gaussian decluttering

S to M declutter will be coming soon.¬† I can’t believe I just typed that ūüôā

In the meantime a quick wardrobe update.¬† The wardrobe has been my main focus of attention since the big stuff went off to auction/charity/skip earlier this month.¬† The Gin Gan is wonderfully empty and I am really beginning to feel the day to day difference.¬† I think psychologically even though I had removed so so so much from our house the fact that it was still on site was a big issue for me and I am glad it’s gone.

Living out of one medium sized suitcase for a month focuses the mind and on my return from Australia I was able to take a look at my much depleted wardrobe and  cull another 30%.  This afternoon I had an urge to do a bit more.  It is interesting that once you really get going it is much, much easier to keep going and become more purposeful.

This is what was left after the Singers and Dancer had picked out the few items that they wanted.


I now have three full bags of clothes in the back of my car ready to be taken to The British Heart Foundation shop in town.  I was talking to a friend today who is at the beginning of her declutttering process.  She is at the overwhelmed stage.  Remember the Gaussian normal distribution bell curve?  It looks like this.


Ignoring the statistical use of the bell curve and just looking at the shape for a moment and I think it represents our approach to decluttering.¬† We start with high hopes and approach the issue head on.¬† Then we realise just how big the job is, how overwhelming it can feel and we are tempted to give up.¬† Assuming we keeping going then we plough through the really hard times.¬† The times when we have got rid of the things that were easy to get rid of because we didn’t really want them.¬† Now we are faced with the things that we don’t need but somehow we still want.¬† Finally we get to the top and like the helter skelter rider we come racing down because now it is easy, we “get it”, we want to be unburdened.

So wherever you are on the curve, remember there is a helter skelter ride at the end and it is worth it.



creeping out of the corner

Way back here I rather piously blogged about decluttering my wardrobe.  Then here I made an inventory of all my clothes.  Then I went and hid in the corner for a while and now I am back on the wagon.

For most of us decluttering is an ongoing process.  Most of us have accumulated so much stuff that it just cannot be excised in a flash.  There is also a psychological and emotional element.  Much as we want to let go it is hard, or at least it is at first.  Believe me, it becomes much, much easier with time.

For charity


For Ebay


This is the latest wardrobe cull.¬† Six¬† months ago I could never have believed I would be getting rid of these items, but I have learned that I don’t wear them.¬† I don’t wear them because I don’t know they are there, I don’t wear them because either they don’t feel right, or my lifestyle no longer needs them.¬† And therefore I don’t need them either.

This afternoon I am going through the t-shirts and accessories and then tomorrow I will do a new inventory.  It has not been all one way.  I have bought clothes.  The clothes I have bought have all been similar in style, cotton jersey/bamboo/linen and very relaxed and easy to wear.  Easy mix and match and easy to layer.  I have noticed a general trend towards similar colours and no patterns on my main items, using scarves and jewellery to add colour.

My next step is to start making my own clothes using ethically sourced natural fabrics.¬† I have made up a few toiles and am waiting for the first fabrics to arrive.¬† I’m no great seamstress, so it is fortunate I don’t need to wear a fully fitted suit every day.¬† But fortunately I can make the kind of simple clothes I do like to wear, and like the food I make or grow myself I know where it has come from and how it was made.

lessons learned

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 ūüôā )

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 arrival of the capsule wardrobe

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
  • Kindle
  • Knitting
  • Laptop
  • Telephone
  • Toiletries
  • Swimwear
  • Glasses
  • Sunglasses
  • 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 ūüôā


behind the wardrobe door

The wardrobe is usually the first place I go when I feel the urge to declutter, yet this past year has shown me that either I was a rubbish declutterer or my wardrobe was of colossal proportions.  I suspect there is truth in both.  So last year I gutted my wardrobe, my scarves, my jumpers, my shirts, my shoes, my jewellery, I gutted everything.  Bags and bags went the charity shops, my daughters picked a few items but the house must have sighed with relief from the excess weight it had been carrying.

Then a couple of days ago I came across this blog, Recovering Shopaholic.  Debbie did a full analysis of what she wore, bought or dispatched over a year. I knew that was what I needed to do, but first I  had to make an inventory of everything I owned.  Good Grief!  Even after the Massive Purge of 2013, the inventory is not short.  But it has been an interesting process.  I have learned several things.

  • I have very few pairs of trousers, which is good as a rarely wear them.
  • On the other hand the few I have are almost all linen.¬† No winter trousers.
  • I have far too many jackets.¬† My lifestyle has changed and I rarely need smart jackets anymore but as they still fit, look good and I like them I haven’t purged them.¬† I should.
  • I have only a handful of shirts, but lots of tunics, jersey tops etc.¬† That seems to match my lifestyle.
  • I have FAR FAR too many scarves.¬† I gutted them on the spot.
  • I love cashmere!
  • I do not need 4 pairs of black suede court shoes
  • I still have plenty of high heels.¬† I almost never wear high heels.
  • I have six black hats, but only ever wear one of them.

As you can see¬† I still have quite a long way to go.¬† It wasn’t until I wrote down every single item in my wardrobe that I could see where I needed to put the work in.¬† I thought I had done quite well, and I had, but some areas (notably jackets) I thought I was doing the right thing because individually they ticked all the boxes (a) Fit me – yes; (b) I like them – yes;¬† (c) in good condition – yes.¬† But collectively they were a disaster.

Following Debbie’s advice I am now keeping a record of everything I wear.¬† Now I have my inventory I can see at a glance what I have without having to open the wardrobe door.¬† There is no excuse for me to say “oh I forgot I had that” and convince myself that is why I didn’t wear it.¬† By the end of each month I will be able to see at a glance which items I love, and which I am avoiding.

This morning I planned to wear a cream cashmere crew neck that I had “forgotten”¬† I put it on and ripped it off immediately, I looked like a raw sausage, that was the reason I hadn’t worn it in ages.¬† So why was I giving it houseroom?

Update on my progress in February.¬† In the meantime I also took Debbie’s advice to join the 40+ style challenge.¬† You can find it here¬† ¬† And this is¬† my 10 piece capsule wardrobe.¬† I had to take the actual items from Polyvore.¬† But they are all similar to ones in my wardrobe.¬† Seven outfits, 10 items including shoes and bag.¬† It can be done ūüôā


10 piece wardrobe



colours and shapes and things that go bump around the hips

I was due to have my “colours done” on Monday, for a variety of reasons Monday turned out not to be good for Alana or I so we have rescheduled for next week.¬† A few days is not a long time to wait since I first made contact with Alana way back in June.¬† I spent some time researching who I wanted to see and Alana hit all the boxes.¬† Unfortunately she was in Nova Scotia until September.¬† Aagh.¬† After all my research I wanted them done now.¬† But I wanted Alana to do them more so I waited.

Why was Alana different?¬† Have a look at her website and tell me what you think.¬† Dress Up Cycle.¬† Quite apart from the name, read the first sentance…. slow fashion. Not throw away high volume fashion.¬† Not quick make me feel better purchases that hide in the wardrobe.¬† Slow fashion like slow food appeals.¬† Fashion magazines have banged on about capsule wardrobes for decades, but they still promote the latest trends and must have items for your wardrobe several times a year.¬† Apparently one must have item is a pink coat.¬† Were I in the market for a coat I might consider pink, I have always preferred coats to be, like my handbags, a little distinctive and different.¬† The only black coat I have ever owned was ankle length, double breasted, fitted at the waist with a HUGE fake astrakan collar.¬† I wore it to death.¬† However, I am not in the market for a coat so why would I want to buy a pink one just because it is pretty and on trend.

SInce I did Project 333 I have been much more conscious about my clothes and what I wear.  I had always thought I was relatively discerning but as I filled bag after bag I realised that I had accumulated a load of clothes from skirts and dresses to shirts and cardigans that I liked the look of, but crucially, not on me.  By the time I had pared down my wardrobe I discovered that I wore a few types of clothes a lot, not only that they went together well, fitted my lifestyle were relatively multipurpose and were a capsule wardrobe.


  • Linen trousers in white, black and navy
  • leggings in black, navy and dark grey
  • Full circle skirts
  • straight skirts that come just above or just on the knee


  • plain cashmere jumpers (I have a bit of a thing for cashmere)
  • button back cardigan tops
  • plain white t shirts
  • matelot tee shirts
  • long white shirts
  • tunic tops
  • Long cardigans


  • Silk squares
  • wool (or preferably cashmere!) wraps/big scarves
  • Broaches
  • Big necklaces/pendants
  • Statement ring (one plus my wedding/engagement ring)


  • Shift, from cocktail to beach


I have plenty of jackets but apart from a few occasions I just don’t wear them, likewise jeans are worn only for gardening.¬† Fitted shirts, however smart never make it out of my wardrobe.¬† I went through a jersey wrap dress phase but I never felt comfortable so out they went too.

Even if you don’t stick to something like Project 333 forever, just trying it out for three or even six months gives you a valuable lesson in wardrobe and body awareness.¬† I have a much better idea of the kind of clothes I feel comfortable in.¬† I have some idea of the colours that suit me and now I can’t wait for Alana to give me her advice and then perhaps if Father Christmas is looking kindly upo me she may be able to come back next year and look at my wardrobe as well.




the witch in the wardrobe

We addressed the thorny issue of how to declutter books and cupboards a week or so ago.  Today we are going to tackle the wardrobe.  The place which can date you as accurately as a slice through a tree trunk.

Once again I do not advocate the “a little at a time” approach.¬† Get it all out.¬† I mean ALL of it.¬† I don’t care if you have to spread it over three rooms, the hallway and the downstairs loo.¬† Get it all out.¬† Look at it.¬† Scary isn’t it?¬† And I bet you only emptied the wardrobe, the bit with hangers.¬† What about your drawers?¬† I’m not suggesting that you empty all of them right now as well (even I have limits) but bear in mind that the wardrobe itself is not the only repository of your clothes.

Okay, so now you are swimming in a sea of clothes that range in size from Kylie Minogue to P Diddy.  What next?

Start with the easy job.

Remove everything you don’t like

Really, I mean it.¬† We all have them, clothes we bought or were given but have never worn because actually we really don’t like them.¬† Remember the guilt word?¬† If you are only keeping it because you feel guilty about getting rid of it.¬† Get rid of it.¬† Every time you wear it (if you ever do) you will feel like a pile of poo.¬† Do you want to feel like a pile of poo?¬† Out it goes.¬† Somebody else will love it.¬† Make them happy.

Remove everything that is broken or you can’t be bothered to repair

Just as before.¬† If you can’t be bothered to sew on a button or replace a zip – or even take them to somebody else who can, then are you really ever going to wear them again?¬† The pair of trousers your bought and intended to take in to fit around the waist.¬† How long have you had them?¬† Have you missed not being able to wear them?¬† Clearly not if they have been hanging around for more than a month.¬† Get rid of them.

Start trying on what is left

This is quite revealing.¬† You will be surprised how much doesn’t fit (if you are lucky it will be too big, in my case they are usually too small….)¬† When you have a massive wardrobe of clothes you rarely wear most of it because it is too much trouble to think of something new.¬† You fall back on old favourites.¬† You fall back on things that fit¬† When you have a clear out you return to the wardrobe whole swathes of clothes that you think you can still fit into but because you have never actually worn them …. you don’t know.

You have to be ruthless.¬† Unless you are already on a weight loss/gain programme, are moving along according to plan and know you are going to stick to it.¬† DO NOT KEEP CLOTHES THAT DO NOT FIT.¬† I’ll say that again just in case you misheard me. DO NOT KEEP CLOTHES THAT DO NOT FIT.

There is a whole other post here about coming to terms with your size and shape which I am not going to go into.¬† But keeping clothes that do not make you feel great, do not make you want to skip out of the door or at the very least do not make you feel as if you have a bum the size of the old Eastern Bloc and a waist that went down river along with Livingstone and Stanley is not going to make you feel good.¬† And feeling good can’t be bad.

Once you have eliminated anything that you feel makes you look like Gollum on a bad day you can start to work through what is left.

I have a bit of a jacket problem.  I love jackets, they make my heart sing.  There is one problem.  I rarely wear them.  I wear cardigans.  So I have a choice, live dangerously and wear a jacket or two or twenty.  Or get rid of the jackets and live the rest of my life in a twinset.

I have opted slip on a jacket and have discovered my inner Audrey Heburn ūüėČ

What do you buy but not wear?  Are you going to start challenging yourself  or decide to stick to what you know and love?  Either is absolutely fine.  BUT if you have twenty pairs of linen trousers but only ever wear jeans either wear the linen or get rid of it.

There is no such thing as “just for best”

Granted you are a rare bird if you wear a ball gown to do the grocery shopping.¬† But how many items of clothing do you have carefully stored away and never worn because you are saving them “for best”.¬† How many “best” occasions do you have?¬† What is the ratio of best clothes to best occasions?¬† Quite.¬†¬†¬† You have¬†bought clothes that you love, that make you look gorgeous and¬†¬†you never wear them.¬† Is there something a bit wrong there?

