It’s end of the month time, those of you with a mathematical bent will be longing for this post. This is the sequel to the statistic in the wardrobe, today you are getting another rip-roaring romp through my wardrobe.
This is the basis of my wardrobe for the next three months. I can, and no doubt will add and subtract here and there. But after two months of clothes analysis I think this is the core.
This is how they look hanging up.
Including what I am wearing today that makes 27 items. I have not included shoes because for the most part I wear the same fit flops or Toms all summer.
This is how I got there.
This month I have worn more of my wardrobe, a total of 48 items compared to 40 last month, but blue has been toppled by gray.
- 11 tops 18 times
- 8 bottoms 20 times
- 8 dresses 12 times
- 6 cardigans 13 times
- 5 scarves 9 times
- 10 pairs of shoes 23 times
I must have forgotten to record some shoes because though I do spend most of my day barefoot, I do usually put something on my feet when I walk out of the house!
The colour analysis is dominated by gray, but I have managed to inject a little more colour this month
- Gray 22
- Blue 18
- Red 11
- Green 5
- Purple 4
- White 4
- Cream 1
- Pink 1
- Brown 1
But by far the most interesting figures are the comparison between one month and the next. As the weather has been pretty consistent they should be fairly comparable
I wore 5 tops, 5 bottoms, 5 dresses and 3 cardigans both months. Those items were worn a whopping 84 times over the past two months with the highest wearage going to an ancient pale blue jersey wrap which was worn 12 times during April and May.
So isolating the clothes I wore most and adding in those I know go with the core items and I love (no good if I don’t love them, I won’t wear them and they should be on the way out anyway) I have my reverse approach to Project 333.
Those of you old enough to remember the three day week and the oil crisis will remember sudden and unexpected power cuts and half cooked dinners. My mother overcame this by making a haybox. To be fair rather than using hay she used a sturdy wooden box and a selection of cushions. The idea was that you brought the meal (usually, but not always, a soup or casserole) to the boil, popped it in the box, surrounded on all sides, top and bottom by cushions and left it to cook.
Fast forward some 15 years and I went out to work as a health education volunteer in Umtata in the Transkei with Project Trust. It was an amazing experience, I hope as much for the people we worked with as it was for us, the volunteers. As a side line if you are or know somebody who is looking for a volunteering experience in the developing world PT is not only one of the oldest, but also one of the best in the business. They are not, unlike many, in it to make money. They have been going since 1967 and have sent over 6000 carefully selected volunteers overseas. But I digress.
One of the issues faced in the Transkei was the lack of fuel. We built a simple haybox (this time using hay!) and with our trusty three legged potiji
we went out to show people how to save on fuel and still have a hot meal at the end of the day. We used it ourselves and it failed us only once, a particularly stringy goat at Sitebe.
Recently I came across this.
My newly arrived Wonderbag. Essentially it works in exactly the same way as my mother’s cushion box and our haybox. But there are three fundamental differences:
- For every Wonderbag purchased another bag is donated to a family in Africa.
- The Shwe-Shwe bags are made by women in South Africa creating jobs and income.
- The World Wildlife bags generate a donation to WWF for every bag purchased
It’s also great for:
- Bulk cooking
- Working families – cheaper than the slow cooker and no worries about leaving the slow cooker on whilst you are out.
If you are still unsure have a look at this. What are you waiting for?
I love airports. I think is it partly because I spent much of my childhood as an ex-pat child. I was one of those children with a red and white striped label around their neck being escorted through security. I grew to hate the being escorted everywhere bit, but I did rather like the Air Canada policy of putting single (ie not a whole group of forty or more kids as you used to get on the Hong Kong run) in First Class so they could keep an eye on them. First Class in those days was just a really big chair and as a minor there was no free wine, but it was still rather cool. I became quite an expert on which airline looked after the UMs best.
Once you have checked in and you are airside you abdicate all responsibility. There is nothing you can do except wait. I like to do this with glass of wine or tea, depending on the time of day, a book and my eyes. Just watching people, wondering where they are going and why they are going there.
With my newfound minimalist eye I have expanded my people watching to luggage watching. We travelled with three children under three (we have twins). We travelled with a toddler and me heavily pregnant. We did all of that long distance to countries that you could not reach by a direct flight from the UK so we had the added fun of crossing Paris, usually in rush hour. Believe me, even with all of that you really do not need to bring the entire nursery with you (and that was in the days before iPads). My eldest daughter, then aged 2 occupied herself from Newcastle to London, London to Paris and Paris to Pointe a Pitre with a tiny doll about 2″ tall and an empty meal bowl which became dollie’s bed. Her younger sister, a couple of years later, suffering from a nasty gastric upset that materialised out of the blue and involved copious vomiting was kept occupied by a dolls house made by her sisters out of a cardboard shoebox in our hand luggage and furniture and people drawn on scrap paper.
I have watched people check in monumental cases and then take a pretty enormous wheeled carry on bag on the plane. Yes it is possible that they are emigrating or taking vital supplies to cousins overseas ….. But ALL of them? No I don’t think so.
