Friday, 11 September 2015

Sparking Joy: Clothes

image c/o housebeautiful.com
Happy Friday and welcome to a new series on The Mama's Hip, Sparking Joy. It's autumn and the nights are closing in so I'm nesting and getting my house ready for a cosy winter. The title Sparking Joy refers to the book by Marie Kondo seen above who advocates decluttering once and for all and doing it in a certain order. I'm going to blog about my experience as this is something I've needed to do for a good while. But first, a bit of background on my clutter habit.

I am a total hoarder, way before this blog I even started a blog about my hoarding habit - it's still floating in the ether getting no views. Not only do I hoard things I buy in shops, charity shops and car boot sales, I hoard other people's stuff too. Things my granny passed down to me 20 years ago which I have no use for, things my sister had bagged up for charity but I wanted to save, hand-me-downs from friends, family and neighbours. I'm talking mainly clothes for me but also my kids, accessories, books, kitchenware (is that a word?).

If there was a zombie apocalypse we'd be ok for clothes for about 3 months not doing any laundry. I'm serious. That's with a clean outfit every day for each of us. It's totally overwhelming and very stressful living with no clear space around us. My dirty laundry piles up to superhuman size. We never run out of clean clothes. You get the picture.

So since this little lady has arrived, bringing with her frilly knickers and the like, we've been overrun with gifts of beautiful clothes for her and I'd nowhere to put them. So what began as a drawer clearout for the baby became a full wardrobe clearance for me and her, and I moved on to the boy's wardrobe a few days later. Now instead of the boys having 30 tops each they have 15. I've bagged up the ones that are to be kept for my second son, and they're going to the attic, so we won't be rummaging through them every morning to get him dressed. They now each have a shelf for tops, and a shelf for bottoms with a basket each of underwear and that's it. They used to have 6 shelves FULL and we could never find anything.

Before I began the cull on my own wardrobe I did a lot of research and reading about capsule wardrobes, and loved the idea so much I knew it was the answer to my problems. I spent a week watching the YouTube videos (link here) of The Daily Connoisseur, after reading her book "20 lessons I learned fron Madame Chic". She advocates quality over quantity (fewer, better things), and gives many examples of chic French ladies to prove her point. It was taking me ages to find clothes every morning as I was pulling out stuff that didn't fit yet, things that I don't particularly like etc, and mixing and matching outfits was a drama I didn't have energy for with 3 kids in tow. Don't get me wrong, I love fashion and expressing myself through the clothes I wear, but I also have about 2 minutes to get dressed these mornings so I need a practical system. I also feel I've experimented enough, and I know now what suits me and feels good, so I'm happy to lose the "costume" element a bit.

My pre-cull wardrobe consisted of 50% occasion-wear mostly from pre-baby days, 25% utter shite i.e. moth holey clothes and overwashed baggy teeshirts, 12.5% clothes in size 10-12 which don't fit my postpartum ass and 12.5% maternity/yoga wear. You can guess which portion I had been wearing for the last couple of months. I used to have it all jumbled up together between 2 wardrobes and a set of 4 drawers, chock full. Now since my manic clearing evening I have one wardrobe with everything that fits me right now, here it is:

A couple of items are being worn/ in the wash but you get the picture, there are black items hanging on either side but hard to see.

I have a few (i.e. 4) nice dresses and 2 pairs of heels which I will wear for naming days, Christmas, parties etc, and that's my occasion wear sorted.

In my clearing mania which lasted about 3 hours one evening while the baby slept on the bed beside me I took everything out of my wardrobes and drawers, dumped it on the floor (very fun!) And then sorted it into bags for the bin, charity or keeping. I found myself saying "from charity you once came, to charity you shall return" to many an item. In my 20s I collected and wore some beautiful vintage pieces and wore them to my teaching job: wool pencil skirts, tweed jackets, skirt suits, handbags and high heeled shoes. I hoarded them thinking that some day I'd sell them. They don't fit my post-babies body nor suit my lifestyle any more so they're going to new homes. I don't have the energy to try to sell them plus I like the karma aspect of giving to charity rather than making a few quid on them.

I initially went through my wardrobe and kept a lot of items that had either cost a lot at the time, or held nice memories for me. But I realised I was keeping more and more, so I did a second cull and whipped out anything I just don't reach for, or which looks tatty. Some stuff I had thought was relatively recent had actually been bought 7-8 years ago, worn to death and had to be retired. I love the concept of the capsule wardrobe, more about that in a future post, so the thought of only keeping nice pieces which work together in different combinations appealed to this time-strapped mama.

It used to take me a long time each morning finding an outfit that fit, suited the day's activities and looked good. Now with my limited choices I will be saving time and mental energy. If I need to fill any gaps in my wardrobe or if something needs replacing I will only save for and buy good quality clothes / shoes / accessories and not be seduced by bargains. I'm taking mental note of the brands I have given away,  and those I'm keeping so I'll save time and money not repeating the same mistakes. Some cheaper brands just don't last long, and there's the ethical question too. From now on anything I buy has to work with my existing wardrobe. I am no longer an impulse buyer and the word SALE means nothing to me!

So the wardrobe cull happened two weeks ago and I regret none of it. Well, today in the doctor's waiting room I saw a really beautifully dressed young lady wearing an identical skirt to one I'd given away (maybe the one) and I felt a pang of remorse, but reminded myself that my mini days are shelved for a while, and I'd never have thought to style it as well as she did. Last week I was spurred into action to collect clothes for the Syrian refugees. I tackled the cupboard under the stairs (12 foot long and 4 feet deep in stuff). I bagged up lots of my coats and jackets, shoes and boots that I have no more use for and will be appreciated by others. A couple of nights ago I finally bought Marie Kondo's book (the Kindle version, saves on space!) and read it in a day. It's brilliant, explains not only how but why to declutter, and promises a better, stress-free life. I was so excited I moved on to the second category this afternoon, books, which I will describe in a following post.

If you, like me, are an impulse buyer, with a stuffed wardrobe but "nothing to wear" I'd really recommend trying this too. I know it's hard when you think "but I might need my maternity pants again" or "that cost me x amount, I can't just give it away", but trust me you will feel so much lighter and freer (is that a word?)

Or have you been doing this all along?
Let us know below!
Nee x

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