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Summer Clothes: the agony and the ecstasy


 Guest Article by Cassie Tillett

“Clothes changeover time… what about decluttering the wardrobe?” wondered the lovely Ceri Wheeldon, when I asked how she’d like me to theme a posting about decluttering.

How did she know? In this present, startlingly beautiful, probably (let’s face it) misleading spell of July-like weather in time for Easter weekend, I got home from a day’s work in my jeans, feeling weighed down by denim and suffocated by coverup.

Out came the tucked-away pile of last year’s cutoffs, t-shirts, floaty skirts; and the next day, giving thanks for the continuing sunshine as I dressed to attend a networking event, on went one of said floaty skirts, a sleeveless vest and a very lightweight waterfall cardigan. Oh, it does lift the spirits.

Correct outfit for the right weather

However, in reaching this delightful nirvana of (for once) feeling that I was wearing the correct outfit for the weather and for the occasion, I had to plough through some rather unwelcome discoveries. Why, please, why did I have so many t-shirts that flatter me not at all? Why t-shirts and not tops?

For your information: I am a lass of impressive proportions. Not huge, not obese, but variously curvy-to-overweight; at 5’5” and wandering vaguely between a 14 to 16, between 140 and 170 lb, I’m not – even at my slimmest – the sort of person that can buy clothing with gay abandon. I need a shape, a structure, an outline. Anything shapeless, and my generous curves take on elephantine proportions.

I suppose that, at the end of last summer, when I dived with relief back into the layers that hide a multitude of sins, I was all too happy to hide the things that hadn’t worked. I’ll think about that next year. I’ll have lost weight by next year. (After the winter months of comfort eating? I don’t think so.)

Buying Clothes to Feel Better

What really shocked me, though, was that many of those items had been bought in a fit of desperation. I’m on holiday. I deserve it. I want to feel I’ve bought something. Done something to feel better. Stuff the fact that it didn’t have the desired effect: it’s new, dammit.

When we went on holiday last year, one of my best friends joined us for a few days. She bullied me into buying a few items – tops and dresses with shape and curve that I wouldn’t have dreamed of looking at before – and guess what? They’re now among my favourites. Anything, she said, to stop me wearing T-SHIRTS.

So I’ve been through a great pile of said unflattering t-shirts, and either binned or charity-shopped them, depending on their state of newness. And I’ve promised myself that this year, real tops – yes, the ones with a structure and a shape – will be the way to go, rather than that’s-only-a-fiver-and-a-pretty-colour-and-I’ll-feel-better. (They weren’t expensive individually, but suddenly there seem to be an awful lot of “just a few pounds” added up.)

What’s the learning, then? Well, as a professional organiser-and-declutterer (otherwise known as Stuff Management) you could say that I should know better than to buy in so unthinking a fashion. However, at least I have the tricks and techniques to deal with the detritus once the damage is done, so the evidence doesn’t hang around the house forever. (And, of course, like most of us I’m much better at helping others to do it right than I am at applying the same principles to myself.)

I loved the process of finding The Right Outfit, and dealing with The Wrong Outfits. Itwas liberating. It was a huge relief. Now I just need to harness the other side of this learning so that this summer I don’t waste a fortune in panic buying. If it doesn’t work on my curves, I ain’t buying.

Well, that’s the theory, anyway!

© Cassie Tillett

Cassie Tillett is a slight imposter on the Fab After Fifty site, but she’ll qualify in less than two years! An unlikely wife to an Anglican parish priest in deepest rural Norfolk, she loves her work in organising (decluttering, ‘stuff management’, IT training; anything involving problem solving). The rest of her time is divided between her wonderful husband, parents, a large and eclectic selection of friends, photography, theatre and music.

www.workingorder.co.uk

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Comments

  1. Maureen Robson

    April 26, 2011

    Hi Cassie, I love your article, I have the same problem myself and find that lots of things in the shop look fine if you have no bust and are really thin, but don’t look good on a woman with shape. Which shops do you find you can get good structured summer tops in? I am at my wit’s end trying to find anything worth even trying on!

    • Cassie Tillett

      April 26, 2011

      Hi Maureen – so glad you liked it!

      Some of the best I’ve found have (annoyingly) been when over in France, which isn’t much help in this country.

      I find the best stuff is often in department stores when you have lots of brands to choose from. Our local Debenhams is pretty good like that; they have their own brand as well, and Rocha.John Rocha occasionally has interesting stuff too. East is another favourite store (I usually wait until sale time, though!) as they often have good colours and use crossover shapes a lot, which suit us curvier girls; and have a look at the Bravissimo lot – they have just launched the PepperBerry range, which is specifically designed for curves.

      I love Matalan – range changes a lot, but occasionally I find something really good, and they’re pretty inexpensive. Wallis are worth a look too.

      Oh, and two unlikely places to look: ebay and Amazon. Not so much for secondhand stuff on the former (although you never know) but there are some interesting smaller suppliers that use those outlets. Blue Banana (http://www.bluebanana.eu/) are good – I got a great wrap dress from them a while back.

      Hope that’s helpful – let us know any recommendations!

  2. Gladys

    May 27, 2013

    If you want to do visitor postings for my site please let me know, I love the way you blog.

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