It said in The Washington Post that Nancy Reagan has 12 closets full of clothes. It said that sometimes she goes to New York to see the work of designers like Adolfo, but that sometimes they come to the White House to see her. It said that frequently she calls other women to find out what they are wearing to various events and to talk about clothes. All of that has made me very concerned. I think Nancy Reagan is addicted to clothes.

This craving for clothes is a serious matter. The true clothes addict has an insatiable need for clothes. Clothes make the addict high, give her (83.2 percent of them are women) a feeling of importance, enable her to face a world that she sees as cold, hostile, and in this particular case, full of Democrats.

There are certain cures for this addiction. Like drug addiction, the trick is not to go cold turkey. This often results in a loss of self-esteem, the sweats and a tendency to fire campaign managers. Clothes addicts who immediately stop buying and talking about clothes have been known to roll around on the floor, run a high fever and eventually die. This has happened a number of times and is well-documented in the literature.

As a result, Nancy Reagan should come off her clothes habit slowly. She should work her way down from designer models to near-designer models. There are such things. They are called Halston-II or Bill Blass-IV and they are the clothes addict's version of methadone. A couple of months on these clothes and the addict is ready for the next step.

This is called by the technical term of Buying-Off-The-Rack. There are clinics for this, much like the ones for narcotic addicts Mrs. Reagan visits. These clinics go by various names: Bloomingdale's, Saks, Lord & Taylor. They are the private sector's remedy for the clothes-addict problem and they have, in many cases, proved quite successful. In addition, they do alterations.

Many people scoff at the clothes-addict syndrome, thinking it is not a real addiction. True, it pales in comparison to alcohol or heroin addiction, but it does have similar effects on the addicted person. The clothes addict becomes totally dependent on clothes, lives her life for them, cuts ethical corners just to wear them, stays too thin so the clothes will look good, borrows jewelry from famous gem houses just to make the clothes look better and is likely to spend hours just going from closet to closet (as many as 12 times), trying to decide what to wear.

The addiction is so all-consuming the addict often calls friends and discusses nothing but clothes. The addict might attempt to donate clothes to museums not out of any charitable instinct, but because this provides an excuse to buy more clothes. In the most hard-core cases, she may try to make a statement with her clothes. One addict even wore knickers to a state occasion. Such instances are rare, however.

Besides the clinics, there are other programs for the clothes addict. Highly recommended is the Foster Designer Program. This program was established for the addict who needs to be weaned from a particular designer. The designer is replaced by a foster designer. The foster designer acts like a real designer, walks like a real designer and talks like a real designer, but actually does nothing. In addition, the foster designer has two names--like Irving Adolfo. This helps destroy the designer mystique and was frankly copied from similar programs designed to wean drug addicts from their connections.

At any rate, no matter which method is used (and they both have their adherents; see the Deaver Lectures), it is clear that Mrs. Reagan ought to avail herself of one. Though the cure is painful and requires great self-control, in the end the addict will be able to go to New York without seeing a designer and can--and there are such examples--actually wear a dress more than once. One addict even lost interest in interior designers.

The first step, though, is self-awareness. The addict must recognize that she is indeed an addict. This is the case with Nancy Reagan. She must come out of the closet--all 12 of them.