passing the Rene Russo clothing test

Packing is elevated to a whole new level when half your wardrobe is too big, a quarter too small, half outdated, a portion stained or damaged by pits or wine or the moth problem Phil had in Manhattan (so fcuking gross – he had moths living in his vacuum cleaner bag! And my sweaters have been RUINED because you can’t undo a cashmere hole without looking totally shoddy)…

As I was saying, a quarter too nightclub shorty McSlutTown, and then the majority of clothes that do fit and are in fine condition but that you simply, for whatever reason, just don’t wear… Plus the piles you’ve had stacked on the floor full of comfy college clothes, memory clothes, sweatshirts from old beaus, college orientation shirts, plus all the freebie shirts from conferences and concerts where you said, “I’ll wear it around the house or to work out in.”

It is time, fellow American (and Italian, German, Swedish, Malaysian, and Israeli) readers to purge yourselves of these lies. Time to release “I will” and make it “I do.” I do wear those shoes. I refuse to care about who the designer is or dwell on how costly it was. If I haven’t worn it in the past year, it is OUT.

There will be absolutely no period panties, no bras with broken down elasticity, no shirts or shorts or (cringe) boxers for sleep, and no gym socks that aren’t pure white. I will only sleep, forevermore, in clothes sold in the lounge wear and sleep department of stores. As for the workout clothes, if it’s uncomfortable, it’s outta here. Also, as a general rule, if costume designers and stylists wouldn’t dare put that sweater on Diane Keaton or Rene Russo (particularly in The Thomas Crown Affair), then be done with it! Nothing says I don’t give a shit about myself than slightly yellowed whites or even the smallest hole, so get to it!



  1. Taking all my too-big designer stuff to an upscale consignment shop this weekend. Momma needs some money…to buy more clothes.

  2. I did that exact purge when I got divorced and moved from my fancy-schmancy house to my current cozy home. In my purge, I included denim, ratty slippers, anything that didn’t feel delightful on my skin, basically. OUT when the t-shirts, sweat pants and worn tennies. Twelve years ago I started shopping for lingerie in fine lingerie shops. I sleep in beautiful jammies. There is something very liberating about moving those old memories and baggy bottoms out, and bringing the beautiful closer in.

  3. If you have the favorite t-shirts and sweatshirts you have been keeping for “memories” take digital photos and use them a periodic screensaver. This also works well for your kids’ art projects that tend to pile up over the years. I just went through my closets and threw away countless bags of crap and donated seventeen Hefty bags of clothing to tornado victims after weeding out the unwearables. It was obviously time to get rid of the past. I have also made a vow to stop buying stupid t-shirts when on vacation no matter how cute the saying when I have had copious amounts of “Happy Lemonades” poured into my system.

  4. I spent 2 full days doing just this two weekends ago and I feel fan-fucking-tastic about my wardrobe and myself now! I literally printed out a page each (in fancy font) for: ‘trash’, ‘donate’, ‘trade or sell’, and ‘at my best’. I tried everything on. Took pictures of perfect outfits. And was meticulously critical. If I didn’t feel amazing and comfortable in it (including workout wear), out it went. (Yes, it was hard to part with the ‘such a great deal!’ designer shit, but it was time to get real and let go of that money spent, which was only eating away at my self-esteem and adding to my guilt.)

    I also took it a step further and e-vited my girls to a clothes swap brunch where we’ll shop each other’s castoffs (hence the ‘trade or sell’ pile, which got only the best of the stuff that went). Then, all the leftovers go to charity that day, so we not only look great, we feel good about it after, too. I feel so great about my streamlined wardrobe, there’s no time to feel bad about that huge-ass pile of clothes I’m off-loading.

    1. i just did this with some girlfriends! It is such a great way to get some new clothing and, of course, gossip with some cocktails.

  5. Don’t save all those pretty dresses for unplanned parties and date nights. Wear one grocery shopping. It feels great to dress up for something so mundane.

    I recently purged and could not let go of some pre WW weight loss jeans. I have no idea why. Like a safety net of denim or something.

  6. ummmmm, are you getting rid of any good stuff? If so, can you please let me know which thrift store you’re donating to? I live in Austin. :)

  7. I did this a few months ago and it was awesome. Formal dresses still with tags, all the slightly stained things, the Ralph Lauren sweater whose neck was too tight. ALL GONE. Apparently I didn’t have that much to start with because both sisters said, “Did you have anything left?!?” but it was the greatest feeling to walk in and know that if it was there, I could actually WEAR it.

