Sunday, 1 February 2015

The Grass is Always Greener

Outside my room at at home there is a very well stocked coat rack. Welsh wool capes, velvet blazers, long leather coats and big winter jackets are all squished together – shoved into this small corner of a corridor. It’s like the wardrobe leading to Narnia, but in reverse, my brother having to push past it every time he wants to leave his bedroom.

The size of this rack expands and contracts. Sometimes I’ll approach it with zealous resolve, loudly proclaiming I’ll cherry pick the favourites and get rid of the rest. Normally though this only ever ends in one or two items being packaged up for selling (I now have about twelve suitcases' worth of clothes to put online, eventually) or donated to a charity shop – the breathing space on the rack quickly plugged with another new second hand purchase or three.

Yet, I admit, I don't often wear much of what’s hanging there. The usual justification is that most are items much too gorgeous, ravishing or one of a kind to part ways with – even though they’re not practical for every day use. That’s why I have so many damn capes. One day, I hazily dream, I’ll have the kind of life that can necessitate two things: one, a walk-in wardrobe large enough to store everything with ease, and two, a social life requiring all sorts of fabulous, outrageous outfits. Whether either possibility becomes reality remains to be seen, but the upshot is that I’m keeping my great-grandma’s full-length red satin evening coat FOREVER.

So, bearing all this in mind, why did I end up coveting one of my mum’s coats? Considering just how many I had at my own disposal, eyeing up the one hanging in the hall instead was sheer avarice. Well, I guess there’s more thrill to something you think you can’t have – that mix of longing, desire and frustration (I may be more emotionally invested in clothes than I care to admit). Plus, it is pretty. It was a classic case of the grass - and literally the coat - being greener on the other side.

It worked out well in the end. I had a coat bought from a charity shop during the first year of uni, which I described in my Vogue Student Style piece as being  “the colour of well-brewed coffee with a furry collar and flared hem… a stitched layer of assurance to swing on when needed.” (You can see it here.) However, despite the boost of confidence it so readily offered, I eventually had to admit that it was also a tad too small across the shoulders and chest. My mum, more petite than me, offered an exchange. She’d give me the green sixties beauty I’d been lusting after in return for this flared brown Fifties one.

Many of us indulge in wanting what we don’t have room for or can’t have. How many times do we look at something in a shop, only to go “weeeeell, I don’t need it, and I’ve already got so many heels/ fifties tea-dresses/ silk shirts/ hot-pants” (depending on taste). But sometimes the inner child style petulance of “But I want it” comes out to play, making you dissatisfied with what you already have – craving the new, the next, the novel. Roald Dahl's Veruca Salt, eat your heart out.

I guess the beauty of clothes is that you can never have too many (ahem). I readily admire those like Vix who have a ‘one in, one out’ system where anything newly acquired means something older must be let go of, but I just can’t do it. I’m much too much of a seeker, a gatherer, a hoarder – but you know what? It’s ever so much fun.

Well, the origins of the coat have already been covered. The silk skirt is vintage (a Christmas present), the hat is from a charity shop, and the belt belonged to my mum. Those velvet ankle boots (sadly not particularly visible) were from ASOS. 


Ivana Split said...

Something about that phrase 'the colour of well- brewed coffee' had me rushing to kitchen to make myself a cup. In doing so, I had a minute to meditate how much I love clothes that happen to share a shade with my favourite food. We're all attached to our clothes in some way or another...and this attachment can be surprising emotional. This is particularly the case when that clothing item was given to you by someone you care about, for example some family member.

I can understand why you don't want to get rid of those vintage beauties. In my closet there are many items that will, let's face it, only ever be used for a blog shooting / family weekend trip (the one and the same thing often).

Some of them will survive to be be worn by other people I hope...and than the amount of closet space they occupied will be worth the fuss. Some will perhaps only be worn once or twice before being given away to charity and perhaps never be worn again...but that's life.

The grass is greener... is an interesting and often true proverb. That explains why my mother always likes to borrow/wear my stuff. Not that I mind. I even intentionally sometimes buy things that I know she will take from me because (and I know this to be true) if I had bought them for her in the first place, she would had said something along the lines 'you shouldn't have had' and would not enjoy them half as much.

Now, finally to's marvelous. The green coat is a thing of beauty for sure ...I do love the vintage glam feel to this combo. The photos match this look ever so lovely.

Hannah McManus said...

Lovely photos, I love the colour of the coat! I used to have a very difficult time getting rid of clothes, I think I was too emotionally invested in them, but I now seem to have improved! I definitely know what you mean about the childish petulance of 'wanting' something aswell!
Hannah x

Francesca Rose said...

Your writing is always so beautiful and wise so I'm sorry that the thing that stood out the most for me in this piece is that you have twelve suitcases worth of clothes to sell. TWELVE! You could set up a store with all of that (and I would be a regular visitor for sure)


YOURFLIRTYLOOK | by Karlijn said...


Cory said...

Love the way you write about clothes -- I like the fairy-tale quality. Thanks for the inspiration.

Josefine said...

This is really great, I can totally relate! I have an older sister and we are always fighting over clothes, mostly coats and jackets ;-)
And about keeping stuff we don't really need, I think it's a bit of a problem (at least for me, ahem), but I still think that what we choose to keep and what we become emotionally attached to helps us figure out what we like and what's important to us.

The vivid green color is really nice, and that silk skirt is beautiful!!


Alinhavando Ideias said...

This is a lovely coat.
The story involving it is great too. I'm always trying to improve the way I deal with the equation "clothes I have vs. clothes that I want to purchase" Sometimes it's complicated!
Amazing photos as always :)


I am in awe of how charming and beautifully captured your coat is, very elegant. What a fantastic colour on you as well. Since I have had to move countless times since I was a child, I don't tend to collect too many clothes unless it's either passed down from family or vintage bits that I love, so I share the rationale of "out with the old, and in with the new" approach--sometimes I have a swapping party with friends or my sister, otherwise donate several item(s) when I get a new piece or two. Although, there is always plenty that I want! :-)

Hannah McManus said...

Hi, I'm back again! Just to let you know I've nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award, here's the link:
Hope you have a great day :)
Hannah x

Sophie Jane said...

Lovely coat :) May I just say, you are quite a marvel of a woman, I hope to achieve as much as you have by the time I've been on earth as long as you- (and you are very beautiful indeed) ^_^

Willow said...

It feels rather appropriate that while I was reading this, I was still thinking about how those blue velvet boots (and the skirt, and the coat, and the hat, and your shiny mary janes below, and your blue velvet cape with delectable pink lining...and so on...) are needed in my life. It's rare for me to visit your blog and not find myself grinding my teeth or curling my toes from envy over something that you're wearing. How I wish I could raid your wardrobe or dig through those 12 suitcases (if you decide to sell them online, please do let me know). ...As is apparent, I can definitely empathise with you in this piece of writing!

Moving on to your other posts (because I'm so terrible at keeping up with blogs), I thought 'Settled' was absolutely brilliant; 'The Opposite of Loneliness' has made me put the book in my reading list and also got me thinking that I need to look through your instagram in search of book recommendations; I LOVED the serendipity in 'No New Stories'; and I thought that shirt in 'A Time of Gifts' was just so special - your brother is obviously a very talented, creative and thoughtful person (like his sister) and it sounds like you have some wonderful friends.

Ivana Split said...

I had to have another look at this outfit...pure delight for the eyes.

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