The Stories Our Clothes Can Tell

Outer Hebrides 2012

When I recently suggested on Instagram that I was charity-shopping this jacket, the response was immediate,

‘Not the orange puffa!’

First spotted in the wilds of Cornwall in 2010, my Uniqlo men’s orange puffa has been my soulmate for nigh on a decade. I even took it to Antigua in 2011, it gets cold on ‘planes,  I’d just come out of a relationship and I needed its hug. It has featured in so many of my adventures online and was the epitome of a Comfort Blanket. Last year I used it as a pillow when I was camping at Port Eliot. Yes, I have replaced it with a longer, Nike version but also, my life has changed.

The psychological importance of clothing should never be underestimated. From the smell of your dad’s sweater to the pulling power of a favourite 80s outfit, I venture to suggest that everything hanging in your wardrobe has stories to tell. Sorting through my stuff for moving is like re-reading old diaries. That Zara black trouser suit that I bought especially for  a wedding and now they don’t talk to me anymore. Leopardskin ankle ankle boots given by an ex who ‘wanted to buy me something to wear’ and then sent me a picture of a whole rail of age-inappropriate Topshop purchases. I kept the boots. I have some of my children’s Fiorucci and Nipper clothing, an Edwardian bustle skirt bought at a car boot sale in Brighton…without doubt, there is much that won’t get worn again but it is a tangible part of my family history and the smells and touch evoke a myriad of memories.

When I buy something new, I have to make friends with it before I wear it. Stare at it in the wardrobe, like new Clarks leather school sandals sleeping in a tissue lined box in the corner of my childhood bedroom. I don’t trust these new arrivals. They have an attitude that isn’t mine and I have to understand it.

Age eventually flattened the puffa; the recommended machine washes were gentle but the down gradually disappeared and I had to help it out and  wear another jacket underneath to  keep  me warm. It tried its best but I watched it die. Ten years of love, ten years of adventures. A whole big, fat chapter of my life.

The Nike usurper trying its best in Broadstairs.

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