I went shopping in my closet yesterday for a good cause.
Shelf by shelf, I pulled out all my clothes, inspecting them and asking myself the tough question am I ever going to wear this again? You know what I'm talking about the pants that haven't fit for five years, the gift blouse that's just the wrong shade, the sweater that makes us look like a lump. The too many shoes and clothing that we hoard, convincing ourselves that some day we will wear them.
For years I subscribed to this delusional doctrine. My poor closet was bulging, clothing jammed and crammed, wrinkling, even disappearing, only to be discovered by accident.
Then one day, as I dusted off a blouse yet again, I realized it was time to take a new approach to my closet. It can be summed up as "sort and donate," and it personifies the spirit of giving in a most rewarding way.
Each year around this time, I become intent on my annual project, knowing that there are items that will do far more good in the hands of the many wonderful charities rather than gathering dust in my closet. Local organizations such as Goodwill, Modesto Gospel Mission and The Salvation Army all take the donations and use them to help the needy in our communities. And, if it's important to you, they can be tax deductions.
Some helpful tips for how to do this most effectively.
Be in a critical mood. You're far less apt to rationalize about keeping things for yet another year.
Try things on. It can be a shock to see that what looked good on the hanger no longer looks good on you, whether because your hair color has changed or your butt has sagged. Seeing the truth serves as a powerful goad to ditch things.
Do it in daylight or harsh light. When you look at things in the same light in which most people will see you wearing the clothes, you may discover it doesn't look all that good. Hint: When somebody says, "nice blouse" instead of "you look nice," it's a clue that the clothing doesn't compliment you.
Check it out from behind. Years ago, every store had butterfly mirrors in the dressing room, so you could see what things looked like from the rear. Those have been largely eliminated, because I think stores realized that 50 percent of the time, upon viewing, you couldn't wait to take it off.
Be brutal. Do you really need 15 pairs of black shoes? Eight pairs of boots? You know the answer and there are people out there who need one pair of boots with winter upon us.
Once you've culled, bag and deliver your donation. Don't let the bags sit around for a couple of days, because you're likely to have second thoughts and restore things to your shelves. Instead, take them to a local charity of choice especially given Dec. 31 is just around the corner and leave with the wonderful feeling that you've not only cleaned your closet (and it will actually look like you have more clothing because you can see it), but done a wonderful thing to help people in our community.
What better way to end the year?
Newcorn is an author and freelance writer living in Modesto. Send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.