I Am A Closet Case: A True Story

Mar 29


Multiple Choice:

You should never peek into someone else’s closet because:

A) Your mother told you not to be nosy.
B) The person may still be in there.
C) It will give you ideas.
D) All of the above.

The correct answer is: D. But mostly, C.

No, it’s not nice to poke around people’s private places, even if it’s not anatomically speaking, and yes, the person in question may not have come out yet. Give them time. But the real reason is that it could change your life. Or at least, your wardrobe.

CrisPuerto_Rico_Take the case of me. I was staying at the home of my step daughter, the lovely and talented Cris, and because her house is colder than my overheated apartment and I am totally unaccustomed to being the slightest bit chilly indoors, I went to her closet to get a sweater or something.

WOW! This closet was room-sized and contained all her clothes, shoes, purses and even some jewelry. Unlike the several closet-sized closets in my apartment, where my stuff is crammed in groups, some rational (seasonal) some not (shirts here, shirts there, who can tell).

But while size matters —and I was impressed by the volume of items — what really struck me was the multitude of color — and the patterns.

I’ve lived in New York City for a long time now, and let’s face it, the official color of NYC is black. Or, as someone visiting from Florida wanted to know, Who died? Black is practical: it doesn’t show the city grime, no one notices that you wore the same thing the last three times you saw them (try that with polka dots), and everything goes with everything else. But it is so . . . funereal.

AllBlackStuffEvery season, some fashionista announced that Color was back. We all smirked and bought more black. Or, if we were really daring, grey, beige, oatmeal or ecru. Our slogan could have been: Black is the new black.

If you went to a school in the city you’d see huge splotches of color — on the kids. Practically all adults, teachers, assistants, administrators, parents, would be in neutrals, and a lot of black.

I noticed this when I was tutoring at a public school a few years ago, but the color thing really hit home when I looked into Cris’s closet. Not only were lots of her clothes bright, but they had (gasp!) patterns. There were florals, geometics, stripes, checks. I think I even saw a polka dot or two. I was really impressed by this display of not-all-black clothing. So alive, so vibrant, so new and exciting.

I went home, wearing jeans and, to give me some credit, an orange sweater: I do wear color, just not patterns except for striped tees, gawdy cosmetic bags, and animal print scarves. But they’re all kept in drawers. I didn’t give the closet incident much thought. But my subconscious must have registered it. Big time . . .


. . .Because when I  ventured forth into stores, what were the first three items I bought? An argyle sweater (argyle IS back!), a checked shirt (in pink!), and a very flowery summer blouse (in tropical colors).

I didn’t plan this, it just . . . happened. It’s a good thing. My wardrobe needs some tweaking, and the argyle sweater was a big hit: my father said it made me look young. Of course, he’s 99, so everyone looks young, but what the hell.

And finally, it hit me. Yet another fashion trend had passed me by.

StripesDots001For years, I couldn’t help but notice that the girls of SATC and other shows were wearing outrageous color and mismatched patterns, but I hadn’t realized that this trend had hit the general population. I mean, it’s one thing to see these things between the covers of Vogue, but in a catalog for Brooks Brothers!

This woman is wearing stripes AND polka dots. At the same time. I don’t love the outfit, but still.

In the Sunday Times Style section this week, even the boots had patterns. Cool.Boots












Mine eyes had been opened, and my closet will never be the same.

So why do I advise against looking in people’s closets since this turned out so well for moi?

The closet in question could have different, and the consequences could have been dire.

What if Cris had been into nothing but beige. Or puce? Or all gold lame? Or shiny sweatsuits? Or Goth getups? Or whips and chains? Just saying.

ladygagaAnd what if I had stumbled into Lady Gaga’s closet? I might have been scarred for life.

What if everything was white? I could have ended up looking like the Good Humor Man this summer.

Worst of all: What if all her stuff was perfectly nice, stylish, chic, expensive, in good taste — but all in black!!

What would have happened then: absolutely nothing. And what’ s worse than that for a girl’s closet, not to mention her morale . . .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *