Hang Up Your Hang Ups

My sister takes an organised approach to most things in life. She makes lists, ticks things off and generally gets the job done. I sometimes wish I could be more like her in that respect, but as a serial procrastinator, I think the survey says I just don’t have that one in me. There was, however, one area of her organised ethos of late that made me sit up and pay attention. A little while back she’d begun to notice that the biannual swap from winter to summer wardrobe just wasn’t working anymore and like most of us, despite very regular clear-outs, things never felt very well cleared. She’d had enough of faffing with a dozen different tops for work (at least half of which weren’t bringing her any joy to wear anyway) and in thoroughly unsparing fashion she executed the ‘capsule clear-out’, slashing her blouse brigade from ten to two in one fell swoop. And it didn’t stop there.

I stare blankly at my own wardrobe. And it’s just not so easy. What’s my problem? I see the virtue, I see the excess. I know the multitude of regularly unworn items would fetch a few quid fairly quickly in the local charity shop. So what’s my hang up? Well firstly, I’m a nostalgic hoarder (clothes only) and an attacher; I hang my memories upon the garments attached to them. It’s perhaps a normal trait for someone as clothes crazy as me. So whilst I’m decidedly ruthless in every other respect of home decluttering, this I don’t do well. Even when the clothes aren’t my own – the outfit my eldest son wore at his first birthday party, I mean how could I possibly get rid of that? I’ve also kept the outfit I wore the night I had my first kiss with his dad, my then eighteen-year-old boyfriend, now husband (I mean I think I’m safe to let that one go). Truth be told, this type of approach eventually becomes burdensome. By all means, keep a special outfit, but not 20 of them. The memory will remain, with or without an item of clothing tethered to it.

And something else that strikes me as I stare: I like the look of certain items hung side by side; a good colour contrast, the texture of a particular top (I have a real thing for fabric). But on closer inspection, there are many items hanging there simply for the aesthetic pleasure they provide. They don’t fit well today, and they won’t fit well tomorrow. So why keep these types of articles when their ill-fitting issues are destined to create nothing but negative vibes each time we enter the wardrobe to try to choose an outfit? Two simple words; get rid.

The capsule wardrobe is a thing we’ve often heard talk of, right back to the days when Gok, Trinny and Susannah were all over it, suggesting ways for us to streamline our style. It’s clearly not a new phenomenon, but its merits are abundantly clear. To say what it should be composed of is a tad trickier as we all have our own preferences. Some people like jackets while others prefer a comfy cardi; jeans aren’t for everyone and so on. Whatever your combination, the premise remains the same. Twenty-five carefully chosen pieces sharing one common denominator; a feel-good factor. Choose well, with shapes, colours and textures that flatter and aim for a classic rather than trend-driven approach. Where additional pieces are required to make it all work together, then buying well also has an added bonus – if you love it, you’ll wear season after season and it will stand the test of time.

Now I’m a realist – if attempting this myself, it’s unlikely that I could go from one extreme to another overnight and I’d still need the odd seasonal update, but I feel like that’s maybe striking the balance a bit. My jeans and coats may endure year on year, but I might buy a couple of tees to see me through the season and freshen things up. 

So am I ready to try it? She certainly makes a convincing argument, that sister of mine. Citing less hassled mornings and a feeling of being well-presented, along with a wardrobe that overall feels less wasteful and her tidy, simplified clothing space giving way for mental calm, it seems it’s worth trying to initiate some change. And after watching and reading so much recently about the pressure that so-called “fast fashion” is putting on our already fragile planet, it’s not something I truly feel I can turn away from for much longer. In light of a recent report from MPs on the clothing industry’s worrying environmental credentials, a move towards making our wardrobes more sustainable seems a must. And if we all made some little changes for the good, right there lies the potential to make a big difference for the globe.

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