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Column: Closet purge poses fashion questions

Column: Closet purge poses fashion questions

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Tammy Wilson

Between moving house plants inside and turning on the gas logs is the time-worn rite of autumn: the closet switcheroo.

Saturday’s rain gave me the perfect excuse to swap my summer things for cold-weather gear. Rifling through sweaters and boots, it seemed a lot longer than seven months ago that I wore this stuff. That’s how it is in this year of drama and contradiction.

I vowed to do some serious editing to my wardrobe which was fairly easy. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from 2020, it’s how to edit my life. COVID has pared down our need for outfits, when outings amount to walking the dog or pulling weeds, we have little need for cashmere or formal wear.

I joyfully tossed out pants that no longer fit, figuring if I eliminate the larger trousers, I’ll be less apt to grow back into them.

I checked my purses and found some dregs of my former life nestled in the zippered pockets: business cards, a tube of lipstick. (Who still wears that?) Inside one side pocket was a bottle of hand sanitizer. A year ago, I would have puzzled over the sanitizer. I wasn’t a germophobe until last March.

I found my spare pair of glasses that went missing last month. Somehow they had burrowed their way into the lining of an otherwise empty handbag. I have no idea how these things happen.

I sighed as I shoved my party clothes to the back corner. Last Christmas I purchased a dress in a candy cane print, a holiday number you don’t dare wear before Thanksgiving or a day past New Year’s. I wore the dress a few times last December, but something tells me this holiday season? Slim chance it’ll see the light of day.

This summer I noted in a Walmart ad that the 1930s milkmaid dresses — dull prints, fitted waist, button front — were making a comeback, which made this COVID time warp even weirder. Looking to Walmart for fashion advice is one thing, but what those Walmart apparel buyers forgot was that Great Depression people actually dressed up. They still had places to go.

Reviewing what remained of my wardrobe, I asked myself which items are in style? Are angled hemlines still a thing? What about sweaters with drapey points? Tops with shoulder holes?

For my own edification, I Googled fall fashion trends for 2020, so in case I’m heading to Food Lion or Target, I’ll be on trend when I do the drug-store drive-thru.

A few style statements and my notes:

1. Fringe — Nope. If I didn’t wear that in high school, I’m not wearing it now.

2. Faux leather puff sleeve blouses — A blouse made of vinyl? Who thinks this is a good idea?

3. Jewel tones — Classic. Good.

4. Turtleneck sweaters — OK, turtlenecks tend to be hot and itchy, but at least they’re not pretending to be a leather jacket. (See number 2).

5. Preppy plaids — Check.

6. Rhinestone headbands — Is this a joke?

7. Sherpa jackets — Only if it’s freezing outside.

8. Shades of brown/beige — Nope. Those colors make me look dead.

Most of the fashion trends focused, more or less, on the top half of the body, and we have Zoom to thank. In a virtual meeting, all that matters is your head and shoulders. (If you’re having a bad hair day, do as I do and skip the video feature altogether. Log on as a blank icon or point your computer camera to the ceiling.)

Which brings me to another point. Must your mask coordinate with what you’re wearing? The other day I noticed Nancy Pelosi’s mask was made of tangerine calico to coordinate with her orange ensemble.

So is color coordination important? What about masks that display slogans? Is it fashionably correct to wear a disposable sky-blue mask if you don’t work in health care?

Don’t ask me. I’m still puzzling over the store dressing rooms.

Tammy Wilson is a writer who lives near Newton. Contact her at tamra@tamrawilson.com

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