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15 Chambray Shirts: An Open-Closet Policy


My roommates and I usually meet with surprise when we tell people about our "open closet policy," as if freely sharing our clothing was as rare as an actual date in college.  We pride ourselves on an interest in personal style that comes from experimenting with outfits, piecing things together we wouldn't normally think about, and there is always an element of man-repelling in our midsts (the less likely to get us a date, the better). 

Of course, it would be impossible without the magical four-closet spread available to us, contents including: fifteen chambray shirts, four army jackets, twelve flannels, seven studded pieces, ten knit sweaters, seventeen different colored pants, and four coin necklaces.  We often joke that being the same size is the reason we are still roommates.  Ladies, all this can be yours, too, for only five easy payments of $23.95, and I will tell you how.

Like the Spiderman movie says, with great power comes great responsibility.  Your concerns may not involve hanging from buildings in this case, but hangers of a different kind.  If you come to the delicate decision with your roommates to pursue an open closet policy, here's some advice from seasoned sartorial lenders.

An Open Closet Policy: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Peruse with Confidence 

Open closet means you don't have to timidly ask each time you want to borrow something.  In our room, the occasional reversion to politeness will result in the offender being sprayed with Windex.  Just borrow it!  While it's important to treat your roommates' clothing with respect (as you would your own), rest easy knowing they will freely browse through your own pieces as well.

The Off-Limits 

Like the razor cartridges under lock and key at CVS, some items are out of reach to the common closeteer.  Whether it is your mother's pearls or a good cashmere sweater, certain pieces are known to be off-limits.  It is the responsibility of the owner to declare said items as such, but as a general rule of thumb: anything with a tag (the buyer should be the first to wear it, unless they've given you specific permission), and when in doubt, always ask.  As an example, some of the off-limits in our room are (there aren't many): a series of Irish or French coin medallion necklaces, a birthday dress purchased in St. Tropez, my grandmother's onyx ring, and anything expensive or sentimental we'd be too afraid to accidentally ruin. 

Clean It

When you've borrowed something, the tendency is to put it back right after you've used it.  Always offer to wash (or dry-clean) the item after you've worn it.  Even if it doesn't seem dirty, it's a courteous gesture, and it also lets your friend know that piece won't be available to them until the next wash (avoiding the frantic "have you seen my...?").  Just throw it in your own laundry basket—though it doesn’t hurt to ask, as your roommate might prefer to wash it herself. 


Some of the fears behind this free-trade style of dress stem from stints of pettiness.  What if someone borrows something I wanted to wear?  What if it looks better on them?  For starters, if the second question is seriously in your head, you are possibly an evil sociopath (not really, but still...).  In all seriousness, smoothing out the kinks of closet sharing comes down to using your words.  If you know for a fact you want to wear something, proclaim it to your roommates (although a skilled borrower might automatically ask if you’re planning to wear it, saving you the work).  If someone forgets to offer to wash, throw it in her laundry basket, or ask if she’s going to wash anytime soon.

Beware of the crutch that is closet sharing—I’d be lying if I said my fashion sense didn’t suffer over the breaks.  Happy styling! 

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