Despite my easy-going manner, at least I think I have an easy-going manner most of the time, I can be quite anal about some things. Order is one of those things. Being organized makes me happy. I like to have a plan, and make lists, and then check things off my lists. That’s partly why I love reading mystery novels. I like the world to be ordered, and to make sense. And I like my life to be reasonably well ordered as well.

And that includes my closet and my wardrobe. Sorting and packing away my winter wardrobe, unpacking my spring clothes, and cleaning my closet always gives me a sense of satisfaction. Organizing and tidying clears my head. Gives me back a feeling of order and control.

And right now in our crazy world, I need all the order and control I can get. I think we all do. Feelings of helplessness, that things are spinning out of our control, is a huge stress trigger. Cleaning my closet is like taking back a measure of control. Restoring a sense of normalcy. And both of those can help alleviate some of that stress. At least for me. Besides I love organizing. So there’s that too.

Cleaning my closet and bringing out spring clothes. Moncler anorak, Frame jeans, Burberry scarf, Vince sweater, Paul Green boots, Ray Ban sunglasses.
Out and about in my spring clothes. Even if only onto the deck.

So first up on the agenda was sorting my winter clothes. I pulled all the jackets and sweaters from my closet and drawers, all the pieces I’d be packing away. Folded everything on the spare room bed and made some decisions. Hubby came in and laughed that I was deciding which pieces to vote off the island.

I carted several jackets off to the dry cleaners. Washed a couple of heavy sweaters. And eventually everything was tucked away. Neat and clean and tidy.

Then I sorted through my spring and summer clothes. First my spring coats and scarves came out of hiding. The navy Moncler anorak I’m wearing below will, of course, be in heavy rotation for the next couple of months. As will the navy plaid Burberry scarf I bought to go with it.

Today I’m also wearing my Frame high-rise boot-cut jeans, my Paul Green boots, and a light cashmere sweater from Vince that I bought a couple of weeks ago at Nordstrom. I was looking for a casual sweater to wear under my coat and light jackets that would let me wear my jackets earlier while the weather was still cool. And this loose-fitting, navy v-neck did the trick. Liz picked it out for me. I bought a size large so it would fall loosely, and not cling. You can find it here if you’re interested. I’m sure it will feature heavily in my outfit planning for the next while. I’m thinking with jeans, or with my navy and cream checked pants, or with white jeans. There are tons of options. And I’ll be wearing every single one of them no further from home than my front deck.

Ah… if only I had somewhere to go to wear my spring duds.

In the video below, I take you on a tour of my reorganized spring closet. Don’t get too excited. My closet is tiny, and very modest, and not at all fancy. I try to make the most of the space I have, including the drawers under the spare room bed. Please excuse the fact that I am a beginner at this video thing. When I get caught up in what I’m saying, I forget to point the camera in the right direction. Like when I’m talking about my blouses and shirts and the camera is pointing at something else. Ha.

One of the issues for me this time of year, living in a climate where spring can be very cool, and often late coming, is finding space to bring out spring stuff before I pack away all of my winter things. Often when I was still working, I’d pull out a spring piece here and there and incorporate it into my work wardrobe. Piece by piece my single season closet would become a dual season closet, and get more and more crowded until I was finally able to find the time to do a complete changeover.

This year though, I intentionally planned to make my closet dual season. At least for the first couple of months of spring. First I packed away all the heaviest fall and winter things. I left several fall jackets (my Paige denim jacket, an Akris leather one, and my suede M&S moto jacket) in the closet. And I left the very summery jackets (a linen Max Mara, a tan Elie Tahari safari jacket, and my white Theory blazer) in storage. In a few weeks I’ll change them round. I also left my dresses and summer skirts packed away for now.

The plan is to simply revel in wearing my early spring stuff for a while. Wearing pieces that have been packed away since November makes me feel as if I have a whole new wardrobe. And when the weather gets warmer, I’ll have more pieces to unpack and get excited about. Maximizing the excitement level of a pretty minimal wardrobe.

