Is your wardrobe a collection?

He was standing inside a women’s closet when he described what he saw as a collection. He wasn’t just referring to the quantity of her shoes. He said it with a capital C.

Collection. The statement jumped out from the video and got me thinking.

Could any wardrobe … my wardrobe for example with its less than illustrious contents … be described as a collection and not just the wardrobe of someone with cash to splash on designer-branded garments?

Let’s start with some definitions. A very good place to start.

From the online Cambridge dictionary, the first definition would seem to amply apply: “a group of objects of one type that have been collected by one person or in one place”. Although the examples given are hardly run of the mill: “a private art collection”; “a valuable stamp collection”. They both suggest financial investment and exclusivity.

Another definition is less high-brow – “a lot of things” – with an example more within our home-contents scenario: “that’s quite a collection of toothbrushes in the bathroom”.

What both definitions have in common is a sense of above and beyond, more than is required, an unnecessary excess.

In that respect, I suspect there are many wardrobes that can be described as a collection. Mine included. But having said that, I’ll acknowledge that the line between necessary and unnecessary is very subjective. It’s more complicated than anyone might wish.

For example, a collection of singlets might be warranted if you no longer draw an income and need sufficient in reserve to replace each as it wore out, provided you had opportunity at some point to buy a lot of singlets! Ballgowns are not required if you don’t go to balls, obviously. And a wardrobe overflowing with cheap clothes worn only at irregular intervals will keep them looking newish for longer, given that cheap clothes are designed to look tatty after a couple of washes and may be all that’s available at the local shops. Necessary or unnecessary? It does get complicated.

In this transition from summer to winter, and with a serious cold front currently streaming across NSW, I’ve just pulled my winter socks out of storage.

Who doesn’t love their winter socks! When those little toes get cold, there’s nothing like enveloping them in the soft luxuriousness of some fluffy fibre of some sort. There’s a warm freedom in wiggle-your-toes socks that can’t be replicated in the hard sole of a slipper.

Some of my winter socks are years old. No idea exactly, but I know I’ve had them for a few houses now. Bonds Explorers I think. Obviously worn to bed during cold Canberra nights and now covered in those little lumps of thread. I hope they’ve shrunk, because I don’t like the idea of my feet putting on weight.

There are also some I bought at last year’s Parkes Agricultural Show, lovely merino jobs that came in a pack of three. Soft as.

And then there’s two I bought at Melbourne’s markets, a bright red and a rustic khaki pair made of bamboo. Don’t they take a long time to dry!

But, topping them off in the glamour stakes is the pair of McGrath Foundation socks I bought last year from the local soccer club’s fundraiser. Bright pink and covered in embroidered soccer and basketballs. They pull right up to, and even over, the knee.

I’d call it a collection. There’s more than I need, and each item has a story.

But that then raises a problem. Once an item has a story, it becomes very difficult for me to part with it because it’s like slicing off a piece myself, losing a memory, or devaluing that experience.

I could get around this by being very prosaic and unimaginative about clothes, but I actually want all the items in my wardrobe to have a story. It adds something to the whole experience of clothing oneself. It makes for a bigger life.

There is a practical answer. Keep the additions to a minimum; only add when the accompanying story is worth remembering. And buy to last.

And invest in yourself.




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