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Hannah's Day Out - Buying for a Capsule Wardrobe

February 11, 2016

It’s no secret that for the past 14 years of my life I have swung like a pendulum between a size 4/6 and a size 20. Both sizes, and all in between, have left me hating my body, fuelling my eating disorder and leaving me in a heap on the floor, sobbing and cussing my stomach and thighs. Weight loss, weight gain, and the growing of two beautiful babes just 23 months apart has resulted in a wardrobe fit to burst. Teamed with my eating disorder I also have Borderline Personality Disorder, and with that, for me, comes an unsureness in my identity; who I am and who I want to be. I often go through phases of wanting to dress like a Mumsy-mum in floral shirts and bootcut jeans that flare over ankle boots. Some days I wake up and I’m feeling hippy-esque, teaming tie-dye tops with floral harems and sandals.


Occasionally, I know who I am and who I want to be; just me. I’m not suited to bright colours, to being mumsy, to floaty fairy style dresses or big floral coats. I’m a neutral kinda girl, who looks best in jeans and a plain top and a plain cardigan. I don’t go out-out often, so I don’t need a wardrobe full of party dresses, and I don’t work so I don’t need a hundred pairs of black trousers or satin shirts. All I need is a wardrobe of items that suit me when I’m feeling like me. Maybe, just maybe, a compilation of clothes that I know, deep down, are ‘me’ then I’ll be able to snap away from devaluation towards myself.


Anyway, I’m swaying from the point and rambling as I wallow in self-pity and a big mug of hot chocolate.


A few weeks ago I sat down on the sofa and I cried. “I have nothing to wear”, I sobbed to my husband, “Nothing fucking fits me”. And, it was true. I sobbed for hours, stood in front of the mirror pinching my stomach and the tops of my arms. I went to bed, still sobbing, and I woke up, still sobbing. I put on my makeup and I squeezed myself into a t-shirt too small. I composed myself and put on my “I’m OK” face, walked to baby group, and there I checked my phone to find a text from my husband.


The text read something to the effect of: “I’m giving you some money and you’re going shopping”. For a week (and still now), my blessing of a husband is working all the hours his employer will allow so he could give me some money to replace my entire wardrobe with.


My friend Claire came over one Sunday morning and we cleared my wardrobe and drawers. When I say cleared, I mean cleared. The rules were these: leave me with only the things that I desperately need that still fit me, allow me one storage box of ‘one size too small’ clothes to go into the loft, and bin (or sell, or give to charity) the rest.


In case you’re wondering why I decided to keep one box of clothes for the loft, it is because I am still only 2 weeks post-partum and my body will probably change a little over the next year or so. My eating disorder still exists, too, and I cannot guarantee I won’t ever lose weight in the near future through it. Perhaps in time I will come to bin the box of clothes completely; but we kept only the nicer pieces. For now, though, they are in the loft and so are not accessible as part of my capsule wardrobe.


Deciding which clothes to rid of was hard. It was hard for numerous reasons, but mainly because I tended to have some kind of unreasonable emotional attachment to the majority of items. It was the smaller stuff that I found harder to bin because they reminded me of a time when yes, I was more comfortable in my body. I told Claire to be ruthless with me; if I started pondering over a piece that was obviously ten sizes too small, to tell me “BIN!” and to ensure that’s where it went. I found myself looking at pieces that would fit me as I am now, but that were garish and not my style. It was hard binning those items based on the fact that they fit, and not much fits me right now, but we did it because like hell do I suit a pink v-neck-tie-dye-t-shirt.


So, to put it simply, here are the categories we put clothes into:


  • Keep – must fit me AND suit me

  • Keep in the loft – must be no more than one size too small AND suit me

  • Charity Shop – Too small / fits but doesn’t suit me

  • Maternity wear (sell) – Self-explanatory!

  • eBay / Local selling shop (sell) – Anything I think I might be able to get money for that is too small / fits but doesn’t suit me


I can only hope that makes sense.


Several cups of tea and a few hours later, I had whittled down my entire clothing collection of at around 200 items to around 20, if that.


(This isn’t inclusive of pyjamas, in-the-house-lounge-wear, or underwear, as nothing there needed sorting due to it not being part of my capsule wardrobe. We also didn’t sort through my shoes as I had recently done that myself, and my shoe collection is relatively small and some shoes are just for practicality, such as garden shoes that I wouldn’t mix into my capsule wardrobe.)


Here’s what I was left with:


  • One pair of jeans (which needed replacing due to fading and general shabbiness)

  • A few tops / t-shirts that were suitable for not much more than wearing to baby group

  • Two dresses (both maternity wear, but that are easily passable as non-maternity, which I will attempt to part with once my capsule wardrobe is complete)

  • Four cardigans (again, I will attempt to part with all but one of these once my capsule wardrobe is complete – one of them will suit my capsule wardrobe)

  • Two pairs of thick leggings. I don’t wear leggings often, but I do occasionally wear them with a long bottom-hiding top or dress in the winter only, teamed with knee-high boots. These were relatively new as I bought them after giving birth, so didn’t need replacing.

  • Two jumpers (both suitable as part of my capsule wardrobe).


I think that’s it. Either way, I was in absolutely dire need of new clothes. I genuinely had nothing to wear; nothing made me feel good or womanly or anything other than a frumpy 22 year old dressed as a grandma.


I was anxious that I would start rummaging through the bags of clothes that I had filled to either give to charity or to sell, and that I would start putting things back into my cupboard. In order to stop myself doing that, Christopher filled the boot of our car and we drove to the nearest clo