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I'm still cracking up at a phrase a friend of mine used the other day. She mentioned “clothes in limbo.” I know exactly what she is talking about.

These are the clothes you can't wear at the moment, for any number of reasons.

Perhaps a button fell off and you haven't found the time to sew it back on – if you still have the button at all, that is.

Perhaps it's a garment with a different type of problem. By this point in the season, how many turtlenecks or cardigans have a hole large enough to poke a finger through in the neck seam? In my closet, right now I have three of them. By the time I pull out a needle and thread – three different-colored threads for three different-colored turtlenecks, I might add – it will be too warm to wear them.

Or perhaps it's a garment that simply needs hand-washing or ironing before you can wear it again. So there it sits.

And those winter jackets and coats! All in limbo. Should you go ahead and wash them or, if recommended, have them dry-cleaned? Or, as this week's weather suggested, is it too early to pack them away for spring and summer? Same with the hats, scarves, gloves and mittens.

Those planning to head to warmer climes in the next few days know of other types of clothes in limbo. A pile of T-shirts and shorts sitting on a dresser waiting to be packed. A new swimsuit still in the shopping bag. A dress hanging on the shower rod. Sandals that need to be sorted through before stuffing them in a suitcase.

Of course, there are many ways to create even more clothes in limbo. In the April issue of Martha Stewart Living, the editors suggest removing all your belongings from your closet and separating them into five piles: things to keep, things to keep that need repair, things to give away or sell, things to throw out and things to store in another area of the home.

After doing that, readers are instructed to place only the items in the first pile back in the closet. This all sounds like a very good thing, but it's those other four piles I worry about. There's temporary, and then there's temporary.

The other type of clothes in limbo with which many may be familiar: clothes that are perfectly fine but lack the coordinating pieces. A skirt that needs the perfect top. Or the right pair of shoes or hosiery. Or a jacket.

Someone – I don't think it was Martha, but I could be wrong – once suggested that if we took the time to buy a few new things to go with the items we already own but don't wear, we would have a bigger, better wardrobe without having to buy all new outfits. Now that's something to think about as we transition into spring.

Promise to self: I will not pack away my turtlenecks with holes in the seams.



email: smartin@buffnews.com