My closet has a big hole in it. Last weekend, while getting home from a weekend trip, I noticed how many dress shirts I have clogging my closet. I decided it was a good time to go through my former work attire and “declutter” my wardrobe. While I did some major decluttering immediately after I retired, I didn’t really touch my work clothes. I guess it seemed too early – I didn’t know how much I needed them anymore.
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Now after more than fifteen months, I have a much clearer picture. I rarely dress up more than twice in a week for almost any reason, and I rarely dress up for meeting with the same people more than a couple times in a month. Contrary to today’s Franklin quote, my dreams have stopped working and are now on permanent holiday. That being the case, there is no reason to have more than a dozen shirts on hand – and I had probably thirty! It didn’t take long to weed out shirts to bring to the Goodwill Store by our house. I brought them about fifteen shirts.
It was another one of the weird, symbolic decisions you make over time to adjust to civilian life. Dress shirts were a staple of my executive existence and I had a whole program of rotating them, taking them to the dry cleaners, picking them up, and replacing them when needed. It wasn’t a formal program, but still something that I spent a lot of time managing. My wife and I were at the dry cleaners twice a week, every week managing which shirts, pants, suits, and dresses were at home, at the dry cleaner, or needed picking up. (We used to have a nice dry cleaning service on our MegaCorp campus, which was very convenient. We never got into the home delivery/pick-up approach).
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All of the shirts I dropped off at Goodwill were neatly dry cleaned, but hanging in my closet unused for more than a year. I wouldn’t feel good about dropping off the shirts dirty or wrinkled. We’ll get a donation tax write-off on the shirts on our income taxes that will cover the few bucks we paid to have them properly taken care of.
I’m not sure what will go into the hole in my closet. I probably have some dress pants, sport coats, and suits that I should also get rid of. Those will create even more space. I’m told that one of the tricks to retirement is to not get too much done at once. Save some work for the next day, they say. While there is more work to decluttering, I’ll save that pleasure for a future opportunity.
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