Media forecasts for the fashion industry will tell you that post-COVID, people will want to keep wearing sweatpants and they will be eager to dress up (one NYTimes columnist claims to ‘long for painful high heels’!). My current fashion question is different; cleaning out my closet with retirement in mind, I know that going forward, I can be dressed for comfort 90% of the time.
Since I have two closets worth of clothes stuffed into one closet, the clothes I already own can work for future symphonies, ballets, bat mitzvahs, weddings and graduation parties, and in very rare circumstances, a business meeting… much better for the environment to use what I have, and I am sure I will find a better way to spend the money that used to go to achieve my desired effect at the office.
Even though dressing from my closet eliminated the almost limitless options of buying a new wardrobe, the ‘keep or donate’ decision created an uncomfortable internal dialog about how I want to be seen. Holding up each item for consideration, I saw myself fitting into one of two stereotypes – well-dressed bougie lady or aging hippie. As you can see from the picture of the clothes I am donating, what I will give away is pretty boring. The keepers are still mostly corporate and skew bougie, so it is likely bougie lady is what people will see … anyone that even looks at me, since older white women are famously invisible.
Cleaning out my closet was my first exercise in realizing that one of the freedoms of retirement is being able to define myself in superficial ways. I do intend to reinvent aspects of myself in retirement and bougie lady isn’t part of the vision but I will go with it. As this stage of my life proceeds, I am interested to see how I evolve – Will I be able to toss another half of my closet in a year or two? How long will I go without buying new clothes? Maybe I will start to use up my large collection of fabric to create a new fashion identity.