72 responses

  1. Jennifer King
    September 5, 2012

    I love this, Nina. Your points could be applied to my closet, too.

    This age post-childbearing is a little tricky for the clothes department. Not Juniors. Not stodgy womens clothes either. And the discounted items from sale stores never do get worn. I find time and again that the things I buy from one or two stores are the ones I wear and love the most.

    Enjoy your clean closet!
    Jennifer King recently posted..The Latest from PragueMy Profile

    • Nina
      September 6, 2012

      We are sort of between times in a way. I’m not sure where to shop anymore. Truth is I’m in workout clothes 70% of the time these days anyway.

  2. Julia Munroe Martin
    September 5, 2012

    I really desperately need to clean out not just my closet but every closet in the house — thank you for the encouragement and inspiration. However, I will not be blogging about how old some of my clothes are… ahem. (p.s. Elissa and Rebecca are the cutest!)
    Julia Munroe Martin recently posted..Goodbye Maggie TrueMy Profile

    • Nina
      September 5, 2012

      Julia, believe me I have other closets that need some attention. I actually dig into the closets and drawers around the house a lot (A touch of OCD, maybe), but it’s like the things multiply in there.

      Can’t wait to hear what you decide to do about Maggie True.

      • Julia Munroe Martin
        September 6, 2012

        For now I’ve decided to stick with Maggie True (time to move on with the revisions). I’ll pull a Scarlett O’Hara and worry about it later if I have to…at least now I have a great list of alternate names, thank you!
        Julia Munroe Martin recently posted..Goodbye Maggie TrueMy Profile

  3. Alison
    September 5, 2012

    I have enough black to wear for the rest of my life!

    I did a serious closet purge nearly a year ago when we moved house. I was 8 weeks pregnant then so it was hard to decide what to let go, what to keep. In the end, the stuff that I hadn’t worn for 6-12 months were decidedly in the ‘to go’ pile. The stuff that I hung on to every purge because ‘I may fit into that again some day’ also went into the ‘to go’ pile because I’m no longer 28, I don’t think that one-shoulder Grecian inspired (black top!) will be suitable for a 36 year old mother of two who goes nowhere but the grocery store.

    I even *gasp* gave jeans that still fit (and are gorgeous!) to my sister. At least she gets more wear out of them!

    It does feel good though, closet purging. I need to do another soon!
    Alison recently posted..PrioritiesMy Profile

    • Nina
      September 6, 2012

      Love the Grecian top reference. I consider a top or dress like that every year. Same goes for gladiator sandals, which I know are in style but make my already big feet look ENORMOUS.

  4. Andrea KAsper
    September 5, 2012

    your black pant line made me laugh

    • Nina
      September 6, 2012

      It was the only thing I wore on Saturday nights for like six years.

  5. Kate
    September 5, 2012

    Hey–can I have anything black you’re getting rid of? Seriously. My daughter introduced me to the idea of wearing color: pinks, blues, oranges. She likes neon colors and wild prints. It seemed like embracing life, dabbling all over the color spectrum. I’ve tried ‘em all and guess what–it’s not me. I might shop where Darth Vader and the Wicked Witch get their duds. I like wearing black best. Shana Tova, by the way.

    • Nina
      September 6, 2012

      Ha! Well, I’m about four inches taller than you, but I’ll go through and see what might work. :) I really will! P.S. Bean Good Cafe is closing. We need a new spot.

  6. Hallie Sawyer
    September 5, 2012

    Oy to the vey as you would say. This is me. However, minus the jeans thing. I love jeans but hate buying them. I would pay top dollar for a damn pair of jeans that hit my waist rather than two inches below it. I’m 40 and would like to keep my butt crack where only I can see it.

    Way to go on the purge! Just this past year, I have been demi-purging (you can borrow that literary nugget whenever; I made it up just for this comment so technically it’s partially yours) it in bits and chunks. Because when I purge all at once, I go into a deep depression after I realize I have nothing, and I mean nothing, to wear anywhere. And I’m not a shopper. And all my money goes to the grocery bill and paying for kids sports, therefore, mama is always “going to the gym.”

