It had been a long day. Sally was ready to go home. She hopped into a yellow cab. It sped up the West Side Highway, past Chelsea Piers, (Sally fondly remembered those morning runs by Chelsea Piers in her good ol’ Manhattan days), past the Circle Line Cruises, (Sally always meant to do that, but somehow never got around to it), and it zoomed up the highway. The window was opened just a crack, enough to let in a gentle breeze. Sally listened to the radio as Stevie Nicks sang Landslide. She gazed out the window, and as Stevie sang about changes, and the yellow cab zoomed up the highway, Sally looked up at a billboard: It pictured a yellow sports car zooming up a city street, and announced in booming billboard letters, “This is your future.”
Sally had a nagging feeling that she needed to let go of the past somehow, to clear it away. She wanted to zoom off into the future in a shiny new yellow sports car. She decided to start with her wardrobe, to go through it, bit by bit. She would be bolder this time--out with old, to allow in the new. Climb a mountain and turn around.
On her next free day, Sally opened the curtains to let the sunshine in. She grabbed a big chunk of clothing from her closet, put it on the garment rack, and started trying everything on. She looked in the mirror and swiveled this way and that. “What’s with the model stance?”, Sally thought. Oh well, no one was watching.
The time had come for brutal honesty. For each garment, Sally asked these three questions: Question One: Do I love it? What is love? Love is a strong word. Out went the Rebecca Taylor floral print camisole that mom got Sally at TJ Maxx back home and had sent in a care package. There was nothing wrong with it, it looked good on Sally actually, but love is a mysterious thing. Question Two: Is it flattering? “Oy vey. This really is brutal.”, Sally thought. Sally had lost some weight and that weight showed no signs of coming back. The scale had not budged in two years. A boatload of too-big skirts and pants would have to be altered in stages. Question Three: Is it my image? Out went the teal Catherine Malandrino sweater, whose knit floral detail at the neckline had become somehow too cute for Sally. Sally was growing up. Changes.
Sally called the Salvation Army for a pick up. They informed her that the next available pick up time was two months away. Fine. She would make the trip over herself. There was a lot to donate. She started stuffing everything in her old-lady grocery cart. Oops, it didn’t fit. Sally grabbed her carry-on rolling suitcase. Nope, it still didn’t fit. “This is ridiculous!!”, Sally thought. She went into the hall closet, got a ladder, and took down the large rolling suitcase, the one that she and her family used last year to go on a two week excursion to Japan. Sally stuffed that suitcase to the gills. She was glad it all fit.
By now it was time to pick up the munchkin from school, big rolling suitcase in tow. Sally figured they could go to the Salvation Army together—it is never too early to learn about giving. Mama found the munchkin in the school cafeteria, sitting next to two boys. “Mama!! I want you to meet Sebastian!”, Munchkin said, pointing at Sebastian, “Look! Look at his toy!” Sebastian had a plastic pipe in his mouth. He blew on it and a little plastic ball floated up above the pipe and balanced up in the air. “Wow, that is so cool!”, Mama said. Another boy said, “Yeah! Sebastian is a genius for it!” The kids were beaming. Mama wanted to hold onto this moment. Kids grow up fast, they grow out of their clothes. Children get older.
Sally and Munchkin hopped on the Bx3 bus headed toward the George Washington bridge. They zoomed off together on that bus, past streets called Kingsbridge Road and Sedgwick Avenue. And as they passed each stop, Sally imagined who the girl would be to wear that Nanette Lepore sleeveless top she was giving away, all hook and eyes up the front, a tie up the back. Who would wear those brown Italian leather boots that were too narrow for Sally no matter how much the shoe maker tried to stretch them? Who would be the lucky recipient? Jenny? Pequena Jenny--long brown mane, curvy booty, big smile. She would wear that Nanette Lepore top and those Italian leather boots and her mama would say, “Que linda!”.
They got off at University Avenue . From the directions that Sally printed out so carefully, all they would have to do would be to walk southwest on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and a few twists and turns would leave the munchkin and the mama right where they needed to be, at the Salvation Army. Which way is southwest? Sally and munchkin set out. Even with directions, Sally usually went the exact opposite direction she was supposed to go. After some walking, Sally asked some teenagers, “Which way to West Fordham Road?” The one toting a basketball pointed in the opposite direction, “That way, Miss.” Turn around.
“Here we are!”, mama said. Up to the front desk mama and munchkin went, “I have some things to donate?” “Ok, sweetie, “ said the lady at the front counter, “Just go in back and tell the boys. They’ll take care of it for you.” Sally noticed that the Salvation Army was very brand consistent. It looked like the Salvation Army back home, in Maine. It had the same florescent lighting, the same distinctive smell, (different from the Goodwill), and the same clothes. Only a few subtle differences made you realize you were in the Bronx, like a 3XL black hoodie with a picture of Biggie Smalls on the front, wearing shades, counting a wad of money, for example. But other than that, it could be anywhere.
“Hey, I have some stuff.”, said Sally. “Leave it here, I’ll go through it and give you a receipt.”, said the boy in back. “Ok, but I need the suitcase back.” Sally said. “Hey!”, she called out as he walked away, “It’s good stuff!!” It made Sally happy to give away all that good stuff. But she wasn’t finished.
The consignment shop was a little different from the Salvation Army. This was not just any consignment shop, though, but a very fancy consignment shop, on the Upper East side of Manhattan. There were no Biggie Smalls hoodies in sight. First up: An aubergine Burberry runway collection trench coat, hardly worn. Sally got it on triple mark down, such a deal. It was way too big and altering it would have compromised the design. It was a lost cause. And so it was up for inspection. The lady at the consignment shop gave it a quick once over. It was rejected. A tiny bleached out spot, the size of a pen mark, right by one of the buttons, did it in. The mark was covered from sight when the trench coat was buttoned. Sally had not noticed it before. Oh, well. Next up: A gold quilted Burberry runway collection trench coat in pristine condition. Here was another beautiful trench coat that swamped Sally’s petite frame. It passed. What a relief! And finally: A black leather jacket, another hasty Burberry bargain, that had never been worn because it made Sally look like she should be moon walking. Pass. Sally felt that two out of three ain’t bad.
Sally brought the rejected aubergine Burberry runway collection trench coat, hardly worn, to work. She handed it over to her coworker and said, “Try this on.” Her co-worker dutifully slid it on, and looked into the mirror. It fit perfectly. “Oh, wow, I love this!”, coworker exclaimed, “I was just thinking the other day how much I need a raincoat!” “It’s yours.”, said Sally, beaming. “But I feel I must pay you.”, coworker said. “Don’t pay me”, Sally said, “Pay it forward.”
Author's Note: Sally isn't the only one editing her wardrobe these days. Check out Lee Ferguson, illustrator extraordinaire, blogger for A Left Handed Life, as she takes us through her own wardrobe edit journey. She used the handy Everyday Glamour Wardrobe Edit Workbook to do it. You can too! On the right hand side bar of this blog, enter your name, email, and a brief message, and you will recieve a free link to the workbook, which automatically appears right on this blog.