Mix it all up

Now you have got over the idea of wearing that cashmere jumper with the ripped denim skirt think about what else you might wear with it.¬† Do you have a drawer full of scarves?¬† Do you wear them?¬† If you do great.¬† If not then grab some now.¬† Play with them.¬† Wrap them round a messy bun, use them as a belt, a necklace, a hair band. Play with your accessories.¬† If you can’t use them or don’t feel comfortable then get rid of them.¬† Mix up textures and styles, play dressing up.¬† Try a that gold lame tee shirt¬†you¬†last wore¬†to a black tie dinner ¬†with a pair of jeans and a leather jacket.¬† Be wild and imaginative.¬† Some of your outfits will look like a dog’s dinner but who cares?¬† Who else is going to see? Until you start to experiment you have no idea of the endless possibilitiesl

This summer I took part in Project 333, 33 items of clothing and accessories (with some allowed exceptions) for 3 months.¬† It was remarkably easy.¬† But the most exciting part was discovering the multitude of different ways I could wear a small number of items.¬† You don’t have to go quite so hardcore… but let yourself be surprised.

If you really really can’t bear to part with some items then pack them up in a box or bag and put them somewhere where you can’t get at them.¬† Then three months later open the box and ask yourself again if you really need them or if you could pass them on to somebody who does.

I don’t agree with the “if you haven’t worn it for a year get rid of it”¬† because for most people they don’t wear most of their clothes because it is too much effort to work their way through their wardrobe and find a new combination of items.¬† But once you eliminate what you don’t like, what is worn out, what you hate to wear, then you can play around with what you have left and that skirt that hasn’t see the light of day for 6 months suddenly shows itself to be a key item in your wardrobe.

Good luck and have fun ūüôā


rule bending

If it doesn’t work, try again, bend the rules, make it work for you. ¬†I’m¬†still¬†working¬†on Project333. ¬†Still determined to cut the wardrobe to 33 items (or thereabouts) but have found that some of the things I thought would work, didn’t.

I am a long floaty¬†skirt girl. ¬†I had one long floaty¬†skirt in my selection. ¬†It would have been easy for me to say “AAGH ¬†It doesn’t work I’m giving up and introducing more skirts”. ¬†Alternatively I could say “This selection didn’t work so I need to start again.” ¬†Or “I need to tweak this, maybe 35 would work better for me” or “I need to tweak this I’m not going to wear all those trousers but I could substitute them for some skirts.”¬† I opted for the latter.

There is no failure unless you give up.  If 35 items works perfectly for you, then have 35 items.  If 33 items works fine but you need one ultra smart outfit that you know will only be worn once, then hold onto that outfit but wear it only on that specific occasion.  Then think about next time an occasion like that comes up.  Could you tweak your 33 to include something suitable?

Today I am going to a smart event at the Cathedral followed by lunch and a private viewing of the Lindisfarne gospels.  I have to look very smart.  I have managed to stick to my 33 items with one exception.  A fuschia silk jacket.  It turns my dress from pretty to smart.  So today I will wear the jacket.  Tonight it goes back into storage. I am not going to beat myself up about it.  I am going to concentrate on what I have achieved already.

This isn’t about making life hard, it’s about making life easier. ¬†You make the rules. ¬†Just remember though, if you keep breaking them then like a smoker who says “oh just one more, I’ll give up tomorrow” you will never get there.

It may be uncomfortable but it isn’t meant to be back breaking. ¬†This week I am going to pack for our holiday to Turkey. ¬†I am looking forward to selecting a handful of items from the 33 in my wardrobe. ¬†No packing angst this year. ¬†What would change in your life if you only had 33 items in your wardrobe?

cull to 33

Head first.¬† That’s the way I usually go.¬† I did that recently when the lovely4 year old daughter of a friend of mine encouraged me to do a forward roll.¬† I am fairly sure that I didn’t break my neck but it was, I feel touch and go.¬† You would have thought I had learned my lesson.

Yesterday I worked through the first day of the Project333 programme.¬† What makes this appeal to me is that is isn’t just about creating a capsule wardrobe, but about making you think about what you actually need as opposed to what you thought you wanted.

