Dear Future Self, what are you wearing? What is in your closet?
Also, what's your phone like? Just asking.
In ten years, I'll be ten years older. Yeah, duh, you might be thinking. Obvious things can often be more revealing to think about than non-obvious things, though. I'm 41 today, and in ten years I'll be 51. Assuming all the clothes I have today could somehow survive another ten years of washing and wearing, would I still want to wear them as a fifty-one-year-old?
The first question is one of size. What size will I be in ten years? There are three distinct types of answers to this question.
I have no idea - how could I possibly know that?
Same size I am right now, obviously, because I am a marble statue
I will have reached the fitness goal for which I am currently on track.
Ten years ago, I was 31. Yes, yes, you can count too. Past Self: Age 31 was coming down from our top weight at age 29. At that time, we had at least four different sizes of clothes in the closet. Our goal weight was 18 pounds heavier than I am today. We hadn't yet bought into the concept that there is a method of being at Healthy Weight for My Height and deviating only over a small range. We were still caught in this idea that body weight is either genetically determined, or a function of the weather. It just happened.
I've worn eight different clothing sizes in my adult life, and spent at least a year at each of those sizes. Now I've been the same size for three years. I have a solid understanding of exactly what behavior patterns on my part will eventually result in physical changes that are reflected in each of those clothing sizes. Size 14 involved a lot of fried food. The Pepsi and Pringles Diet worked for me! I didn't get below a size 6 until I learned to cook vegetables. (NB: and eat them)
I can look around my yoga class at the gym, see that there are ladies present in their fifties, sixties, and seventies, and surmise that if I keep doing what I'm doing today, I will probably look a lot like them when I reach that age. In ten years, I will probably be very similar to the size I am today, only with better posture.
The second question is one of style. Will I still like the same stuff in ten years? Will it still be somewhat fashionable?
If I have one wish as I get older, it is that I will care progressively less and less what other people think of me. That includes clothes. If I want to wear something woefully out of sync with the trends of the day, I most likely will. That's never been anything that stopped me before.
On the other hand, I've already started to feel sad when I find myself contemplating clothes meant for younger women. At my size, dignified, professional clothing is vanishingly rare. Everything is meant for going to the beach, hanging out at the mall, or going to high school. That's my impression anyway. If I change my mind ten years from now and want to dress like a teenager, I can always go to those shops and find something. For today, when I look at what's in my closet, I can ask myself, Does this look like something 51-Year-Old Future Me would want to wear?
The third question is a simple one of climate. Will I still be living here? Am I likely to move north and need warmer clothes? That's possible, and that's an issue I can resolve if I decide to make that change. In the meantime, I have only to ask myself how often I wear what I have now. I only need to dress for extreme cold for a few days a year, so I don't have to keep as many coats and scarves as I used to when I lived in Oregon. Other people may find that they don't need nearly as many pairs of shorts, tank tops, etc.
The fourth question is one of use. Are these clothes going to be usable in ten years?
I loathe shopping. Always did, and I loathe it even more now that it's so hard to find smaller clothes. When I find something I like, I now wear it into a rag. When I split the back seam of my favorite jeans, I seriously contemplated trying to patch them before acknowledging that they were a lost cause. There is no way any of the clothes I have now will survive another ten years of use. Not the socks, not the pajamas, not even those rarely worn winter clothes.
The fifth question is a bit more complex. If I am so emotionally attached to a particular item that I intend to hang onto it for another ten years, no matter what, will it still work with anything else I have? Certain garments only wind up being worn in combination with certain others. That includes jewelry, shoes, specialty undergarments, and anything else that makes it feel like an 'outfit.' If any elements of the prize outfit aren't going to make it, does that reflect on the wearability of the treasured piece?
The purpose of this exercise is to reexamine our wardrobes in terms of our future needs. We tend to want to keep things because we feel that we made a commitment to them in the past. We invested money. We liked being that size, or at least, we liked it better than the size we are now. We are alienated by the trends we currently see in the mall, and we're alarmed at having to let go of the familiar in favor of the disconcerting. (I'm from a generation that believes Tights Are Not Pants). We find ourselves with closets, drawers, and piles of unwearable clothing, things that Present Self can't use and doesn't need. Present Self often misses Past Self, even though Past Self is the same lazy, selfish brat who spent all our money and kept leaving us all those stacks of messy papers and dirty dishes. It can really help to look forward and imagine what Future Self is going to want.
Not sure about you, but whenever my Future Self calls me, she always asks for more money. She always gives me an earful about any annoying chores I've put off and saved for her to do. She often picks on me about my fashion choices, hairstyle, dietary habits, etc. I recognize the same things I complain about to Past Self. One of the few thing I can do for Future Self today is to do a bit of culling and let go of clothes neither of us will ever wear.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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