Thursday, February 23, 2017

Renaissance Man

“You don’t even like that one,” I told my friend, as he held up a too-large T-shirt.

My friend – we’ll call him Teddy – stared at me, surprised, and asked, “How did you know that?”
We had already gone through about half Teddy’s collection of clothing by the time we got to T-shirts.  A first-item on most people’s decluttering lists, I felt that T-shirts were likely to carry emotional attachment for my friend, much as they do for my nerdy husband.

As he had gone through each item, it had become easier for me to read Teddy’s expression and body language, though I could not explain specifically how I knew that he liked one shirt and disliked another.  When he held up a Pinky and The Brain shirt, I automatically said, “You love it, so keep it.”

The exercise had been sown at a party earlier in the week when, amidst a few hard ciders, I had eyed him and said, “I could help you dress better, if you want.”  I never imagined he would actually take me up on the suggestion.

But while we went through every item of clothing, the evidence of weight loss and lifestyle changes literally piled up as we delegated most of his clothing to the “donate” pile.  While my rule for myself is to keep only what I love, we retained a few items for his use simply for the reason that he had to have something to wear without going out and spending a cool grand on a completely new wardrobe.
After about two hours of sorting and trying on item after item, Teddy’s wardrobe consisted of a half-dozen T-shirts, two pairs of jeans, three pairs of slacks, a few polos, and three button-up shirts.  Several of those items were too large, but clearly denoted to be cycled out as his budget allowed for the purchase of new items.

Once lunch was procured and ingested, Teddy and I headed to a few stores to replace his over-sized wardrobe with a few classic, but still trendy items.  Two pairs of jeans, a button-up, a few polo shirts (size M instead of XL), and a pair of slacks were joined by the unexpected find of a sharp-looking coat that could serve for both casual and more formal events.

By the time we were back to Teddy’s house, we had spent ten hours on refitting him for comfort and style.  Styles he could not have comfortably worn at a heavier weight were now not only available to him, but flattering as well.

Before I left his house, I had Teddy change into some of his new clothes – one item of which he admitted he didn’t feel completely comfortable in.  I encouraged him to live in those clothes at home for a while, after which they would begin to feel like “his” clothes and not just clothing he had bought.  He had positive feedback on a photo from two other friends before I left his house, and texted me with a third response after I had gotten home.  All the encouragement seemed to help him gain confidence in the choices he had made.

The best moment of my evening came when, just before I left, he agreed to try on the coat again and, upon pulling it on, he said, “Do you think it’s a little too big?”  Sure enough, he was right.  The next day, he texted me a photo of its replacement – the same coat sized Medium instead of Large – and I knew my work was done.

While this is something of a brag post, I found myself giving Teddy advice both while we were weeding out his closet and while we were shopping.  My goal wasn’t just to dress my friend up, but to give him information that would help him make good decisions moving forward:

  • You don’t have to buy expensive clothing to look put together.
  • The fit of a piece of clothing is more important than its brand.
  • If you love something, it's okay to keep it.  However, instead of wearing it, you may want to relegate it to a keepsakes box.
  • When we look in the mirror and are unhappy with our appearance, we usually think, “I don’t look good,” when the truth is, “This item of clothing doesn’t fit me.”

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