Cleaning Out Your Closet


As we navigate the uncertain realities of COVID-19, a great deal of us are left with an abundance of time and an ever-dwindling list of things to do. Amidst the incertitude many are left to wonder what the future holds, and their clothing, admittedly, may be insignificant at the moment. I intend no disrespect for the reader's current realities nor do I hope to trivialize your needs; what I'll discuss here today is merely a practical diversion.

That said, for those of us that have accrued a wardrobe for work, play, or both, this is an opportune time to give a little attention to the state of your wardrobe.

A Little Polish

A little love goes a long way with shoes of all quality. A good polish is somewhat of a dying skill amongst the layman, perhaps attributable to time constraints; most of us, however, merely haven't been exposed to the technique. It's an ability I've improved with practice, though I still pale in contrast to Jason's patient and steady hands. YouTube is awash with instructional videos to help you master your technique.

Creating a shoe care kit requires surprisingly few supplies. First and foremost, a good leather conditioner is a must to hydrate the shoe leather, and often makes a markedly significant improvement all its own. Cream polish is available in a wide array of colours, although medium brown, dark brown, and black will cover most needs. Clear wax applied to the toe and heel in thin layers will close pores and build up a protective sheen with a little patience and a gentle hand. Old t-shirts and pantyhose make for wonderful applicators, though a horsehair brush tends to work better for both applying cream polish and buffing a shine. I've also taken to using a sole edger to complete the treatment from top to bottom.

Suedes and nubucks require far less attention. Applying a spray protectant every few months will generally suffice, and a suede brush will clean the hide when mud and dirt inevitably collect on the footwear.

Turn The Season

While most of us have little use for a parka in July or linens in the wintry months, more substantial wardrobes rife with seasonal items need not see the light of day year-round. Limited closet and hanger space can create logistical challenges that push for a little organizational creativity.

Tweeds, flannels, and chunkier sweaters will soon cease to match the weather and occupy valuable real estate. Jackets and suits should be hung in garment bags in a secondary closet, and the inclusion of cedar chips will help to reduce moisture and keep moths at bay. Sweaters can be stored in totes or shelved wherever you have excess space.

Thin The Herd

Speaking practically, one can only wear so many garments (even for a clotheshorse like myself). I often find myself staring at a shirt, a sweater, a jacket, or the like with a coalesce of guilt, remorse, or indifference - there's something about it that just doesn't entice me to wear it.

A good litmus test is to recall the last time you've worn something - if it's been over a year, it's probably of little use going forward. There's a few reasons I may not be drawn to wearing something:

Perhaps it doesn't fit the way I like, in which case I consider whether altering the garment would solve the issue. Sometimes, however, no possible alteration could alleviate the issue entirely and I'd be left with something that still doesn't fit the way I'd prefer.

  • My has evolved and it no longer fits with my personal tastes.
  • The garment is worn out and no longer salvageable. It's time has just come.
  • It was a "learning experience" - something I probably should not have bought in the first place. Happens to the most experienced of us.

There's a catharsis to ridding myself of these problem clothes. Any item that retains its integrity can be given away to a friend or donated, and the benefit is twofold:

  1. I no longer feel irritated by looking at the offending piece and revel in my newfound closet space;
  2. I appreciate someone finding joy in a newfound article of clothing. In the last year I gave 7away two sport jackets and a duffle coat that either no longer matched my nor could be 9 to meet my preferred fit. I often see the friends that I gifted my garments to and delight in their reverence for their new finds.

Plan Ahead

Familiarity with your wardrobe is the wisest tact for going about your future purchases and helps to curb those "learning experiences". Whether a glaring need, a tired staple, or a new curiosity, knowing what you have will focus your scope and identify what's most important first.

With an abundance of time on our hands and a stirring need to find something of substance to do with it, pay a little heed to your threads. You'll gain a bit of knowledge, accrue a little practice, and maybe even feel better in the process.

Ryan W.A. Clark


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