A Womans Closet Seniors Today Issue 2

By Amber Harvey, MA

“It’s the Perfect suit to wear to a funeral, my friend Betty said. Or a graduation” Sue commented. “Charcoal goes anywhere” My friend Betty explained why she needed a suit for a funeral and Sue explained about her foster son’s graduation. They’re friends now. Betty got the suit. Sue also found a blue sheath dress she loves,

We were in the middle of a regular ritual called a “clothing exchange” at my house. I have been hosting these parties in my home for about twenty years. I ask guests to look through their closets for anything they haven’t worn in a long time and might never wear again (The commercial Clothier’s rule is, if you haven’t worn it in two years, move it out,) Book clubs are the rage but on another level clothing exchanges are a great way to care for the soul too.

Reasons vary for giving up your clothes; you may be wider in the girth, losing weight, a change from a downtown business style to a home business style, a new hair cut or hair colour. a divorce, a new relationship in your life, a new season like the wonderful spring we are enjoying this year, a trip, you name it, the reasons are as myriad as life. Clothes animate our beings.

Then there is the added blessing of no money having to change hands while shopping till you drop in the cozy atmosphere of a home! Ths is ficallv responsible behavious. What a great benefit!

This particular clothes exchange has gone the way of the 90’s cocooning trend. . It is a potluck dinner where we all bring food. we all partake in the set up, clean up and Serving. This creates an atmosphere where everyone can find their niche according to the day, mood, or current stress level: (The moon?) I love it, Everyone relaxes and makes themselves at home The food warms us up. Then the magic begins.

There are extra mirrors set up about the living room, (nice mirrors that say nice things) The textures, colours and piles of styles call to us and with a desire that is impossible to resist for long, we wander into the boudoir at our leisure.

Each garment seems to have a story.. Our creativity is a story. Clothes give that side of us a voice, a way to be heard in the world. But since the only certainty is change, it is now time to release a part of your past to a group of women where work is being done far greater than we know. Lets get to shaping the present and the future.  

For instance, forgiveness often comes from the friction of forgetting. Passing along a memento, a dress you wore one night, at a job interview, or on a date, can be mort healing than we know. Releasing it can facilitate forgiveness. Art author on CBC suggested looking at an old pair of boots. Holding them. And voila, a story would open up for you. What happens when you hold them up and then give them away?

Adults need to play. Robert Pulhum recommends sharing as one of the things he learned in kindergarten that should be a basis for life. This is sharing on a great personal level.  

Lorraine, who has a hard time finding size ten shoes discovered Jean with the same shoe size. They exchanged phone numbers to they can call each other when they I find a cache. Sam, who was going back to work after a long illness, was completely outfitted. She hadn’t bought anything for a couple. of years and shopping was an exhausting thought to face until the clothes exchange proved to her that life will be there to support her in surprising ways, in fact, life is full of healing!

All unclaimed clothes are gathered and donated to WIN, Victona’s thrift store that supports women in need with shelter, education, training and jobs. Donating to a cause that actually meets a need in our own beautiful city is a reward in itself.

All in all, this is a prescription for good mental health. It creates community, it’s a reality check for the changes in your life, its a. lightening up of material possessions which always makes you feel free and the change in routine, although challenging, is stimulating.  

Making new friends is important all through life. People come and go. This is a great opportunity to enlarge your acquaintances and enrich your life.

One word of caution, don’t leave anything lying around that you still want. ‘Who brought this?” Nancy asked, holding up a woven shawl at our last get together. It was mine. I had been using it as a chair cover!

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