In the course of a recent spring cleaning extravaganza, I have come to the conclusion that there are two types of people who occupy this world. People who regularly and diligently cull their clothing collections, purging items that no longer fit or haven’t been worn in God-knows-how-long, and those who hold onto every tatty, out outdated little thing. If they’ve bought it, it stays in the warrior be or floordrobe, come hell or high-fashion.
Knee-deep in fast fashion, wardrobe and drawers bulging at their very seams, squeezing more and more into already compromised and limited space, sometimes resorting shamefully to triple hanging (three items on a single hanger) is where you’ll find the latter group of people. These sorts, my lovelies, are what is known in the trade as ‘clothes hoarders.”
Now, depending on how successful, iconic or famous they become, a clothes hoarder may be viewed through the lens of time, not as a silly fool with too much unnecessary stuff, but an Edie Sedgwick or Jackie O: outfits a snapshot of a life lived fabulously in wonderful style, from flapper dresses and pearl necklaces, to mod shifts and fur coats, someone interesting and noteworthy who ends up with their belongings being housed in a cool museum. This largely comes down to the quality of their clothing collection. Chanel haute couture gowns, Yves Saint Laurent Le Smoking suits, iconic Biba shift dresses, chic vintage Halston, “yes please,” says the V&A. 150 skirts from the likes of Tammy Girl, The Vestry and Quiz (OMG! Remember these shops?!), all pretty similar in their aged uselessness and you’ll probably get, “no thank you ever so much, our security men will now escort you to the exit.”
If you’ve read my post on Marie Kondo you can probably guess where I’m heading with this. Yes, my name is Mindfood Magpie, and I am a certifiable clothes hoarder. Magpie Towers is filled to the rafters with everything from Jeffrey Campbell Lita’s (one of the shoes of 2011. They didn’t look good then and they won’t look good again, so why they are residing in my home, or ever housed my feet, I have no notion) to acid house flares to a purple laced corset I wore to a Moulin Rouge themed party in 2009. Worse, like a doomsdayer anticipating the epic destruction of civilisation, I have secret caches all over the place: about 20 jackets and coats are slung over the office chair in my friend’s house. I last lived there years ago. In my old room there, now a spare, there are about 25 boots (some not even in a matching pair – how on earth does that even happen? I’m told it doesn’t. To anyone else.), multiple colourful seen-there best boyfriend style jumpers make a woolly little mound on the floor of my wardrobe – shoring up supplies in preparation for a clothing apocalypse leaving us as a species, sartorially unmanned.
Then there’s the issue that I don’t want anyone to see me in the same outfit multiple times, in case I be thought of as boring, even though, I readily and cheerfully admit to being boring on a daily basis. Anyway, I keep my options open with a selection of outdated, weird colourful ensembles. I’m sure living with me is like living with the poor-mans, glamour-free Kim KW.
I don’t want you to think badly of me. There are no flattened domestic pets buried under piles of waste in my house. People need not fear an unstable tower of debris collapsing on them should they visit for a cup of tea. But the cave does have enough clothing to dress 200 people (replacement value: about £27), if they were all 5 ft 2 inches and either in mourning or colour blind. I have been through times of wearing only black, the Queen Victoria era and also some periods where I experienced strange colour fetishes over the years. I recall many times when my mum would say things like, “that’s such a lovely dress, if only it was another colour it would be beautiful .” She’s nothing if not tactful, my Mitma!
Also, it’s worth a note that I’m not totally lacking in fashion sense. I love fashion magazines and blogs as much as the next person. I have an abundance of beautiful designer coats and dresses, that I keep for good reason. But I also keep them for bad reason. Because I’m a hoper as well as a hoarder. I hope that one day I will squeeze into the sample size that I bought for the sort of party I am rarely invited to.
As my mum said once, “if you keep it long enough it will come back into fashion but keeping the body you had the first time is nigh on impossible.”
The clothes hoarding is not without reason. Lucky for me, I am absolved from a portion of negative judgements on account of illness.
According to British researchers Ashley Nordsletten and David Mataix-Cols, 2-5 per cent of the adult population would meet the criteria for a diagnosis of hoarding: persistent difficulty discarding or parting with personal possessions regardless of actual value, strong urges to save items and/or distress associated with discarding them, leading to cluttering of the home. However, I think Nordsletten and Mataix-Cols might be batting a bit low: acceding to a super-scientific survey of my own, the percentage would be much higher.
All of my group admitted to having clothes going back to when they were at school.
I understand this. When I’m decluttering, I reminisce about the brilliant times I had wearing them, where I bought them, what they were for, who I was with. And I decide not to part with them, that one day I’ll show my daughter the glittery tweed Topshop shorts that I danced many a night away in and she will love them. She won’t – if she ever even exists.
My mum is the opposite to me in this respect. She discards often and utterly mercilessly. She can be ruthlessly unsentimental about many possessions, though, unlike me.
I am a master contingency clothing curator I’ve decided.
I don’t think anyone thinks that sounds as good and professional as I do.
At one point, a long time ago, my mum started donating my garments, not to charity shops but to people I actually know! Without my knowledge. Come to visit Mitters and you might just be (un)fortunate enough to leave with something from the unanticipated, unprecedented 2016 ‘Laura Isn’t Home collection.
This does create potential complications. A certain, shall we say, unfortunate ‘attire overlap’?
“That’s a nice jumper. I have one just like it.” I once said to a neighbour, only to unsuspectingly turn around just in time to see my mother’s face which had a trademark, “oh no you don’t…” look written guiltily all over it.
This memory sparks me into drastic action. If there’s one thing worse than sharing my hoarding secret with people I know, it’s thinking about the potential for my mother to do so by way of offering one of my hideous saved items to someone and them know that I still have ‘scousers’ from circa 1999 – and the fear that they may not realise that hoarding is the illness, rather than a horrendous previously undiagnosed case of bad-taste!
So I’m looking into capsule wardrobing.
I’ve decided I’m less scared of being boring than I am of being caught with something so obviously circa 2005.
I’ll give you a peek at the capsule collection soon!