It is that time of year in the Northeast, when women begin to yank their cold weather clothes out of storage. We shake them, smell the mustiness, run loads of laundry, and put aside a pile of things for the cleaners. And we try them on to consider, if we lost or gained weight and just how much gravity and fried dough have “shifted the goods” in these few warm weather months.

This is the purgatory of wardrobes- not quite warm enough for our heavy jackets, yet our white linen pants no longer seen right. Oh, goody. One more transition in my life-which already and always feels like it is transitioning.

I observe around me the evidence of this summer/fall dilemma in fashion. I see shorts paired with heavy sweaters, cowboy boots worn with shorts and tights under breezy summer dresses. Clearly, we cling to our favorites of summer and the freedom that season represents, while experimenting with our fall pieces-some store bought and others just out of hibernation. How many of us have ignored the frigid temperature just to have one more day “sans socks”? Or have been so eager to wear that new fuzzy sweater, that despite a 90 degree temp, you wore it, suffering through a sweaty, itchy day?

I am fairly scrupulous about the pile of things to go- some to trash, some to Good Will and some to consignment. Yet, year after year I look at, try on and admire my beautiful twenty year old (yup, twenty years!)Black Wool J. Peterman Skirt*.

Unlike most things, this skirt escapes the, “if you haven’t worn it for the past season, it goes” rule. Year to year, I move it from closet to storage and back again, taking a few minutes to try it on( still fits) and twirl about( yes, it is twirly) before putting it back in the closet next to my usual and well used fall/winter wardrobe. I love this skirt yet I don’t wear it but I can’t get rid of it!

The problem with the J. Peterman skirt, is that despite my affection for it, it is not really appropriate anywhere. I certainly will not show up in a long elegant skirt for work-too dressy. It is too austere for a dressy party, too casual for a wedding and the twirly element makes it too “upbeat” for a funeral.

I am not sentimental about clothes and long ago I pitched that purple mini skirt and fringed vest from high school, those bell bottoms and tie-dye shirts from college and all the polyester that followed in the 70’s. I have no shoulder padded jackets left in my closet. Like my refrigerator I uphold the rule, “If in doubt, throw it out”.

So, what’s up with this skirt?

I talked to a few people about this- many have their own version of the J. Peterman skirt-something we bought, still love and hardly, if ever, wear. We simply can’t part with it because when we try it on, it feels sooooo good. In my J. Peterman skirt, I am Jo March, I am Anna Karenina, I am Ginger Rogers, I live at Downton Abbey, I am Susan B. Anthony. And mostly, when I twirl, I am six years old again and all things are possible.


*(For those of you who only know J. Peterman from Seinfeld, let me reassure you, it is indeed a real company and at one time had stores where one could feel the goods so poetically described in their catalogue. A J. Peterman Catalogue is worth perusing-if not for the clothes, then for the literary descriptions of the garments. J. Peterman.) 


© 2013 Donna F. Ferber, LPC, LADC is a psychotherapist in private practice in Farmington, CT since 1986. She is the author of the award winning From Ex-Wife to Exceptional Life: A Woman’s Journey through Divorce now available in Kindle format for $9.99 as well as in paperback.


  1. cj golden on the 29. Sep, 2013 remarked #

    Ginger Rogers, please wear the Peterman skirt next time we meet for lunch and I will wear mine.

  2. Callie on the 30. Sep, 2013 remarked #

    How funny! I still have my cheerleading jacket and when I put it on, I feel 16 again! My sister kept her prom dress! Glad to hear we are not the only ones who play dress up!

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