Every now and then my need to organize kicks into overdrive and I have to give in to the feeling or risk going crazier than a fruit bat at a cranberry festival. My most recent need was to tackle my clothing. I usually go through my clothes at least twice a year anyway so the extra drive to do so was appreciated. This particular drive honed in on a very specific area of my clothing: dresses. Which led me to the dreaded Black Bag.
The Black Bag
You know the kind of bag. Or maybe you have a box instead? Either way it’s the Holding Equipment of Denial. It’s the area you keep those things that you know you should get rid of but don’t. In my case, it’s a black garment bag that holds formal dresses of my past. They’re the three damn ghosts from A Christmas Carol except they remind me of happy memories instead of how I was an asshole.
The dresses are in the Black Bag mainly because of memories but also because I held a tiny bit of hope that I would one day wear them again. Not only would a friend hold a fancy event in which one of these dresses would be perfect but I would magically be that size again. I’m in serious denial over these dresses, can you tell?
Denial #1: That getting rid of these objects will somehow get rid of the memory. That’s not how memories work, dumb ass.
Denial #2: That I might wear them again. Classic hoarder reasoning. They were bought for very specific events and, let’s face it, that event will never come up again. Do you have many reasons to whip out the ol’ prom dress? Didn’t think so.
Denial #3: Thinking that I’d fit into them again. It’s a fact of life that your body changes as you get older and unless I get rid of my hips, thighs, and breasts, that shit isn’t going to fit. Realistically, I’ll never be that size again.
I want to introduce you to the ghosts of the Black Bag. These dresses have traveled with me from my childhood home, to my first apartment, and from Florida to Virginia where they then moved another three times. These are some well traveled dresses!
I have to give myself some credit though. The Black Bag once held more than these three dresses but their companions were donated during the last Great Purge of the Closet (aka fuck these dresses I’m tired of seeing them!). Now it’s their turn.
Middle school formal
I remember picking out this dress and feeling so mature and beautiful when I wore it. My date bought me a corsage and we took pictures by the lake. This is the first picture I came across when I decided to even look for pictures (you’re welcome). It’s not the best and the colors are off but I was too lazy to find a better one or fix the colors.
High School prom
I went to three dances during high school. Two homecomings and prom. All were pretty blah for me so I’m not even sure why I went. Probably had something to do with “making memories” and how it was high school so “isn’t that what I’m supposed to do” bullshit.
Long story short, the original dress I had found and fell in love with I couldn’t afford and my mother wouldn’t help me out. I eventually found this dress on sale and a friend spotted the perfect pair of shoes to match (also for sale!). So I was going to prom! Oh. Joy.
Prom was extremely eventful. No, seriously! First, my best friend fell and busted her knee when we were taking pictures. It made for interesting pictures, that’s for sure. The wind blew our other friend’s dress into the bloody knee and I ran with her to the bathroom to help rinse out the blood. My shoes became dreadfully uncomfortable because of that. We went to Uno’s for pre-prom dinner, I met a future ex-boyfriend, and afterward my group of friends went to Downtown Disney (now Disney Springs) where I proceeded to drop ice cream on my dress. The next day my best friend, her busted knee, and I chilled at a pool at Liki Tiki Village.
Halloween and Christmas
I bought this dress via EBay for a Halloween costume. That Halloween I actually had three “costumes”. One party I went to as a pirate. Another a friend and I went as our own gang of two, and the third was Jessica Rabbit (my version of her anyway). That’s where this dress came in. Yes, Jessica Rabbit wore a floor length dress with a slit up to her woo-ha but I thought this dress could be worn again. And I was right. A few months later I wore the dress for my husband’s (then boyfriend) Navy Christmas party. It’s been in the Black Bag ever since just being pretty.
A smart person would have gotten rid of these dresses long ago when they noticed that they didn’t fit. I really shouldn’t expect the clothes I wore in middle and high school to fit now that I’m adult. My body has changed and developed and it’s who I am now. I’m happy with what I have (boobs!) and I can’t expect to be a size zero again. Shit, that would be incredibly unhealthy for me.
An even smarter person wouldn’t have let memories of their youth prevent them from hording clothing and taking up space in their closet. People hold onto to physical things for the same reasons I’ve kept these dresses. The good memories in this case. It’s important to recognize why you keep things. It’s equally important to be honest with yourself and let them go. Sure, I’ll never wear them again (and not just because they don’t fit!) but they’re a tangible representation of a memory. I’m not saying goodbye to those memories only to the dresses. And only to the first two because I’m still not ready to part with that third one.
Two steps forward, one step back.
The other two are being donated to a organization that provides prom dresses to those who can’t afford it. Sure, they may not be “in style” but they weren’t exactly the style when I wore them to begin with. I hope that whoever wears them makes just as great memories in them as I did and that they make her feel just as beautiful and special as they made me feel. I also hope that she doesn’t carry them around with her as she moves place to place.
I kept some old dresses because they’re associated with good memories and I secretly hoped I’d fit in them again one day. Not only did I realize that I don’t need physical reminders of good times (taking up space in my closet) but that there is nothing wrong with how my body is.
People change and grow but sometimes you have to get rid of things to recognize that.