Making do and mending my ways

Power dressing in the 1980s

On New Years Day I decided not to buy any more clothes for a year. For many reasons. I have too many clothes, spilling out into four wardrobes, most of them not worn for at least a year. I still have some of my mother’s and she died 21 years ago. Including a black glittery crocheted dress she made for herself. I remember her working on it and can’t bear to part with it. Particularly as I don’t think she ever wore it. I have spent too much money on clothes over the years. When I had a break between business appointments in London I would cross the road from ‘that well-known retailers’ and walk along Chiltern Street, Marylebone High Street or Selfridges and buy something to reward myself for how hard I was working. A quick fix when I most needed it. I made quick decisions which I regretted at leisure. Business dress had changed over the years. When I started you were expected to dress formally. Suits and dark colours. Latterly I could have worn casual, although I never did. I alway regard dress as an element of my professionalism.

The exception is the Canary Wharf banks where everyone, male and female, wear dark suits and pinstripes. They look similar, except the women wear high heels. Although they may travel to work wearing trainers. Getting the dress protocol correct is important and an element of how you are judged. When I worked with government or local authorities I dressed down. But with banks, retailers and most companies you were expected to be smart. Consequently I have all these suits hanging in wardrobes that I’ll probably never wear again.

When you work from home nobody sees your dress – thank goodness! I’ve often taken an important call in my dressing gown. Good thing videophones never took on, and Skype is not used in business. I opt for comfort and never wear make-up nor jewellery if I don’t go out. Why bother if only the person you live with sees you? And they see beneath the exterior.

Fashions are largely irrelevant as you get older. The clothes you bought years ago don’t date. And are often better quality than their modern equivalents. I have a lot of evening dresses that I never wear. Gone are the days of police balls and company dinner dances. Who wears long dresses these days? If you sell them on eBay you get a pittance so they stand in the wardrobe, unworn and unloved.

When I went through my wardrobes recently I discovered clothes I’d forgotten about. An audit revealed a stripey jumper I’d knitted, the jacket Stewart bought me one birthday. A I being too ambitious in saying I won’t buy anything? I’m hoping that no clothes shopping will free up time and money. I’ve already given some garments to charity shops and clothes banks. The rest I will review. If I haven’t worn any by this time next year they will be jettisoned. I hope this will prove to be a liberating experience.

2 thoughts on “Making do and mending my ways

  1. I don’t know if you are being rhetorical when you pose the question ‘Am I being too ambitious in saying I won’t buy anything?’ but I am going to offer a response anyway. In my second year at Nottingham I did a project that made me question all of the material things that we surround ourselves in, one area being clothing. Two important questions, and they ARE both equally important. Do I want it? Do I need it? January is a month when we often set ourselves goals and from past experiences have often failed to achieve. I went a long time without buying clothes and then, when going through a difficult time, I went shopping. I’m not going to lie it felt good. I needed it and I wanted it. My advice would be, if you enjoy shopping, to keep shopping but in moderation. Buy things when you need them and when you want them. But always ask those questions before you do go on a spree. Let’s admit it, we enjoy shopping, we like to look and feel nice. I think the important thing to take from this is to moderate and appreciate the way in which you go about shopping.

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