Tuesday, 16 August 2011

I have packed!

I read recently a pointless article which suggested women should have no more than thirty outfits a year.

I thought, thirty? That is a joke, surely. Last time I hit Hong Kong for six months I wore four outfits. It shrank to two. I could have got away with one. (Admittedly, the ensemble would have been my bedsheet-shroud, worn in a state called borderline clinical depression.)

But clearly you ladies need my help. You do not need thirty outfits for a year. Have my fantastic rules for capsule dressing. I have gained this knowledge over many years of refusing to travel with more than a cabin bag, regardless of how long I'm going for, plus an incredible self-defeating miserable streak which means I refuse to buy any clothes when I get there!

Ready? These are the key elements in and out of the cabin bag.

1. OUT. All aspirational clothing. Example: Phase Eight fantasy dress. Pale green, floating chiffon, beaded straps. This is a beautiful dress. Under the circumstances, I had to have it. (Circumstances = RSPCA shop, never worn, two pounds, sold to me by an indifferent crusty smelling of cat pee.) In my mind's eye, any man with half a brain would swoon, seeing me dressed in this pastoral idyll. Declaring undying love and offering to marry me on the spot would be a modest step.

Reality? I look like a fifty-year old woman dressed as a pixie.

2. OUT. All control freakery clothing. Example: Jean Paul Gaultier trousers. Soft sueded silk, golden bronze sheen, wide leg, tight on the hips. No, I MUST stand like this so the leg is shown to best effect. DO NOT come any closer with that butter knife. MOVE AWAY so that I can glide forward, at an even pace, to show the fabric movement to best effect. Be quiet. I am STYLE.

After I have crawled up a sweaty Hong Kong hill in 90 degree humidity trailed by three kids while clutching an overfilled sandwich box with tomato pasta leaking down my left leg, pausing only to have a terrified Squirrel climb up my backside thanks to sight of a chihuahua, the JPG trousers will be indistinguishable from a floor cloth. Keep them in the wardrobe. I would rather they were eaten by moths.

3. OUT. Self-improvement clothing. Example: Laura Ashley skirt. Classy simple cut, plain, moss green. Also, button missing, which anyway I couldn't do up because the waistband is too tight. Thinks: When I move into a different country, I will exercise my waist! I will do that each morning before breakfast! Then I will search for and sew on the perfect decorative button!

No I won't. Self improvement is over-rated. Put it in the charity bin bag.

4. OUT. All emotionally charged clothing. Example: Ghost skirt. Black. Bought c. 1983. No, I am never giving this away. I don't care that it is deeply out of fashion, and ain't never coming back on a retro moment. I sewed it up eight times, the waistband has gone saggy and the hem fell off. I have lived, died, joyed and sorrowed in this skirt. Get off it. It is mine. Bury me in it. The scouts will have to prise it from my dead fingers for jumble. I will defeat them. I will eat it before I die. It is staying here in England where I have hidden it for safety.

5. OUT. High maintenance clothing. Example: Brown silk Episode dress. Very very brown. But there are lots of shades of brown, are there not? So this dress requires exactly the right shade of complementary accessories by way of delicate sandals and precision jewellery if its true nature is to be revealed. Do not try and pass it off with cheap white sandals and a plastic handbag. NO WAY.

PS. Also needs: perfect complexion, superior make up, polished nails, effortlessly languid hairstyle (requires two hours each morning to achieve) plus haughty stare. Equates to four hours dressing, plus extra time for practising sulky face repertoire in front of mirror.

Solution: Leave it in England in a cupboard. Here it may spend the painful hours considering the wisdom of its list of demands.

1. IN. Anything dark. Does not show stains, dribble, ketchup, Indian meal, sweat from 32,000 people in Mong Kok street market.

2. IN. Anything old. By the time I have worn it for ten minutes, it will look ancient.

3. IN. Anything shapeless. That way, no one will see how the push up bra fails to push.

4. IN. Anything in stretch fabric. Elastic waists, bits that can be held up with safety pins, hems that can be held aloft by sticky tape. If I grow thin, fat, fat, thin, no matter. I can take that clothing with me.

5. IN. Anything made of fabric which has all the qualities of steel. The ferocious Mrs Chang's Chinese laundry is just down the lane. Her wash cycle is modelled on a blast furnace and her tumble drier was a prototype for the Hadron Collider.

Now ladies, I hope these simple rules are useful when you are considering your capsule wardrobe for any circumstance. As always, you can rely on the supremely organised and well-dressed Grit to see you right.

Having sorted that, here are some pictures of Sparky the hamster. The children observe how couture I am today, and say it will make very little difference if I smuggle her over in my bra.


Nora said...

I agree with your whole list. Practical clothing, that's what you chose for. It's the most sensible thing to do.

Sugarplum Kawaii said...

I'm rather impressed that you even have a pair of Jean Paul Gaultier trousers!

Deb said...

Thirty? Who on earth needs thirty outfits?

Here is my solution to clothing myself. Search for the one thing (pants, t-shirt, bra) that fits. Buy 7. Ta Da!

sharon said...

My philosophy on clothing is as follows, if it fits, goes through a cold wash in the washing machine, requires minimal or no ironing and is cheap - buy several! In different colours gets a bonus point.

RuralDiversity said...

I love the idea of clothes but hate the reality of dealing with them. So my clothing advice is - get trousers with loads of pockets because you'll need them to stuff stones, penknife, dog poop bags, phone, cakeys, money, children etc in. Buy tops with flowers on or t-shirts with jokes on. Wear hoodies always unless it's too hot, in which case, carry your hoody. People WILL think you are a scruffy dyke but who cares? I don't.

RuralDiversity said...

cakeys? what am I talking about? maybe cake and car-keys?

Grit said...

hi people! thank you for your comments.

and cakeys.

oh yes, that word is now officially in my lexicon. and how true a mixture it represents. do you know, rural diversity, that i found a packet of mozzarella in an old handbag the other day? i'm sure i must have wondered in 2009 where that had gone to.

Anonymous said...

I have about 100 outfits. I wear 10. Love this post!