Wardrobe Malfunction: Part three of a Bulging Wardrobe


I haven’t been keeping up to date recently with clearing out my clothes. Life got in the way and it didn’t seem that important, until I wanted to find my blue striped cardigan. I knew it was there somewhere, I’d seen it only a few days before, but at the crucial moment it was nowhere to be found.

Half the cupboard had to be emptied before it was located, scrumpled up in a sad heap on top of a pile of shoeboxes. Another casualty of my propensity to keep every garment I’ve ever owned, it did however re-start the life-laundering initiative.

Today’s selection is a top I’ve not worn for years. I bought it when I went shopping with my younger daughter, before her daughter was born, so that is at least five, if not six, years ago. In those dim distant, pre-grandchildren days, we could spend hours wandering around the shops, trying things on, stopping for coffee and cake and a long chat about life.

She might be looking for clothes for work, or a specific occasion. I’m not a great buyer, just a humongous hoarder, so I’d often come away with nothing, but I was instantly drawn to this particular blouse. Not only was it a perfect fit, but at first glance I thought the fabric was Tana Lawn.

This amazing material, which is light as silk, and even though it’s 100% cotton doesn’t crease, was named after Lake Tana in the Sudan, by one of the buyers from Liberty, William Haynes Dorrell in 1920.

When I was a student in London, a boyfriend who was studying architecture would take me round various buildings he considered important. Apart from watching the original Barbican being constructed and a tour of Art Deco toilets in the Black Friar Pub, I was taken to Liberty, the famous mock Tudor store in Regent Street.Liberty.

To my shame, I’d never even heard of the shop, let alone seen anything like this. It was a magical place of infinite wonder. Oriental rugs hung draped from the balconies that overlooked each and every floor. Amber jewellery, Art Deco furniture, leather bags and belts, silk ties and designer clothes, were on sale, the list was endless. Most was way beyond the reach of a seventeen year old on a grant. About the only thing I could afford was a lavender bag made from Liberty fabric and it wasn’t until much, much later that I made myself a skirt, which is still in my wardrobe, from their lovely Tana Lawn.

My top, however fine the cotton, isn’t of the same quality and while the skirt stays, the top goes. It has, however, sparked another slew of memories and with any luck will provide a little more space in my bulging wardrobe.



How Many Red T-shirts Does a Woman Need?

Or the latest bulletin from the Bulging Wardrobe. Strictly speaking I have momentarily moved on to my bulging chest of drawers, where I am sorting through several decades’ worth of T-shirts.

So far, and there may be others lurking, I have discovered that I own at least five red T-shirts. Is this a reasonable number? They are more or less the same colour red and to be honest there isn’t a huge difference in style between them. Added to which, one or two I scarcely recognised as it is so long since I last wore them that I had forgotten they were there.

red-short-sleevedtshirtGetting rid of the short sleeved one, will be easy. I don’t do short sleeves and the neckline is not flattering. The others will be harder.

The Laura Ashley with the bow on the neckline is a case in point. Unlike my flowered skirt, there’s not much of a story to this one, but something equally potent has kept me from passing it on.red-laura-ashley-tshirt

The fantasy element: that hope, or is it a dream, that wearing a a certain garment will transform the wearer into someone they would like to be. It’s what sells clothes and magazines ruthlessly compare high street versions to those worn by celebrities to get us to buy the latest trend.

In the case of the red T-shirt with a bow, I nurtured the illusion that  with my cut off trousers I would have that  vintage look, like Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday.” It won’t, of course, not only because I’m not as slim, or as young, or as beautiful, but also because in our miserably cold climate, I hardly ever wear cut off trousers and if I did, I’d need a pair of socks and a big jumper to stop my blood from freezing. Hardly the outfit to go with a glamorous convertible. I don’t have one of those either, my preference being for a car with heated seats.

One final point. If my T-shirts look in need of an iron, it’s because there is no room in the drawer.


The Bulging Wardrobe: part two

So why is it so hard to discard clothes that a) no longer fit, b) no longer suit, c) are worn out?

After much debate with myself, I have decided that it is not that I am lazy, or even over dependent on my possessions. I can’t bring myself to get rid of clothes I no longer wear, because the clothes are part of my history. Each garment tells its own story and to get rid of it will be to lose that memory. The further back things go, the more precious the memory.

That green flowered skirt, I bought in the street market in the small town where we used to live. The stall holder made her living selling clothes, most probably seconds but I could never be sure, from shops like Monsoon and Phool. It was the time when full flowing, Indian cotton shirts and tops were very fashionable and hers were cheap and different.

I bought my skirt because I loved the colours and because my ex-mother-in-law had given me some money to spend on myself.

The skirt then, is inextricably linked with Kitty. My children’s nana and the best of all mothers-in-law. A lady who was always there to help out with the kids, who never criticised my child-rearing, or housekeeping and when my marriage broke down was there to support me, ringing me every week to see if I was all right.

A keen gymnast in her day, she would entertain us with photographs of her in the most amazing positions, bent over backwards, her foot touching her forehead, balanced on a triangle of other girls, all in twenties gymnastic outfits.

Her chips were brilliant, her oatcakes, a local Potteries delicacy and nothing to do with a cracker, were the best.

And her tea! Put on to brew the moment she knew you were coming, it would simmer gently in its metal teapot, on top of the cooker, until it was ready to be poured, thick and brown like water from a peatbog.

Not everyone’s favourite brew, opinions about Nana’s tea varied throughout the family, but a powerful memory nevertheless.