    Favorite part of post–”In what universe is it cold enough for wool but hot enough for short sleeves?” I laughed out loud on that one!
    Hallie Sawyer recently posted..What Books Are Weighing Your Night Stand Down? Mine Needs Reinforcements!My Profile

    • Nina
      September 6, 2012

      These days I wear a skinny legging jean by James. They actually sit high enough. I promise! They sell them on Piperlime if you can’t find them near you. (free shipping and free return shipping) They stretch so get them small enough.

      And I’m giving you credit for part of the closet clean out since a good portion of the reason I had to do it was for post baby weight loss that was better than post-the-other-babies. yay!

  7. Lisha
    September 5, 2012

    I LOVE “The Last Call.” And someday I’m going to wear every single thing I bought there.
    Lisha recently posted..A New DayMy Profile

    • Nina
      September 6, 2012

      Ha! Of course you will. Same goes for the fancy section at TJ Maxx and Off Fifth.

  8. Jackie Cangro
    September 5, 2012

    I totally related to the wool short sleeves! At the beginning of the summer I donated a wool sleeveless turtleneck. What was I thinking when I bought that? There was like one day a year I could wear it – for 5 minutes.

    PS – I just bought a copy of Hemingway’s Girl, so I’m looking forward to reading along with your Sept. book club!
    Jackie Cangro recently posted..Friday Five – Around TownMy Profile

    • Nina
      September 6, 2012

      My copy arrived today, and I’ll be digging in tonight. Did you read The Age of Miracles? Just finished last night. Need someone to discuss it with!

      And yes: wool turtlenecks. Exactly the same senselessness!

      • Jackie Cangro
        September 7, 2012

        Age of Miracles is on my nightstand now! I can’t wait to get to it…just as soon as I finish Hemingway’s Girl.
        Jackie Cangro recently posted..Friday FiveMy Profile

  9. Lisa Cynamon Mayers
    September 5, 2012

    This reminds me of when we lived together and you had a rule that involved whenever you bought a new article of clothing, an old one had to go. I really reaped the benefits of that neurosis!

    • Nina
      September 6, 2012

      I still have a loose version of that rule! But with all the pregnancies, I’ve held onto much more with the “just in case” concept in mind. That’s why this purge was so big. I had more than ever that needed to go. You and Bekki both remember being recipients of my OCD closet purges. Lucky you!! :)

  10. Kathy Sackheim
    September 5, 2012

    Nina-you asked for an explanation about your formal black blazers for your showers etc. I have not had control of your wardrobe picks from the time you were in fourth grade. Do you remember I used to drop you off at Northbrook Court with my charge cards because I didn’t have the patience to shop with you? You always liked to look at everything before deciding what to purchase. I couldn’t take it-not my style of shopping. So your clothes for your pre-wedding events were your selections. I like to think I have had some impact on you style, however, because you put yourself together well. But you are your own person in you fashion choices as in every other aspect of your life. You might be interested to know that the closet purging gene comes directly from Grandma Pauline. She did that at least once a year if not more and gave away any piece of clothing she had not worn in the past year.

    Love,
    Mom

    • Nina
      September 6, 2012

      Okay, that’s fair. I think it would fun if you sent your credit card here and let me romp around the mall with it. Just for old time’s sake! :)

      • Jules
        September 6, 2012

        Ha! Mom blew up your spot, Nina! So I guess the least she can do is let you relive the good old days. ;)
        Jules recently posted..How to Fold a Fitted Sheet by BabsMy Profile

  11. Annie Neugebauer
    September 5, 2012

    Oh, so cute! And I couldn’t help laugh at #4; I definitely own a few of those that never get worn because, well, Texas is definitely not that mystical place. And #6 isn’t just your age. I swear it’s getting harder and harder to find decent-length dresses and skirts everywhere. I’m tall with long legs, and I so cannot pull off the whole cute summer skirt thing without looking like a ho. (My short friends can, though.) I really wish designers would start making them a few inches longer. Much easier to hem than to add length. I totally approve of the great closet clean-out!
    Annie Neugebauer recently posted..Revisions: a DiagramMy Profile

  12. Erika Shapiro
    September 5, 2012

    Great post, Nina! You’ve inspired me to clean out my own closet, although I tend to do it more often than once every 8 years. I have ill-fitting pants & blazers, dresses I’ll never wear again, and sweaters I have NO NEED for in south Florida (I’ll keep 1 or 2 for those 1 or 2 cold days).

