Helping other people declutter their wardrobes is the gift that keeps on giving. If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know I’m not joking.
Every time I help someone, I learn something new. Sometimes it’s another insight into their personal style, their lifestyle (and how that informs the way they dress), or about style archetypes in general.
Earlier this month, a close friend contacted me to ask for help. She was avoiding putting the laundry away, she told me, because her clothes wouldn’t fit in her wardrobe anymore. Over several hours, with ruthless efficiency and the easy banter that comes from knowing someone for so long, we assessed every item of clothing she owned. I wrote down a list of her ‘gaps’ (things she needs to buy) and a list of her favourite brands.
Watching my friend try on mini skirts that used to be wardrobe staples, we both concluded that the skirts now simply looked too short. In the same way someone looks at odds when they aren’t dressing for their personal style, this realisation had nothing to do with age or size. The mini skirts were just… not quite right. I was fascinated by this, having seen her wear these items with aplomb for years. But, undoubtedly, something had changed. Afterwards, I sent her a list of items I thought would fill her gaps, taking into account the style discoveries we’d made during the decluttering process.
This friend’s decluttering inspired me to do some of my own. I’m someone who reviews their own clothes every 3-6 months, but after helping my friend I realised I’d been holding onto things that no longer served me, too.
I got rid of an entire bin bag of clothes, unheard of for me. I realised I’d been hanging onto things, waiting to resume my old (pre-pandemic) life. But upon assessing each item of clothing, I realised I was holding onto things for the wrong reasons. Some items were simply past their best. Some I’d had for so long they now looked dated. And, without exception, all of these things no longer fit me.
I kept some items that are too small for me right now, and hopefully these will fit again when I start eating more mindfully and moving my body. Like many, I’ve gained weight during the pandemic. And, like many, my lifestyle has changed. I work from home primarily now, my dress and leggings ‘uniform’ replaced by comfortable jogging bottoms and t-shirts (I might push the boat out and wear a snood if I’m on a video call that day).
Whilst trying on outfits I realised, with a heavy heart, that somewhere along the line I’d stopped looking in the mirror. No longer wearing my minimal make-up each day, I’d not really had any need to. But this wasn’t the only reason. I knew, if I was being honest with myself, that it was also related to the weight gain.
You can glean so much by looking at a face. We can assess health, we can assess mood, we can tell whether we’re looking after ourselves (or not). With this in mind, imagine being friends with someone but never looking at their face. Wouldn’t that be bizarre? We wouldn’t expect to do this and for it to be okay. In fact, in doing so we’d be ignoring our friends. I realised that, in no small way, I’d been ignoring myself.
After nearly two years of pyjamas and jogging bottoms, I have every faith I can find my way back to myself. Perhaps this is hubris. I will be forty this year; I refuse to ‘dress my age’, to be ruled by a fear of appearing ‘mutton dressed as lamb’. But, as helping my friend so brilliantly illustrated, I also have to accept that personal style does evolve within our archetype. Some clothes do date, and some styles can look ‘off’ after years of looking right. And that’s okay. It’s more than okay, in fact; it’s an opportunity to try something new. So with that said, I’m off to order some velvet dungarees and a lace blouse to see if that’s a look I can pull off. We shall see… Wish me luck 😉