As a child I dressed in my cousin’s horrible cast offs, a devastating start in life for someone who has always loved clothes. Wearing hot pants three years after that trend was well and truly over I used to console myself with ideas of being a fashion designer. I’d draw page after page of the type of funky outfit that I wished that I was wearing instead.
So when I first had some money from my Saturday job and then a student grant, I splashed out on clothes and experimented with finding my own style. I didn’t always get it right. A short stripy stretchy dress with fishnet tights and high heeled ankle boots to a university ball for goodness sake! Somewhere around that time I devoted a love of Gothic. My wardrobe contained items in black, black and yes black.
As the years progressed and the pennies came in I bought more stuff than I could wear, separated into nominal categories for work, leisure, sport and formal occasions. My palette thankfully changed and I injected colour and bright pattern into what I wore. I used to get aside quite a substantial budgets set aside to perk up summer and winter wardrobes when I was flush. As money got tighter, I discovered charity shops too. My wardrobe and drawers were filled to bursting. My weight yo-yoed too and clothes were also stored under the bed too waiting for a time when they’d fit me again. I realise now that this exercise was somewhat futile. Getting back down to the size 10 of my teenage years was always going to be a vain hope!
And so we arrive at today where I strive for a thriftier and simpler existence. This firstly arose out of necessity after the breakdown of my marriage. Now, with the contentment that this has brought, I see it as a lifestyle choice. Rather than overspilling from all the cupboards and drawers in the house most of clothes collection is housed here in this vintage wardrobe. There’s a couple of plastic boxes under the bed that house items that are seasonally unsuitable. My coats and shoes are housed in a cupboard downstairs. And that is all. What’s more the shelved space above the drawers is used to store my towels and bedding. My younger self would be astounded.
Somewhere along the line I went full scale girlie. I don’t own a pair of jeans or trousers. Apart from when I exercise and sleep I only wear dresses and skirts. These are stored in the hanging wardrobe and half of the bottom drawer. The other half houses my sportswear. My small underwear drawer has been ‘Marie Kondo-ed’ to within an inch of its life. All my bras nattily slot together by their cups and are housed next to knickers that match. Jumpers, cardies and hoodies. folded nicely, take up one of the big drawers and the other big drawer space is taken up with leggings, yoga pants and tops. That final small drawer houses socks but shares the space with my hair trimmers and electric shavers.
Most of my clothes, aside from underwear and sports gear, comes from charity shops but you’d never know. Those places can be addictive if you’re not careful. Most of the stuff that I get doesn’t even look worn! But I’ve told myself I don’t really need anything new to me so purchases are fairly few and far between. Even so I do get bored of what I wear so occasionally to ring the changes I’ll buy something. But I adopt a ‘at least one out, one in’ replacement rule. Back to the charity shop stuff goes to be recycled yet again. It’s a win-win situation on individual, societal and planetary.
Every so often I’ll buy something new. It feels like a proper treat, a bit naughty. But then again what I buy is so special that I wear it again and again. That has to be a mitigating factor. I try too to put some thought into a new purchase. It might be ethically produced or bought from a small boutique to support a local business for instance. These extra special garments seem to call me. I was only half joking when I bought a beautiful dress and told the shop assistant that God had told me to buy it. She roared with laughter and said that she’d use that one on her husband.
I think my favourite brand is Thought Clothing, for the quality, style and those bold prints that I’ve grown to love. They source sustainably too, using both organically certified and recycled products. And my latest buy was a glorious purple tunic by Lily and Me, bedecked with hares that I bought in a little independent boutique in Bridport. I realised when I was at the till that it was the first time that I’d bought a brand new piece of clothing in over a year!