    AND – I Love your mom’s response. My mom would have said the same thing about me.

    • Nina
      September 6, 2012

      Oh! I clean out several times a year, this was just the clean out of ALL clean outs. Yeah–my mom always calls me out when I attempt to blame her for anything. She’s almost always right. I wish my kids would just accept that about ME too.

  13. Bekki
    September 5, 2012

    I’m reminded of when we studied abroad in Chile together and you only brought items that matched with black to simplify your packing/closet down there. And like Lisa, I was the happy recipient of a lot of brown stuff when we got back to college!

    • Nina
      September 6, 2012

      Ha! You’re so right. I really tried to keep it all in one color family. Meanwhile, lucky for you I gained so much weight that nothing fit by the end. OY!! Thank goodness those daily ice cream days are behind us. I swear I came home with no clothes and just a suitcase full of research for Professor Baldez.

  14. Nina
    September 5, 2012

    Nina, I’m inspired… I’m going home this afternoon to clean my closet!!! Though I do have to disagree with you about wool + shirtsleeve being nonsensical. For those of us that are perpetually hot (even in winter), this is the perfect seasonally appropriate choice! And where have all the decent black pants gone?!?! All I own are black leggings and black workout clothes!

    P.S. I loved the pic of your girls!

    • Nina
      September 6, 2012

      Okay, you are for sure the one person I know who benefits from the short-sleeve/wool combo. It’s funny about the black pants–in any scenario when I might have worn them in the past, I’m usually in a casual dress of some kind. Or jeans and heels!

  15. Heidi
    September 5, 2012

    I have a solution to your wardrobe issues — I’ve found that working with a stylist at Nordstrom has solved many of my wardrobe issues. It’s a free service, I no longer have to dig though clothes to find something I may or may not like, and my wardrobe is now much more functional! I love going in and having my dressing room all ready with items personally selected for me that mix and match! Now I have clothes for almost every occasion, and clothes that I will want to wear again next year, which almost never happened in the past. Let me know if you want the names of good personal stylists!

    • Nina
      September 6, 2012

      One day when I’m really ready to part with even more stuff I might actually do that! I’m trying not to buy a whole bunch of new stuff now since I honestly wear workout clothes half of the time these days. I’m so happy to know that it’s a good service though. I’d go to Nordstrom too if I was going to go that route. They always seem to have lots of choices in different price points. And I kind of love the Mall of America!

  16. The Atomic Mom
    September 5, 2012

    Oh I loved this post! Loved it. I am so looking forward to the day I can purge my “just in case” clothes and whatnot. I think we all need to to this from time to time, and I think the sympbolism of the Jewish High Holy Days add to this. You’re reflecting on the year you’ve just had, making plans for the year ahead, why not start out new with the old stuff thrown away. It’s a great metaphor, and great because now you can go get some spiffy new clothes! :)

    • Nina
      September 6, 2012

      I’m glad you liked the metaphor! There is something just natural to me about reflecting on ALL areas of my life this time of year.

  17. Jack
    September 5, 2012

    Hi Nina,

    I am not ready for the chagim, not this year. Too much going on and not enough time to figure it out. Kids had a fight the other day about where to build our Sukkah.

    My oldest has decided that since his Bar Mitzvah is next year he should be making the decisions. Add to that my daughter who at 8 years-old has decided that she is in charge of Abba’s closet and life gets to be all sorts of fun.

    Anyhoo, your closet purge got me thinking because I just got rid of a bunch of old suits. I rarely have to wear them anymore so it seemed a shame to take up the space in the closet.

    In the midst of the purge my daughter found the tux I wore in college and when she found out I can’t fit into it any more told me that if I fast for more than one day I might figure out how to get back in.

