Playing 'I spy' in my crowded closet

Once, the only men concerned about their "image" were Hollywood actors and Washington politicians. Ordinary guys mostly tried to make sure that their ties, socks, and belts didn't clash with their suits.

Then the fashion landscape changed: We had casual Fridays and dotcomers showing up for work in shorts and flip-flops. Many men – who had never thought much about their clothing before – were suddenly not sure if they were properly dressed for the occasion.

No wonder American males began turning to image consultants for advice on looking good. (See story at right.)

One thing that struck me about Noel Paul's delightful account of an afternoon spent with three image consultants was their question: What's in your closet that you don't wear – and why?

I'm glad no one is peering into my closets and asking that. The blue skirt and blouse? Well, they're too tight at the moment. Why hang onto them? Because they fit last summer and experience tells me that they will fit again next summer – and by then, no one will remember seeing me wear that outfit, so it will seem new.

That black dress with the embroidery around the sleeves and bottom of the skirt? I bought that in Dallas when my luggage didn't show up in time for the fancy dinner I was to attend. Unfortunately, I haven't been invited to anything as elegant since. But I keep hoping.

Then there are the pants and shirts that are referred to as "gardening clothes" – also worn for long rambles in the woods and walking the dog. Do I really require a different set for every day of the week?

I guess I don't need a consultant to tell me it's time to clean out the closets and head to Goodwill.

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