This month's update from stylist and DJ Laura Campbell
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There’s nothing like moving house to make you scrutinize and rethink the entire contents of your home including your clothes and general clutter. Having lived in the same place for 8 years and collected everything, from myriad decanters and glass cake stands to endless scarves, hats and bags, I’ve had to be seriously ruthless. Dusty children’s books (handed over to a local hospital), travel and recipe cuttings (now all available online), old cassettes (out of date), single gloves (useless)… superfluous ephemera all despatched to the bonfire, bin or charity shop.
Moving from city to county, you can dream up any excuse to have more accessories than you can shake a fat stick at. Why have one pair of wellies when you can have a fleece-lined pair, cosy sheepskin boots too plus a garish set once worn at a festival but never again?
Faced with boxing up the lot, it’s a good idea to work out – well in advance if possible – what’s worth keeping and what to pass on or chuck out. In my case I’ve filled some boxes with vintage clothes and vases I won’t wear or use again and marked them “eBay” to put in storage and sell at a later date. Having a tomboy daughter means a lot of my beautiful old lace and pretty chiffon tea dresses will wind up in someone else’s more accepting hands, like a niece.
And even if you aren’t moving house, it’s a great time as the seasons change, to edit your wardrobe and work out what has been lurking in the back of your closet unworn. And why.
According to a recent survey by the British Heart Foundation, the average person from the South West owns four items of clothing they’ve never worn and a further nine they’ve only worn once. Many of the unworn clothes were bought in a flurry of optimism, chosen a size too small as an incentive to lose weight.
Having noodled into quite a few wardrobes myself I would say that figure is underestimating the number of rejects really languishing unloved and unwanted in the back of the average closet. So why not get it all out now while the weather’s still on the mild side because it’s no fun trying on clothes in the cold.
Start with the summer stuff you didn’t wear – for the third year running particularly. Pull it out and try it on. If it helps, get a friend (with an eye for style) round to help. Does it fit? Does it flatter? Is it frumpy? Is it too funky, too teenage? Does the colour enhance your features or look drab and drain you? Does the shade suit your current hair colour, the style enhance your curves or lack of them? Think about whether you’d buy it today if you saw it in a shop for the first time or if you’d bypass it because the print’s too brash or the fabric too flimsy. Study your winter garb and work out whether there are pieces in there you wouldn’t reach for unless in total desperation. Cast those out, cull the excess.
Consider lopping off the sleeves of an outdated jacket to change it into a useful waistcoat as a good winter layer or alter the hemline of a skirt to give it a more flattering shape. Customising and doctoring clothes breathes new life into anything and gives barely worn pieces – or even old favourites - more mileage. Any rejects can be passed onto a sister, daughter, charity shop or added to the dressing-up box.
All in all there’s something very satisfying about having a wardrobe that works – everything is wearable and loved and there’s even space to swish the hangers from side to side rather than jamming clothes in so tight you can’t distinguish one piece from another (and by the way, moths love dense, dark places).
Don’t hang onto maybe-one day clothes. Ditch the debris, sift out the shambolica, dress for your shape and style today and make space for the new.
One of the perks of winter is being able to wear a little bit of make-up. That said, it’s easy to make expensive mistakes. You can be seduced by a foundation sold to you by an enthusiastic girl with a healthy looking glow only to arrive home in the cold harsh light of day and realise you look like you’ve just disembarked from a transatlantic flight, complete with tide lines.
Or the gunk is so pasty it gives you the pallor of the recently departed. There’s no point spending a fortune when all you want to do is experiment a little and have some fun. My quick face fix favourite is Kiko Cosmetics who offer shimmery eye pencils and eye-catching nail lacquers as well as handy accessories – such as cuticle clippers and empty travel containers. For her recently launched range, make-up artist Charlotte Tilbury’s has cleverly come up with 10 iconic looks – each with its own helpful tutorial on YouTube. I oscillate wishfully between wanting the honeyed ‘Golden Goddess’ look (in summer) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39eUq7TRaus to the smouldering ‘Rock Chick’ (in winter):
It’s that time of year when what you can eat seems to become more limiting. Tomatoes are no longer juicy, salad somehow seems desperately unappealing and there’s not such an abundance of fruit. In with the fuel fodder such as soup, pasta, risotto, baked potatoes and baked everything else for that matter.
Savvy shoppers I know from Bath and Bristol, Stroud and Totnes, are avoiding the potential boredom of the same old recipes by switching shopping lists with a friend who enjoys cooking.
You might get more inspiration – throw some sizzling halloumi in with some rosemary roasted potatoes or perk up boring broccoli with some toasted almonds or sesame seeds and a splash of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (my secret seasoning which is great added to all manner of things - nuts, eggs, veg and whatnot). It puts the m-m-m back into menu.
I’m not usually a fan of opera but Chepstow-based baritone Karl Daymond and mezzo soprano Pippa Dames-Longworth’s Operaplayhouse is wonderful and well worth tracking down. The enterprising duo put on witty and entertaining performances around the country, in Wales and the south west – often from the back of their mobile opera house which is a tiny decorated trailer, otherwise known as “the smallest opera house in the world.” What’s even better is they will do special live performances in your local park or back garden so if you are organising a party in the future for someone who’d appreciate something a bit different, book them in.