    Aren’t kids fun. ;)
    Jack recently posted..1 Foolproof Way To Become a Better WriterMy Profile

    • Nina
      September 6, 2012

      I think you can feel satisfied with your kids’ positive Jewish identity when they’re fighting over where to put the sukkah. I feel the same way about my kids when they fight over who “gets to” take off the challah cover. Gold stars for US. ;)

  18. Selena Azugy
    September 5, 2012

    Love the Old Navy dresses… How cute are your girls?!?
    I really understand your “closet purge” journey. I did a monster huge purge before moving to my current dream home. It was a pretty big emotional rollercoaster of a ride. I finally let go of most of my worldly purchases from my ship travels… each reminded me of my amazing adventures BUT didn’t fit(almost 11 lb babies will do that to the hips & waistline), were out of style or didn’t fit my lifestyle anymore (hhmmm, formal gown while making dinner for kids? okay, maybe for shabbat;)).

    I also buy too many jeans and not enough tops. What’s up with that?!? ;)
    Also, would LOVE to hear about your spiritual reflections for the High Holidays and totally loving your blogs new vibe.

    • Nina
      September 6, 2012

      Selena,

      You bring up a good point about how hard it is to let go of items that remind you of a certain time and place, or things you bought on certain trips that would be hard to replace. In THE HAPPINESS PROJECT Gretchen Rubin has a whole chapter about cleaning out her closet. She recommends keeping one or two items like that for sentimental purposes but giving up the rest.

      And jeans! I have more jeans than tops because I’m smaller on the bottom than the top so it’s easier to buy pants.

      • Selena Azugy
        September 6, 2012

        Haha! Funny you mentioning the Happiness Project! It’s what gave me the big push to get rid of most of my “ship” stuff while keeping only a few sentimental pieces. That book is packed full of awesomeness ;)

  19. Renee A. Schuls-Jacobson
    September 5, 2012

    Another thing I have never understood: short sleeve turtlenecks. Whaaat? I have several, and I never wear them. I, too, just did a big ole purge. I feel I have just the right amount of jeans and, like you, a surplus of black everything — but I love my black Ponti pants. So kill me.

    That said, I know what I’m wearing to temple. A simple wrap dress that I found on sale last year.

    Do you think it will still be 5 skillion degrees? Because then I’m screwed. :-)

    • Nina
      September 6, 2012

      I know–when the holidays are early the weather piece of it is tricky. I like to be modest at synagogue, but when it’s 80 degrees out that can leads to a schvitzy experience.

  20. Renee A. Schuls-Jacobson
    September 5, 2012

    Wait, why didn’t comment love work? Invalid character at line 31, column 35. Huh?

    • Nina
      September 6, 2012

      No idea! Let me know next week if it doesn’t work again next week.

  21. J-Bo
    September 5, 2012

    I have also been closet-purging lately. Some rules I’m learning:

    1. Don’t buy anything unless I absolutely LOVE it. Otherwise I won’t wear it.

    2. With few exceptions, don’t buy shirts at used clothing stores- I will usually end up just donating them back to the store.

    3. Don’t have more than 2 pairs of jeans. I will always only wear my 2 favorites. (really, probably just my ONE favorite).

    4. Get rid of anything I haven’t worn in a year or more.

    5. Don’t buy heels that are just a LITTLE too big. Heels must fit exactly or they are bad news.

    • Nina
      September 6, 2012

      Great rules! I once heard Oprah say vis-a-vis shopping, “If you don’t know, don’t.” I think your #1 rule is similar. It’s a good one!

  22. Galit Breen
    September 5, 2012

    Oh I did one of these this year, too!

    Love your lessons learned and hooray for new clothes!
    Galit Breen recently posted..Mother Daughter JournalsMy Profile

  23. Melissa Crytzer Fry
    September 5, 2012

    One of the advantages to having NO wardrobe is the lack of need for closet thinning! Since I began freelancing in 2001, my clothing purchases are about nill. Shorts and t-shirts daily. Uh-huh. I know – a true fashion statement!

