Holding On To The Past

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I become emotionally attached to clothing. I think many of us do – I surely see it when I do closet clean-outs and wardrobe makeovers. People who cling to dresses three sizes too small, jeans with zipper ankles, Doc Martens, concert tee shirts because they remind the owner of a happy occasion.

With a max of four possible weeks left in this pregnancy, I have started packing up some of my maternity clothes. I know a few pieces will still be worn a couple weeks after the baby, but I packed up the items from the warmer months, or the pieces that just won't be likely to be worn any time soon (hello skirt suit and tankini).

My plan was to sell that which I didn't really love, and carefully pack that which I did in the attic. I try to inventory that which goes in the attic – I make a list which goes at the top of the container for easy reference, and label the outside of the container so I don't have to yank open everything to find last summer's shorts.

Well a friend found out recently that she is pregnant and due in June. I just can't let these nice clothes sit in an attic until whenever, if ever I get pregnant again. So I re-invetorized my maternity wardrobe, not separating for sale. I figure I will let her use whatever works for her, and then afterwards decide what to sell.

As my husband slept, I put my pregnancy insomnia to good use and locked myself in my closet (oh yeah baby, I so need to take a picture of my new closet for you guys – I can sit in it!) and re-went through all my maternity clothes that will not be in current rotation. Some I hardly realized I even owned, some I won't miss (hello white jeans from Ann Taylor Loft that seemed to grow a size with every washing), and some… well some almost made me tear up.

As with regular wardrobes, there are just some pieces you purchase without much of a thought that become a major part of your life. For me, it was my pink print matte jersey dress from Motherhood.

It was August, I went to Rehoboth Beach with my mom and sister for our annual girls' getaway. We stopped at the Motherhood Maternity outlet. I have despised maternity clothing stores my entire pregnancy and just looked at the over crowded racks of acrylic sweaters and wanted to run as fast as I could. My sister however started digging through racks, trying to find great style at a great bargain. She came across this dress. It was my size, and it was only $9.99. I am not one for loud prints, but I decided to try it.

It fit, and it was cute.

Two months later, it still fit and still was cute.

If it weren't 40 degrees outside, it would most likely still be worn, still fit and still be cute.

This dress was an easy go-to piece for me. It flattered my pregnant figure, it was cheery colors, it didn't itch or bind but made me look appropriate for baby showers, nights out, work, and anything where yoga pants weren't allowed. Every time I wore it, I received compliments from strangers. People told me I was a cute pregnant person, and my skin was glowing. Each time I put it on, my husband would smile and tell me how beautiful I was pregnant.

It's so tempting to keep it in the closet… maybe I can still carry it off with a cardigan and leggings? Maybe it would still fit post-baby? Should I really lend it to a friend – what if it gets damaged?

Then I think of those tapered jeans, sequined tanks and fuzzy snowflake sweaters in the closets of my clients and friends. Those pieces that people hang on to from when they were smaller, younger, more daring, more sociable. They hardly ever see the light of day, and if the owner does get down to that size or back to that lifestyle – the item no longer is flattering or stylish. This dress, which got me through so much of my pregnancy may be something I find utterly repulsive in a couple of years. This dress, which brought me confidence and happiness could provide joy for another mother-to-be instead of collecting dust in my closet or attic.

Some times I think about clothes I no longer own and wish I still had them. Why did I get rid of my The Smiths tee shirt? Those perfectly worn vintage jeans from Moondoggies in College Park, that ivory Victorian lace blouse I used to wear with just a simple bra (oh yeah, the early '90s – but I could sport it now with a camisole!)? Then I remember – I got rid of them because it was time. I know I don't donate and toss willy-nilly, so there must have been a good reason. Maybe they were damaged, maybe they went out of fashion, maybe my memories of the garment are better than the actual thing.

Maybe we all are holding onto the past in our closets. Last night I took everything from my old closet and moved it into my new one, switching our dry cleaning hangers for proper ones, having everything hang in the right direction, and re-examining that which I felt deserved precious closet real estate. I ended up removing about five items that just were not proper style or quality. The year is ending, just a couple of weeks and we will be in 2009. What in your closet is not worthy of your new year self?

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. Hi Allie, hope you’re feeling well. I totally love your blog. I read it at work while I’m on terminal hold.
    I secretly want to go shopping with you. Ha!

  2. it’s four years later and my friends and I STILL pass around each others maternity clothes for whoever needs them. And when I see a pregnant friend in something of mine it brings back fond memories!
    Keep that print dress!!!!

  3. Hey Allie,
    I haven’t visited your blog since becoming pregnant way back last Feb. Little did I know that we were pregnant for most of the same time. Big congrats to you! I’m 4 weeks postpartum and in that frustrating stage in which maternity is too nig and I don’t fit my regular clothes.

  4. What a truly inspiring closet-purging post, lady! I need to dig into an end-of-year purge. It’s WAY too crowded in there, and you’re right: Hanging onto items that MIGHT get used sometime maybe in the future is futile. Gotta live in the now. 😉

  5. My husband always gets mad at me because I use “couple” incorrectly. He says it’s two, I think of it as a few and I need to watch myself 🙂

  6. This is probably a depressing thought but be prepared to be wearing maternity clothes for longer than 2 weeks post birth. Best to be forewarned?

  7. My favorite subject!!! I get emotionally attached too and go through the same methodical, logical process as you. It seems that you are not ready to give up the print, maternity dress. Why not just keep it a little bit longer and give to your friend later?

    When I visited NC last month, every time I see one of my friends she is wearing something I gave her. It always looks so great on her and I forgot about it long ago. So either way you go, your good memories can be revisited when you see your friend wearing your dress.

    Can’t wait to “meet” the baby girl!

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