Patti loved clothes. She sewed dresses for herself, majored in fashion, worked as a fashion director and photo stylist, and always made a statement. Her closets bulged with beautiful things and I have long dreaded the day I would open them and have to decide what to keep and what should be shared with the world. That day came last weekend. My mum joined me and we began to sort her clothes into three piles: those that would go to her favorite charity, those that were too worn out to pass on. and those that were quintessentially Patti and need to be saved for posterity.
I learned a lot about my wife in this process, seeing everything she owned, thinking through her process of buying and wearing things, seeing all of it laid out like that. My mum was surprised by how much black she owned, for instance. One always thinks of her as a blazing pink peacock. I went through her makeup, her toiletries, every nook and cranny. And even though there was so much, it was possible to go through it all, to feel her mind at work, to sense the years passing by, to remember how she flossed her teeth and put on her stockings. I had a few tough moments, but eventually, we got through the process unscathed , then loaded Mum’s station wagon with bags and bags of stuff.
I’m glad it will be distributed on the other end of Long Island. I don’t want to run into people in the street wearing Patti’s old clothes.
As for the Isse Miyake, Oilily and Todd Oldham treasures, I left them in her closet and will next box and bag them in some archival way. I may do further editing, but for now, I feel like I have stripped her down to the essence of her memory.
I felt a load lift when we were done. Another chapter has begun — it no longer seems that Patti is just away on a trip and will come in the door at any moment. We are resolved to the fact that she is gone, but never forgotten.