Last week I decided to bite the bullet and clear out some of the clothes I’ve been hanging onto for years, expensive or cherished items I tend not to wear these days. They’ve escaped several culls in the past but now seemed as good a time as any to let go.
First to emerge, was the Max Mara black velvet evening suit, a formal fitted jacket and long fishtail skirt, bought over ten years ago for the Nobel Water Prize presentations in Stockholm (executive wife stuff). I’d justified the price (over £500 which was mind-blowing for me in those days, and would still give me a sleepless night now), saying I’d get plenty of wear out of it. If you count one banquet and one dinner dance as justification, well I suppose I did. Time to let go, I decided.
Next was the sea-green silk suit from Monsoon. A real confidence booster when I was travelling around educating unwilling managers about various aspects of employment law. Tailored, smart, and achingly ‘petite’, it had remained unworn since my leaving ‘do’ eight years ago. Into the bag it went.
I contemplated several other business suits. When would I ever wear them again? A funeral perhaps? I don’t really know enough people approaching that category now; most of my elderly relatives have all shuffled off the mortal coil. And I don’t really care what I wear at mine. Into the bag with you.
The three piece wedding outfit, the desperate and final choice for my niece’s wedding four years ago went into the bag. It was taupe, a colour that makes me look like I just climbed out of a hole in the ground, so it was no hardship to part with that, apart from the lingering recollection of the price tag and the hours I spent trawling for it.
Several other items were included, many of which had never been worn but which seemed like a good idea at the time. Piling these into a black bin-liner, I sometimes wonder whether I’ve been indulging in mind-altering substances when I’ve paraded around in front of dressing room mirrors.
Next to the shoes. Having truly ruined my feet in sky high stilettos during my working years, (yes Mum, you were right, and Victoria Beckham, you have no idea what’s coming to you) these days I wear mostly boots, trainers or sandals. Yet somehow, I draw the line at passing on shoes, it seems distasteful. Into the bin, perhaps? I’ll think about that.
All this activity underlined the fact that certain aspects of my life are now a thing of the past. Since we gave up work to spend time living abroad or cruising in France our lifestyle has changed completely.
Gone are the executive dinner dances, the Christmas ‘do’s’, the formal dinner parties, the conferences and cocktail parties. We just don’t move in those circles any more. And even if we did, and a suitable occasion were to arise, I’d probably not be able to squeeze into these outfits any more.
Nowadays, when we’re in the UK, a night out constitutes an informal pub or bistro-type meal with friends, and when we’re cruising I live in jeans or shorts, only occasionally changing into a casual long skirt for waterside barbecues, or drinks on friends boats.
I don’t miss the old days; in fact as I sorted through my wardrobe I remembered just how much ‘angst’ was generated by the occasions that these garments supported. It was strangely liberating to let go of these ‘power dressings’.
There was however, as I held some of these miniscule skirts up against me, the niggling reinforcement that that the high-octane lifestyle did tend to keep my weight down.
These clothes, I realised, weren’t the only aspect of my life that I was ‘letting go’.
Off to the gym now, I think. And to padlock the fridge.
What about you? Have you made the decision to let go yet?