Cleaning my closet and bringing out spring clothes. Moncler anorak, Frame jeans, Burberry scarf, Vince sweater, Paul Green boots.
Getting a bit breezy out here.

So for the moment, my closet is ordered and neat, and my drawers are tidy. Sigh. Being organized makes me happy. And helps me to stave off anxiety about the craziness of life these days.

You know, ever since I was a child, I’ve been determined to look at life through rose-coloured glasses. Some days this is easier than others. But I am able to function quite happily if I have something, however small, to which I can look forward with anticipation.

When my back was plaguing me a couple of years ago, and it seemed as if I’d be going to physio for most of the winter, I’d plan a treat for myself after each appointment. Most often, I’d buy a Macdonald’s latte and enjoy it in my car while listening to an audio book. I remember one frigid winter day, sitting in the car with the sun glinting off the snow. I sipped my latte, listened to the last P.D. James Inspector Wexford mystery, and thought how good life could be.

When my brother was gravely ill in 2017, and I was at my Mum’s for weeks, feeling sad and stressed and missing Hubby, I read my way through almost all of the gentle Dorothy Whipple books available on Kindle. When Mum and I left the hospital at the end of the day, we’d stop for a Dairy Queen sundae, and then go home to our books. Worked for both of us.

When I was stuck at home with the Shingles virus a couple of summers ago, I dreamed of the outfits I’d wear when I could get back to my life.

And this week, when the news has been bad, and getting worse. And some people seem to be oblivious to the severity of the situation. Blithely and selfishly endangering themselves and their whole community. And I find myself overwhelmed with despair and then anger, I have to go sit on the spare room bed. Practice deep-breathing, and look at my tidy closet. And after a few minutes I calm down, and find myself thinking, “That blue Max Mara jacket will look so good with those Frame Straight leg jeans and my red loafers.”

Whatever works, people. Whatever works.

I’m not saying that cleaning and organizing my closet solves the world problems. But it sure helped me to clear my head, and feel a bit more in control. I’m confident that all those outfits I’ll plan when things get stressful will no doubt be worn only on the deck and on the blog. But that’s okay. I can live with that.

Now it’s your turn. What are you doing to lessen the negative impact of your confinement, my friends? Some of us, I know, will be more house-bound than others whether by government edict or because of health issues. Many of us will have financial woes, and all the stress that goes with that. How are you coping? And if you’re sick of that topic entirely, feel free to weigh in with whatever is on your mind. If outfit planning cheers you up, like it does me, tell us what you’ll be wearing in your backyard, or on your balcony this week.

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From the archives


What’s Your Magic Wardrobe Number?

What's your magic wardrobe number? How many clothes do you really need to make dressing fun, instead of a chore? It's less than you think.

It’s Raining Winter Dresses

I am usually a mindful and restrained shopper. But since it's been raining winter dresses at my house this week, my slow-fashion reputation may be shot.

More Bibliotherapy and Other Solace

I'm finding lots of solace this week, my friends. Must have been writing about it last week that meant I'm up to my eyeballs in it this week.

45 thoughts on “Cleaning My Closet, and Clearing My Head”

  1. Cleaning of all descriptions has always been my stress release. my daughter was always careful to stay out of my way if the pantry was getting a good clean out! i am sure it comes from trying to impose order on a tiny part of the chaos. hope all is well with you and yours at this difficult time

    1. I’m turning to my blogger friends for inspiration, guidance, comradery, cheer, laughter and virtual hugs. Sue, you’ll never know how much you’ve helped! I thank you…so much!! XO
      Renee in the S. F. Bay Area (day 4 of “Shelter in place”)

