Monday, March 5, 2012 3:53 PM EDT
I once had a friend in Montreal who lived in the kind of grand, elegantly disheveled apartment that only seems to exist in Montreal (well, for university student budgets, at least). This place boasted -- and I promise I am not using that word facetiously -- a closet that was not so much “walk-in” as “live-in.” I say this -- I boast this -- because one of my friend’s roommates was actually living in the closet, it was that big. Often when I share this true story, some people (particularly women) groan with envy.
What is it about closets?
To answer that, we must agree on the definition of a closet: a space where clothes are hung, and where old bowling balls and hat boxes are stored comically on upper shelves? Please. Here’s a more sophisticated take: “the place we store the way we present ourselves to the world.”
Serious stuff, I know. It was the actual logline for a now sadly defunct Tumblr called “Closet P*rn” (the second word rhymes with, uh, horn), which featured Hipstamatic-y pictures of immaculately cultivated closet spaces.
The Tumblr’s gone, but the philosophical notion of “The Immaculate Closet” is apparently not forgotten. A Google search for “Closet P*rn” brings up a Flickr account as well as something that's even better than a Pinterest page — which is another Pinterest page.
For closet and organizing enthusiasts with a longer attention span, Martha Stewart put out a special collector’s edition of her eponymous magazine, with a handle almost as catchy as Closet P*rn: The Best of Martha Stewart Living — Organizing. Brimming with spotless pantries, wardrobes and bathrooms, and costing a mere $11, it gave you, dear reader, the privilege of feeling inspired and completely inadequate at the same time. The ultimate insider-outsider experience!
The fact is, most of us treat our closets the way we treat our body mass index: not ideal but we’ve learned to shrug. Still even though nobody ever has to see it, we would feel better knowing it’s reasonable. As I write this, my own closet is so jammed-packed with stuff that I’m not even really sure of its dimensions; there could be a doorway to Narnia back there and I’d never know it.
The psychological presence of “The Immaculate Closet” makes itself known whenever you watch an episode of Cribs. Your B-List celebrity of the week shows you her/his rented cars and fridge full of Diet Coke and Champagne before revealing the pièce d’irresistible: the walk-in closet, complete with rows upon rows of colour coordinated sneakers. Envious groaning follows. For a harried generation with too much stuff and too little space, that impeccably curated closet constitutes unimaginable luxury.
You might think that's a ridiculous thought, but before you say as much, ask yourself this revealing question: Exactly how comfortable would you feel about disclosing the state of your closet? What does your closet say about you as you watch TV braggarts showing off their picture-perfect closets? Have you ever considered hiring a professional closet organizer?