Friday, August 31, 2007


It was time for a declutter.

Now, in our house, this is a relative word.

So when three very large bin bags of, too small, too unfashionable and too disgustingly worn out clothes, finally got to the recycling bank, it wasn't without enormous complaint from Tinkerbell Mushroom and Gymnast.

All summer I have winced as they have got themselves dressed into their favourite togs, not noticing, being 7 and 9, that they made themselves look like children something similar to a pre Victorian orphanage.

It's not helped of course by the fact that people, very kindly, knowing that we have five children, give us all their recycling. It is very kind of them, but, even with five children, there are limits as to how many bin bags full of second hand clothes, not quite the right size or shape, that we can deal with.
"If you don't want them, given them back, or give them to a charity shop" the kind people always say, as they give me another four tons of cast offs.

Never being one for waste, I always accept gratefully, smile and stuff it into already crammed full drawers.

Occasionally, someone gives you something accidentally, and asks for it back, as happened just over a year a go. Fortunately, being the thrifty type, I still had said garment, and although it took some digging to find it, amidst clean and dirty washing, bedding, crisp packets and toys and sweet wrappers, I eventually unearthed the missing item and gave it back to kind benefactor.

Now, don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't want "hand me downs". I am actually always genuinely grateful.
It's just that due to the indelible ink labelled "guilt" mark on my forehead, I am seriously unable to sift through the bags, take what I want from them, and give the rest away. I always feel that if it is given to us, as a kind gesture, we should use it, however ridiculous, large or unfashionable it might be.

And of course, aged 7, the more ridiculous, large and unsuitable it is, the better. which is fine, most of the time. But sometimes, just sometimes, you want your children to look reasonably nice.....
And, you want to be able to see them just so without a huge battle of the wardrobe first.

And then of course there is the problem of the nostalgics.

"Oh, that was her first dress.

That was his first sleep suit."

Or, "That was his first nappy...."

Oh, OK, slight exaggeration.....but you get the gist.

In short we have accumulated clothes for seventeen years, waiting for the next child to fit them. Now, given that fashions probably rotate every twenty or thirty years, if I keep them all long enough, I could probably clothe all of our grandchildren too. And the entire street on which all of them will live.

But really, it was time for a thin down, for, despite my new year promise to reduce items by ten a day, I failed miserably once the first month was over.

And so, I steeled myself. I stuffed it into bags. I was ruthless. Hard. Unmoved and untouched as I rid myself of clothes from mine and the younger children's drawers.
The relief was enormous.

Tinkerbell Mushroom complained to ESOS.

"She's thrown away ALL my clothes.


I have nothing to wear."

The mutterings were faintly reminiscent of someone who should be a good few years older than her, but, I have to say, it did strike a chord.

For, once all the unsuitables were gone. What was left, was tasteful, pretty, suitably sized............. but a little on the ....errr.......minimalist front perhaps.

And so, being the last of the big spenders, and always insufferably broke, we went to the tailors, at Tesco and Tesco and Sons. And for just £30, bought what could only be described as an almost completely new wardrobe.
I am forgiven...

I'm now off to watch yesterday's "What not to wear." And then there might be a few more items that hit the recycling bank before Christmas.......

This time, just mine.


ChrisB said...

I remember being given a few bags of hand me downs when my girls were young (I think I got the sympathy vote because we were a single parent family and it was still quite unusual back then) trouble was the girls were not always happy with what they were given but to be fair they did wear most of it.
I wish I could be that ruthless with my wardrobe! I know I did try a while back but somehow my wardrobes are still full of unfashionable clothes kept just in case!

meredic said...

I think that this is why we have bonfire night every November.....

Sally Lomax said...

Maybe we could have a bloggy bonfire, and all bring a bag of clothes to put on it. You too Chris!!!

headless chicken said...

Brilliant post Sally....a problem I can certainly relate to!!
A bloggy bonfire is a fab idea!:)

Alice Band said...

Sally - I have just had two tons returned to me that I had forgotten about - so now I have to sort once more. By the time they fit my youngest two they will be totally out of fashion and no doubt will be met with a derisive "I'm never wearing that!" I too though have a pile of 'precious' things: hand smocked frocks bought by my much missed ma, a romper suit a white, softer than soft babygro...
Tesco! Try Primark, there doesn't seem to be anything in there over a fiver. Love to you Sal xx

Sally Lomax said...

Hi HC and Alice!

So wher would we hold the bloggy bonfire?

You could keep the smocked dresses Alice, but we could all contribute one whole bag minimum of things that couldn't be recycled anywhere else......

Karmyn R said...

My sister-in-law's children are older than mine -she bags up EVREYTHING and gives it to me.

It is nice - BUT - the kids are just old enough that by the time my daughter gets to it - completely out-of-style. I feel your is nice to de-clutter.

Beccy said...

Mum failed to mention all the lovely stuff (like a Mary Quant mini) she got rid of but some of the stuff she kept...ugh! Mind you I'm wearing and old 70's/80's evening dress of hers tomorrow night.

Ignorminious said...

Ah such memories. These clear outs were a frequent event at my house, and not at all fun. Right now I think I own about three times as many items of clothing as I actually wear. Luckily, almost everything not in my active rotation has been left in Yateley for some time now, and I don't really want it back!

meredic said...

Yeah I am up for a bloggy bonfire :-)

Norma said...

We decluttered about a year ago. I couldn't believe how much stuff accumulated.

ChrisB said...

Sally when you have time have a look at my post today.

Sally Lomax said...

Karmyn - I agree!
Beccy - Gosh a real Mary Quant!
Ig - Definitely best to leave them there, and then eventually just dispose of them at an appropriate time!
Meredic - Excellent!
Norma - I know. I still have to do all the other stuff now, but at least I've made a start!
Chris - Thank you!

Emma in Canada said...

I just did this in my basement. One corner yielded 2 big blue bags of baby girl clothes, one blue bag of of pre teen girl clothes, one of boys and 2 big black bags of garbage. And 6 spiders. How I kept going after the first I will never know. God knows what the rest of the basement will give up.

Sally Lomax said...

Hi Emma

I did my office today.

This is almost weird. Most unlike me!

Akelamalu said...

I really must sort our my wardrobes - where shall I send the binliners full of clothes???

((wink, wink))

Lisa said...

I LOVE getting hand-me downs, and I give them away, also. I think when the kids get to a certain age, though, the clothes are too trashed because they are so rough.
Oh, well, nice while it lasted!

Pamela said...

as soon as I throw something out, I find a use for it.


enidd said...

um, sally, enidd will be going through her wardrobes at the weekend. should she send any cast-offs your way?

Sally Lomax said...

If you could send them to anywhere in Gloucestesrshire, they should reach me just fine.
Complete empathy!
Yes. I've done that.
Ditto comment to Ak. Thank you! That would be great. Don't want the drawers looking too unstuffed..