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 🙂


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.




my own medicine

I recently gave advice about how to declutter your wardrobe.  How to stand back from the emotion, guilt and downright exhaustion that leads you to let stuff you will never wear put down roots the size of Japanese Knot Weed in your wardrobe.

This weekend I took my advice.  I thought I had taken my advice some 3 or 4 months ago.  But Reader, I had not.  Project 333 gave me a better idea of how much stuff I didn’t need.  It also gave me a glimpse of how much stuff I didn’t really want.  I kept it because I thought I might wear it, but deep down I knew I wouldn’t.  Not necessarily because it didn’t fit (though there were some shocking revealations on that front) but because I just didn’t like them any longer.  Into that category went,, amongst many other things a brown linen dress, green spotty Boden shirt dress, a long check skirt.  All perfectly decent and wearable but not by me.  So they have gone to the charity shop and I hope they find homes with people who will truly love them rather than merely put up with them as I have.

However, the greatest revealation from Project 333 was how flexible my wardrobe was.  When you only  have 33 items to chose from you have to use your imagination and think outside the box just a little.  Remember that post I did a couple of days ago about multitasking objects (the loofah is still my favourite)?  Do the same with your clothes.  Dresses become tops with leggings underneath.  Cardigans worn backwards become jumpers.  Layer tee shirts and vest tops.  Use your scarf as a belt.  Turn lonely earrings which have lost their partners into broaches or pendants.  Long jersey skirts have hundreds of options (see here)

I have more than 33 items in my wardrobe, but I can at long last say that I know precisely what is in my wardrobe, that I wear every single item on a regular basis and that I am have  whole lot more fun getting dressed in the morning because I am no longer stuck in that “I’ll just put this on again” rut.

It really isn’t hard, it really is quite good fun, and you will have a whole new wardrobe without even spending a single penny.  What is not to like?

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 😉

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 🙂



The is becoming a pleasure not a chore.  When I went out to work I would always put my clothes out, including shoes and jewellery out the night before. Some nights I would panic and just grab one of my standard outfits just so that I didn’t have to think about it in the morning.  These days I don’t have to dress up for work, but I do have to dress!  It is always easier in the summer, a single dress, underwear and sandals and hey presto.  Winter requires more planning because it requires more clothes but I am hoping that by beginning my training with Project333 this summer will help for the winter.

We have just come back from two weeks in Turkey.  The clothes required for a daily temperature of 30-35 degrees is somewhat different to those required for summer in the north of England (even in our heatwave).  I had to make some changes to the 33 items.  At first I thought I had failed, but on reflection I decided I hadn’t.  Failure would be to have gone back to my old wardrobe and I didn’t do that.  So this is was what I did.  On  my return I looked at the clothes in my suitcase and put them in three piles.  Those that had come from my original 33 items; those that had not and would not return to that pile (beach dress, bikini for example); those that had not but I would like to keep.  Pile one and three were put in my 333 wardrobe (after washing of course!).

Then I took out of my 333 wardrobe all the clothes that I had originally put in but hadn’t worn.  I felt compelled to put in trousers including a pair of jeans because I thought I might need them.  But I hardly ever wear trousers.  They were returned to the storage wardrobe.

Now I dress from the much reduced 333 wardrobe, but if I want to wear something that is not there I take it from the storage wardrobe and return it to the 333 wardrobe after wearing.  I’m not up to 33 items yet and everything in my wardrobe has earned the right to  be there.  It is interesting seeing what does go in and I am looking forward to comparing the final 33 at the end of September with the original 33 I chose in July.

No posts over the weekend as I am off on a foraging weekend with Taste the Wild.  I can’t wait!