Joanne Palmer: No fun with fashion faux pas |

Joanne Palmer: No fun with fashion faux pas

Joanne Palmer

In 1989, Joanne Palmer left a publishing career in Manhattan and has missed her paycheck ever since. She is a mom, weekly columnist for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, and the owner of a property management company, The House Nanny. Her new book "Life in the 'Boat: How I fell on Warren Miller's skis, cheated on my hairdresser and fought off the Fat Fairy" is now available in local bookstores and online at or

It all started innocently enough with a lost set of house keys. Unable to find a set of keys I really, really needed, I launched a search worthy of Scotland Yard. After looking in the car, coat pockets and hall closet, there was only one place left to look: my closet. While stuffing my hand into every imaginable pocket, I thought, "Why not multitask? Why not make a pile of clothes I don't wear and clean my closet while I look for these house keys?" So I made a pile of the clothes I don't really wear.

It was appalling.

I was ruthless. I finally decided it was high time to get rid of the "just-in-case" collection of clothes I had in the dark corners of my closet. These clothes included but were not limited to: just in case I lose 5 pounds, just in case I gain 5 pounds, just in case I win the lotto and take a tropical vacation, just in case the person who gives me an article of clothing comes to visit and I need to wear it, just in case I go camping, just in case I paint a closet and need painting clothes, just in case I get a "real" job and need a more professional wardrobe and just in case I get invited to a wedding, black tie event or need to attend a memorial service.

Crazy making!

I could not believe the magical thinking or the active fantasy life attached to my closet. I have to confess that when it came right down to it, when I was logical, pragmatic and serious (three nearly impossible traits for a humor writer to possess for longer than five minutes) there were about five tops I wore constantly, two pairs of jeans and assorted workout clothes.

Keep in mind that in Steamboat workout clothes do double duty as evening wear as it is not uncommon for friends to show up for dinner wearing long underwear, and I have been known to run errands and shop for groceries in base layers.

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Nevertheless, here's what happened: open space. There was so much space in my closet it was downright frightening. Scary. There was almost nothing left in my closet — and I still hadn't found the house keys.

Soon after doing this, I read an article in The New York Times about virtual closets. "tracks how often you wear what's in your closet, the cost-per-wear of items (yuck!) and the weather the day you wore them." The site tracks brands, colors and styles you wear so you don't commit a fashion faux pas — like wearing the Calvin Klein sweater to dinner with your mother-in-law two nights in a row.

It gets worse. lets you "upload and share outfits; virtually try on potential purchases with a webcam." If I understand it correctly, the site lets fashionistas create a virtual closet with items from their real closet and try on clothes they find online in the site's virtual fitting room.

What will they think up next? Here's a few more: "lets you catalogue your closet, layer outfits and post images to Facebook." Um, why? Immediate feedback to the question: "Do these leopard print tights make me look fat?"

All these websites and apps soon may take all the fun out of borrowing clothes from girlfriends and sisters, buying and bringing home a duplicate of something you already own and preventing you from embarrassing yourself by wearing the same outfit twice.


In the meantime, I remain committed to wearing base layers to the grocery store, putting my coat over my bathrobe at night to walk the dog and participating in clothing swaps.

As far as those house keys, well, I'm still looking.

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