I was brought up on Disney films. I looked up to Mulan, cried when Bambi’s mom died, and found myself under the spell of Beauty and the Beast’s enchanted objects. I felt an especially strong connection to “Mistress of the Big Mouth”, the former opera singer that was turned into a loud, yet endearing wardrobe. My own wardrobe isn’t pink and it doesn’t seem to have the ability to sing but I remain convinced that if, one day, it magically came to life, it would look just like her. My utopian wardrobe would also have two faithful companions; my sisters’ closets. The three of us share everything, from precious advice to (mismatched) socks, which sometimes makes me wonder if our clothes get confused travelling from one wardrobe to another.
I like to believe that as soon as the doors of our closets close, the clothes mingle; they discuss, they bond, they are alive. I imagine friendships that blossom and love stories that end tragically when a long distance relationship of 65 feet tears two items apart.
These wardrobes are home to several generations of garments and hide more of my secrets than any of my friends. They are microcosmic families, accommodating wise old cardigans and sparky young miniskirts. Even foreigners like the rugged sweatpants left behind by a cousin twice removed. Choice pieces that are at the very top of the social ladder boast: “I get picked every week!” just to cover their insecurity of being dethroned by an incoming Topshop order. Cashmere jumpers shrunk by the washing machine skulk at the back of the wardrobe under the false pretence that one day they will be useful again, only to be given away at the next sorting.
Ah, clothing sorting. The time which brings so much uncertainty to my closet community… It should be so simple. Three piles: to give, to sell, and to keep. However, for indecisive people like me, it’s a delicate procedure (especially when in my head, my clothes are sentient beings).
This is exemplary of the on-going relationships we have with our closets. Sometimes it is an amicable and loving relationship filled with enthusiasm and lust, other times it is a metaphorical reminder of the cold harsh world we have to get dressed for. Normally, however, I fondly anticipate the smell of lavender sachets. I eagerly await the moment I’ll push the doors of my wardrobe open to enter, what to me truly feels like the fabulous world of Narnia – a realm of possibilities, combinations, and hope. It’s like a Ken Follett novel which transports me to a safe and mystical reality where I can get lost and paradoxically find myself. That is how I know that my closet is more than a collection of sequins.
It’s my safety net.
Then, what am I to my closet? A fretful adolescent? A caring proprietor? Let me paint you a picture of what my closet regularly bears witness to: a specimen, standing in her underwear, grumbling I have nothing to wear, running late (again). My closet helplessly watches me from across the room snooze one hundred alarms and then try to dry my hair in a hurry – what must it think of me? A life-long goal of mine is to win over my wardrobe, to make it clinical and efficient so that it can help me save time. To fill it with exquisite, all matching garment, so that composing a flawless outfit with my eyes closed doesn’t have to be just a fantasy.
People have fragrant flashbacks; they remember moments with sound or taste; I remember through outfits. My closet acts as a reminder from times past. Each scratch refers to a specific memory, every stain takes me back to a precise moment, and the pieces that lay in my wardrobe uncover my little whims. As with people in life, so our wardrobes are cluttered with clothes: some we would happily get rid of, others we lose along the way, and the ones we can’t possibly see ourselves without.