Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Guilt and Duty Wear by Jeannie Watt

I had a great summer. Instead of traveling or having fun vacationing, my husband and I stayed home and painted everything that didn’t move—if you don’t count the dog. She did get painted a few times, but only because she’s overly curious. We painted the house, the shop, the barn. It was an accomplishment, but I managed an even greater accomplishment this summer…I finally got rid of my guilt and duty clothes.

Surely you’re familiar with guilt and duty wear—the not-quite-right items of clothing that someone you love gave to you as a gift. The clothes that looked great on you in the store in front of those deceptive skinny mirrors, but not so great when you got home and faced reality mirrors—or your husband, who gave you that strained “okay-y-y-y” look. The clothes that you’re going to diet down into. The perfectly good clothing you wear, because, well, it’s perfectly good, even though you feel dowdy when you wear it. The expensive mistakes, the cheap mistakes, the I’m-sure-gigantic-flange-sleeves-with-shoulder-pads-will-come-back-into-style mistakes. (They never did, although I waited for a good twenty years.)

Why did I hang onto guilt and duty for so long? Because I’m frugal. Because I might have needed those things someday. (Halloween? A branding?) Because, even though pale beige makes me look like a plague victim, the jacket in question is beautifully made and was purchased at a spectacular savings. And I might need it someday. It’s so difficult for me to move past that one.

But I have. I’m free. Now I can start accumulating new guilt and duty wear…just kidding. I’ve finally convinced myself that wearing mistakes or letting them hang in my closet will not give me my money back. It’ll only remind me that I wasted the money. Out of sight, out of mind.  But I did discover one good use for a few of my guilt and duty items before I sent the rest away to charity—they make excellent painting clothes.

Do you have things you keep out of G&D? (Guilt and duty?)  Or are you one of the lucky ones who can purge freely? My daughter donates one item of clothing for each new item she buys—the price of living in a studio apartment. I haven’t quite reached that stage yet, but I’m getting just a wee bit closer. How about you?

34 comments:

Linda Warren said...

Jeannie,
I have a closet full of G&D clothes. Keep waiting for those shoulder pads to come back in, but by then the ones I'm saving will be outdated (they are now). But I'm still hanging on to them. Time to clean out closets, which I did about six weeks ago for the fire victims in our area. But I mean really clean, like my prom dress I wore in high school. It's nice and stored away in a bag, but when would I EVER use that again.LOL It's supposed to get up to 109 this week. Think I'll wait until winter. LOL

Rula Sinara said...

It wasn't until last year that I finally purged my closet of the 1980's. Mind you, I graduated from highschool in 1986, so still having clothing items (shoulder pad galore...I looooved blazers with shoulder pads...set that off with permed hair clasped back with an enormous bow) from back then was scary. I mean, even if I dieted down to my size back then, three kids kinda changes your hip diameter LOL! And the look at my age would just be...wrong.

I purged more this year (always painful because clothes bring back memories) but I still have a few sentimental items that I'll never wear. You could say my closet has a dedicated museum corner. Accessories are a tough one too...scarves, belts, jewelry etc... They're small but they can pile up. Like you, I'm always thinking halloween costumes for the kids :). I did use one of my 1980's belts for a pirate costume once ;)

And don't get me started on my G&D house gifts sitting in another closet. You know, the gifts you get where the thought decorating your home with them makes you feel just a bit panicky LOL. Not good when the giver is a frequent visitor!

Debra Salonen said...

Twice a year, a local women's group has something called The Frock Swap. You bring your nicer wardrobe rejects and get to browse through other women's nicer wardrobe rejects. If you find something that suits you, you then make a donation comparable to what you'd pay for the some amount of stuff at GoodWill.

I've found some treasures and I've gotta rid of some very nice G&D stuff. All the money raised goes to local charities and all the leftover clothes go to the Women's Shelter.

Love your outfit in the photo, BTW. Very you!!!

Deb

JV said...

I'm lousy with guilt and duty clothes, or whatever you want to call them. My particular weakness is clothing that fit me when I was x lbs. thinner, and I'm sure that keeping them in my closet is going to inspire me to get back to that size. (I wish!)

Plus, my mother cannot stop giving me, my DH, and my DD clothes, despite the fact that she almost never gives me or DD anything that we can or will wear. She gives DD clothes that are at least a size or two too large, and she gives me clothes that more suit her tastes: big honking flowers or glitter or some other feature that I find hideous. I've asked her not to do it, begged her, but she says she wants to and is okay with it if I don't like them. She says that, but...then she asks me about every day and a half if I've worn it yet. Aaargh!

Yet I hate to just pitch them directly from the gift box or shopping bag into the giveaway pile. That seems ungrateful somehow. So, they sit in the bottom of my closet, in my laundry room, on the floor -- everywhere -- and pile up!

