With summer now upon us, spring cleaning should be a task of the past, right? I've had many a battle with my own overflowing closet, and lately have heard plenty of stories from friends about some tough cuts in their wardrobe they've had to make. However, one fashionable friend who recently moved in with her boyfriend discovered that their first argument wouldn't be about her clothing surplus, but his sizable wardrobe.
Like many guys, my boyfriend is of the little-to-no-maintenance philosophy. Since we met (years ago, in college), he's worn some variant of the same look: T-shirt, cargo pants (shorts in summer), sneakers. Maybe a button-down or black shoe if it's a special occasion.
Me on the other hand? I'm the type to use the term "black shoe" to describe a pair. Fittingly, I went into a profession centered around style. And though my tone might sound otherwise, I'm happy to be the style-minded of the two of us. I love his t-shirts, I love that he takes about five minutes to get ready and most of all, I love him. (Aww.) His style -- even though he wouldn't describe it as that -- is really him. And when I look at him from across the room, no matter who is in it, I think he is the most handsome there.
And if the point of this story was that, I would end it right here. But as you can guess, something else inspired me to put fingers to keyboard. It's that I recently found out that -- again, from someone who self-identifies as unconcerned with fashion -- he has more clothes than I do.
I found this out recently, when we decided to take the plunge and move in together. Our apartment is a smaller one-bedroom, which I looked at as an exercise not in cutting back but as a time to get rid of all those years of stuff I'd accumulated. Since we only have one closet (it's a walk-in), I got rid of enough to fit along my designated side. For the record: I donated about eight trash bags' worth of outdated clothes.
Though it's anything but orderly, the left side shows my entire year-round wardrobe. Including coats and jackets. His side is on the right.
To be fair, he did get rid of six trash bags' worth of clothes before moving in. But there really is quite a collection here. At one point, I counted over 100 t-shirts. And then I stopped counting.
So, out of curiosity, I asked him about it. Which, of course, ended up sounding judge-y. But this is what he had to say:
"I don't have that many clothes."
"Yes, you do. I counted about a hundred t-shirts alone."
"OK, but you have a lot of clothes too. You probably have over a hundred things."
"I have 80." It's a response that all but guarantees that I'll never win Girlfriend Of The Year. And that one of us will be spending an evening on the couch.
80 garments is a lot to think about, but if you think of it in terms of seasons and the fact that it's not 80 t-shirts but many different types of clothing items, it's not so bad.
As the night progressed, the conversation devolved. He thought I was judging, when really I just wanted to know if he knew just how much there was.
I spent the night on the couch.
As I slept in the glow of our cable box, I thought about it. I didn't so much have an issue with x amount of comic book t-shirts. I think what really bothered me was that I felt like I was moving forward and he wasn't. You know, with me getting rid of the "CALL ME 555-1234" ironic t-shirts and Zooey Deschanel (in a bad way) dresses. 5 years of single lady clothes.
And meanwhile, he chooses to hold onto ten different iterations of X-Men t-shirts. This bothered my inner Murphy Brown. I gave up the clothes of my early '20s and though I occasionally mourn that the days of Peter Pan collar dresses are behind me, I appreciate what I have now much more. A high-quality, expertly-tailored jacket is way better than flimsy dresses that fall apart at the first wash. One button-down that isn't see-through and drapes just right is better than all those chintzy "fast fashion" blouses. And don't get me started about sad acrylic/fake metal jewelry that turns your skin green, something of which we've all owned at some point.
While theorizing about the evolution of my own wardrobe, it occurred to me that I was absent-mindedly fiddling with the hem of his t-shirt. Which I was wearing as a nightgown that night.
At some point, you realize that you don't just live with a boyfriend, but a person with thoughts and feelings that may differ from yours. And lo and behold, there was my moment. Though one could argue that there comes a time in life where you have to toss out the t-shirt wardrobe, many could argue that one of the rare upsides to adulthood is being able to buy as many t-shirts as you want. I think we're all guilty of the latter. If it's not t-shirts, it's something else. He could easily fault me for a big record collection, a large portion of which is made up of '50s sound effects. These take up valuable space, too.
By morning, I apologized. But by then, he was tossing a faded shirt into a mysterious bag. Before last night, I would've silently rejoiced and then encouraged tossing a few more into the pile. Now, though, I stopped him. I get it now. He surprised me, though, by donating a bunch of old things while I was gone that day.
"They just weren't right anymore," he said.