Deep, Closet-Cleansing Breaths

One clothes horse’s journey toward a more zen-filled stable

By Carrie Hurley

Ashley and Carrie in her newly organized closet.

Ashley and Carrie in her newly organized closet.

A small portion of the clothes Carrie is ready to toss.

A small portion of the clothes Carrie is ready to toss.


Truth be told, my closet tends to look as if wild animals have been climbing the shelves in search of food and water. And heck, being a mom to an 18-month-old, it often feels like there actually is a creature whose sole mission is to seek and destroy anything remotely tidy or organized. 

So when Savvy asked if I was up for a wee bit of a closet cleanse followed by the creation of a capsule wardrobe overseen by Ashley Peeples, owner of Beige, I was all like, “Yes please! Where do I sign?!” Besides, it would be nice to associate the word cleanse with something other than drinking my weight in green juice, or LOTS of time in the ladies room. This should be easy enough. Let’s do this. Game on.

Then I called my friend Caroline. 

And well, a harsh new reality set in. As one of my besties, she felt the freedom to tell me there was NO WAY she would let anyone, ANYONE, see the state of my wardrobe’s union. To quote another, less tactful friend, “Your closet is like the Forbidden Forest in Harry Potter, dark, dangerous and dense. No two visits are the same.” So, I was instructed to clean up before the maid comes, so to speak.

Thank my lucky stars Caroline offered to come over BEFORE the process with Savvy officially commenced. This is my friend whose safe place is The Container Store, so you can imagine the bewildered look on her face upon entering. To say it was brutal would be an understatement. Sweet Caroline got a glimpse of just how sentimental, unorganized and ADD I really am. But hey, good friends love you anyway, and great friends pour you a glass of bubbly, put their hair in a ponytail, and help you weed through your black abyss of a closet because she doesn’t want anyone to “see you this way.”  

I am ever grateful for this pre-gaming, because if Ashley Peeples had seen my closet before this particular purge, cardiac arrest would have been sure to follow. However, even after my preemptive strike, Ashley’s definition of “cleanse” and mine were completely different. What I thought was a cleanse was more of a “just cut out Cokes,” or “no carbs after 2 p.m.” type of eradication. She was thinking more along the lines of a hot-water-and-lemon-only kind of closet detox. “What do you mean I need to pick one black top when I have 17 perfectly acceptable ones?!” Deep breaths. Deep, CLEANSING breaths.

Somewhat reluctantly, I threw lots of “maybe I’ll wear this someday” away and made piles to give away to friends, or donate to The Dorcas House. Kiddingly, I asked, “Am I a hoarder?” and Ashley paused and said, “Maybe.” In my defense, I’m not the kind of hoarder to have 173 packets of Fire Sauce from Taco Bell, or save every greeting card I’ve ever received in life, but it turns out I am a bit of an emotional accumulator when it comes to the ol’ walk-in. 

So, with a brave face (and a killer leather jacket), Ashley went to town. Correction: She helped my "crazy town" of a closet downsize to more of a sweet little cul-de-sac occupied by signature staples and a select few trendy pieces. We separated items into a Thred Up (see sidebar) pile, a seasonal selection-to-be-stored-elsewhere stack, and an I’m-not-even-sure-Goodwill-will-take-this pile. 

Ashley was nothing but gracious and kind. And truly, the more I tossed the easier it became. So much so that by the end, I was asking Ashley to just decide for me. Her boutique in downtown Little Rock is known for its sophisticated selection of classic, impeccably constructed pieces, so I’m pretty sure the woman knows what she’s talking about. 

When we finished, I had a color-coded, curated group of tees, sweaters, jackets, pants, denim and dresses. The Sultan of Streamline (as I lovingly refer to her) provided a list of must-haves with specific instructions NOT to buy something just to buy it. To be sure, as of now there are holes. Fine, gaping holes if I’m being honest. Ergo the cue for the next step in my closet crusade…creating the capsule wardrobe! Stay tuned. And Ashley, pretty please, don’t break up with me. I’m gonna need ya.