Did you see the programmes about the hoarders? Oh my Lord, houses so full of – no other word for it – crap, the very door frames were impassable from floor to ceiling. Whole rooms filled up like a cardboard box you couldn’t cram one more thing into.
One of the houses could be the British exhibit at the next Venice Biennale. Not the one with all the old food trodden into the floor and rats having a pop festival among it, but the one with all the ‘stuff’ as carefully stacked as a Swabian housewife’s woodpile. The nice man with the bobble hat.
He and his wife were lovely, but the house was terrifying. Especially for someone like me, who is wholly unable to throw away a stray elastic band. Not even the ones I just took off a couple of bunches of asparagus. I popped them into an old Coleman’s mustard tin, with all the others.
And why would I throw away a perfectly nice tin like that, just because it doesn’t happen to have any mustard powder in it any more?
While I’m glad to be shot of every card my daughter received on her fourth birthday, I do not subscribe to overzealous deforestation in the wardrobe area
That would be a waste and I can’t bear waste (unless it’s money, I love wasting that). But while I do feel that kinship with bobble hat man, I don’t want to live in a house like his, so I’ve dedicated a fortnight to clutter clearing mine, truly, madly, deeply. Every cupboard, every drawer, like when you move.
I’m exhausted. And my nails are hell.
After three days of non-stop sifting, sorting, hefting and hauling, I’ve done my wardrobe area and most of one bedroom/study. So it’s not looking exactly Pawson-eque yet, but my dustbin is full of old bubble wrap, a bootful of gear has gone to charity shops and the dining table is covered in stuff to flog at a flea market next month.
I’ve still got a long way to go – including the attic and the hell of the shed – but I already feel lightened (and cleaner; clutter is filthy).
However, while I’m glad to be shot of a large carrier bag of unidentified computer cables and every card my daughter received on her fourth birthday, I do not subscribe to overzealous deforestation in the wardrobe area.
I reckon the oft-quoted dictat “if you haven’t worn it for a year, chuck it out” is bad fashion advice, on a level with “a crisp white shirt suits everyone”. No, it doesn’t.
Of course, don’t hold on to clothes which are tatty and limp, however much you loved them in their glory days (Miss Havisham), or cheap stuff that has lost its bloom. But if it’s quality gear, in good nick and still fits, chances are you will wear it again.
So, as long as you’re not overcrammed with clothes, don’t feel bad about letting half your wardrobe cellar down until its time comes again. Because it will.
I’ve long found that I can often lightly reference ‘new’ trends (slavish fashion following being a bit sad over a certain age) with something I already have. A guilty secret I felt much better about when an American magazine dubbed it ‘shopping your closet’.
Stored tidily, without blocking your access to clothes in current use, it’s not hoarding; it’s an investment waiting to mature. Not clutter. Clever.