  2. As you know we are still in Scotland on holiday . Everything has gone pear shaped since we left home two weeks ago & scenes broadcast on the TV are seriously depressing . It’s very strange to be amongst all this beautiful scenery, which has always calmed yet invigorated us , to think of what is happening elsewhere . Almost surreal . However there are two cases of the virus on this small island so we are not complacent . The tiny shops round here have set restrictions to protect everyone which is good to see . The worry for the locals seems to be the lack of medical services – there are only three sick beds on the island then it is helicopter or lifeboat . We go back to the mainland tomorrow to another very isolated cottage where we will continue our own isolation ( there is a wonderful view there to cheer us ) Then in a weeks time , back home unsure what we will find . I admire your resilience in wardrobe sorting . I’m wondering whether my few new wardrobe buys will get an outing this spring/summer & can’t seem to find the enthusiasm for my usual sort out . We do plan some house decorating & lots of gardening in our ‘quiet time’ at home . Working in the garden is very calming for us – not for you I know ! It is a big plus to have you blog friends out there to chat to . It will be interesting to see how all of us cope in our own way . Thank heavens for books – I’ve said that a few times in my life .

    1. Everything feels so surreal, doesn’t it? I think it’s harder to wrap your head around reality when away from home. I remember when my step-father died when Stu and I were so far away in northern Australia. It somehow felt like a dream, a bad dream, but not real at all. I’m sorry that your stay on that tiny island has been marred by the weird events this spring. But when you get home your garden will be ready for working in, and that will be good, I think. I mean for you… someone who unaccountably actually likes gardening. 🙂

  3. Tidying works for me too, always has. If in doubt, I go clean the bathroom. Gives me something to do, helps me think and at the end of it, a lovely shiny tub! Win-win. And yes, that’s why murder mysteries are so good, a world where order always wins in the end. The little treats are important too and I set them up each day. Good coffee. Frozen grapes and bananas. I am going for a walk in the most gorgeous spring morning. I keep away from all but the most reliable news sources and only check at intervals. BBC dramas on youtube, perfect audiobooks to pass the time. And tonight…the return of Gardeners’ World. I also refuse to overthink an unknown future. It just literally makes no sense. And I try to lend a hand or a listening ear to some friends who are struggling. I gave up catastrophising some time ago and feel better for it. Tonight, about 6ish, I am going to make one perfect cold Martini and then drink it with relish. Perhaps you might do the same?

    1. I have tried so hard to not overthink things, but when one lives with an over-thinker, and a devout follower of the news it’s not that easy. Maybe a cold glass of white wine will suffice. Not a fan of Martinis, although I tried very hard to like them in my twenties.

  4. Hi from inner London. At home, fit and healthy but with an at risk husband. Not ‘at risk” of not being my husband you understand! Long to be out and about volunteering for all the lovely networking groups that have set up and doing something to help but having to be careful and stay mainly indoors apart from dog walks around the local park.
    I’ve decided to treat this period as my “One Day” project. You know that — “I’ll get around to that One Day” or “One day I’m going to ….”
    So, on the growing list so far:
    1. Start playing the piano again – 30 mins a day
    2. Sort out the many many recipes torn from magazines and begin to try to cook my way through them — subject to supplies of course!
    3. Read at least one Charles Dickens cover to cover and re read all of Jane Austen
    4. Get out all the old A level French grammar books and really refresh my french – again 30 mins a day
    5. Start knitting and crocheting again
    6. And this is before I’ve started on all the decluttering, DIY, gardening, new Hilary Mantel etc etc!
    Any further suggestions welcome.

  5. Your video additions to blog are great and give a new perspective- Brava,I like it very much.
    Being at home in a self-isolation is not easy for the majority. Making a structured day-to-day plan could help feeling to have some kind of control and order in chaos.
    It is important to listen and watch only a healthy amount of news,to be informed and not to be overwhelmed. Fresh air could help,too,even if it is an open window,from time to time. Your yard and river are so beautiful,lucky you. We have an opportunity to enjoy indoor or our yard activities we like…and a martini or two can’t do harm :-),as well as coffee,tee….chocolate….
    Trying to eat well and not toooo much,we’ll wear those spring or summer things one day eventually….
    Books,a lot of books,some kind of exercise,meditation or prey…daydreaming about things we’ll do or wear or visit….happy memories and music….
    We can do it
    Stay well and safe <3

  6. I, too have a small closet, but will wait another month or two and do the big seasonal changeover. I was trying to get in a “last wear” of all my favorite winter pieces, but now it’s all my stay-at-home clothes. My biggest excursion will be a run for eggs from a farmer friend and the tiny market with their own butcher that has wonderful meat. Blogs are certainly a welcome distraction and window on other’s live as I feel so isolated. Didn’t realize what a social creature I am!

