Last weekend my best friend of 35 years and my 15-year old daughter agreed to help me tackle a bulging wardrobe. To me, this was a simple clearing out of a few items of clothing as the seasons changed - little did I realise, when I invited them to help, what a fundamental shift in my life it would be!
They were brutal! No gentle, loving, Gok Wan, not even the tactile tactlessness of Trinny and Suzanna! No!
"When did you last wear this?"
"Well, I haven't worn it this summer, but..."
"Do you like this?"
"Er, well I did think it went with..."
"Do you think this suits you?"
"No, it's awful"
"What were you thinking when you bought this?"
"But I'll have nothing to wear!"
But they were right. Actually I do have clothes I really like and suit me, but I save them for some nominal "best". But when do I ever go out to wear them? Occasionally, but not enough to wear these clothes often. But I love them and they suit me!
So, my friend radically suggests, why don't I actually wear them all the time? She makes some suggestions as to how the addition of one my scarves, a camisole, a cardigan might help. The next day at work several people complement me on how I look. Slimmer! Younger!
And I feel great! It sinks in. Why had I not realised this before? It's so simple! Why did I wear all this stuff that would "do" and keep all this stuff I really liked hidden in the wardrobe apart from the odd day or night out? I can't believe I didn't "get" this before. But maybe I needed to be in the right space in my head to understand this - to think that this was right for me.
It must stem from old family habits. A new outfit for Easter, Sunday best! Generations past who had little and made do in the war. Those before who only had two sets of clothes and wore a Sunday best dress until a fortunate new dress replaced it and it was moved to everyday wear. The traditions and thought patterns carried on down the generations.
And I don't want to be a consumerist fashion victim either. Buying an item and wearing it once. Throwing away stuff hardly worn when someone else could use it. Buying cheap clothing, knowing that in order to supply my desires, someone in another country is sweating away in poor conditions for a pitiful wage. I want to have some consumer integrity.
The consequences? Well, my wardrobe has lost at least 2/3 of it's contents! Likewise my drawers, shoe boxes, stash under the bed. Oxfam is better off by several huge bags full. Items have gone on to new eBay homes.
And I feel hugely more confident, happy, attractive, energetic and motivated.
One simple task. One afternoon. That changed my life!