The other day, I walked into my closet hoping to find something to wear for the night. But although clothes, shoes, bags, belts and jewelry surrounded me from every angle, I couldn’t find anything to put on. Barely any of the garments fit the mood I was in, or just fit my body for that matter. None were appropriate for the weather outside or suitable for the evening’s events. And there were few items which I had shoes to match, or that didn’t still need to be hemmed, re-buttoned, or dry-cleaned. There was nothing. Thirty minutes into my search, I was still rockin’ my white plush robe and Target slippers.

So I plopped down in the midst of it all, and got to thinking: How the hell did I acquire all this stuff ? What is it, and where did it come from in the first place? God forbid I calculate how much it all must have cost. A couple dollars here, couple hundred there. Surely some more bills could’ve been paid with those funds. Most importantly, what purpose are all these things serving in my closet, if not to keep me dressed on a day-to-day basis? In my years as a so-called fashionista, something had gone terribly wrong: I had begun to hoard fashion “junk.”

“After taking several trips down memory lane, it occurred to me that perhaps, it wasn’t the actual clothing or accessories that I was hoarding. Rather, it was the memories attached to each piece that I was subconsciously trying to hold onto.”

Now it’s not to say that the things in my closet were cheap or ugly, as the word “junk” would probably indicate. No, no, no, quite the contrary. But instead, there had reached a point at which I was holding on to things that no longer served their original purpose. For example, in thumbing through the racks I had come across that lovely pair of dark-washed skinny jeans that I was apparently no longer skinny enough to fit into. I tried the age-old trick where you lay across the foot of the bed, and slowly try to wiggle your way in, inch by inch. I even held my breath! It didn’t work. But for some reason, I just couldn’t toss them out. Maybe after I shed a couple pounds, right? Pssshhh, we’ve all had those plans…

And then there was that old Coogi sweater that I found at the thrift store last summer. Ooooooh, how it brought back memories of DC in the early 90s! Back then you just knew you were fly with your Coogi sweater and Versace jeans. I still have the pictures to prove it. Now, did I mention that it was only $14.99? You can’t beat such a price for a $200 garment. And although I hadn’t worn it yet, I just knew they would be back “in” soon enough. Nope, couldn’t throw that one away.

Rumbling through the top shelf where I store all the purses, I also came across my favorite; a small, green suede Gucci “Pochette” with the monogram print down the middle and a gold chain-link handle. I worked hard summer of ’04 for that bag! Sacrificed a little bit of money each paycheck until I had just enough (plus tax, of course). I remember like it was yesterday, walking into the handbag department of Saks. They stared me down, as I’d become accustomed to during my frequent window shopping trips, and facetiously asked if they could assist me in finding anything. But on that particular occasion, I didn’t need any assistance. I walked over to the wall and pulled down my bag, whipped out my Wachovia envelope full of $20 bills and strutted my stuff to the counter. That saleswoman couldn’t tell me anything! But now, the bag just wasn’t the same. As cute as it is, the size barely allows me to carry a cell phone and car keys, let alone my wallet, make-up bag, and day planner. But it was such an investment piece; my first major handbag purchase. Needless to say, I couldn’t let that one go either. Back up on the shelf it went.

After taking several trips down memory lane, it occurred to me that perhaps, it wasn’t the actual clothing or accessories that I was hoarding. Rather, it was the memories attached to each piece that I was subconsciously trying to hold onto. Yeah, the jeans were kinda cute. But just maybe, it was the image of that previous, more slender figure that I couldn’t work up the strength to throw away. And of course, the Gucci handbag was adorable and the brand is classic. But just maybe, it was the feeling of victory that I received after paying that snooty saleswoman that I was storing on that top shelf. Not the bag, itself.

Today, as we move into a fabulous new year that promises to be even more enjoyable, memorable, and prosperous than the last, I have a challenge for you all: LET’S CLEAN OUT OUR CLOSETS! Give yourselves a day, that’s right – a full day, where you go into your closet and, piece-by-piece, began to rid your space and your life of unnecessary clutter. Let go of those garments that no longer fit, or that you will never have anything to wear with. Let go of those items that seemed like great bargains at the time, but have since been collecting dust on the shelf. Let go of the outfits from graduation, that first date with your old boo, the day you got the promotion; let it go! Understand that it wasn’t the clothing that brought to you such pleasant times but it was your own self-confidence, personality, hard work or focus that allowed you to such great memories.

If it’s a new body you want, lets head the gym. A better job? Let’s start building up that resume. But until we clean up shop and get rid of all the old material things and dated memories that we’ve been holding onto, there won’t be any room for all the great new things to come. I don’t know about you all, but I – Chelsea Smith – am ready for a clean closet and a new wardrobe! 2012 never sounded better.

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