by Judy Allen
My closet contains decades of fashion choices.
Yes, I own a skirt that I remember wearing to work in the 80s. It is a classic pleated wool plaid skirt that still works with a sweater and pair of boots. The big-shouldered sweaters and jackets of that era are long gone, but the skirt remains.
During the 90s, I was home with my children and was dressed comfortably most days. The t-shirts, sweaters, and jeans that I wore were given away long ago, but once a week I had the opportunity to ditch the jeans and dress for work when I volunteered at a Crisis Pregnancy Center. I remember one outfit that I really liked: a short brown corduroy skirt, brown turtleneck, knit vest and brown tights. I can’t bring myself to throw the skirt away, even though I haven’t worn it in decades.
The 2000s were the years that I taught at Community Bible Study, and when I was teaching I would make sure that I was dressed a step above the ubiquitous jeans. I have still have a number of pants and jackets that don’t get dusted off too often. If at all.
Now that I’m working at a high school, I look through my closet in search of pants, not jeans, and a sweater or jacket for a slightly more professional look. How many times have I skimmed over dated and slightly worn out sweaters? Too many.
I wonder why this stuff still hangs in my closet.
I could be lazy or indecisive or a pack-rat or worry that one of these days I’ll wish I still had that brown corduroy skirt. Perhaps.
More likely, however, the reason is that I miss those days, and throwing away the clothes I wore will further remove them from my memory.
The skirt that I still own from before kids reminds me of my working days, when life seemed relatively simple. Go to work, come home, enjoy the weekend. I’m sure it wasn’t quite like that, for memory has a way of losing track of the unpleasant occurrences. I remember, very well, having dinner with my husband at our favorite restaurant on Friday nights. We would relax, enjoy dinner and discuss our weeks. I probably wore nasty 80s clothes, but we made good memories.
My brown ensemble reminds me of my first steps out of the house and into ministry. During the years that I was home with three small children, there was a point at which I needed to do something – anything – and I had firmly decided to go back to work. That Sunday, in church, I felt God’s unmistakable call to volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center. Really? I called Monday morning, before I changed my mind, and was signed up to counsel women who were facing unplanned pregnancies. I’m not sure how that happened. After I was trained, a few hours a week added some purpose, challenge and some difficult, but adult, conversation to my days. That decision changed my life, and it’s only been in the last year that I’ve re-entered the paid work force.
One of these days, I will go through my closet and give or throw away my antique clothes. I’ll probably have to throw away some things that are so dated that even thrift stores wouldn’t be able to sell them. (Think big shouldered dresses.)
Cleansing my closet will raise memories of many events, feelings, challenges and stages of my life. I’ll remember some occasions with a smile, others with a slightly embarrassed laugh, and the wardrobe choices that triggered those thoughts can be safely given away. But some clothes will still take me back to times of celebrations of love, complete joy, and memorable fun.
The clothes that awaken memories such as those will take up space in my closet for a little while longer.
(Editors note: Pictures above are internet finds, not actual representations of what’s in Judy’s closet.)
Judy Allen is an Area Director with Community Bible Study, and she also writes and speaks with the goal of making the transformative truth of Jesus Christ more impactful in our daily lives. She blogs at connectingdotstogod.com and lives in the Chicago area with her husband and best friend, Dan.