Because at Chez Malone in my five wardrobes (plus the dressing room) I have HUNDREDS of things I don’t wear. And that’s not counting my 200 pairs of shoes – a third of which are sky-high stilettos which I can’t even walk in, thanks to a hip operation and the fact I’m currently carrying two and a half extra stone and would wobble like a jelly. I have about 10 leather coats and jackets and triple that number of ordinary coats and jackets. Then there’s about 80 T-shirts, 70-odd jumpers, 30 pairs of jeans, 20 pairs of black trousers (a big girl can never have enough black trousers). I could go on, but I’m embarrassed. Because there are lots of reasons that I’ve held on to all this stuff, and a few excuses. The first is that I’m obviously a bit of a shopaholic. There’s what feels like an umbilical cord running from my house to our local TK Maxx that pulls me in there a shameful number of times a month.
The shoes? Well, it doesn’t matter how fat you get, you can always fit into a nice pair of shoes, right? Most women know the heart sinking scenario of staring into the changing room mirror and realising that just because we can get the zip done up, it doesn’t mean we should ever go out in public in a dress that makes us look like Michelin woman.
But shoes, they’re the fashion consolation prize, aren’t they? Your bum’s never too big for a pair of five-inch heels.
Another reason my wardrobes are bursting at the seams is my body often feels like it’s bursting at the seams. In any 12 month period I can swing between a size 10 and a size 22 – or anything inbetween. I’m Skinny Girl. Well built Girl. Or Sumo Girl.
Right now I’m hurtling towards Sumo Girl.
Of course, this is entirely my own fault. I have the willpower of a gnat in a nudist colony. So I have to own clothes in multiple sizes.
I know people always say you should chuck out all your BIG clothes the minute you lose weight as an incentive never to go back there. But if experience and 40 years of dieting have taught me anything, it’s that I very definitely WILL go back there.
Often at breakneck speed. So, I hang on to them.
That said, I also cling on to some clothes in the certain knowledge that I will never get into them again – like the size 10 Dolce & Gabbana mini-kilt I managed to wear once before I developed a doughnut habit.
But then, as a friend pointed out the other day, it’s not just my weight that stops me wearing some of my most amazing clothes.
“You’re 63, for God’s sake,” she said. “It’s just not age appropriate to wear a mini-skirt at 63.”
And there it was – that phrase. Age appropriate.
What’s that all about?
I’ll tell you what it’s about – it’s about lost youth, lost sexuality. It’s about giving up leather trousers for elasticated viscose ones. It’s about swapping your skin-tight tops for grey jumpers. It’s about saying goodbye to sexy, daring and dangerous clothes and hello to suitable, proper, age appropriate ones.
Well, to hell with that! That Dolce & Gabbana kilt is going nowhere.
We all need a little ambition in our lives, and I reckon that if I lost three stone and paired it with 70-denier tights and over-the-knee boots, there’s a chance I could still rock that little kilt.
Because I refuse to let being 60 rob me of looking and feeling gorgeous. Or at least trying to. So don’t dare mention the M word to me. I know that mutton dressed as lamb is a fine line tread but I’ve never worn “safe” in my life and I’m not about to start now.
Which is why I’m also hanging on to the Karen Millen silver miniskirt, the orange Pucci pants, the multi-coloured Versace shirts and the Gucci six-inch black patent heels.
Because as a woman gets older, the reasons for the choices she makes about clothes are so much more complicated than just wanting to look young or sexy.
There are still outfits in my wardrobe that I bought and wore at a time when I felt great about myself. When I never doubted that I mattered. When I could walk into a room and command attention.
I know that the way society views older women has changed in recent years – but not enough to stop us feeling, if not invisible, then a bit beige. It’s as if the menopause stole not just our hormones but our wow factor.
When I was young, I always dressed to please myself – never to attract men. But whatever I intended, the clothes I wore did attract men.
Not because I’d have my boobs or my bottom on show. It was more about the way I wore them. With confidence. With chutzpah. Because while what you wear doesn’t define you, it very definitely boosts your confidence.
And THAT’S what’s attractive – not just to men, but to everyone.
My clothes always made me feel powerful. Like I counted. Like I was someone to be respected.
And as you get older all of those feelings either become diluted or they disappear. So, in hanging on to those clothes, I’m hanging on to a time when I was at my very best, a time when people looked at me and what I was wearing and approved.
Scientists reckon the clothes we wear affect our behaviour, our attitude, our personality, our mood. Even the way we interact with each other. And don’t we all know that to be true?
If you’re wearing something amazing and you know you literally couldn’t look any better, then you’re the life and soul of the party – fun to be around, charismatic, charming.
You draw people to you. If you’re feeling fat and old, you opt for something safe and black and feel none of the above.
Of course clothes don’t maketh the man – or in this case the woman.
But they can tell you an awful lot about the person who’s wearing them.
Which is why weall have to wear things that make us the best, the most stunning version of the person we already are.
I recently read something Celine Dion once said: “Don’t tell me feeling good and looking beautiful doesn’t help make you feel confident, sexy and strong. And feeling strong makes you succeed.”
So, the next time some magazine tells you to edit down your wardrobe to a capsule collection, to be age appropriate, to throw out anything you haven’t worn for a year, just say no.
If you have the space, hang on to those clothes for dear life. Because that is YOUR LIFE hanging on those rails.
It’s who you are, who you have been and who you could be again.
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