As most of you know I’m down-sizing big-time to a flat (or apartment, as they say over the pond).  It will have 2-bedrooms, a living area and a small kitchen and bathroom. And no garden.

I’m ready for this.  I wasn’t at 60 or 65, or even, 68, but at 70 I am.  And it’s nothing to do with being ‘old’.  It is, however, an acceptance that actually I could do with less back-breaking gardening (I shall have my daughter’s garden to do if I feel the need for bending over and pulling out the weeds) and also, seriously I could do with less housework.  And no I don’t want to employ some ‘help’ or not yet, anyway.

But look at it this way.  We are moving back to a buzzy, wacky city with all that city-life brings: the coffee shops; the shops; the theatre; the museum; the cinemas (ah yes, cinemas within walking distance, oh bliss).  And proximity to a main-line station that’ll get me to London in a trice. Won’t it be noisy, said someone anxiously to me.  Oh, please, yes!  I want noise and buzz. I choose life!   Have you ever sat up on the 1st floor of a coffee shop in the North Laines in Brighton and watched people walking past in the street below?  Sometimes it’s as though you’re watching a crowd of extras from Star Wars – I love that!

And incidentally, this flat (and I have found one, but nothing is fixed yet, because we haven’t sold). Yes, this flat happens to be in a retirement block (which isn’t institutional, it’s just what we Brits call a condo).  Well, what about thinking about ageing rather than sticking one’s head in the sand?  Hmm?  (Read the last two sentences with a bit of an upward inflection) More about this in another post.  Anyway, I know it wouldn’t be for everyone – but it is for me and Mr Frugalfashionshopper.

So, to decluttering! And I don’t mean just clothes.

Recently I got rid of a lot of books that I’ve had since studying for my degree.  And even though I got this degree at the ripe old age of 40, that’s still 30 years ago.  And do I read these political philosophy books?  No I don’t. So, they’re out, they’re gone.  And novels?  Why keep them?  They’ve also gone.

I know people who’ll be horrified that I’ve got rid of books.  And I agree, books don’t necessarily have to be read all the time, instead they kind of tell you who you are.  They sit on shelves and speak not only to you, but to others, and say this person has read these books.  Now.  Actually.  I think there’s a tiny bit of a peacock display thing going on here. I’ve been there, I did that once, but now, no, there won’t be the space.

However, we’re moving to a 2-bed apartment, and the largest room is supposedly the main bedroom.  Not in our case.  We shall entertain in this room and make it our sitting room with all our A/V, streaming, listening, music equipment plus a big screen. And what was supposed to be our sitting room (a smaller room) will be our combined study, and that’s where my books will go.  Yes, I do have books that I’ll keep.  The ones on India and the Indian Army (I’ll tell you why I’m interested in India another time) my fashion books and the ones on current political issues, they’ll go there.  And novels – they’ll come in and then they’ll go out again to a charity shop.

So, I’m good at decluttering books.  And I’ve got rid of quite a lot extraneous ‘stuff’, particularly excess kitchenware; bowls and pretty plates that I’ve picked up in charity shops but never used.  As for clothes, I’ve cleared out a whole cupboard’s worth and our remaining clothes, plus coats, are now in a wardrobe that’s the same measurement as the built-in wardrobe we intend to construct in the new flat.

The easiest clothes to discard were my charity shop clothes.  The clothes I have difficulty with are the ones that cost a certain amount, as in, were full price.  These are going, albeit at a slower pace.  The cruise frocks will be kept, btw, because i) I love them and ii) I fully intend to wear them again. This cruise frock below is a good example of a dress that is not worn often but will, definitely, be worn again.

Yes, my criteria for getting rid of clothes is, do I wear this item?  And, will I wear it in the future?  If the answer is in the negative, why on earth am I keeping it?

But then there are some clothes that I never wear that I can’t quite bring myself to throw out.

First, is my wedding dress, which I bought off-the-peg for not very much in 1974. ( I believe it’s different now and thousands are spent on this item.)  As you can see, even  then I was determined to be different and didn’t wear a traditional white dress!!

Don’t you love my mother’s pink crimpelene dress, and what about the nice touch of my petticoat revealed at my cleavage – sigh.  It was a feature in every photo!

Anyway, I’ve kept the dress hanging in the back of my wardrobe for ever.  And I can still get into it – just. The pic below was taken last year and you can see my boobs have grown with age and don’t really fit into the space provided!!! Also I should be wearing heels.  Actually on my wedding day I was wearing platforms with heels – not possible now with my weak ankles.

Then there’s a 1980s dress and jacket, I simply can’t throw out.  The dress looks as though it’s made for someone very slim but the material is quite stretchy.    The label says ‘Made in England’.  That alone says it was made some time ago!


The jacket, I think, is so 80s.


I never wear this outfit now, but I can’t throw it out and I can’t say why, except that it tells me that at a particular time in my life I wore this outfit (out and about in Brighton actually) and felt good in it. Maybe I should try the dress on again.

And the oldest piece of clothing I possess is never to be thrown away as it’s over a 100-years old and is my grandfather’s mess jacket.  I haven’t found an occasion to wear it yet, but maybe in Brighton I will!

I don’t have many of these ‘I cannot throw this out’ type of clothes, so for the time being, they’re in the back of the wardrobe where they’ve always been, and will continue to be, I guess.

Do you have items of clothing you’re hanging on to, despite not wearing them for years?  If so, do tell me what they are!

With love

Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper



13 thoughts on “De-cluttering – am I any good at it? Are you?

