelry.
And yet we understand that even the dearest treasures need to be set gently but firmly in their place: when they come between us and God, or our husbands and children, or our friends and family, or the needs of our poorer neighbors, or even if they are simply interfering with our ability to handle our duties more efficiently -- we need to decide in favor of the higher good.
But as usual, the apparent conflict can become a paradox: complete detachment can peacefully co-exist with complete appreciation.
As an example, this morning my pastor spoke warmly of the beauty of fine, classic clothing -- this from a man who never wears more than a simple black cassock! But even though he himself had detached himself from this particular kind of earthly concern, he could understand how it occupies so much of the mental energy of his female parishioners -- and could applaud the results.
So the struggle goes on -- but sometimes it's worth remembering as you fight to give away that special blue turtleneck that is, nevertheless, stained in a conspicuous place -- that the goal isn't puritan spartanism, but freedom to love the beautiful more fully.