This month I had the mother of all wardrobe clean-outs. It was a
mother-chucker. Not that it’s unusual for me to cull my clothes. I’m
quite addicted to re-organising my wardrobe and I do it often. For me,
it’s like a form of fashion meditation. Superficial? Admittedly, yes.
But it works. There is chanting (“I must stop buying bootleg jeans I
must stop buying bootleg jeans”), nirvana (“I forgot I owned this
Morrissey tux! Wheeeee!”) and inner peace (“ahhhhh, more hanging
In my life, many different things can prompt a wardrobe edit. Change of
temperature. Change of fashion. Change of job. Change of house. Change
of body shape. But the time I’m most likely to take a style broom to my
closet is when I’m messy in the head. Stressed. Anxious. Grumpy.
Somehow the process of stocktaking my clothes and sorting them into
piles (keep/wash/dry-clean /sell/give away/store/was I on drugs when I
bought this?) brings me mental clarity. Hey, my life might be in
turmoil but at least my white t-shirts are all folded into a pile and
separated from my printed ones, OK?
So why was this particular purge so much more effective and cathartic
than previous chucks? Because I made a significant mental
breakthrough. Somehow I finally managed to clear the mental hurdle
There are two parts to this misguided philosophy. The first goes “it
must have been expensive so I must keep it”. The second goes “designer
label means good quality so I must keep it.” Foolishly, these two ideas
tend to triumph over common sense and the power of sight. That’s why
even though something may not suit me or fit me or flatter me, that
little posh label will win out and score said item a reprieve every
time. Until now.
In the midst of my chuck-fest, I cast a familiar eye over a black DKNY ¾ length jacket. Every time I edit my wardrobe, I look at this jacket and think, “Goodness, this is lovely. Great cut. I must wear it, really I must. Won’t it be utterly perfect one day when I’m more corporate? Perfect.” So back it goes into the closet where it lives, undisturbed until the next clean-out when I begin the process again, goldfish style.
This time was different. This time, when I looked fondly at the DKNY jacket, a sensible part of my brain piped up. “Um, excuse me?” it said. “Do you remember when you bought this thing? It was 1998. Yes. Nine years ago. And how often have you worn it in nine years? Maybe once. Twice tops. And the corporate thing? You’ve been working in a highly corporate environment for the past six months and not once has it occurred to you to put it on. Let’s be honest, it ain’t working, never has. To paraphrase Gretel Kileen…….Jacket? It’s time to go.”
And with that ka-ching realisation, it was off the hanger and onto the Sell pile faster than you can say “DKNY is not even a cool label anymore so it barely counts as designer anyway”. Buh-bye. Next?
Empowered by this revelation and the new little honest voice in my head, I turned to other clothes I keep in the spare cupboard. Clothes I haven’t worn for years but am convinced I might. Or should. One day. A day that never comes.
That beautiful peacock blue bias cut dress by Christa Davies? “Yes I know you love the colour but it clings to your stomach and without liposuction, it always will,” said the honest voice. It was right. And it wasn’t finished. “Look, your body has changed and will never be the same as it was ten years ago, or five years ago, or even two years ago. It’s bigger in some parts, smaller in others. Different. Two babies and breastfeeding has meant things which once perked, now don’t. And you’re older. Flesh you were happy to flash in your twenties needs to be covered now. Clingy is not sexy on you anymore. So while we’re at it, ditch the Collette Dinnigan black satin mid-calf dress, as beautiful as it is.”
But wouldn’t it look good if I was pregnant again?
“You’ve said that since 1998 and last year you were pregnant again and you didn’t wear it. Say bye-bye to the dress.”
And I did. Along with another Collette rose-print skirt that was so pretty but had XS on the waistband. Bye-bye XS. I won’t be seeing you again any time soon.
It’s not just my body that’s changed. Fashion has changed too. All those nineties tight-fitting bias-cut dresses and hip-clinging skirts look wrong and won’t be looking right in the near future. Not on me, anyway.
Emboldened to have been smacked in the head with the honesty stick, my roll continued. Tricky Scanlan and Theodore pleated dress? Gone. Black pin stripe Calvin Klein jacket I bought on sale in New York 10 years ago? Over. Brown Prada sack dress I bought on the same trip because I wanted to be Carolyn Bessette Kennedy and she’d worn something similar? Outta here. Vintage frocks that would look great in a magazine article about my wardrobe but actually look crap on me? See ya.
At the end of the afternoon, I had a very large pile to take to the Frock Exchange, a whole lot more space in my closet and a large fashion weight lifted from my shoulders. Just don’t tell anyone about the double-breasted Gucci jacket I managed to keep hidden at the back of my closet. Look, it’s Gucci, and it’ll be perfect one day when my life is…different. Won’t it?