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Warren Dixon: Cleaning out closets is easy … or so I've heard

It’s getting close to the time of year to throw out the old and bring in the new and I’m not talking about the elections. I’m talking about those clothes in the closet. Yes, it’s again time for that annual ritual called Finding Your Winter Clothes. You may think it’s a tad early for such a project, but then you haven’t seen my closet. 


I found a suspicious looking clipping on my closet door the other day called “Ten tips to tame the closet clutter, or How to Control Your Closet Before it Controls You.” 


Usually I’m the one who leaves clippings around for Sandra, like the Wizard of Id cartoon in which the peasant told the Wizard that his wife thought she was a washing machine. “She’s stuck on agitate,” he said. 


So I was surprised to find that Sandra had retaliated with a clipping of her own.


It never occurred to me before then to think of my closet as wild, although it did attack me once by throwing a stadium seat at me from a top shelf. I just know that most of the clothes I own are in it and that eventually, if I look hard enough, I will find what I need. 


We usually have to have a killing frost plus a good blizzard before it dawns on me that I should be attempting to locate my long-sleeved shirts. I don’t know why winter sneaks up on me like this, but it always does. It’s like Daylight Savings Time. I know it’s going to end someday, but have I learned to change the electronic digital clock on the Jeep? 


If warm weather would just end, say, on August 31 and cold weather would start during halftime of the first football game, maybe I wouldn’t be so surprised by winter. 


But it has to dilly-dally around like it can’t make up its mind or something. You’ll leave for work one morning with an overcoat on and return home in short sleeves. 


Some have called this “two-coat” weather. You wear one coat to work, it warms up during the day and you leave it there. The next morning, you wear a second coat to work because it’s cold again. 


The first cold snap always sends me searching for long-sleeved shirts. There are two schools of thought among me on this subject (three if you count those who don’t own long-sleeved shirts, often referred to as Real Men).


There are those, I’m told, who change their closets according to the weather. When it turns cold, they move their winter clothes to a more accessible position and actually put their summer clothes away. And they actually move these clothes in one lump, not piecemeal. Sandra is of this persuasion and has her closet so organized that she can be dressed and in the car while I’m still pairing up socks. 


Then there are those of us who are more natural hunters and who enjoy the thrill of finally finding a long-lost jacket in the back of the closet. We may accidentally get all our winter clothes together by March, but it’s certainly not our intention from the beginning and we won’t ever admit it in public. 


But back to the ten tips on how to tame, rope and hogtie your closet.  


The first tip is to sort through everything in your closet and remove everything you never wear, as well as clothes that are too small, worn out or outdated. A quick glance into the depths of my closet revealed that this might leave me nearly naked. And what am I to do with the Army uniforms that haven’t been worn since 1971? No matter that I’d have to lose 100 pounds to wear it.  Or the big, warm coat with the buttons missing that I purchased in 1972 when the heater went out on the MGB? The coat had already been rescued from Good Will once and thus had gained immunity from execution. And who can say that bell bottoms won’t come back in style someday or that the leisure suit is really dead? 


For the remaining items in your closet, if there are any, you should make three piles: One for clothes that need mending (do people still mend?), one for out-of-season pieces and one for current wearables. 


In order to save time and confusion, I have decided to call all of mine “current wearables,” even the slacks with the open-ended pockets and napped up knees. 


The next step in ending closet clutter is to arrange all current clothing by category, then by length, then by color. This seemed to me to be above and beyond the call of duty, especially when such organization would put the Army uniform, old wood coat, stadium seat, leisure suit and brand new overcoat together. So I decided against color-coding everything and just filed it away by category, the category being clothing. 


You may be interested to know that after I implemented these changes as recommended in the clipping, my closet closely resembled the way it originally started out. I’m always amazed at how I’m usually on the cutting edge of innovation.


I still haven’t found all my long-sleeved shirts but at least I know where my Army uniform is in case war breaks out. And when Sandra sees my closet, it may be sooner than I think.