organizing closet

Photo: David Tsay

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Purge One Person's Clothes at a Time
First up is Michelle, who immediately starts flinging items onto the bed, i.e., the "donate" pile: a blue tracksuit from the '80s, the wine-stained green chiffon gown she wore to a friend's wedding in 1998. She pauses when she reaches a cropped red shirt whose bedazzled letters spell LUCKY. "I used to wear this when we were dating," she says wistfully. She turns to her husband: "Want me to make a pillow out of it for you?" Walsh winces. But it's ten minutes into the purge, and rather than argue, the couple have retreated into a happy bubble of nostalgia. It bursts only when Michelle holds up a pair of denim overalls embroidered with Winnie the Pooh characters. Niall says, "That is so—" "Terrifying," supplies Walsh. They move on to the stacks of black cargo sweatpants left over from Michelle's pregnancies. "They're fine," Niall mumbles. Walsh reminds him that criticizing his wife's weekend pants is different from criticizing his wife: "Do you love her? Do you want what's best for her?" Niall nods vigorously. "So let's try this again. Do you like these pants?" "No!" Michelle looks shocked—but instead of using a veto, she says, "I would've gotten rid of them years ago if I'd known." Michelle wants to keep her embellished J.Crew T-shirts, but Niall, emboldened, admits he thinks they look "like somebody puked on them." In the end, Michelle is so energized by the slow creep of open space—and the mounds of barely worn clothing bound for charity—that she uses none of her vetoes. But when Niall, during his turn, expresses a desire to throw away almost everything he owns ("Where I grew up, you didn't have 20 coats"), she vetoes that. "I don't want to buy you a new sweater the next time you get cold," she says.