    The other thing I did was to take pics of all my work clothes (there were only maybe 12 pieces total) and then put them on a piece of paper to mix and match them. I was suprrised by how many more outfits I had when I wasn’t looking AT the clothes themselves. I only needed to end up going out to buy one shirt and one skirt.

    Good luck and don’t stop…it’s hard but I gave them all to my housekeeper, the good and the bad so I couldn’t change my mind. Though I do miss the fanny pack–just kidding!

  8. I just filled up a heavy duty garbage bag with old clothes for Goodwill the other night. The sad thing is I probably need to fill about five more to make a dent in my clothing hoard!

  9. Right before I had max I went on a purging spree which at seven months, I am not finished. My goal is to only keep what I love. If I haven’t worn it in years I got rid of it. A couple months ago I got rid of five bags of clothes I liked but didn’t love and never wore. I even sold my dining room table and chairs for the same reason. Its like therapy. On a side note, there is a designer second hand store on burnet an 49th-take your good stuff over there and make some money.

  10. How inspiring!! I’ve been thinking along these lines especially the last week. I literally have to wait until my bf is not home before I can throw/give anything away. The guy can have an emotional attachment to a sweatsock. Goodbye faded workout pants that show exactly where I need to work on my cottage cheese ass when I do a plie squat. Goodbye whole round of shirts that really are just too short length-wise yet were in ten years ago. Goodbye cerulean blue. Thanks, Stephanie!

  11. I really need to do that. I have a really ugly sweatshirt with holes in it that I wear to bed. My husband hates it!

  12. I did a big purge a few months before moving into my current home. That was 3 years ago, and these days I remain a NEAT PERSON… after a lifetime of slobbery. I was inspired by Oprah’s de-cluttering guru Peter Walsh and his “It’s All Too Much” book. I strongly recommend it! Now whenever I reach for shoes, I’m thrilled to always find the whole pair… not just one shoe! :)

  13. If you haven’t worn it or accessorized with it in two years, get rid of it! The one exception-anything that would make a hysterical halloween costume for you or baby Beers in a few years. I still have my father’s army fatigues, a repulsive bridesmaid dress, and a few random accessories that fit the bill for costumes.

    1. Author

      My grandmother knit herself many many sweaters. She was very talented, but they are itchy and have puff sleeves or metallic yarns. I can’t bear to give them away knowing that she touched, not just touched, MADE, the very garments in my own hands now. They make me feel close to her. But what do I do with them? There is no room in my closet. Storage means I’ll never see them again, right?

      Also, I was just sorting through her boxes (in my closet) and I have all her old silk stockings, old school, her scarves, and little blue pill. Elavil. Anti-depressant. She was one anxious mama. My father has the gene, and I hate to admit it, but so do I… though mostly with regard to health… or freaking out if anyone is using a knife (I can’t watch anyone chopping in movies either).

      1. Stephanie – You could take your Grandma’s sweaters and make a blanket out of them. I’ve seen a version of this with old college t-shirts, and it is really so special to my friend who has it. I don’t know…just a thought : ) Then you could see them all of the time!

      2. Pick two or three favorites of your grandmother’s sweaters and donate the rest. It’s the easiest solution to your dilemma. You will still have the memories and room in your closet.

  14. Girl, I needed to read this! I will purge this weekend. Thanks, Stephanie.

  15. Hey Stephanie,

    Glad to hear about the purge – you WILL feel lighter, stronger, faster!

    To really finish off your newly streamlined closet and feng shui it 100%, you might consider getting a bunch of new, matching hangers. It seems like a little thing, but I just did this recently and to me it makes a HUGE difference to have everything on the same type of hanger. I have one type of hanger (white plastic) for shirts/sweaters/jackets/dresses, and another (wood with metal clips) for pants and skirts. Bed, Bath and Beyond, Baby!

    Good luck!

  16. Very funny… I woke up with the same thought myself. I’m even more convinced now :-)

  17. I love Rene Russo’s look in Thomas Crowne Affair. Thx for mentioning it, I love that movie & can watch it over and over again.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.