    1. You must be in a rural area, I guess. We are kind of rural. Which is actually working out for us since we can get out and walk and still be away from people.

  7. You have a lovely turn of phrase and I adored seeing “duds” in one of your captions as it’s not a word I’ve read or even heard for many years. Before I launch into my coping strategies, I’d like to assure you that, should you ever travel to Australia again and if it happens to be winter, your spring duds will do just fine, in most parts of the country 😂
    Now for some strategies:
    1. Procuring a new stock of library books, including Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You, after recently reading and loving Little Fires Everywhere with my book group.
    2. Working to take said book group from IRL to online. We are increasing our technological skills and practising patience.
    3. Talking on the phone today to the oldest woman in our group (she’s 88) about how she survived during WW2 – humbling, reassuring and motivating.
    4. Online yoga, walks while maintaining appropriate social distances and meditation.
    5. Cooking more and thinking about organising wardrobes and cupboards, but not too much of either 😉

    1. Ha. I haven’t used that word in years. Don’t know where it came from. We do hope to get back to Australia one day. Two visits only whetted our appetite.

  8. Good morning from Minnesota,

    Yes, these are times we won’t soon forget. We had been on a cruise down to Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao and got home the 9th. My husband is gone a lot at work trying to get employees set up to work remotely as needed. Our fathers are both 86 and our mothers are in their 80’s and so many aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings over 60. We pray they stay healthy, but understand we don’t get to live forever. I agree on organizing, lists and calm. We are finishing up a main floor remodel and have organized and gotten rid of so much, all our living room furniture and lamps, so don’t have that much to do in that area! My closet room is waiting for shelves and such so will get that done at some point. The places I need the items from are closed now. I love your quality pieces and aspire to be more like you in that area. Yes, we woke up to snow, so no spring weather soon for us. I do similar in bring out a few pieces, all my below 20 degrees clothes get put away. It makes me feel calmer to have that sense of control. I am finishing up ironing and going to clean brushes, hair and makeup and combs today and go through my gym bag, since it is closed for the time being. Thank you for sharing. Stay well.

    1. Funny you should mention that, Christa, I just did all my make-up brushes yesterday. And plans I had to find new stuff (furniture and decor pieces) for the house are now on hold… for goodness knows how long. I’m kind of enjoying being able to put it off with impunity. Ha.

  9. Thanks for the inspiration – I’m impressed at how you manage with a small closet to do such a good job making varied outfits. I too love order, but not enough to actually do the work of really organizing my closet. I learned long ago that dressing slightly ahead of the season makes you look fresh and up-to-date, which is not so important when you’re retired but can still help lift your mood. Not sure what to do this year, as taking clothes to the dry cleaner is not an option for the next few months, but guess that I’ll move some to our guest room closet and hope for the best.

    1. I never thought of that, dressing ahead of the season. My dry cleaner run was almost two weeks ago, so I guess I was lucky to get it done.

  10. Hi Sue,
    We are hunkered down here in Pennsylvania, also. Our governor just yesterday ordered the closing of all non-essential businesses. The weather’s been gloomy this week, but I try to get outside for a walk when it’s not pouring. I’ve also been washing and storing winter sweaters and have pulled out a few things for days that actually look and feel like Spring!

    A video tip from a former school technology specialist: turn your phone so that it’s positioned in “landscape” mode when recording. (Hold it wide instead of up and down.) Then when you post on your blog or on YouTube, it will fill the viewers’ screens, and you will eliminate the black side panels.

    Thank you for keeping us entertained during this trying time!

