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The Stories of Our Clothes

Written for the January 2020 Man Repeller Writers Club Prompt: If Your Closet Could Talk, What Would It Say?


My wardrobe is more than just a vessel to store my clothes. It has for ever served as a cumbersome storage box for old diaries, school memorabilia, shoeboxes stuffed with photos - life’s debris. It’s the trusty steed that keeps my keepsakes safe and my companion for the times I go searching for a top and find myself an hour later, photos in hand, sidetracked by the temptation of nostalgia. But, aside from the clutter, my clothes form the patchwork of my life so far, peppered with fabric relics of the many iterations of my amateur adult life.


My university years are bookended with a white, American Apparel tennis skirt that barely covered my bum and a £20 fake tan stained Zara dress that I wore to my Graduation Ball. I haven’t worn fake tan since and no longer fit into the skirt (or lifestyle) but my closet can recite the joy filled memories back to me with perfect clarity.


Themed events account for many hastily scavenged novelty items from charity shops (thrift stores) or eBay. The metallic dress attacked with scissors and length of gold satin that I tied around my body to fit a gold themed festival, the sailor’s outfit for a nautical festival theme, the pirate hat, the red plastic visor. They tell of a person who punctuates her life with carefree fun, as a reminder of the person she can be when plucked from the 9-5 drawl.


The skeletons of old jobs hang mournfully amongst the fancy dress - the waitressing apron, the black t shirts, the corporate trousers. Until last year, I thought I was done with waitressing, but the decision to quit my job and travel found me back at my parents and working in a local restaurant. Even now that I’m back in a permanent job, I'm reluctant to throw them away, as my closet and I reminisce about my indecisive nature and fear of giving up on the possibility of spontaneity.


Saying this, my daily priority is comfort. I live in oversized everything, cosy jumpers, soft t-shirts, jeans, trainers and gold hoop earrings. These everyday outfits are a microcosm of my life in this snapshot of time. The clothes we wear to lounge in and run errands are maybe those that stick around the longest, the yoga pants and sweatshirt that see us through hungover or heartbroken duvet days and the Sunday fear.


I don’t think my closet would say anything extraordinary about me, but the memories are woven into the fabric of its contents, a kinship between us. I imagine I’ll eventually get rid of the novelty hats and long un-worn mini skirts, reminding me of a person that feels like a distant relative, but for now, she still feels familiar and every now and then it’s nice to come across a straggly piece of satin that fills me with memories of dancing around a muddy field with my best friends.

TATE GRONOW

 freelance writer