It strikes me that if stuff gets in the way of living, which I have discovered it does, then surely stuff gets in the way of a holiday. Surely a holiday is a time to relax, to let go, to try new experiences. How on earth can you do that if you are lumbered with luggage you have to keep packing and unpacking and keeping track of and washing…..
Today is our 20th wedding anniversary. We met at the Boss’s brother’s wedding. He married an old school friend of mine. She and I met on our first day at boarding school on 16th September 1973… and now we are sisters in law.
The Boss proposed four weeks after we first met. As I was living and working in Sussex and he was living and working in Glasgow that means we had only met three times before he proposed. I knew he would propose that weekend. I told Chrissie, with whom I then shared an office at Sightsavers that I knew he would propose that weekend. She laughed but laughed again on Monday when I told he had and I had accepted.
So twenty years and three children later we are in Australia and have had the most wonderful laid back day. We travelled up to Nimbin;
ate samosas in the park in the craft market and listened the music; drank margaritas at The Balcony
and watched the world wander by; had stupendous burrundi and chips at The Fish Head
and listened to the drummers on the beach; lay on the beach whilst I taught the Boss the little I knew of the southern hemisphere constellations (the Southern Cross and the Keel); watched the fire dancers; wandered back to the market and bought our daughters a present and came back to our apartment for a glass of wine and some good music.
What do I want now? Not a lot. I am going home with a drive to divest myself of more stuff I don’t need or want. I am going home with a desire to do what we want to whilst we can. I am going home with a wish to instill in my children that life only happens once. I can honestly say with my hand on my heart that if my daughters said they wanted to buy a bakkie (hello my SA friends 🙂 ) and just cruise around until they ran out of money or decided what they wanted to do with their lives then I would be happy with that. We only have one shot at this life, why should it be something that other people think it should be?
So I have been living out of a suitcase for three weeks. I brought too much. I could have got away with half of what I brought with me. But every lesson learned is a good lesson.
Time out, and certainly time travelling (as in time spent travelling not the Tardis variety) gives you plenty of time to knit and to think. Time spent living out of a suitcase gives you plenty of time to think about what you should have left behind.
When I was packing I kept to a simple colour palette. That was good. There was not one item in my case that could not have been worn with practically every other item. Lesson learned: cull all those items in my wardrobe that can’t go with at least 50% of the rest of my wardrobe (wedding dresses/ballgowns should you need them are exempt from this rule 🙂 )
I love linen, bamboo and cashmere, I love loose deconstucted shapes (think Japanese). Lesson learned: cull the items that I don’t love to feel against my skin. I would rather have one fabulous cashmere jumper than three okay scratchy wool ones.
I wear shoes for comfort. Even my “smart evening” shoes have to pass this test. Yet despite a huge shoe cull I have shoes I never wear not because they hurt but because they aren’t comfy. Lesson learned: I do not need five pairs of black suede shoes and those pink peep toe wedge sandals are not comfy whereas the blue suede peeptoe sandals I could wear all day and not notice. Lesson learned: if you don’t wear them then don’t keep them.
None of this is rocket science. Most of this I knew already. But still there lurk things in our house that need to go. Our children our growing up and in a couple of years they will all have left home. Our house is too big for two. We need to move somewhere more practical and somewhere a little closer to civilisation. Something was holding me back. I didn’t want to move into Durham. Then we had the Eureka moment, there was no reason we had to move into Durham. We could move anywhere we wanted. With that thought in mind it has become easy (at least in my mind) to shed even more. I want to start the rest of my life in a free flowing space, without the millstone of stuff I don’t love, need or admire.
This is pretty much all I have worn for 3 1/2 weeks.
The trip is drawing to a close. Only ten days to go. Am seriously considering how to emigrate, on my own if necessary.
Things I love about Australia:
- The weather
- The weather
- The weather….
Everyone is so friendly. I have no idea how Londoners (and I can say that as I was born and brought up in Notting Hill Gate) survive when they first arrive. How do they cope when somebody makes eye contact and worse, asks them how they are?
Life is laid back. I know I am on holiday so it’s different for me, but the Boss has been working, and at times quite hard. Even he can feel the difference.
The culture and attitude. This is what really gets to me. People here care. There is almost no litter and I haven’t seen any graffiti. Being ecologically sound isn’t considered a bit weird, for most people it is a way of life.
I know I have several Antipodean readers and I would love your feedback. Why are you so far ahead of us? Is it because you are so much more isolated so have had to use your resources more carefully? Or is it perhaps partly to do with the weather, you spend so much more time outside that you are more in tune with the environment? Or are you just better people than the rest of us 🙂
Oh and the other thing I love about Australia – the markets. The markets are just the best I’ve been to and believe me I am a market fiend, I have been to a lot.
One thing that is immediately obvious when you hit any form of tourist trail is that the cameras come out. Picture of Tower Bridge, tick; picture of Sydney Opera House, tick. Where it really struck me how much people were linked permanently to cameras/phones was at the Aquarium in Melbourne.
I didn’t take a single photograph at the Aquarium. Not because it wasn’t beautiful, but because a tiny little square of a bit of a shark or a few seahorses would not begine to capture the magic of actually seeing them. Of experiencing the moment.
