Other People’s Closets Are My Favorite Place to Shop

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Treasure or trash, there’s always a bargain to be found

Recently, I found myself on the floor of my closet surrounded by piles of shoes, purses, and other no-longer-treasured articles of clothing. I was in the sorting stage of gathering donations when I saw them — a pair of emerald green high heels I had snagged a few years ago at our local community’s “Clothes Closet” event.

I remember it well. My friends and I prepared for “shopping day” by scouring our dresser drawers and closet shelves in search of items we were no longer wearing, using, or attempting to squeeze into.

Volunteers in the neighborhood with sewing skills and the patience of Job had secured loose buttons, re-stitched breached seams, and mended small rips and tears. Then we all patiently waited for that warm spring Saturday morning, when we’d have the chance to purchase the silky pink negligee our neighbor wore for her now-ex-husband on their first Valentine’s Day together, while hoping she’d also donated the strappy silver pumps and velvet handcuffs that made it a complete outfit — or so she’d told us.

It was all in good fun, and for a very worthy cause. Not only were the clothing and accessories “re-purposed,” the proceeds were donated to several local women’s organizations, making it a win-win for everyone involved.

The community clubhouse where the benefit took place was transformed into a mini-Loehmann’s dressing room. For those of you unfamiliar with the setting, Loehmann’s was a large chain clothing store — and a pioneer in the design of public fitting rooms. It was open concept, with no doors, drapery, or privacy screening of any kind.

Imagine your mother’s living room, filled with a dozen or so women dropping drawers, pretense, and compliments as they all attempted to convince each other they’re comfortable trying on clothes in front of a group of strangers.

Getting back to the “Clothes Closet” event …

It was a success on many levels. There’s something very nurturing — in a kindred spirit sort of way — about playing “dress-up” with your friends while exchanging outfits that hadn’t seen the light of day in years. But just so you don’t confuse me with some New Age guru chattering on about the Zen vibe of it all, I want to confess that some (okay, most) of my motivation to be first in line for the doors to open had little to do with the lofty ideals of philanthropy.

Truth be known, I was in it for the shoes. I had my heart set on a pair of emerald green heels a girlfriend had assured me would be up for grabs. She’d seen me eyeing them across the dance floor on more than one occasion — and those babies definitely had my name on them. And when the doors opened, they were in my hands in six seconds flat.

Flooded with warm feelings and good will, I took my shoes home and began preparing dinner, which turned out to be veggie lasagna — served to my husband by a very happy gal wearing a pair of six-inch green heels, and little else.