AMY’S RADICAL CLOSET REFASHION, PART V
With last week’s mending completed, I’m now looking forward to the next stage of my wardrobe project: continuing with the count.
I’ve already counted my underwear and hosiery - that was an easy first step. But I think to tackle my (*whispers*) three wardrobes, with all different types of clothing jumbled up, I’m going to just have to go for it, and count and sort and evaluate in one big splurge. I haven’t had a big sort out for years, so I’m expecting to find lots of stuff that I don’t wear any more - or perhaps have never worn. In deciding what to do with them, I’m sure that I’ll be thinking of the ideas about unworn clothes that I discussed in my PhD thesis.
It is quite common for people to view unworn clothes purely as a waste of money. I don’t like that approach! I feel that it is simplistic and feeds a view of women being ʻdupedʼ by fashion. Instead, I am interested in the more positive idea that unworn clothes have an important part to play in helping us to construct our identities — who we feel we are. Maura Banim and Ali Guy, in a fantastic chapter in a book called “Through the Wardrobe”, explain that the pieces we keep but don’t wear can ʻhelp provide continuity or discontinuity with womenʼs current identities’ because they ʻallow women to maintain a connection with former, important aspects of themselves and their livesʼ. That notion certainly resonates with me - I know that I have garments I keep because they remind me of who I am and who I have been in the past.
When I talked to women about their wardrobes as part of my research, there was lots of chat about keeping unworn clothes just in case; there was an implicit expectation of future use. In some cases, they had particular circumstances in mind, such as the hope that their body shape might change in the future. Items were also kept just in case of changing fashions, and of the wearer changing their style or becoming more adventurous. On one hand, this attitude can be seen as legitimising hoarding —keeping items in case of circumstances which are unlikely to arise. However, I like to think of the wardrobe as a source of resilience —a way of dealing with the ever-changing context of fashion.
I’m excited to find out how many clothes I have, and how many of them haven’t been worn for ages: a lot, I think! I’m glad to have the opportunity to sort them out with my eyes open, allowing me to think consciously about what I want to keep, and what I want to wear, and why —and which pieces I’m happy to release back into the world via the charity shop (thrift store). Having developed lots of ideas for reworking garments as part of my research, I’m expecting to be adding a lot to my mending/altering pile —though I’ll have to be careful the pieces don’t fester in there for years, as others have. In fact: that’s yet another pile of clothes I must remember to count and sort out!
- Amy Twigger Holroyd
One-woman British fashion disruption engine Amy Twigger Holroyd is completing her PhD on folk fashion, while conducting stitch-hacking workshops, developing the practise and philosophy of reknitting, and producing fantastically restructured garments under her label Keep & Share. Read (and shop) more here.