Detox your wardrobe!Gold knee-high boots. A coat like a pair of curtains. And jeans that never fitted. There comes a time when every woman must have a clear out
The gold leather boots in front of me are the most hideous things I’ve ever seen. They are knee-high, have a giant chunky heel and an almost clown-like round toe. And the gold . . . how to describe it It’s garishly yellow and so shiny you can practically see your reflection in it.
To add insult to injury, according to the sticker on the sole, they cost 275. I mean, come on! Who on earth spends that kind of money on something so garish You’d have to be mad, blind or . . . well, me.
Yes, these little beauties have come from the back of my wardrobe where they have hidden, unworn and unloved, ever since I bought them in a moment of rashness four years ago.
Not groovy: Marianne Power with some of her fashion faux pas
I remember exactly what I was thinking when I handed over my credit card.
It was a rainy day and had I walked into the expensive boutique to get dry. The sales assistant was a curvy, leggy Spanish girl and she was wearing the gold boots. Over her skinny jeans with a casually clinging white T-shirt, they looked perfect. So cool. So different.
I caught a look at myself in the mirror, wearing a grey jumper and black trousers, looking like a drab drowned rat. ‘I, too, can look like her,’ I (subconsciously) thought, ‘if I just bought those boots…’
Needless to say, I wore them once and was told by my friends that I looked like I was going to an Abba party.
That was the beginning and the end for those boots. They were consigned to the back of the cupboard to join a host of other sartorial disasters.
Apparently, the average British woman has 22 items of clothing in their wardrobe that they never wear but which they refuse to throw out because of guilt over the waste of money — and the hope that one day they’ll wear them. I can’t help but think: ‘Only 22’
This week, after months of ignoring the clothes that were spewing out of every over-packed cupboard, shelf and drawer, I embarked on a wardrobe clear-out. And what horrors I unearthed.
What not to wear This outfit is one of the many buys that found their way into a binbag after the clear-out
First there was the jungle-print coat which I bought in a charity shop. I thought it looked very catwalk, very Marni.
But, in fact, it looked like a pair of 1970s curtains. Maybe it actually was a pair of curtains. I bought it six years ago and have worn it twice. Hanging next to it was the floor-length bottle-green suede skirt which also cost a small fortune, but which flapped around my ankles like an over-zealous puppy, making it too annoying to wear. When I eventually did leave the house in it, it rained and the skirt was badly marked.
Then there were almost a dozen party dresses gathering dust, and taking up space on my rails — including a silver backless sequin halterneck frock that looks like something I stole from a Las Vegas showgirl.
I wore it at a New Year’s Eve party about ten years ago and I keep waiting for another occasion to put it on. But until my invitation to take part in Strictly Come Dancing arrives, the dress will stay in the wardrobe.
That’s not to mention the jeans that I’ve had for years and am still waiting to ‘slim into’. Or the pairs of staggeringly high shoes that are so uncomfortable they’ve never walked beyond the front door.
No wonder I have a wardrobe that’s bursting at the seams but provides me with nothing decent to put on. I would say 80 per cent of its contents don’t get worn.
Why do we do this Why do we buy clothes that we have no chance of wearing
Full wardrobe but nothing to wear: Marianne only wears about 80 per cent of her clothes
Standing in the middle of my fashion disasters (about six bin bags’ worth), I could see certain patterns of desperate consumerism.
First, there’s the classic ‘I’ll fit into it one day’ category of purchases. Research has found that women buy, on average, three items of clothes they know to be too small, as an incentive to diet.
These items are apparently called ‘carrots’ — Clothes Acquired Rashly, Requiring Owners To Slim. Even the smartest women fall for it, yet the labels on two pairs of unworn jeans in my wardrobe are testament to the fact that it never works. Ever.
Then there are the panic buys, the ones made when you rush around the shops an hour before they close trying to find something for a wedding, birthday or office do.
Like the hunt for last-minute presents on Christmas Eve, all rationality goes out of the window and a pink zebra-print skirt looks like quite a chic choice — or, in my case, a shiny purple minidress for a Christmas party.
I knew the moment I pulled it on that I looked like a slutty Quality Street wrapper. It has never seen the light of day since.
Of course, there’s also the ‘It’s 50 per cent off in the sale — such a bargain — I’ll buy two!’ purchases.
Never to be worn: One of Marianne's least favourite items of clothing… but could it come in useful one day
I could have a whole wardrobe devoted to buys made in the heady heat of TK Maxx on a sweaty Saturday. ‘Look, it’s Calvin Klein! Down from 5,000 to just 150. Who cares if I have no occasion to wear a floor-length strapless gown with a train and a broken zip’
Online sales are the worst: a couple of clicks and, hey presto, you’re the proud owner of all manner or shoes/coats/dresses that don’t fit properly.
Last summer I bought four pairs of shoes online, all half price, but only one pair was comfortable. I meant to send the other three back, but I couldn’t get through to the courier line to make arrangements, then work was busy, and before you know it two weeks had passed and I was lumbered.
And ridiculous, impractical buys are even more likely if you are shopping under the influence. A meander by the shops after a long, boozy lunch and you’re filled with ‘Life’s short — enjoy it!’ joie de vivre that has you burning enough plastic to send the sales assistant on a round-the-world cruise. None of it will be wearable.
The average woman's item of clothing costs less than 50 but is kept for 12 years
The more I look at my mountains of unworn clothes, the more I realise that I buy clothes for the person I want to be, not the person I actually am.
When I’m in shops full of trendy, arty outfits, I buy things for the fantasy me: the one I imagine running around town in platform heels, carrying off clashing colours and tuxedo jackets with Kate Moss nonchalance. I don’t buy for the real me, who wears jeans and long V‑neck jumpers because they’re comfortable and flatter my size-14 hips.
The clothes that I actually wear probably take up a mere six hangers in my wardrobe.
Once the fishnet tights, giant floral corsages, puffball skirts and harem pants have been weeded out of it — a job that takes a full day, including tea breaks — all I’m left with is shelves of grey, black and cream jumpers, a few jeans and a couple of black dresses.
Which is all very streamlined and Zen but, God, it’s boring. It’s like a reflection of the real me and I don’t like it at all.
I start to panic about what good stuff I’ve consigned to the bin bags waiting to be taken to the charity shop.
Maybe I’m making a mistake throwing away those metallic boots. What’s wrong with a bit of Abba style once in a while And perhaps that shiny purple minidress will come in handy one day, you never know…