Poet-witch Annie Finch just exorcised your closet

Here’s how to get your closet and your life ready for fall.

1) Figure out what color dominates your wardrobe. If you love it, like if every time you put it on you think, oh, excellent, this is just how I want to feel today, this color makes me feel part of something bigger and more exciting than just my closet and myself, then you’re good. All ready for fall.

But if not, and I suspect not because you haven’t thought about this before because neither had I, identify the bully color and take it out of your closet. Take out everything in that shade, just pull it off the hangers and throw it on the floor. You’re going to freak out. You’re going to look at that pile and go, oh my God, I had no idea I was fixated on the most drab/stale/twee/garish/whatever-whatever color in the world.

admit that you have a problem

2) Pack it up. Mankato’s Salvation Army’s collection hours are 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Saturday. There’s also Goodwill. Or there’s MRCI. Just get it out of your life.

3) After I took my bag to Salvation Army, and I was on my way to a couple other thrift shops to replenish, and I was really happy, windows down, singing away and not even to the radio, a truck pulled up next to me at a stoplight and the driver said, ma’am, your back tire’s really low. So I pulled over to look, and for sure, it was almost flat. So I went to Tires Plus and ninety minutes later I had a new tire and no time left in the day or the weekend to shop. So, what I want you to learn from my flat tire is that after you purge, you can’t go buy replacement clothes right away. You cannot. You go exactly home to live in that void for at least a week.

live the void

4) Stripped of your comfort palette, read this HuffPost Healthy Living essay by Wiccan and acclaimed poet Annie Finch on the joy of no longer wearing black. (I know, right?! She’s a witch AND ALSO A POET. As if she could un-wear black.) As if anybody could give that up. Which I guess is what everybody says right before they admit that they have a problem. Here’s an excerpt from Annie’s piece.


Tell me that doesn’t touch a nerve. A drab/stale/redundant/unexamined nerve.

5) Annie goes on to say that she replaced black with colors she’d loved in her youth. That’s fine, but I challenge you to go witchier. Witchy in the HuffPost-Healthy-Living kind of way. Witchy as in earthy, gritty, powerful, more so than the whole giant September issue of Vogue. What I’m telling you to do is picture your actual real-world favorite place, and its palette. Is it your kitchen?

the kitchen

Is it Memphis?

not near beale street

Is it the woods?

the woods

Picture your place. Realize that the place and its colors are a reflection of some artist’s desires or dark thoughts or private jokes or cravings or visions, or all those things, everything, whether they meant to say all that or not. I don’t think it can be helped most of the time, when somebody’s designing a city or a kitchen or state park or whatever. It looks the way it looks for a lot of reasons, and you could use some reasons. You could use a wardrobe that reminds you of big things and honest beauty every time you see your own sleeve or pant leg. Reminders of goodness. Not just reminders of what was on clearance at T.J. Maxx.

So think of your favorite place. Then make that palette your palette. If this doesn’t sound like the best possible all-occasion way to dress, then I think maybe you just haven’t found your Memphis.

One place that works for me is the beach at Shark Rock Pier in Port Elizabeth. I was there for a few months in 2010, and the colors of it, day after day, I’m not kidding you, they were sublime. It’s not like I did anything significant on that beach except stare at the colors. I mean I hungered for those colors. Which is maybe what makes it my ideal tableau, because spending time that way, just trying to pull a few colors into your eyes and brain, it’s a pretty Healthy Living way to be. One time I brought my art supplies to the beach try to capture the shades. Two people who looked like they were on a date stood there and watched me for a while, and then they came up to ask if they could see, and I felt bad because what I was drawing wasn’t exactly date-enhancing oh-look-we’ve-come-upon-an-artist-on-the-beach quality.


That doesn’t look at all like Shark Rock Pier, but it does show love, which maybe wasn’t so bad to see on a date. The bluest of water. The most golden sand. The brownest of dirt, where there was dirt. Here I am one day when some kind of magenta plant had washed up all over the sand.

my beachcolors

Here I am wearing the actual sand.


Here’s how Memphis would look.


Here’s my kitchen.


Here I am as the woods.


6) Try out some places in your head until you find one that looks like who and where you want to be, and then you’ve got your palette. Then you can’t go back. You can’t go looking at retail displays or magazines that say what’s hot this season. Or you can, I guess, but so what? So that’s what’s hot this season. That has nothing to do with you and your revelations.

7) NOW you can go shopping for new stuff.

seriously this matches

8) Start wearing it. Just start doing it and don’t check with anybody. Don’t ask if it goes together, because you know it does, you’ve been to your beach and you know what you like. If you stand out from the crowd a little more than you meant to, like at a (non-Annie Finch) poetry reading with a lot of black-sweater people and there you are in aqua, just deal with it. This is real-deal witch-sanctioned style we’re talking about. This is autumn, the season in which things change. It’s the season of last chances. It’s your season to become your favorite place.




Gratitude to Wendy Johnston for gracious assistance with my try-on paper doll. Wendy blogs here

Translate your place to a palette with Matisse by Derivan, a free color-identifying app for artists and closet exorcists. 



3 comments on “Poet-witch Annie Finch just exorcised your closet

  1. Suzanne Douma says:

    Like that- “go exactly home”. 🙂

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Amy Kortuem says:

    My place is Paris – grey and pearly and black and white. And the west coast of Ireland – all grey and pearly and black and green.

    So I’m not going to give up black. Not. Not not not not.

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