How To Get Your Clothes Back After A Breakup (& Live To Tell)

Photo: New Line Cinema/REX/Shutterstock.
There are a few things in life that don't come with a playbook: how to use an umbrella, how to date in a big city, how to be political without being corrupt... Look, adulting can be hard. But an unexpected breakup comes as a particular shock to the system. And picking up the pieces to put yourself back together again is exhausting.
It can be a long process, too. After weeks spent crying in your car, into your pillow, in your shower, at a bar, even — you might survey your closet and think to yourself, Here we are again. You're at the same place you stood on date No. 1, as you rushed to throw something together that wasn't trying too hard, but just enough for someone you didn't even know. (No one cares about that stuff, by the way — wear whatever makes you feel good.)
It's funny how we're so connected to our clothes. Some of us work hard, in part, so we can spend money on our wardrobes; a good chunk of our free time might be spent taking care of our clothes, and when we're ready to get rid of certain pieces, we have to deal with tossing or donating them. But nothing says codependency with your closet like the knot in your gut when you realize that one of your favorite pieces is still at your ex's house. Fuck.
"Don't panic, don't panic," you tell yourself. You can't possibly face that person again — the person who decided their life was seemingly better without you in it — but they lost that privilege by deciding to break up with you, anyway. So, what do you do? One option, of course, is to meet up with them one last time to do the final exchange. "Uh, you left these at my place a long time ago. Figured you'd want them back," he says, without an ounce of courage to look you in the eye.
The second option, though, might be a better idea for those who don't have anything left to prove: Ask a friend to do it for you. It's a harsh reality when you realize that you're still not ready to see this person, and that you probably won't be for a long time. It also reminds you how lonely the next few months are going to be. But there's always a bright side: It's that moment when you realize you need your friends the most. Because, yes, part of their job is to tell you when that dress isn't, unfortunately, all that great on you. But we can count on them to pick us up when we fall, too.
Photo: New Line Cinema/Everett Collection.
If ever there were a step-by-step guide for this predicament, Sex and the City has provided us with a plethora of examples over the years. But the moment Carrie moves back into her apartment after being jilted at the altar is all too real. Thankfully, her assistant, Louise from St. Louis, is there to organize all of the heavy lifting while Carrie pieces her freelance life back together. The look on her face when she opens the box that has her wedding dress in it says it all.
"Do you want me to get rid of it?" Louise asks. "No, it's too beautiful. I'll just bury it deep in the back, like I did my feelings," Carrie replies, pushing the box out of frame. It's a scene that makes us think about who the Louises in our own lives are. She's your best friend from college, she's your coworker, a family friend, or simply, just someone who gets it; that's basically the only requirement. Everybody needs a Louise.
And it's moments like this, moments of loss and despair, that make fashion an experience. They underscore the idea that the art of investing in something you truly can't live without is worth every penny. You kind of have to think about that wear-with-everything cashmere sweater and wonder if, one day, it's truly going to be worth your tears — or more importantly, worth keeping — or not. You call it a messy breakup, we call it shopping smart.
So, the next time you're separated from a killer pair of jeans by a total relationship implosion — call your Louise. She'll make sure they get back to you in one piece, folded just the way you like it. And when she goes through the same thing, you'll be there, too — picking her up and dusting her off, en route to rescue the clothing items she misses, the ones she can't live without. She'll need them. Because fashion isn't just a Band-Aid or a coping mechanism for dealing with our bigger problems. Sometimes, it can be our saving grace.

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