    1. Thank-you so much for that tip, Barb. I miss being around my more technically adept colleagues who could always help me solve issues. I did a tester video when Hubby and I were on our walk today and that works a treat.

  11. I’m reading, binging shows, taking the dog for a walk and baking with my kids to try to instill a sense of normal for them. Yesterday, I needed exercise so I cleaned out the garage. Like you, organizing give me a much needed sense of control. Stay safe!

  12. A thing I started a while back during a period of enforced athomeness, was to make a list of all the clothes I have really loved in my life, from a dress my sister made me when I was eleven, right up to date. I loved doing this, and I also loved reading through it, remembering the look and feel of the garments. I shall have to get that out again. Sometimes its good to escape into another time.

    Keep well and keep safe.

  13. Haven’t commented in a while but still continue to read your lovely posts. Thanks for giving us an insight into your closet via the videos. I am amazed at the many and varied outfits you can create from your closet. A great inspiration. Being retired and living in rural BC I am already fairly isolated but it has still impacted on the life I normally lead. Missing friends etc to discuss common interests. In the meantime I am cleaning and purging stuff (obviously in readiness when normal service is resumed!) and making lots of art. Depending on how long this current state goes on for maybe my creative juices will run dry! Reassessing current closet and the closet for the summer. Definitely stay away from too much media ‘news’ and of course there are always glorious books to read, although with the library closed, I am having to resort to entirely reading on line, much prefer the feel of a real book in my hands.

    1. Thanks, Christy. I’ve been planning to try to get back at working my way through an art instruction book I started a couple of years ago. Seems like the perfect time to do that.

  14. I loved the videos! Please keep filming. There is a reason you always looks so good. You are so intentional about your wardrobe and the results are lovely. Thanks for your thoughtful and encouraging post.

  15. Hello from France,

    Here people are not …disciplined! Well they are french so what would you expect..
    So the government had to reinforce the previous recent rules that have been settled, in vain alas.
    I am perusing blogs, youtube channels, forums … about make up and beauty product, more than ever before. Which is funny as I do not really use make up if at all. But I do like to read about all the new products for the face.
    Also I am going to clean my closet as well.
    I ordered the book Curated Closet plus the workshop book that goes with and will try to find a new life for my clothes.
    I wish you all the best of time considering the circumstances and keep calm, do enjoy the small joys of everyday life.

  16. Well I’m feeling quite lazy next to you. Reorganizing closets aren’t my favorite thing and I have plenty of time to start on that. Here in Southern California it is cool for us (50-60 degrees) and a little rainy. It’s wonderful t9 walk outside and see the trees and shrubs come into bloom. I like to cook so meal planning and cooking takes some time. I find I’m listening to books more than reading them. I am also reading more news online and quite a few blogs. I watch just a little tv, and I plan to watch Emma tonight. I go to bed early and eat well to maintain my immune system since I’m over 65. My husband is a very active man and he’s already cleaned out the backyard and disinfected the house. I’m thinking of suggesting a drive to the beach or Joshua Tree for a picnic just to get us out of the house. Ceri’s list above will keep me busy if I run out of things to do. Please keep blogging, I love your book suggestions and clothes styling.

    1. I find that audio books are sometimes easier when I am distracted. I can do other things and listen at the same time. Just yesterday, I suggested to Hubby that we pack a picnic and head out somewhere further into the country to walk and have a picnic. And just to have an outing.

  17. I have been following your blog for a couple years now. I enjoy reading your posts and would share your canoeing, trip and garden pictures with my husband. We both at one point had been teachers and we also spent a lot of time camping and canoeing up here in North Western Ont. I am struggling with the social distancing and isolation right now because my husband took ill with Mysothelioma in November and died 2 weeks ago. We had been married 48 yrs. Being physically active and organizing has always helped me heal emotionally before and hopefully will help me now through my grief. I am going to check out the Dorothy Whipple Series… I was attracted to the word ‘gentle’ reading. That is something i could use right now to help pass the time at home. Thank you for your blog esp the geese videos. I love to see them fly back in the spring. Their noise always makes me laugh.

