True Stories from Poppy’s Closet

A note from Lily:

She’s baaaack!! My sister Poppy is here to tell us about how she discovered the magic of Mise en Place and the catalyst it has been for life change. We’ll be hearing more from her on another topic about which she is passionate next week.

Welcome back, Poppy Fields!

The True Story of Thousands of Mornings in Front of Poppy’s Closet

It was Monday again. My precious weekend was over. The dreaded job was beckoning. I would need to take a deep breath for the marathon that was the week ahead, because another breath would not be available until Friday.

It was 5:30AM, I was standing in front of my closet with the same defeated expression on my face. There were thousands of choices, limitless possibilities, but not a thing to wear.

As I was chastising myself for the bazillionth time for not finishing the laundry over the weekend, watching as another minute ticked by, knowing that I needed to leave in 15 minutes, but the dog still needed to be walked, I still needed to pack my lunch and I still had not yet selected one article of clothing to wear. I was in a pit of misery – is this all that life is?

This isn’t how to start a week

This was not the way to start a week. But this same cycle repeated itself, weekly, daily for years and years on end. I had food, shelter, a wonderful husband, beautiful clothes, and yet I felt true dismay every morning.

There were numerous forces at work here, not the least of which was paralyzing low-self-esteem. Mix in a mind-numbing job, where I was neither vital nor important and voilà!

Some of these issues I had control over, some of them I did not. But it was all enough to find myself in tears while standing in front of the closet, which led to a foul temper carrying forward to work, where I would then spew forth at any poor, unsuspecting person unfortunate enough to be in my path.

All because I could not find something to wear.

There is Magic Involved…

I cannot say that there was an “Aha!” moment. But one Saturday evening a few years ago, my sister Lily suggested I read the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

One Saturday after reading the book, I tore apart my closet and really assessed what I owned. What items of clothing did I feel good wearing? What ensembles could I create from these hundreds of items that would make me happy to wear?

I started hanging different ensembles up on hooks outside my closet and taking pictures. I started making note of what might make each ensemble “pop” or if it was missing some key piece to make it just right. What would make me happy wearing each ensemble? From this exercise, I realized I had dozens of ensembles just waiting to be worn!

Thoughts started coming thick and fast –

“Wait! These are clean outfits, waiting on hangers, ready to be worn!”

Then: “Could they also just be waiting for me at 5:30 each morning?” Followed quickly by: “What do I need to do to make this happen?”

First, finish the laundry on Sunday – obviously. Make sure I have the taupe bra to go with that white shirt – naturally, and similarly, the special “no-seam” underwear for the white pants.

“But wait!” I thought, full of vim and vigor. “What if I prepare Monday’s ensemble on Sunday?” and then an even more vigorous:

“WAIT! What if I prepare the WHOLE WEEK’s ensembles on Sunday?”

I mean, I know what is coming up for each week on Sunday. I know which days there will be visitors at the office and what the weather will be (rainy – it’s Seattle). If I planned everything to wear on Sunday for the week – how would this change my life?

Life Change

Dear readers, there are no words to express how impactful taking these few minutes on Sunday afternoon, when I am not stressed, running behind or emotional to just pick out my clothes for the week has been.

Sunshine and rainbows? Maybe not. But there is peace. And for me, that is gold.

I select tops, pants, sweaters, or blazers (again – this is Seattle – layers are de rigueur), the appropriate underwear and bra, socks or hose, shoes and jewelry. These are all affixed to the hanger (okay, maybe not the shoes) and voilà! – ready to go for the week. This is repeated five times.

I do this on Sunday afternoons for the whole week primarily because it is on Sunday afternoon that I have dumped all the clean clothes onto the bed to be folded. If by selecting various articles of clothing from the clean clothes pile, I do not have to fold them – all the better. (I am nothing if not practical. I LOATHE folding clothes).

There are times when I might need to rearrange the order in which I wear my ensembles. That is okay! I can wear Thursday’s outfit on Tuesday. Nobody’s keeping score. I have already done the work to de-stress my mornings and have five fabulous ensembles from which to choose.

Try this for a week. If you want to select your outfit one day at a time, that is fine too! My sister does her Mise en Place each night before bed. Whether it is a five-day Mise en Place, or a nightly Mise en Place, I beg of you – please try it. It will change your life.


This article is part of a series called The Magic of Mise en Place

Part 1: Make Magic with Mise en Place
Part 2: Our Closets, Ourselves
Part 3: Stories from Poppy’s Closet (You are Here)
Part 4: Daisy’s Secrets to Rolling with the Rest
Part 5: The Boudoir
Part 6: The Inventory
Part 7: Mental Health and Mise en Place

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

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