JUST HOW MUCH IS “ENOUGH?”

My closet is a mess. I hate to even stick my head in past the first rod. I live in an old house. A hundred years ago, the architect of my house apparently thought that narrow, deep closets with (get this) built-in cupboards WAY AT THE VERY BACK of the farther end of the closet were desirable. All I can figure out is that nobody had hanging clothes back then. They simply used pegs on the edges of the closet walls that the wearer hug her chastity belts and peplums on, leaving the chests at the back for her unmentionables, like the perfumed silk handkerchiefs she used to bestow upon hapless jousters so that they would want to defend her honor by getting gouged in the gut with a huge lance and then die.

Let’s move forward in time to my era. There are no more jousters. Now there are certified public accountants, teachers, and advice columnists who need to dress for work. We modern people who live in “historical” homes, and who don’t have disposable income in the “completely gut and rebuild the entire house from inside out, including walk in closets that make sense, oh, and at least seven shower heads in the bathroom, and while you’re at it, we want a pot filler over the stove that we will remember to use once” category, have to learn to live with what we have.

Making do with what you have is an excellent topic for a column, but just not this one.

Actually, I have been pondering the word “enough.” In our day of conspicuous consumption (ok, that was before the economy tanked) and “keeping up with the Madoffs,” we have elevated the concept of “enough” way into the stratosphere, where it swings, dropping visions–not of sugar plums, but of four car garages, television screening rooms with vibra-chairs, heated bathroom floors, granite countertops with all stainless appliances, day of the week underwear made out of edible material, etc.

It occurred to me that I have fallen victim to thinking that the enough that I have isn’t really enough. For instance, every time I go into Target, there is a new sweater with a cowl neckline and adorable stripes “calling to me.” In the accessories department are scarves that would enhance every single pair of slacks that I have. And they now make workout clothes that put the sweat suit that I got at Penney’s ten years ago to shame.

But then again, my closet is so narrow! I don’t use the hooks; I put three bars in there, but of course, the front bar has to contain my most well used clothing, because ducking under it to get to the stuff hanging on the other two bars is dangerous. I once hooked my earring on a stray hanger and nearly ripped my lobe off.

And as I stood among the sweaters, robes, scarves, belts, and in the case of the furthest rod, the clothes I wore on my honeymoon, I wondered if I finally had reached my quota and possess ENOUGH clothing.

So I am turning over a new leaf (see my previous column on aphorisms.) If I haven’t worn it in one year, I am getting rid of it. I will be ruthless. (And I also wonder why nobody wants to be Ruth. She must have done something very bad, indeed.)

Establishing parameters for just exactly what constitutes “enough” is difficult. But I, of course, am up to the task:

The enough rule, as it pertains to

Bras. If you have one to wear every day to work, and two sports bras, you’re covered. That is, unless you are a stripper or ‘the other woman,’ in which case you will need lots more of this stuff, from La Perla, and the kind you can’t throw in the washer with your gym clothes. I would have to just go with a ‘ditto’ concerning underpants.

Shoes. This is much more problematical. If only UGGS made stilettos? Oh, they do now? Then about five pairs of UGGS should be fine. However, if you still like Crocs, you must get rid of them immediately, before the fashion police or your daughters discover you have them.

Jeans. If you have not been able to pull them up past your knees for two years, admit to yourself that your body image has to change. Give them to the skinny people who shop at Goodwill, and go over to Chico’s, where you will be thrilled to find jeans that fit you in size 2. Trust me on this. Two pairs are all you need. One to wash, and one to wear.

Fleece zip up jackets. I know they come in such cute colors. But how cold is it, these days of the polar bears crowding onto those tiny, little ice floes? You only need two. Keep the pink one and one in a more ‘earth tone,’ like brown. You will end up wearing the brown one all the time, anyway. So go ahead, give the pink one to your sister.

Belts. My thinking is that belts will some time come back. I am talking about the ones you wear around your waist. If you have to wrap it around yourself three times and then try to clip it somehow below your knees, give that one away. You’ll never get it to look on you the way it does on Heidi Klum. So keep two belts, one black and one brown one. Just in case the waistline makes a comeback.

Socks. Apparently, this is another form of apparel worn only by people over the age of fifty. Those younger than fifty either have hot feet, extremely expensive pedicures, or that condition called numbnopedia, in which all feelings have left your feet, seeking higher ground on your body that is covered by fabric of some kind. But if you need socks, you should have, if female, a few pairs of what the fashionistas call “trouser socks,” and a couple pairs of smart woolies for freezing days. Gym socks are optional. Leggs Knee Highs are verboten. And those fuzzies that you wear while watching “American Idol?” Two pairs.

Pjs. This is a completely different situation. I tend to wear mine all day. Any clothing worn during business hours can be considered a “uniform.” All of us who hunker over keyboards as a career need five pairs, and the ones on Friday can be “casual.” This means that you can wear ones with holes, or skip the bottoms altogether if the temperature reaches 80 degrees F or higher.

Do you feel free? Virtuous? Is there a huge garbage sack of things to donate to Goodwill sitting in the hall outside your bedroom?

Now, look around your closet. It’s airy, isn’t it? Then you have just enough.

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