Why Clothes Made Me A Closet Case

Getting rid of my stuff is hard. But my daughter's baby clothes?
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Why Clothes Made Me A Closet Case

Getting rid of my stuff is hard. But my daughter’s baby clothes?

-Diane Clehane

little girl

This weekend, I decided it was time to clean out my daughter’s closet and move out her outgrown winter clothes to make way for the stacks of shorts, polo shirts, and swimsuits she’ll need for summer camp. I had no idea of the emotional journey I’d find myself taking in the process.

As someone who still owns the dress I wore to my freshman sorority formal in college, as well as my first ‘interview suit’, parting with clothes that represent a particular place and time has always been a bit of a struggle. Usually, when it comes to cleaning out my own closet, those special items get relegated to various spots farther and farther towards the back of my shoe closet. (I told you I had issues.) Sometimes I take them out and toy with the idea of trying them on. I rarely do. I just like knowing they’re there.

When it came to digging into my daughter’s wardrobe, I didn’t expect to be hit with such a wave of emotion. I’ve already stored away the treasured first dress I ever bought for her, which, coincidentally, was purchased on the same day I came home to find the letter from the Chinese government stating we had passed muster and could go forward with our plans to adopt a child. Her first winter coat—pink shearling with felt teddy-bear buttons—is stashed away with the red melton wool dress coat I proudly bought from the late, lamented Best & Co. for her first Christmas. I could never part with those tiny size 12-months Ralph Lauren polo shirts I ordered with her monogram. They are all in a very large keepsake box in a storage locker filled with other talismans from various chapters in my life.

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In recent years, I’ve been doing the same thing with her clothes that I’ve done my entire adult life with mine—namely, shuffling them from place to place, not ready to part with them but needing to move them to make room for new, more usable things. Last year, when I heard from several friends that they’d been buying kids’ clothes on craigslist and eBay, I started selling some of the things she’s outgrown, careful to never give up anything I’d want to keep or pass on to her. For some reason, I’ve been doing a brisk business over these past few months and I’ve managed to dwindle down my daughter’s cast-offs that I don’t want to a few shopping bags.

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10 thoughts on “Why Clothes Made Me A Closet Case

  1. I can totally relate to this! Also, I have so few things from when I was a child… I wish my mom had saved more. Thankfully I have lots of storage space!

  2. Do you really need the money? Why not donate her clothes to children who need them? Obviously if you’re buying monogrammed Ralph Lauren and Lily Pulitzer you can afford to be charitable.

  3. choose 10 pieces – ignore all the rest – from those 10 pieces, choose 5 – again focus only on the 5 you chose – from those choose three – keep those three and box up all the rest and either give them to family members who may use them – I’m from a huge family and someonw always has a little one who will fit into outgrown clothes – or donate them to those who have so little – I have the Christening outfits the twins were christened in framed – I also have their first blankets, including two that were handmade – your memories live in your heart forevermore, with – or without – the clothes – let the clothes bring as much joy to others as they have brought to you –

  4. Honey,she is still little — if you keep doing this her whole life, you will need a whole other house just for her clothes. They are just things — they are not the memories. Make a videotape of her; take pictures, record her voice singing, but keeping clothes because she took her first step in them or something — do not become a prisoner of your belongings and hers. I have 3 children I have raised and if I would have done this, i would have drowned in it. Not to mention, they are in their 20’s now and could care less that i did keep the few things i did — the outfit they came home from the hospital in for example, or the first mother’s day card they made me at school. All of the things I saved from them can fit into one box and its in my closet and they laugh at me for that little bit. Just love her, the memories, but not the items.

  5. Or, you could keep the clothes she really loved or that meant something special. Then have a quilt made out of them.

    I did this with my boys’ clothes – the King Daddy Blues Rat T-shirt I could barely ever get off my oldest to get it washed, their baseball jerseys, favorite hoodies – and commissioned several quilts. I plan on giving them to my boys when they have homes and families of their own.

  6. Baby clothes are very important for the parents and the baby, generally children use the dress as per they like with different variety with different situations. Many parents keep their dress with cleaning very carefully. As per the baby growing the dress requirement also increase so if donate the old dress to someone then it will be better .

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