Introducing the Only Detox to Consider in January
And it doesn't involve green juice or sit-ups
Image shot by Jacob Schuhle-Lewis @jeak - knit by Orwell + Austen, mini-skirt by &otherstories, shoes Ferragamo - all old seseaon
Telly, social media, magazines, newspapers, there’s no escaping the endless bleat of ‘new year, new me’ mantras that fill column inches and scrolling feeds at this time of year. If we believe the hype, come February we’ll be a far better version of the person we are today. A full mind, body and soul transformation in three weeks. Erm, yes. Sure. Ok. Right.
Slimmer, smarter, sober, it’s as though we wish to forget who we once were (a whole two weeks ago) and I can’t help wondering what it is we’re really attempting to erase? Instagram feeds filled to the brim with pink hued quotes don’t help either. “Do this, be better at that, you shouldn’t eat that, for God’s sake why aren’t you applying for a PHD this year?” Enough already! You are enough. We are enough. I’ve had enough.
It’s normal to want to evolve, to switch a few things up in life, to let things go, to find a new path, but believe me, putting pressure on ourselves to do it all within the first few months of the darkest month of the year is madness. Not drinking WINE for the whole of January? The darkest, coldest month of the year? If you enjoy a glass of red with dinner, it sounds like a punishment to give it up. As for detoxing, I reckon July is a far kinder time of the year to go on a juice cleanse.
Image by Helen Kaminski (hats) see final line for details
The only detox I do in January relates to style and my wardrobe. January is the perfect time of year to embark upon a full wardrobe detox and I do it twice a year to align with the seasons. This year’s detox is going to be particularly full on as all my clothes currently reside at the dry-cleaners. When they’re delivered, which I’ve already cried about, I have zero room for any of it and so when it comes to stays and what goes, I’ll have to be incredibly strict. No choice.
Storing stuff in the loft feels heavy.
Last year I bought a house, which many of you will have seen on Instagram. The house, built in 1927, is small with only 2.5 bedrooms (two large one box). It has zero storage and I’m not building any intentionally. It has a huge loft but I can’t access it easily without retraining to be a gymnast - new career? Even if I could trapeze up there, I really don’t like the idea of shoving stuff away hoping it will disappear. Storing stuff in the loft feels heavy.
There were bigger houses to buy, but this one is close to my kids' school plus I also bought a wreck in Menorca. Buying two fixer-uppers, getting divorced, opening a Spanish bank account, figuring out how to get the equivalent of a national insurance number so I could register my Spanish utility bills and write a book oh, and parent alone…last year was A LOT. For me, a tidy wardrobe provides A LOT of free headspace and knowing what to wear with what will save time in the long run and the day or so it takes to tackle the sea of stuff is a day well spent. I don’t know about you, but for years I’ve only worn half of what’s in my wardrobe.
A while back, I met a wonderful human called Marcella, who runs a business called Think Tidy. After losing her young daughter to cancer, Marcella, who has an older boy and, since the passing of her daughter, gave birth to another girl, lives in North London. Grief stricken after the death of her daughter, Marcella began to tidy and became so unbelievably organised, after a year, her husband suggested she make a career out of it and sorting out people’s lives is now a full-time job. She is the most extraordinary woman.
To say I was shocked at how emotional it made me feel would be an understatement.
I met Marcella when she came to my old family house to clear-out my wardrobe for a piece I was writing for Sunday Times Style magazine. To say I was shocked at how emotional it made me feel would be an understatement. Clinging onto old clothes like a part of me I’d long outgrown, when she left, my wardrobe was organised within an inch of its life – and I felt lighter in mind and soul. It was nothing short of a religious experience.
*Please do contact Marcella if you’re having issues with any form of tidying. I know it can be very difficult to deal with these things alone. As demonstrated when I hired her to help me sort through the childrens’ baby clothes last year. Amazingly, she helped me organise several boxes of keepsakes into two - one for my son and one for my daughter, memory boxes to be kept forever. You can find her here: Think Tidy
I plan to upload a video demonstrating how to clear-out your wardrobes as soon as my actual wardrobe is delivered here in mid-Jan. In preparation for a massive clear-out, if you fancy joining me, I’d like you to source the following things:
A sturdy rail. There are lots on Amazon, but please be mindful that you’ll need to be able to store it somewhere and that it should be strong. There are so many flimsy rails for sale and they really are just a bit crap. You’ll also have to be strong enough to put it together
An A2 pad of paper and a couple of thick tipped marker pens
Storage bags - I’ll demonstrate these in the video, but they need to have a zipper on so you can deter moths (this is how we will store knitwear).
Large freezer bags - this is how you’ll store high-price individual knits
Large shopping bags with handles (I like the Ikea ones)
Moth deterrents - I’ll introduce you to the right brands
Acid free storage paper to layer between clothes
Large, deep plastic storage boxes with lids - or, if you don’t have a loft or spare cupboard, those zippy bag things you can whoosh beneath beds.
