‘I'm ready to make the first pass at the clothes, but before we start in, I want to show you what I've done since you were last here’
‘You are doing more and more between visits’
She led me into the sitting room, ‘I've moved the media table over a bit and I moved that large mirror into the hall. I've been thinking and planning to work on the clothes this time so I took down the drying frame in the kitchen where I've been keeping the clothes I wear every day.’
We had looked at all the clothes two and a half months ago when we’d picked outfits for the event she’d attended. I'd handled everything which had taken some of the ‘curse’ off her wardrobe.
Clothes carry lots of memory charges. People can see their lives stretched out in their closets. The highs and lows of a life have different wardrobes. Many women have clothes in several sizes, sometimes intentionally, the fat clothes and the thin clothes. The texture of clothes, the smell of old perfume is incredibly evocative and makes going through them an emotional thing for anyone. It was easy to see why it had taken the two and half months to come back to them and make the ‘first pass’.
Many of Stella's clothes were in the spare room. The door was open but there were clothes hung on hangers resting on the door frame. Trying to enter the room was very difficult; at least one or more hangers would fall.
‘You know I love doing clothes,’ I said. I organised it all into types: tops, trousers, skirts, dresses etc and then into colours so Stella could see how many of each thing she had and how many the same colour and shape.
The only criteria for a first pass is: Do you like it? The rejected pieces went into a bag for charity or if they were really worn-out, Stella threw them away.
This can be a big thing for many people. Worn out clothes are often the best beloved, the ones with the best memories. Throwing them away is often more difficult than giving away disliked or unworn clothing.
We made it all the way through and started a small collection of ‘memory’ clothes, things that will never be worn again but have particularly good stories attached to them. We also found some great vintage pieces for her nieces.
‘Eventually, I want to reduce my total wardrobe by a third, but I think it's going to take several of what you call passes.’
‘That's ambitious I said ‘You know, it can be helpful to keep a charity bag on the go all the time so if you try something on and you don't like it, you can put it straight in the bag.’
As we finished off, Stella said ‘This was the first time I haven't really dreaded your visit. It's not that I don't like you, but the decisions and the process is very difficult’
For those reading this, Stella and I have been meeting for four months. In spite of the difficulty, she has kept going, basically, she says, because it is easier to do that than to work out whether or not she ‘feels like it’!