    1. Oh, I so very sorry to hear that, Victoria. What a dreadful time for all this other stuff to have happened. Especially when you were going through a difficult form of social distancing already. I will say that I found the Dorothy Whipple books so soothing when my brother was in his final illness. If you click on the link in this post it will take you to the post I wrote about the Dorothy Whipple books. I’d start with The Priory. Take care. And please do stop back from time to time and let us know how you are doing.

  18. I can’t say I like the process of organisation and cleaning but I do love the end result of a tidied house and a ordered closet. I regularly treat myself with coffee and a book. Since retiring I’ve learned to knit and am revisiting garment sewing which I’m really enjoying . As a healthcare professional since the late 1970’s I’ve seen pretty much every virus that’s been around I’m quite happy to self isolate, practise my hobbies and think about my spring wardrobe .

  19. Doing extra cleaning jobs , I always find it a good way to work off nervous energy in difficult times. I’m not really in the mood for closet sorting, it’s depressing to look at the winter stuff that won’t get worn again, I’m living in tracksuit bottoms and jumpers.
    The weather here in Greece is beautiful but still chilly, it seems too early to think of spring clothes. On an optimistic note , the fruit trees are all in bloom, white and rosy pink, and there are wild anemones everywhere.
    I’m currently reading ” Elisabeth’s Lists” by Lulah Ellender, which I am enjoying very much, can recommend. I hope my new order of books arrive soon , and there’s always that unfinished cardigan ! And your and other favourite blogs which help us feel less isolated.

    1. Sunny here in eastern Canada but still cold. Trying to walk daily when the wind is not too bad. Wish you’d send us some of those blossoms. 🙂

  20. We’re fortunate to have a second home on a family farm in rural Kentucky. A large Mennonite community is nearby — they dress like the Amish but are quite entrepreneurial with grocery stores, butcher shops and wonderful breads. I deep cleaned our house today and discovered food in the pantry that expired in 2015! Please don’t judge. I also finished listening to a biography of Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth’s grandmother. It was so restful to be carried back to the end of the Victorian era with insight into the traditions of ‘The Firm.’ (This should have been required reading for Ms. Markle!). I roasted a turkey breast tonight as a Thanksgiving of sorts for our good health and many blessings. We are both in our late 60s. Hopefully this too shall pass. Thanks, Sue for all the effort you devote to the blog we all enjoy!

    1. Your rural retreat sounds ideal, Chris. I think that Queen Mary was a force to be reckoned with at the time. It seems unbelievable to me that Megan Markle should have been surprised by what she encountered after her marriage. So much of that info is out there.

  21. One of the things that I’ve been doing since this pandemic imposed isolation came into being is catching up on reading blogs like yours that have been waiting in my inbox since we got the call to rush to Vancouver at the end of February because my 96 year old father wasn’t doing well. He passed away in the wee morning hours of March 1 and, as you can imagine, there was much to be done in the days that followed. Here in Alberta, it’s a bit too early to start switching over to my spring wardrobe just yet, but I have several projects in mind to keep me occupied until life gets back to normal. Like you, organizing is one of my best coping strategies (I think I’ve said before that we must be kindred spirits!) I almost finished cleaning out and reorganizing our storage room before the trip to Vancouver interrupted me, so there’s that to do and then my kitchen cupboards need a good going through as well. Perhaps by the time I get those done, I can start thinking about my spring wardrobe. I also have some good books waiting and I’ve started working on learning Spanish online again. When we were in Mexico just over a year ago, I’d learned enough to buy our bus tickets in Spanish, but I haven’t worked on it for several months now and the little I knew is getting pretty rusty. Take care and enjoy the spring sunshine!

    1. So sorry to hear about your father, Elaine. This is a difficult time for everyone but especially if you are dealing with a loss. I hope the cleaning and organizing projects help take your mind off everything. Take care of yourself.

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