Why I can’t throw out my two decade old coat

I admit I’m a hoarder.

I have difficulty throwing anything out. My hesitation in purging has to do with the usual, just in case I may need it one-day sentiment. 

Compounded with the additional cost of purchasing the same item is another reason I hesitate.

Photo by Andreas Fickl on Pexels.com

My hoarding nature becomes extreme regarding items in my closet (and the shoe closet). My reasons for keeping these items vary, like the numerous Tee shirts I collected over the years…just in case prevails.

Here are some of the questions (more like statements) in the agonizing thought process:

  • What if I need that perfect neon green mini skirt just in case the neon colour trend comes back?
  • What if I need to match the perfect winter cape coat to match the corduroy pants I “might” need?
  • What if my feet get used to the 6” high-heel slingbacks I bought years ago and haven’t worn since then? 

Except that those what-if situations rarely materialize…

Although I have many items I no longer use (or haven’t seen in years), the one thing in my closet I could never get rid of is the two-decade-old faux fur gray coat I bought at a vintage store back in my university years.

Over the years, seeing this old coat and worn-out lining, I promised myself it was time to say goodbye to my ancient outfit. Every winter seeing the coat in the back of the closet hanging, I promptly put on the other coats I have to face the winter days.  

After years of only seeing it in the closet, I finally decided to bring it out last week when the coldest days in Toronto arrived. 

After dusting off the coat and trying it for the first time in years, it brought back the old memories; and also the sudden realization of why I was reluctant to let go of my oldest possession.  

Keeping youth

It turns out that it was not my hoarding obsession that stopped me from getting rid of the coat, but the memories of youth. 

Seeing the coat brought back old memories of my university years, going out with friends, and getting the thrill of trying the “unique” style of faux fur coat (which was definitely not in back then). A chance to try something new in the sea of sameness of university uniforms – jeans, hoodie, humongous puffer jacket on bone-chilling cold days in Ithaca, New York.

This past weekend with the feel of -20 degrees Toronto temperature, prompted me to try something new (actually, in my case, something ancient).

Trying the same old coat brought back memories of who I was and, more importantly, how I was back then.

Besides bringing the ancient flashback, the coat did something I did not expect: the thrill of realizing that I could still fit into my oldest clothing item gave me the added bonus of happiness (aka vanity).

As I add more gray hairs each year, I am aware of the time passing and also the eventual ending time.  

In the last two years of experiencing the most challenging time of my life with my father’s passing; and the pandemic, retrying the oldest item I have from my younger years brought the comfort I did not know I was seeking.

Old is New again

The faux fur coat is very in right now. 

Actually, it has been “very in” for the last few years…I never thought about trying the old fur coat I wore back in my university days.

Photo by Antoni Shkraba on Pexels.com

Seeing the worn-out lining inside the coat, I decided to “gut”(architect lingo) the coat…well, only the lining part. The original lining was a good quality thick silk in a pale blush colour that blended well with the rest of the gray fur coat.

Well, it was time for a change.

My new design involves something very different; the fire truck red colour, which screams to be seen rather than just being the inside lining.

Seeing the glimpse of brand new bright red lining peaking out brings the thrill I only experience at stores with 70% or more end-of-year-sale signs can only deliver.  

Element of Surprise

There are many ways to describe this wonderful observation.  

In design, it can be summed up as the CONTRAST; in fashion, it is described as UNEXPECTED.

Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

They both describe the awe feelings of seeing something unique, different, eye-opening… All these positive (in my eyes) characteristics can only happen when you bring two things together that are not associated traditionally; black/navy blue, white/gray or even combing old traditional buildings contrasted with a new modern addition. 

These contrasts/unexpectedness help to highlight the different natures of each element. 

As any die-hard fashion enthusiast would say, going for the unique, one-of-a-kind item in your style approach is the right approach in the sea of sameness. 

Of course, the added benefits of “something unique” requires an element of OLD that we have not seen for a long time, if not ever.

Final Thought

In the age of Fast fashion and the encouragement of donation (aka purging), I am finding there is a benefit in keeping things…in fact, for a long time even if you have not used them in those times.

Furthermore, there are mental benefits-on contrary to popular belief- to keep things for a long time.  

Even though I did not know why I was “uncomfortable” in getting rid of my two decades old coat in my conscious mind, my unconscious one knew the why part of my hoarding ways.

I wish I could also come up with good reasons why I am keeping(or not cleaning) scatters of work notes on the desk without organizing and filing them in the correct locations:)

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