Ellen Hartman said...

You've inspired me, Jeannie!

This line, in particular: I’ve finally convinced myself that wearing mistakes or letting them hang in my closet will not give me my money back. It’ll only remind me that I wasted the money.

When I get home, I'm getting rid of the gold jeans. No more guilt.

No, you don't really want to know why I thought I would wear the gold jeans. And yes, they really are metallic gold. They sparkle.

Oh, and the gray skirt. That one is leaving with the tags intact.

Rula--I actually still wear some of my college clothes, nothing with shoulder pads, though. I will neither confirm nor deny whether I still own one of those big bow hair clips.

Mary Brady said...

G&D stuff, yeah. I keep purging my closet and those kinds of things keep showing up. Glad I'm tenacious, but so far the clothes are winning. If we were a clothing optional society, I'd still find a way to fill my closets with stuff I didn't, couldn't, wouldn't... Thanks for bringing this up, Jeannie, so we know we're not alone.

Rula Sinara said...

Confession: Ellen, if big bow hair clips come back in style, I know I won't be able to resist.

You'll need to post a pic of the gold jeans before you get rid of them!!!

Oh, and the one thing my DH and I can't get rid of (so we bag/box them and put 'em in storage) are T-shirts from places we've been. That would almost be like throwing pictures away.

Jeannie Watt said...

Linda--109? Oy! I'd wait for winter, too. You might consider putting that prom dress up on ebay if it's mint. I've actually sold a few things that were very nice. In general, though, I bag it up and send it to charity.

Guilty secret--I love shoulder pads! I wish they'd come back.

Virginia said...

I have G&D clothes myself that I just can't part with. I hang onto things that I might get to wear again. I really need to do some major purging. I keep telling myself I might loose some weight and be able to wear it again.

Kristina Mathews said...

I don't have a lot of G & D clothes, I tend to purge those pretty regularly. But I have a houseful of gifts, mostly from my mom who just doesn't get that I have a completely different sense of style or my kids have passed the everything pirates stage three years ago. I hang on to the stuff totally out of guilt until the resentment gets to me. Resentment that I have no place to put all this stuff and the resentment that she still sees me as who she thought I'd be and not who I am.

I hope I don't do that to my own kids!

Jeannie Watt said...

Hi Rula--
Ah, the 80s purge. I completed that a couple years ago. It was less painful than I anticipated, even though I love the shoulder pads. I have memory clothing, too, that I won't part with. I still have the costume I wore in my ninth grade play. (It doesn't take up much room.) I also have a pair of velvet jeans with a button fly from the 1970s. Hugs on the G&D household items. That's a sticky wicket to be sure.

Ellen Hartman said...

Rula said, Confession: Ellen, if big bow hair clips come back in style, I know I won't be able to resist.

First, why resist a style so uniformly and exuberantly awesome?

Second, this obviously also requires a return to the perm because big bows really need to be offset by big hair.

Jeannie--I'm still trying to imagine you in shoulder pads. What a fun blog! Next time, more pictures. ;-)

Jeannie Watt said...

Hey Deb--I want to go to a Frock Swap! It would so perfectly fit my needs. I have good stuff that just isn't me (and I don't know why I ever thought it was me, lol.) The outfit in the photo is one of my favorites. The sunglasses belonged to my grandfather and date from the 40s, I think. The frames are 14K gold and you just don't see that much any more.

Jeannie Watt said...

Ellen--I couldn't find pictures at 9:45 last night, but next time I'll have some. (Perhaps my next blog will be on procrastination, but I started teaching this week and that's my excuse.) By the way, if we have big hair, then we may have to pank it down so people at the movies behind us can see the screen, right?

Jeannie Watt said...

Hi JV--Putting the clothing aside to eliminate later is part of the process when you receive items from someone you care about. A bit of an aging process, followed by a few duty wearings and then, gee, did the washer eat it?

Also--Like you, I've finally realized that if I keep my skinny clothes, they'll be way dated by the time I lose all that weight and get back to where I was in my twenties (aka it isn't going to happen). I have managed to let those go.

Jeannie Watt said...

Ellen--If you wore the gray shirt with the gold pants you would be supporting my alma mater. The University of Idaho colors are silver and gold--from the lyrics of the Idaho state athem "...silver and gold in the sunlight blaze and romance lies in her name..." Buy me a drink at Nationals and I'll sing the whole song. Anyway, all sports teams for the U of I were sentenced to wear mustard yellow and gray back in the days when metallic fabrics were not easy to come by.

Jeannie Watt said...

Mary--How do those items keep showing up? I just found three more last night. Are they multiplying. Lol at still having those clothes in a clothing optional society.