Once the wardrobe is cleared of unwanted items and cleaned inside with moth repellent, we’re able to tackle the bigger conundrum otherwise known as ‘The Style Rut”.
Unless you’re vigilant, ending up in a style rut is a very easy thing to do.
What’s a style rut? Ok, well, I reckon it’s more of a feeling, as in that twist of annoyance in the pit of your stomach when you open your wardrobe doors. AKA, when you stare at your stuff for 2.5 seconds then slam the doors shut and walk off in a huff that lasts the entire day. Or worse (and I’ve done this countless times), that feeling when you’ve left the house in an outfit that annoys you so much you end up getting off the tube to go home and get changed. Wait, it gets worse. That feeling of total irritation that suffocates like a swamp leaving you with no choice but to WALK INTO A SHOP TO BUY SOMETHING NEW YOU CAN’T AFFORD. One minute you’re fine, the next, you’re so pissed off with your wardrobe, you’re left with only one choice: call in sick to work.
Unless you’re vigilant, ending up in a style rut is a very easy thing to do. Am I vigilant or am I just extremely vain? Both, I guess. That’s because staying fashion relevant (for want of a better word) means more to me than just looking good. You see, clothes are my armour and in the right clothes I feel confident enough to represent myself legally up against my ex’s lawyers, confident enough to walk into a room in a new business situation, confident enough to face the world and be my best self. Even I’m eye-rolling – of course I wish I were confident enough to not care, be confident enough in who I am. But I’m not and that’s where the daily armour comes in.
Fancy a few videos showing you how to get out of a style rut and tackle your wardrobe updates?
Your style rut will look different to mine, but there are things we can do to move our wardrobes forward without breaking the bank. My bank is already broken, the lawyers took it all, so this season, I’m only adding a few bits here and there. The key to getting out of a style rut is, as mentioned above, detoxing your items first before making a list of needs to be updated or replaced. I like a list, it's easier on the eye, so, here goes:
THE NEW BLAZER: I’m very fussy when it comes to tailoring and believe in buying better, even if that means - gasp - saving up and waiting. Or, as per my sale advice, you could consider buying into a brand usually out of your price range but in the sale, might just be affordable. If money is very tight and you want a quick update, head to ARKET. It is an amazing store!
When I grow up I want a Chanel blazer, but until then, I plan to get out of a style rut by wearing a black blazer that’s oversized on the shoulder with a crisp white shirt and skinny leggings or jeans.
JEANS: If like me it took years to finally drag your ass out of your black skinny jeans, you’ll notice there is no real definable denim trend or must-have silhouette to home in on, but an endlessly confusing selection of different colours, shades, fits and brands to confuse you. If someone tied me to a chair and shone a spotlight in my eyes today, demanding to know the top three shapes, I’d answer: 1. high-waisted but slim cut on the leg with the length landing just above the ankle bone. 2. Low-waisted and slim on the thighs gently kicking out to a flare from the knee to the ankle (this style is longer in length and requires heels). And 3: Mid-waisted and baggy like so-called ‘boy’ jeans. Let’s hope I’m never caught in a hostage situation: my ADHD brain would continue to rattle off all styles as memorised from Net-A-Porter.
The most important thing to note with jeans, is sod the trends and go for something that really suits you. I’m so sorry to say, black skinny jeans tend to make us women over the age of forty look a tad old-fashioned. There. I said it. Let the floodgates open. I feel confident telling you to ditch the skinnies, because I myself have nine pairs of skinny jeans in my wardrobe - no I do not, they are about to be “DETOXED”. Even if I don’t believe it, spring is just around the corner and the most cost-effective way of springing into spring is a pair of lighter denim jeans. I’m going for a pair of straight-legged, pale denim jeans by AGolde which I plan to wear with an oversized shirt.
THE SHIRT: Around this time of year, I tend to stop wearing head-to-toe thermals and balaclavas and dig out the silky and cotton blouses to wear with aforementioned jeans. I’m always on the hunt for a well-cut shirt and think I’ve finally found The One in the form of Bailey X Budd, the clever collaboration between model and Vogue contributor, Laura Bailey, and her stylist and creative director buddy, Cathy Kasterine. BUDD is where bankers and city guys have headed to buy their shirts for the past one hundred years, and so, by playing with ‘gentleman’ Saville Row tailoring motifs, creative duo Bailey and Kasterine have cleverly created a collection of traditionally masculine shirts cut for women that feel a bit like wearing your boyfriend’s shirt but without the long dangling sleeves and a shoulder line that works. I love shirts worn loose and unbuttoned dangerously low to flash a nice bra (not a look for parents’ night Zoom with the ex). Unbuttoned or not, I tend to wear black or colourful bras beneath white shirts. I know. Get me. Such a rule breaker.