    The girls are ADORABLE!
    Melissa Crytzer Fry recently posted..Take a Rat for a RideMy Profile

  24. Natalia Sylvester
    September 5, 2012

    I recently purged my closet, too, though not quite as thoroughly as you did. I also learned that I have way too much black, and even donated a dress that I bought at Loehmann’s two years ago (for such a great price!!!) but that I never wore once. The tags were still on and everything. It’d survived many closet purges before, so the fact that I finally admitted to myself that it was time to let this one go is a big step for me!

    My husband and I will be moving soon (no idea where yet) but in the meantime I’ve been preparing by purging my closet, bookshelves, and magazines. I’m SO excited to declutter and simplify my life.
    Natalia Sylvester recently posted..Down the Stretch They GoMy Profile

    • Nina
      September 6, 2012

      I love to declutter. It’s a wonder I ever buy anything considering how much I like NOT having things. It’s weird. I’m weird!

  25. Barbara Forte Abate
    September 6, 2012

    As a perpetual closet cleaner-outter myself, I can never understand why it takes so long sometimes to acknowledge those ridiculous items that somehow miss the purge year after year. I’ve decided it must be that I’ve allowed the imaginings of my writing mind to creep a little too far into the doings of my wardrobe. Why else would I own outfits perfect for roaming the Scottish moors, joining an African Safari, breakfasting at Tiffany’s, etc, when I have yet to do any of these things?

    Bahahahah #4!!! Now there’s a question for the ages. (Although it’s not so funny that I have purchased and continue to own such nonsensical garments.)

    Thoroughly loved this romp through your piles, Nina :-D

    • Nina
      September 6, 2012

      Barbara, I like this idea of how we hold on to certain items because it makes us think we will do certain things, or even that we ARE certain things.

      So great to see you here by the way. :)

  26. Helga
    September 6, 2012

    Funny, I found myself cleaning out my closet this week too. There’s something about Sept. that motivates me to get projects done I otherwise ignore. This time I went beyond 1)”Do I love it? and 2)”Is it flattering?” and added 3)”Have I worn it in the past year?” and 4)”Do I need it?” I threw out a myriad of black sweaters that all looked about the same when on and white shirts I previously thought you could never own enough of. I picked out my 2 favorites in each category. The result is that I can now see what I own and look forward to wearing each item. After reading your post I went back and purged 2 cashmere sweaters – both short-sleeved. You are absolutely right. What a strange and unwearable concept!

    • Nina
      September 6, 2012

      Helga, September is back to school time too, and even if you don’t have kids there’s something about seeing those notebooks and pencils in the front of the stores that speaks of “projects.”

      I like the four questions to ask while going through your stuff. Very sensible! The “do I need it” is a great addition. Really, how many black sweaters do we need???

  27. Go Jules Go
    September 6, 2012

    I loved this post, Nina! You always make me laugh out loud (the blazers really got me) and I JUST recently did a major closet purge. So satisfying.

    My problem is kind of the opposite – I buy for specific occasions, and often it’s not good for every day wear, or only feels special the first two times I wear it. I’m always surprised by what items turn out to be my favorites; usually it’s a random tank top or something I got for no particular reason. (Current fav has dolphins on the front and reads: “Explore life’s porpoise.”)
    Go Jules Go recently posted..How to Fold a Fitted Sheet by BabsMy Profile

    • Nina
      September 7, 2012

      LOL re: that tank top. It sounds perfect. ;)

  28. J-Bo
    September 6, 2012

    Hey, I know you’re not into blog awards. (I’m not either- just trying to find new ways to connect with bloggers). Just wanted to let you know I linked you in my latest post as one of my faves :)
    J-Bo recently posted..7 Facts, 15 BlogsMy Profile

    • Nina
      September 7, 2012

      Thank you so much! I saw the post and I do appreciate. That’s actually one of the nicer looking award badges. Don’t you think?

