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Understanding the T-Shirt Sentimentality

July 22, 2012

There are some things in life that will always be up for a debate: religion, politics, white wine vs. red wine, vinegar-based or tomato…and so on and so forth. Which is better? Who is right? Who has the final say?

Upon entering our relationship, there was one thing Jamey and I realized we both (embarrassingly) stood for: one can never have too many t-shirts. Perhaps in our case, I should rephrase: There is such a thing as too many t-shirts.

The final – and only – stack of t-shirts I now own (top shelf…the rest is just embarrassing)

At some point in my adult life, I became a closet-organizing freak – or, I suppose it’s better to say that the aspiration to extreme closet organization became a goal. Since then, I’ve realized that having a clear, concise layout in one’s closet automatically starts the day off on the right foot. Getting dressed becomes less of a conflict when everything is hung up, clearly and neatly organized, ready-to-wear off the hanger. Styling is much more interesting, because all of a sudden 13 different outfit combinations emerge when you can see that top hanging neatly above potential pants and skirts combinations. Oh, and there are the shoes directly beside this imaginary outfit layout, followed by belts, jewelry, hair accessories and everything else one might need to create the ideal outfit for the day. (Don’t worry, I’m about to get sillier.) It makes things exciting for my morning, and I’m not ashamed to admit that. (I write this as I begin to re-watch Downton Abbey, and holy moly do I give those servants credit for being able to help select such stylish outfits when they were rarely exposed to outside society. Pinterest alone has opened up a whole new range of how to wear my clothes…let alone the internet! And they had neither! So I digress.)

The saddest thing about all of this is that my biggest concern for our new home’s closet was not my shoes, handbags, dresses, tops, et cetera; it was the fact that I knew – at some point after we moved – I would need to downsize my t-shirts.

Because I am aggressive about downsizing Jamey’s clothes, it is always easiest for him to lessen his material load without too much emotional appeal. I do a purge for him every few months or so when I realize it’s been this long since he last wore said shirt, slacks, or whatever else. I do ask his permission before I bag it up and send it off (I’m still feeling the guilt from his blue sweater I accidentally gave away) and rarely does he disagree with my choices. That said, I think I am so aggressive with his paring down because it is so much more of a challenge with my own clothes. Every piece has a sentimental attachment – I once wore this to that party that was just so much fun, this necklace always looks so good with that one top even though I don’t wear it anymore – the reasons go on and on, excuse after excuse I make for myself.

Sadly, none of this is as embarrassing as it is to admit how much more attached I am to my t-shirts, above all anything else. (Jamey will argue differently about my stack of sweaters, but I might actually need those again someday or if I get cold!) I am able to get rid of Jamey’s shirts much more easily because I did not have the sentimental attachment to them as he always has. He gave me permission to purge, and I did so rashly and without attachment. (He will also freely admitted that if I involved him in this eliminating process he would just keep them all still.)

As for my own stack, it’s astounding how much I care about these $2 pieces of cotton, printed with events and organizations I once cared for and experienced so fondly. Perhaps, then, is why t-shirts from even elementary school still are in my stack, and Lord knows why I care about so many miscellaneous college ones.

It is with great accomplishment – and sadness – I reveal Jamey’s pared down stack, which was once filled with just as many happy occasions via t-shirt styles:

Jamey’s newly arranged t-shirt stack in the closet organizer. Impressive, if you knew the original amount.

Even though it’s an accomplishment that we were able to get it down to these stacks, it still makes me sad to think about the t-shirts I already gave away or those that sit in a black plastic bag ready for a new home. Why do I still feel a material loss? Why is this even something I care about? I will never fully understand the materialism of it all, but I’m trying to let go, downsize and simplify. I am only aware of the fact that this has always been a challenge for me, ridiculously enough, but streamlining and minimizing is the new, constant goal.

As for the new closet in its entirety, I am thrilled with how we are making steps in organization, one task at a time. (Coming up, a real post about real home improvements that aren’t just my silly revelations of how t-shirt possession.) Stay tuned for the news on all-things living room shelves!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Jamie permalink
    July 26, 2012 6:54 pm

    You could always make a quilt or pillows from all those sentimental tees. I did that with all my Kappa and Denison ones.

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