Of course, I have taken photographs whilst we have been in Oz. But not as many as I might have done in years past. I am reminded of going to concerts. We went to see Bruce Springsteen twice last year. It was magical. Both concerts were completely different. I do not have a single photograph nor did I record any of the songs. At times it was a miracle that I could see the stage at all through the forest of iphones that were being held up above people’s heads.
How many times will the filmer watch that iphone video? How much of the actual moment did they lose trying to get out their phone, turn it on, turn on the video etc. etc. ?
In the digital age, the one that is supposed to have released us from the tyranny of paper, we seem to be as much a victim as we were before. To cap it all, I notice that Facebook is now offering you the chance to turn your timeline into a book.
So here are a few photographs of stuff. Not of anything special, but of things that will remind me of moments now in years to come. It doesn’t matter what they are of, just enjoy the view.
We are one week into our trip and the capsule wardrobe is holding up well. We did have to make one purchase, a windcheater each, which we really ought to have thought to bring with us. We went to see the penguins on Phillip Island and whilst the wind was not that cold, I think we might have struggled a bit without them, and bearing in mind the inclement weather in Melbourne I am sure we will get plenty of use for them. As you can see – we could have done with them on day one!
The first challenge the wardrobe got was when the Boss announced that the dress code for the conference cocktail party yesterday and dinner tonight was “A Touch of Bond”. This is in honour of the the Designing 007 – 50 Years of Bond exhibition at The Melbourne Museum where the dinner is being held tonight. It is a little ironic as my father was the lawyer for Eon Productions for the first 14 Bond films and I grew up with Bond so to speak. However, memories of Pinewood Studios were not on my mind as I worked out how I was going to get around this little hiccough.
However, I am nothing if not inventive. White trousers, white jacket, bronze satin top, heels and my essential Butler and Wilson Union Jack brooch and earrings and I thought I might just pass for a mature Bond Girl. So you can imagine that I was marginally put out when the Boss called out “Come on Miss Moneypenny”.
Tonight I swap the trousers and top for a silk spotty dress and flash the Butler and Wilson 🙂
The minimalism is being put to the test. At the end of the week the Boss and I are going to Australia for a month. He is working, I am going along for the ride. And if you are planning on popping over to relieve us of the few things I haven’t already got rid of you might like to know that all three dogs and all three daughters are remaining at home. I am not sure which are more frightening.
I digress, back to the travel planning. There are some things that I have to take:
- Paperwork (passports, visas etc.)
- Guidebooks (can’t be doing with them on kindle, I need an actual book)
- Camera, pocket lumix and DSLR
- Hearing aids
After that I have to move on to clothes, and clothes for a climate that is quite different to the one I am experiencing right now and to last me a month. Silly though it sounds it really is quite hard to select thick jumpers when the temperature is in the thirties and jolly difficult to select light tops when it is minus two (as it was this morning).
But all this wardrobe weeding and recording of what I wear has paid off. I have a capsule wardrobe that incorporates several evening receptions, casual day time and beach! Colours are white, cream and navy and comprise:
- White linen trousers
- Navy linen trousers
- Pink capri pants
- Short navy shirt
- Maxi grey jersey skirt
- Blue & navy dress
- Cream and navy dress
- White long sleeved t shirt
- White short sleeved t shirt
- Navy & white spotty t shirt
- Navy strapless t shirt
- White strapless t shirt
- Navy cotton shirt
- Navy & white chiffon top
- Bronze metallic evening top
- White jersey jacket
- Navy cotton cardigan
- Red smart shoes
- Navy wedges
- Black fitflops
- Orange scarf
I know that for a true minimalist this is far from ideal, it isn’t carry on luggage. But for me this is a huge step and I am dead chuffed 🙂
The Singer and I are off to London for the weekend. She turned 18 last month and this is her birthday treat. I had one at the same age and I still remember it. We are staying at The Savoy (thank you for club deals…..) going to dinner on Friday evening. On Saturday she, like I did, will go to Stephen Glass for a make up lesson and then we join my stepmother for lunch before going on to Les Senteurs for her to choose a perfume, a present from my stepmother. Dirty Dancing (the musical not us) on Saturday evening and then on Sunday afternoon tea at Browns before we head home.
A weekend that I hope will make as much a mark on her memory as my same weekend did on mine. My perfume was Mitsouko and I still wear it.
However, you will notice that there are no great plans for shopping. Well not for me anyway. The Singer has birthday money and has her eye on a snuggly cardigan and a good pair of boots. But other than window shopping and people watching I just want to soak up the Christmas atmosphere and marvel at the conspicuous consumption that I no longer feel any desire to partake in.
I wondered if the Singer would feel differently but as we have talked about what she would like to do she has concentrated most on dinner, the theatre and the astonishing roof top bar at ME that I suggested we went to for pre-theatre supper and drinks. To be fair, she hasn’t waxed lyrical about the possibility of taking in the V&A or the British Museum – but heck she is 18 and it’s her birthday weekend not mine!