  29. Alarna Rose Gray
    September 6, 2012

    Finally, I made it here! Totally with you on #4. As for #1, sounds like you’d fit right in in Melbourne – according to my mother, everyone here dresses like Penguins (the last time I took her shopping in Melbourne, she said that to a shop assistant…it was only a little bit embarrassing!).

    My own rule of thumb when shopping – if it’s not love at first sight, it won’t be worn…Fun post :)
    Alarna Rose Gray recently posted..Give-ourselves-a-break WeekMy Profile

    • Nina
      September 7, 2012

      My grandmother used to announce in stores that “everything here is junk.” So maybe penguins isn’t so bad in comparison. ;)

  30. katharine Owens
    September 7, 2012

    I love a good closet clean out. I have some blazers that even as a professor I never wear. I thought I was supposed to buy them because that’s what adults wore to work… but all of that has changed in the last decades. It must be the influence of Working Girl and other 80s movies that made me think women wore “suits”. :0)
    katharine Owens recently posted..THIRST: Episode 8My Profile

    • Nina
      September 7, 2012

      I think you’re right! I was with a friend yesterday who told me she also got married in 2000 and also wore frumpy suits to her wedding showers, etc. Must have been what we wore–new in the work force and all that at the time. I took one of the nicer (aka expensive) blazers to my tailor so see if it would be wearable after taking it in. She refused to do it. Said it would still be outdated. She’s a great tailor. Honest!

  31. J Steinberg (@DEHausfrau)
    September 7, 2012

    I feel like you could be describing my closet and I’m with you on #10. That’s why I went out with a local (inexpensive) personal stylist to find SOMETHING to wear for HHD – and we succeeded. Still don’t have any shirts to wear but at least I know my problem…

    • Nina
      September 7, 2012

      One of these days I will do the stylist thing!

  32. Maggie S.
    September 7, 2012

    I am extremely bad at closet purge. I maim my wardrobe. Maybe if I had a few tequila shots, I could get it together better?
    Maggie S. recently posted..My PoliticsMy Profile

  33. ann ginsburgh hofkin
    September 8, 2012

    Fabulous piece. This inspires me…to THINK about cleaning out my closet….and to keep thinking about it. I am almost 69, and I can see quite a few of those “too short” dresses in there!

    • Nina
      September 8, 2012

      Ha! Well, you look great! I say keep them!

  34. Olga
    September 10, 2012

    Nina,

    It’s so funny that you mention black. I don’t know what it is about black (is it because I live in New York?!) but every time I go shopping I bring home something black! So, over the summer an old friend visited me and we somehow got our husbands occupied and babysitting lined up. So we went shopping. The first 3 stores we went to, I announced proudly that I am not allowed to get anything black. But guess what, by the 4th store I gave up and got a beautiful black top which I will probably wear non-stop this fall! I guess it can’t be helped.

    Yours
    Olga
    Olga recently posted..What would you like to read about?My Profile

  35. Carrie @Tempo Life Coaching
    September 14, 2012

    I find that I don’t purge my closet, otherwise I’m left with the sad reality that all I wear are workout clothes and 2 skirt outfits for my one day of work at the school (not both on the same day, of course). But now that I’ve read your post and all the comments, I’m kind of feeling like I want to clean out my closet. I’ll see if I still feel this way after the weekend :). Did you really color coordinate your clothes when you went to Europe? That’s awesome!

    ~Carrie
    PS. Your girls are adorable

  36. Jolina Petersheim
    September 18, 2012

    I’m right there with ya! I’ve got clothing for nursing and clothing for being pregnant–the only problem is that I must always be pregnant in the winter, or I’m not going to have any maternity wear.

  37. Heather
    September 19, 2012

    Oh how I can relate. Four babies, a huge variety in sizes of clothes. I did my big purge last year, after I’d lost a bunch of weight (finally). Had to laugh about the black pants and 1998. I had to buy a pair of black pants last night for an event today and I truly did have the same thought. Back then, in college, putting on a pair of black pants was how we dressed up. Now the girls wear sequined mini dresses to the college bars. Huh? I guess in 12 years they’ll be purging their closets of sequins.
    Heather recently posted..What’s My Name Again?My Profile

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