It’s that time of year again. The time when I thrust a roll of bin bags under my arm and head to the bedroom to sort out what clearly doesn’t fit and can go back in the loft.
Most of the clothes on my rail – I’d have a guess at 7/8ths if pushed – have been up and down from the loft for the past six years. I’m stuck in a cyclical wardrobe malfunction of the brain, which means that I tell myself that even if the clothes don’t fit, at least if they are hung up on the rail they will a) force me to lose a bit of weight or b) somehow miraculously get bigger.
Most of these strange, nomadic items are pretty sun dresses from Sydney or evening garb I used to buy to attend work events – there’s not much fancy in there, most of it is cheap and hardly worth keeping. There are one or two lovely dresses that I should take better care of.
It’s not that I’m fat, but of course my body, mostly my boobs, have grown since having kids so what used to look slinky now cuts off my blood supply at the neck. And I’ve got a bit more blubber on the tummy. But I’m not going to moan about that because I love my babies and I love Jaffa Cakes and that’s that.
So anyway, every 12 months or so I shove most of it into several strong bin bags. I give the odd thing away to charity, and the rest goes back up into the loft.
Another 12 months from now will see me hoisting them all down again, squeezing myself into them during some sort of horrific, bitter-sweet fashion show and hanging them all up again, so that for the following 12 months I can’t get to anything because my clothes, new and old, are packed in like fluffy, bobble-ridden, ill-fitting sardines.
I will buy new coat hangers to accommodate my falsely-inflated wardrobe. I will say things to myself like “Who’s to say I can’t wear this as a top over jeans rather than as the dress it is intended?” and “There is no rule to say I can’t wear a loose tunic over these and leave the top button undone.” And I kid myself that I’ve got this huge wardrobe of untapped fashion magnificence, when really what I’ve got is a sad rail of old has-been clothes, most of which never even were.
I think the reason for this charade is that I’m really rubbish at clothes shopping. When I go out shopping, which is very rarely these days, I invariably come back with a bra, a mascara and a headache. I loathe it. I love to wear nice clothes, but I’ve always been a once-a-year, set-off-early-in-the-morning-and-come-back-at-dusk-with-bags-of-stuff type of woman. Most of it I’ve forgotten I’ve bought by the time I tip it out onto the bed to inspect it.
Which is why I find the idea that everything I’ve ever owned will do so appealing.
Susie, my best friend from school, was once witness to one of these calamitous clear outs during my early-twenties, and I will never forget the words she spoke that day as she looked at me holding a pair of aqua-hued jeans in the air – should they stay or should they go, I asked.
“They’re green. Green jeans?”
She didn’t need to say anything else. I think everyone needs a Susie on their shoulder when this time of year comes around.
Here’s a picture of Susie (bottom left) and me (top middle) on a school trip to Marwell Zoo. Even here she can clearly be seen turning around to say “I think that sundress is past its best, my friend.”