A lack of storage space is par for the course when you live in London. Its something that I struggle with on a daily basis, as I lose items of clothes in the dense wilderness of my over-stuffed wardrobe. The problem has become so bad that I’ve had to convert my storage cupboard in my hallway into a second wardrobe.
I recently embarked on an expedition into the recesses of said storage cupboard, Indiana Jones-style, unsure if I’d make it back alive. What I (re-)discovered formed the inspiration for this story. The oldest items of clothing in my wardrobe. Why do I still have them there, taking up precious real estate? And how have they survived the dozens of wardrobe culls I’ve performed over the years? Would I still fit into them? So many questions…
It made me realise that I have some unwritten rules when it comes to wardrobe culls which account for the items I still have and wear, or have and look at with nostalgia…
When I carry out a wardrobe cull, I generally follow a set of rules based on how long it has been since I wore each piece, its state of repair and capacity to be revived etc. This is then followed by a complicated system of temporary storage, trips to the charity shop or re-housing in my wardrobe (blogpost on this coming soon). But I never acknowledged that there are certain pieces in my wardrobe that have survived these rules or live outside those rules.
So here they are, the special rules that apply in exceptional circumstances with photographic examples of the successes and atrocities by way of illustration.
Always hold on to any piece:
if It is a classic design, beautifully made with exceptional quality, no matter how old it is
I bought this black pleated skirt from Reiss in 2001 (making it seventeen years old at the time of writing this). At the time, pleated skirts were not omnipresent like they have been in the last couple of years. There was nothing else like it in the shops. I just knew it was beautiful, timeless and would fit in with so many other pieces in my wardrobe.
For seventeen years I’ve worn it to work, to the horse races, to dinners with friends and it still looks chic.
The wool knitted top that I’m wearing with it was purchased from Australian store, Saba, in 2003. The quality of the fabric is outstanding. It hasn’t pilled or perished in the fifteen years I’ve worn it and because it’s a classic design, I still wear it regularly – mostly to work in the summer.
My R.M. Williams boots that I bought in 2001 are also testament to buying exceptional quality. R.M. Williams is a rare Australian heritage brand that makes beautiful leather boots and outerwear. These boots have served me well over those seventeen years and have only been re-soled once in that time. Any other boots would have given up by now. Yet they just keep on giving.
if It has huge sentimental value
There are two dresses I will never be able to give away. The first is the blue dress I wore to my Year 12 formal (the Australian equivalent to senior prom). I remember buying this dress with my mum at a little boutique in Melbourne’s Hawksburn Village and thinking it was the most beautiful item I would ever own. Mum took me in to the shop for fittings in the lead up to the big event, knowing how obsessed I was with clothes and how excited I was to be able to wear something so beautiful. It’s this shared experience with my Mum and the memory of those fittings that makes this dress so special, more-so than the actual night of the formal dance itself.
The second dress I still can’t let go of is the bridesmaid dress I wore to my older sister’s wedding in 2002. My other two sisters were bridesmaids as well and we all wore this same dress from Karen Millen. My family is a bit nuts, so when we’re all together we turn any event, even just taking the wedding party photos, into a high octane party. This dress represents all those crazy family parties to me and I don’t think I can let it go, especially now that I live in the other side of the world. It’s part of that bond I feel that stretches halfway around the world to where they are in Australia.
I can’t let go of the first expensive suit I bought when I was starting out as a lawyer. I thought that to be taken seriously in the corporate world you had to wear suits, and this one was as serious as it got for me. I thought I was so professional in it, and it did make me feel a little bit bullet-proof whenever I wore it to meetings.
I rarely wear suits these days as my work-style has evolved significantly from the “uptight lawyer” look, but I do have fond memories of the days when I suited up for work.
if It can be used for dress-up parties
In 2000 I bought a pair of the most hideous pants you would ever see. They are dark-brown pleather with metallic gold sprayed over them. They’re hipster-waisted and flared at the bottom. I thought they were the coolest pants ever and wore them clubbing in the early 2000s.
I have kept them despite the numerous crimes they commit against good taste and style, mainly because they have been perfect for fancy-dress parties. They are my go-to outfit base when I want to dress up as a 1970s glam-rock star. Just add glittery platform wedge shoes, and a lurex body shirt. Sometimes ill-advised purchases pay off for their comedy value, and pleather doesn’t perish.