I have been sorting out my clothes. I would say my wardrobe but that is just a small element of the way that I store my clothes. There are also drawers and boxes all holding things that I sometimes wear. I always think that I don’t have many clothes, a belief that is based on the clichéd feeling of frequently never having anything to wear. Though in my case this sense of clothing want is also compounded by my size – I am tall and overweight and this has always made it hard to find clothes that I like and which fit me. Really hard. So hard, in fact, that finding clothes is an ongoing quest in the back of my head. I feel that I always need to think about where I might source a replacement pair of jeans or an outfit if I get invited to a more formal thing. I also always feel as though I am washing the same clothes every week. So, all these facts and feelings lead me to a perfectly logical conclusion that I don’t have many clothes, right? Wrong. I have heaps, probably enough to wear different items every day for nearly a month without having to do any washing.
The real problem is that I don’t wear the majority of my clothes. And I’m not just referring to the items which are lovely but a bit too small but I keep because I will so slim into them any day soon. There aren’t that many of them. It’s all the things that I am holding onto ‘just in case’, also known as a different version of myself. There are the token dresses and skirts just in case I am invited to another wedding or anniversary party type thing where I think I will feel too self-conscious in trousers (but then feel uncomfortable in a dress for hours). There are lots of blouses and a few pairs of trousers from when I had an office job and I have to hold onto just in case I get another 9 to 5 role. Then there are the clothes which fit just fine and I like but I never really wear because they represent an aspirational version of myself who isn’t me, yet. They are the slightly more quirky things that I loved immediately but I feel a bit too self-conscious about wearing with my friends and family who would feel compelled to comment about them. But I will wear them, one day, right?
I have been seeing lots of articles on Pintrest and in magazines about Marie Kondo’s ‘Spark Joy’ and how this is a revolutionary way of organising and seeing your life. I’ve been avoiding the book for a while as I am already pretty organised – I grew up in a chaotic house and my response has always been to have a place for everything. In fact for a few years I was trying to consciously be less organised as I was told I was way too anally retentive. I mean, I still have my books arranged by category and then alphabetically by author, same with my DVDs and CDs, but that is common sense. I just stopped doing things like arranging my socks by colour and length and my shirts by colour and sleeve length, instead leaving them stored by clothing type alone. I figured this joyful new system would be a slippery slope.
But then the other week I was feeling a bit down and I felt the need to do something to shake up my life a bit and give the illusion of a new start (okay it was my birthday but these things are oddly effective for me – let’s agree to call it quirky). I Googled ‘Spark Joy’ and found a tutorial, complete with videos, on how it works and decided to try it in my tops drawer. Just to try and appreciate the less used items at the bottom of the neat piles in the drawer, nothing more. A few hours later and I was folding and arranging socks and pants having done every other drawer in my bedroom. This was the best thing I did on my birthday, honestly. I was so enthused that I then went to a mates house and did all of her clothes too (well I say all but she drew the line at underwear). I am loving the fact that everything is on view and the space it has saved has freed up two drawers. It’s all very gratifying, but it has also made me realise just how many clothes I in fact do have. The only solution to this is to wear something other than jeans and a plaid shirt each day…
This brings me on to the other clothes issue that has been rumbling around my head for a while. As previously mentioned, I am nearly 40 and I am old enough for the styles and fashions that I loved as a student to be making a comeback in the shops. I am so happy that grungy cardigans, plaid shirts and fitted t shirts are back. All my scarcity instincts are trying to persuade me to stock up for the next 20 years until these things are back in fashion. But I then pause to wonder whether I should be wearing something, well, more grown up. I mean, I had always assumed that at some stage I would start wearing real grown up outfits and not be such a student slob. Sure at the workplace I made an effort but I was never exactly very suited and booted. At what stage, or age, should I stop getting excited by the availability of a plus size Hogwarts t-shirt and resist buying it? Right now I am sitting cross-legged on my bed in a hoodie, snoopy t-shirt and scruffy over-long jeans. I was probably doing the same thing in pretty much the same clothes 20 years ago (although my WiFi connected laptop is a leap forward from my word processor). I only really wear the snoopy top in the house but I suspect that I probably should think about retiring the other items too. But does it matter? I believe that, so long as we are not being offensive or harming anyone, we should be able to wear what we want. But then I am also not sure that I should be wearing this when I am 60, so when do I stop? Maybe I should just carry on into my nineties. Are clothes just generational? The ‘hipsters’ (sorry, awful phrase) certainly seem to like clothes which my 90 year-old Gran used to like. Perhaps my clan will always look like scruffy layabouts.