One of the first exercises was to list the items in your wardrobe that you know you will never wear and why you haven’t got rid of them before.¬† In every case my answer was guilt.¬† Guilt that I had spent money on something I haven’t worn and probably will only wear a few times.¬† Guilt because they were presents and I can’t bring myself to get rid of them.¬† The source of the guilt was immaterial.¬† Guilt was the reason.¬† Just writing that down was freeing.¬† I don’t have to feel guilty.¬† I have forgiven myself for much greater sins than the rash purchase of a dress in the East sale.¬† I have regifted or rehomed any number of presents, why should clothes be different?

Another very illuminating question.¬† If you could start over, what would be in your ideal wardrobe?¬† As I listed the items I realised I already owned that wardrobe.¬† Those things were all there but I couldn’t see them for all the other stuff getting in the way.

So here is draft one of my capsule wardrobe.  Thirty three items not including underwear , gymwear (in my case yoga kit) lounge at home wear (identical to the yoga kit), nightwear (dressing gown and slippers), jewellery worn 24/7 (wedding, eternity and engagement rings, pearl earrings,  silver cross, watch and glass bead bracelets) glasses and prescription sunglasses and yardboots for dog walking/gardening/working outside.


One leather tote, one cotton scarf, one pair flat sandals, one pair suede wedge sandals, one pair fitflops one necklace one bracelet (7).


Two strappy vest tops, 1 cotton loose knit top, 1 turquoise and 1 matelot 3/4 sleeve tee shirts (5)


One pair white linen trousers, 1 pair navy linen trousers, 1 pair black linen trousers, 1 pair grey jeans. (4)

IMG_1032  One long white skirt, one short blue and green skirt and I am wearing a green and white skirt (3)

floaty tops

One sleeveless floaty top, 1 chiffon kaftan top and I am wearing a 3/4 sleeve white floaty top (3)


Two cotton Boden dresses, 1 silk and cotton floaty white dress, 1 smart blue & white silk spotty dress, 1 long jersey dress (5)


One 3/4 sleeve white cardigan, 1 3/4 sleeve green and blue cardigan, 1 long black cardigan with silk chiffon “skirt”. (3)

That comes to 30 Рwhich gives me three more things I can add if and when I need.  It was surprisingly easy.  Now to see how well I can stick to it!

going public


Scarves looking pretty

One of the first areas I decluttered was the wardrobe.  I was so proud of myself.  I was vicious.  Clothes I had hung onto which I knew even if I could still get into would be as uncomfortable as hell.  Clothes which fitted a lifestyle I have long since left.  They all went.  I moved things around I could see things.


Shirts hanging neatly in colour order

Actually it was rather uncomfortable because even though I had got rid of a whole load of stuff I wasn’t sure how happy I was with what was left.¬† With one or two exceptions I wasn’t sure how much I liked them, in one or two cases I wasn’t sure why I had bought them in the first place (or worse I knew precisely why I had bought them and the rationale was rubbish).

But a girl has to have clothes and while it might be fine for the Singers and the Dancer to run around in micro shorts and cute little tops.  I have a responsibility not to shock the neighbours into an early grave, I have to cover up with something a little more substantial.


Or so I thought.¬† No not the size of my clothes,¬† that will remain more or less the same and on the conservative side of decent in the interests of my neighbours’ health.¬† But the amount of them.¬† Despite the recent cull there is still far, far too much in there.

Many years ago I was a Weekender’s Clothing Rep.¬† The concept was based around a capsule wardrobe of clothes that could be worn in totally different ways.¬† We did a “show” with a volunteer taking them through a whole luxury weekend from dinner to walking in the country to lying by the pool with only a tiny bag of about 4 jersey items.¬† The bag turned into a waterproof jacket.

It was fun but I wasn’t sure I could really go away for a weekend with just that bag. The company has gone out of business now and I regret not keeping that kit.¬† It was the epitome of versatility.


Then I came across Project333.¬† Live for three months with only 33 items in your wardrobe (there are some exceptions).¬† No way, I thought.¬† Why not, I thought.¬† Go for it, I thought.¬† There I have said it, in public.¬† I am going to cut down my wardrobe to 33 items and live with just them for July, August and September.¬† Two weeks ago I would never have even dreamed of taking up this challenge, but that’s what happens when your mindset goes off on a wander.¬† It takes you to the weirdest places.

In all honesty I am not going to be able to cull quite as drastically as this in 24 hours, but the programme starts today and I’ll keep you updated.