Friday, July 20, 2007

Life For Sale

I am a clothes horse. The thing is I only wear a couple of outfits regularly. For Christmas last year Hubby gifted me with three pairs of the same pants – in purple, pink, and turquoise. They feel like I are wearing my pajama bottoms and I call them my “happy pants” because when I’m wearing them I feel supremely content and comfy and free. No zippers. No buttons. Stretchy material. Pull up – pull down. Perfect length to cover the requisite orthopedic shoes. Happy pants to the supreme degree. I try to wear my happy pants at least twice a week – and sometimes I actually do wear them three times. I’m old and the kids don’t much care what I’ve got on as long as it doesn’t smell and is relatively clean. I can get away with wearing the same pants except in different colors and nobody says anything, except Hubby now and again.

Too many surgeries on the tummy area have created nerve endings that don’t take well to being “squished” so now I don’t buy pants with zippers or tight waist bands. The orthopedic shoes are so ugly that dresses and skirts are out – and panty hose is the bane of a “happy pants” type of woman’s wardrobe. I don’t want to iron anything either so pretty much all cotton is out unless it’s in t-shirt form. The boobs require I wear a bra, darn it, so I’m unable to give up underwear completely, but I don’t wear things that buttons up the front because that requires more structured undergarments than I care to undertake.

Meanwhile I own Oprah’s closet. Well, not the closet itself – just enough clothes that I feel like Oprah when I survey the mounds of clothing I actually do own. Biting a very painful bullet, this summer Hubby and I agreed to learn how to sell things on E-bay and we started with my closet. I spent April and part of May divesting myself of any interest I had in keeping clothing that, though absolutely gorgeous, was not comfortable or practical (requiring dry cleaning and/or ironing). The amount of clothes I then had for sale was incredible – and embarrassing.

Two closets and two dressers in the basement full of clothes. Three upstairs closets jammed full and a room strung with clothing poles full to overflowing. There were skirts, long, short, full, straight, wool, corduroy, velvet, linen. There were blouses, sometimes five of the same design just in different colors. There were slacks and pants and Capri’s and gauchos and jeans. There were suits from Nordstrom’s and Saks and Dillards and August Max and Elisabeth. Professional dresses designed for blazers and cocktail suits for elegant dining. Expensive clothing, worn maybe five times, then hung away while I continued to wear my happy pants with a tee that was wash and wear. Wool, velvet, linen blazers. More than a dozen vests. Nearly everything still fit except for a couple of pairs of jeans I uncovered from two sizes ago. And all of it in perfect, nearly unworn condition. All of it lovely and well cared for. I had become a hoarder. It was a true embarrassment of riches.

I struck a deal with Hubby. He would photograph the clothes, I would write up the descriptions, he would mail the packages when and if they sold and what didn’t sell was destined for the charity shop. I started with the vests and sold five and we gave the rest away. Of the more than 15 I owned I kept two out of the lot.

We moved on to the blouses and sold more of those. Vests aren’t very trendy right now it seems but the blouses sold well. We sold around 25 blouses with about 15 more that didn’t sell. I moved on to selling pants. They sold about as well as the vests, however all the pants suits sold. Now I’m listing dresses and outfits – matching skirts and blouses – as well as blazers and jackets.

E-bay selling is time consuming and both E-bay and PayPal take a cut of your earnings. Then, of course, mailing is expensive, even though you charge the customer for the service. Writing up the description of the item takes time, as does the photographing and the wrapping of the packages for mailing. Luckily clothing doesn’t break when you ship it. We're not getting rich out of this.

Yet, slowly my closet is dwindling. I can now unearth my favorite t-shirts from the rack instead of just grabbing the first one I can see. The blouses may not have breathing room but they aren’t so jammed packed that they are too wrinkled to wear without pressing. I eliminated every pair of slacks that didn’t carry some designation of “happy pant” in them for me. Though I still own a rainbow of colors, I don’t own four pairs of red slacks any longer (we won't discuss black, however -- one can never own too many pairs of comfy black pants).

In the second bedroom the bookcase is no longer obliterated by clothes hung all over it. In fact the only items hanging there now are the ones I’ve still to write descriptions of for E-bay selling. Once that is done the clothes are shipped off to the “other house” where Hubby has his office. He maintains them until they either sell or they go to the charity store. Either way, I’ve loosened my grip on them or once they are out of this house I won’t lay eyes (or my greedy hands) on them again. At least once a week, though, Hubby and I have to have the “talk.”

“Oh, look at this pretty skirt and blouse – Oh! I just loved it so much – Oh! I think I need to keep it just in case. .”

“When was the last time you had that outfit on?” bellows Hubby and I have to remember that it was four years ago and though it is lovely and still very much in style and in perfect condition, I’ve not worn it because: a. the buttons gapped in the front when I sat down; b. it requires panty hose; c. the skirt only looks good with high heels (NOT on these feet!); d. the waist required a belt which pinched; and e. it looked best with a blazer and that was just way too many pieces of clothing for me to feel comfortable in.

I still may have Fibber McGee’s closet (for you old folks out there) but I no longer have the excess of Oprah who is allowed to wear something only once in public. School starts in just a week and my happy pants, which I can now easily find, are ready for new year of comfort and ease.

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