  • 17th February 2017 at 8:08 am

    Just love the wedding picture! Get those flairs and a tie worthy of Jon Snow! Definitely wear the dress again….

    • 18th February 2017 at 9:47 am

      I tried the dress on – it’s just possible to wear but is very tight. And the neckline is low. Maybe I could wear it in the summer. It has the most amazing shape though and really I can’t throw it out! Would definitely suit an 80s themed event!

  • 17th February 2017 at 8:48 am

    I’m in the process of decluttering too, as we intend to go from one flat plus one weekend house down to one flat (albeit bigger than the one we have now). I have given away loads of books to goodwill and am still thinking I need to give away some more. Clothes have gone too. As I love spending time in the kitchen I have difficulties letting go of cooking ustensils and China. I have several serving platters and crystal glasses I will never let go of as they were my mother’s. Isn’t it funny that I feel closest to my Mum in the kitchen, using her things?
    Love the mess jacket. So much history in one piece of clothing. Wonder about the stories it could tell.

    • 18th February 2017 at 10:03 am

      Yes, I have a milk jug of my mother’s (which I use for custard) and some other kitchen things that can’t be thrown. There are some remnants of their cut glass drinks glasses that my father used to crash together to show that good glass doesn’t smash but instead makes a ringing noise. I also have some ornaments of my mother’s and several of her embroidery and cross-stitch pieces that I’ve framed. Yes, it’s all about the family history and I’ll have to tell the kids (now 38 &40) not to throw them out! So glad to meet another declutterer!

  • 17th February 2017 at 9:14 am

    Yes, I still keep a few garments for sentimental reasons, but that’s OK. I have undertaken a big de-clutter over the last year – mostly clothes, books and kitchen equipment. I feel so much better for it – as if all the stuff was weighing me down. My husband,however, likes to keep stuff, so I have to tread carefully.
    I have told our children that for presents we would prefer either gifts that can be consumed, or events. One of my daughters took me on a spa day for my last birthday! And for Christmas our other daughter gave us a selection of speciality oils and vinegars.
    On a sober note, I tell my husband that our children will have to dispose of all our stuff eventually, so we do them a kindness by decluttering now.

    • 18th February 2017 at 10:14 am

      What a good idea, the asking for consumables rather than ‘stuff’ that adds to possessions. I shall do that.

      Yes, we are being kind to our children. I carry a fair amount of ‘baggage’ as after my father’s death I had to move my mother to suitable accommodation and clear the parental house. This was when I was working full-time on a national project in London, whilst living in Brighton with 2 teenagers. And there were many ups and downs to this. I said to myself at the time, I won’t be doing this to my children. We then dealt with two of my husband’s relatives; an aunt in Somerset and an uncle and aunt in London. We all think our ageing will be a continuation of early retirement with gardening, holidaying, volunteering and pursuing hobbies. It is much harder to think of ourselves as frail and vulnerable and unable to do things – but I believe we have to face it.

  • 17th February 2017 at 2:24 pm

    Thank you for sharing this post, great ideas; and I can really relate. I’m in the process of decluttering as well, simply because I’ve retired and don’t want to spend the rest of my life cleaning around all this stuff! I have a solution for books–Kindle; a solution for photographs–Google Pics; and an excellent site for staying focused– My downfall is that I’m oh so sentimental, from wedding dress to children’s report cards to great grandma’s tea set!

    • 18th February 2017 at 10:17 am

      I can so relate to what you’ve said above. I’ve got a box filled with my kid’s (now aged 38 & 40) school reports and other stuff like that. Cannot throw that out. Also have another box with Mother’s Day cards – can’t throw that out either! I shall look at that link as we really have to be clever with our storage.

  • 17th February 2017 at 2:25 pm

    Love your grandfather’s jacket, the colour really suits you, I can see you wearing that in Brighton, and enjoying it 🙂

    • 18th February 2017 at 10:19 am

      Yes, the colour of the jacket is so good – and I will wear it in Brighton, Polly, I’m sure I will!

  • 17th February 2017 at 4:13 pm

    You MUST wear the mess jacket. It looks stunning on you. Not the sort of thing you can wear too often though as it will risk comments of “Oh look, there’s that lady in the army jacket – again!” Brighton or London can take it though!
    Every week I decide to get rid of old clothes and every week the same ones go back into the wardrobe. It brings up emotions of nostalgia (I looked fabulous in that 30 years ago), buyers remorse (I didn’t go out for a month to be able to afford that dress) and aspiration (I WILL slim into it and I WILL wear it – said about a Barbara Hulanicki dress bought only because of the label).
    I read somewhere that the trick is to actually try stuff on again – because that designer trouser suit from the 80s might now make you look like a KwiFit Fitter due to style/fabric/body shape evolution and you will see it all in a new light.
    And as for kitchen clutter, every time I stay in a self catering cottage I marvel at how I am able to cope with just the basic utensils (no need for a hundred types of knife or chopping board) and promise I am going to get rid of all my surplus stuff on my return. I never do…it always “might come in handy!”

  • 19th February 2017 at 12:11 pm

    I love the wedding dress and that you can still wear it! It makes me think about how much I loved the original Biba. I also got married (for the first time!) in 1974. I was in the third year of my degree course and I rented my wedding dress; says it all really…

  • 20th February 2017 at 6:57 am

    Love the fun you’re having with this de-cluttering.
    There are huge benefits to it, doesn’t it feel amazing when you get rid of stuff?! It is actually good for your health, and as you say, you can de-clutter anything -even your diet?!
    Awesome that you are moving to Brighton at 70 and simplifying your home life and making choices to really support yourself, very inspiring.

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