Growing Up With a Clothes Hoarder - Guest Post by Lauren Donnelly
My mum often laughs, fondly remembering her eccentric father when we’ve told this story in the years since he passed. “It was typical of his generation. Those who were around during the war had a ‘waste not, want not’ mentality”. That’s my mother. My mother who was born in 1957- nowhere remotely near a world war- and yet still manages to reserve a kitchen drawer for the 54 disposable lighters that she HAS to keep- just in case. My mother, who has filled my dad’s art studio full to the brim with junk including, but by no means restricted to: broken deck chairs from the 70s (“if we fixed these up a little, we could be on Antiques Road Show in a few years!”), three partially functioning fridge freezers and tins upon tins of long dried up magnolia matte emulsion paint (“I need it so I can match up the walls if I ever need to buy any more”). That is my mother, my mother who is a hoarder.
And that’s not to mention the clothes. Oh the clothes! In my parents’ bedroom alone she has three floor-to-ceiling Ikea fitted wardrobes, two antique armoires; three chests of drawers and a vanity table FILLED to busting with clothes from the 70s, 80s and 90s that she downright refuses to throw away. Then there are the other bedrooms. My mum and dad still live in our childhood home, a five bedroom Edwardian house in which they only inhabit the one bedroom. But it’s a bloody good job they never moved once my siblings and I flew the nest. My mum needs the other 4 rooms to store her vintage clothes addiction, bargain shoe collection and pile of winter coats that she’s been hoarding since the 80s.
With all that, you’d think she was done. Yet, the lack of room does not deter her. Day upon day, eBay parcels arrive enclosing yet another bargain buy. It’s not just the cheap stuff she aims for either. In amongst the foray of vintage kitten heels and empty designer perfume bottles, she’s managed to snag herself a 50s powder pink Escada jacket, a vintage Prada patent leather bag and a 90s Emilio Pucci printed leather belt. Yes, all well and good, until you realise that she literally never wears any of it.
Ahhhh… but that’s where I step in.
What was once a waste of space to me as a child, has now become my one-stop-shop for all things 70s boho, 80s embellished and 90s grunge. It’s an Aladdin’s Cove of unique vintage treasures that absolutely no one else has access to. See, my mum understood one thing I could never grasp: “fashion is a cycle. Give it 15 years and you’re wearing the exact same style jelly sandals you were at 14 years old”.
And she’s right! I could kick myself thinking about the 90s Dr. Marten Chelsea boots I threw out when I had a ‘clear out’ before I went to university. Or the amount of racer back crop tops I binned a few years back. Not to mention the denim midi dungaree dress I used to love so much in my mid-teens. All of them back in fashion.
Yes, it’s undeniable that my mother holds on to a bit too much. Yet I’ve come to realise, if we binned absolutely everything that we didn’t have use for anymore, then how would we preserve our fashion history. Granted, it’s one thing holding on to a treasured dress, and quite another keeping broken kitchen appliances, but just tossing every unwanted item in the bin can’t be the solution, surely?
So, how do I manage to keep my hoarder genes at bay? I tend to donate a bin liner of clothes to a charity shop every few months, or at least every year. In keeping with the “fashion cycle” my mother preached about, if I’m going thrift store diving I’ll try to make sure I get rid of some unwanted garments while I’m there. That way, maybe someone else can find some joy out of my pre-loved pieces. I take some, I leave some. Everyone’s a winner!
How do you organise your closet? Or are you guilty of being a fashion hoarder, too? If you have any tips for a recovering clothing addict, please leave your comments below. We’d love to hear from you.
Lauren Donnelly lives in the UK and is a content writer for maryjanefashion.com, an online fashion wholesale website.
:: Lauren Donnelly ::