Jeannie Watt said...

Rula--I have giant boxes of running shirts from all the races dh, the kids and I have run. I'm hoping to make (ten) quilts out of them. Someday. Yeah...

Hey--I want to see you in a hair bow. And Ellen in gold jeans. I think I'll have to put out a call for photos for my next blog (dibs!).

Jeannie Watt said...

Virginia--Trust me, I know exactly what you're saying. Especially the diet down into the clothes part. My husband can do this. Me, not so much.

Jeannie Watt said...

Kritina--It's so difficult when someone you care about has a totally different idea about what you need than you do. Yes, they gave it to you for the right reason, even if it's the wrong thing, thus the guilt. That's what big storage boxes are for until it's safe to purge.

Helen Brenna said...

I've promised myself that I'm going to do some major closet purging before the snow flies, and this was exactly what I needed to read today, Jeannie.

What I have the biggest problem hanging onto is the kids' old stuff. Can't wait for them to get their own homes so I can carry them each a truckload of their own keepsakes!

Darlene Gardner said...

Good topic, Jeannie! I regularly give away boxes of stuff. That's because my mom is constantly giving me things I don't really want. But she means well so I take it. Recently she showed up with kitchen stuff the kids might want for their college apartments. Candles, serving trays with frilly patterns, deviled egg plates, etc. It was like she thought they were going to throw fancy dinner parties! We all had a laugh over that. Now I have more stuff for charity.

Kaelee said...

Blush ~ I so need to purge stuff from my closets etc. We got big black garbage bins this year and when we got them I vowed I was going to throw an extra bag in every week. We have managed to throw out some stuff but there is a lot more to get through. It doesn't help that our basement is full of stuff from my parents, his parents and my uncles and his uncles. It's so hard to purge memories.

Love your outfit. Congratulations on getting all that painting done. I bet you are glad it's over with for a while.

Tammy Yenalavitch said...

Last year I purged my closet, I filled up 28 giant trash bags and donated it all. Everything that was too small, too old, out of style or I did not like it. I kept a few sentimental items that could fit in one small box. Now, it is so much easier to find what I want to wear each day,

Jeannie Watt said...

Helen--I still have the baby clothes...I also have a farm set and Harry Potter Legos. I have managed to let most of the other stuff go, but it was hard. I, too, plan on delivering a lot of "keepsakes" to the children when they settle. Good luck with the purge!

Rogenna Brewer said...

Jeannie, I have a closet like that :) It was worse a few years ago. I did have some of those, never going to fit, twenty-year-old with the tag still on outfits. Now I'm pretty good about culling every year.

Jeannie Watt said...

Darlene--I love that your mom sent fancy stuff for the college apartments. (Maybe she had some stuff to purge, too, and that seemed like a good way to do it.) I had a friend who couldn't throw anything away, but she could give it to me to throw away. Kind of funny. I was the middleman.

Jeannie Watt said...

Kaelee--Memories are so hard to part with, although technically it's the items that spark the memories you're parting with. Even though I tell myself that it's the memories not the items, I still hang onto a lot of stuff. Good luck with those black bins, but remember, if it makes you feel good, you have room for it, you remember you own it (sometimes I'm surprised at what I find in the basement) and can find it if you need it, then I say no harm in keeping it.

Jeannie Watt said...

Tammy--Twenty-eight bags? Now that's a purge! I now have the same experience when I'm getting ready for work--it's a lot easier without all the clothes I don't wear clogging up the closet.

Jeannie Watt said...

Hey Rogenna--Culling every year is a great habit and one I plan on fostering in my own closet. I also have a few pristine with tag items. I finally realized that if the tag is still on a year later, then I doubt I'll ever put that garment on my body.

linda s said...

First, I think there is a law about being able to wear the clothes you wore in college... Ellen! That's impressive.
Five years ago I gave away everything in my closet that didn't fit or was never worn and tossed what was worn out, except my wedding dress which was a mini so it doesn't take a lot of room. Since I hate shopping, I still have a mostly empty closet.

marybelle said...

I tend to hang onto everything, because you just never know. I had a big clean out a while ago now & then of course I needed things I discarded. I learned my lesson. If I have the space, just put it away.

msullivan said...

Jeannie, great blog! You've inspired me. It's time to clear out the pants I will NEVER be slim enough to wear again, no matter how much I like them!

Snookie said...

I lived in shorts and t-shirts. Nothing really fits anymore, but I still kept the t-shirts. Someday (I keep telling my self) I will make a quilt out of the old t-shirts! Huh, I hate sewing so when I really think about it, I know it will never happen, but it's a good excuse to keep those old t-shirts that no longer fit, but I loved to wear!

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