THE DRESS: These days, I tend to only wear dresses when I go out OUT because, well, I do like something close-fitting and showy at night. During the day, I tend to work the Nun Meets Governess look (I confuse myself) and love Batsheva, Staud, Doen, Rejina Pyo, Nanushka, Ganni, Toteme. When going ‘out out’, I tend to go full Upper East Side Glam and love everything in Alessandra Rich’s collection. Rich makes very naughty dresses, which apparently, I’m too old to wear and that’s exactly why I wear them. In terms of updating your wardrobe and hauling yourself out of a style rut, for midi dresses try something slim-line and knitted and wear with boots that end just before the hemline. For printed and boho and flouncy, Boden has an amazing selection. Yes, I just said Boden. For something more “fashion”, I like everything by vegan leather brand, Nanushka.
THE SUIT: I’ve spent the past few years embracing the suit. Easy to wear, the suit is ridiculously chic and has the power to make you appear pulled together even if you’ve been up all night long crying over the fact the ex got custody of the family pet. In cases such as these, just add huge fuck-off sunglasses.
I love tailoring by ACNE Studios and have blazers and trousers from ACNE that have really stood the test of time. As per my blazer, ARKET has a good selection, ditto COS. Little tip: I tend to buy suiting a size up on the high street as it helps to elevate the overall quality. You can have waistbands taken in at the dry cleaners. This season, I’d really like to update my ‘lewk’ with a cream suit, even if with my red hair I end up looking like raspberry ripple ice cream.
THE SHOE: My least favourite topic of conversation for a multitude of reasons, whatever the bloody season. Here’s what I’d do if I were you, try on any new wardrobe purchases with your existing shoes and if they don’t work, cry and call in sick to whatever you planned to do that day. Alternatively, you’re just going to have to try and try and try new styles until you get it right.
For example, straight-cut jeans that end just above the ankle look great with sling-back kitten heels in spring – but defo not ankle boots. Midi-dresses can look a bit old fashioned with spike heel pumps, but dead cool with mid-length boots (heeled or flat). My new obsession is the 1970s platform boot which I plan to wear with my trusty Mango flares. Very tricky to walk on cobbles, but that’s why the UBER app resides on my phone.
Quick tip, come the end of Feb / early March, I tend to wear pale shoes with lighter denim and everyone always says, ‘oh, you look fresh!’ If you live in Scotland, please ignore this advice until June.
THE COAT: I’m so jealous of my daughter’s ZARA coat, I tried to buy one in the largest size available in ZARA KIDS. No such luck. In three to four weeks time, the wider-culture will have you believe you need a trench as if your life depended upon it. You don’t. They are thin and flimsy and I always ALWAYS end up having to wear a sodding puffer gilet from Uniqlo underneath. A puffy gilet worn beneath a trench = not a good look. I rest my case. Court adjourned.
My waist refuses to go in, no matter how much I weigh, and so I tend to look odd in belted outerwear (the belt slips up beneath my boobs). Saying that, when it comes to belted coats, I have the best trick ever. Don’t wrap the belt around the front, wrap it around the back and tie in a loose knot. Pulled in at the back, the front will take on a leaner sihouette providing some semblance of a waistline without cutting you off at the middle. Unlike winter coats I think spring outerwear should be fun and a bit quirky, for example, I love shiny PVC coats like the one I bought from Rejina Pyo in the sale two season’s ago. Like the Mac, it’s drafty so I probably won’t wear it until April.
THE SKIRT: I detest skirts. The no waist thing makes them very uncomfortable. HOWEVER, this year, my 49th year alive on this planet, I’m continuing to embrace the mini. Sod it. I like my legs but not my tummy so in terms of silhouette, I like how I look in a mini, it’s societal expectations of women I’ve had to get my head around. If you like your waist and not your legs, a classic pear shape will look fabulous in a wide-cut, longer length skirt that stops a little longer than the classic midi. Wear everything from slim cut sweatshirts to blouses tucked in. I plan to wear my mini with a snug fitting jumper that doesn’t require being tucked into the waistband.
THE HAT: I’m newly obsessed with fedoras and have just disocovered hats by Helen Kaminski. See imagery above.
Fancy a few videos showing you how to get out of a style rut and tackle your wardrobe updates? I can go to the shops and film myself secretly in changing rooms of Zara, Artket, &otherstories, COS? Promise to get me out of jail if I’m arrested by store security?
Yes please to the videos! I live on a house boat and am moving to a slightly smaller (but gorgeous, as it's all my own design and spec) one later this year and will need every scrap of storage/style help I can get!
I have something very important to say!!
Sandro have an excellent blazer offering, on sale, that I think may be up your ally. Also may I express upset on behalf of skirts everywhere - worsened by the fact that you have the audacity to wear the mini so very well. Take what you said about detesting them right back please.