Wise Words

A few weeks ago I was invited to do a presentation about my business. Afterwards someone asked me to talk about the most difficult client I had ever had.

I had to think about this for a moment. Not because I’ve had tonnes of difficult clients and there were too many to choose from, but because I knew that there was something important I wanted to say, and I needed to let the right words come to the surface of my mind.

After a few moments I had it.

It isn’t about one client in particular, it is about a mindset that many clients come to me with.

That mindset is that they are not good enough to have nice things, that they are not beautiful so they don’t deserve to feel and look beautiful, that they are worthless so they are not worth spending time or money or thought on. That they are only ever allowed to make do rather than make the best of themselves.

It’s a mindset that affects all of us from time to time. I have it myself on some days. For some people though, it is something that makes their lives miserable every day.

It’s miserable because whether we like it or not, unless we are naturists, we have to get up and get dressed, every single day of our lives. Some days, depending on what we do, we have to dress multiple times, if we have a uniform for work, if we’re going out, if we do a hobby that involves wearing specialist kit. It all means looking in the mirror, making choices about how we dress, thinking about how we look and eventually, going shopping for clothes.

If we hate how we look. If we can’t bear to look in the mirror.  If every time we look in the mirror we are critical and shout at ourselves for not being someone different, that’s a  punishing lifestyle to sustain right there.

And it’s a vicious cycle. We hate how we look, so we don’t allow ourselves to have nice things, which means that we look worse than we could, which makes us hate how we look, which means we can’t allow ourselves nice things, and so on.

Also, people can very often become frightened of changing their style, because it means confronting the beliefs they have about themselves, looking at themselves properly and making changes that other people might notice and comment on, and for people who hate the way they look, being noticed is a whole other nightmare.

They look at themselves in the mirror, and instead of being kind to themselves, celebrating what they do have to be pleased about and how they do look, they spend the time thinking about the gap between the way they are now and the way they want to look, or the person they want to look like. Many people fall down that gap into depression and self loathing and find it really hard to get out again.

When someone else looks at them, if they have to think about how that person perceives them, they will inevitably run the same patterns. ‘She says I look great, but she’s being kind. She is deliberately not saying that I have fat ankles, or that I don’t look like Gigi Hadid, but she’s thinking it.’

For what it’s worth, this is what I have learned over the years:

Nobody is looking at you like you look at yourself. Mostly, people are too busy thinking about themselves and how they look to give you more than a passing glance.

Your image in the mirror is not who you are. Your image on a photo is not who you are. It captures a single moment in time, that’s all. Your body, your mind, your face, are all mobile and they change all the time. If you don’t feel good looking in the mirror now, go away, change your attitude and come back and look again. Everything changes. Stop judging yourself on a single, frozen moment that will never come back again.

Stop thinking about what you might look like in future. Focus on what you look like now and celebrate it. What I have learned over the decades is that nothing dates us like fashion. It ages badly. You might think that you will look terrific if only you have this item or that item. In twenty years time, in a photo, it’s going to look as daft as everything else that was super on trend. Enjoy the moment, don’t allow yourself to be trapped or defined in it.

Sometimes, when we fear that people are being critical of our looks it is because our own discomfort at how we look can turn into critical thinking about others. When we are uncomfortable in our skin and that feeling is overwhelming and we can’t deal with it, we tend to push it out onto others to give ourselves a break. Then we fear that other people are doing the same to us.  When we start to talk to ourselves kindly, be more accepting of ourselves and celebrate ourselves, our need to tear others down lessens, and we can relax, because we can be generous to others and see the good in them. It gives us more confidence. It allows us to walk taller and own our own worth.

When this happens we can even tell others what we like about them. We can say: ‘I love your hair,’ ‘Your skirt is great, it really suits you,’ ‘Your figure is amazing’. When we share those things with other people, it comes back to us. We are changing our attention from negative to positive and it can have a truly miraculous effect on how we feel and see ourselves.

If someone says something nice about you, they mean it. The fact that you can’t accept that compliment is something for you to work on.

No matter how hard you work on yourself, make up, size, hair colour, beauty wise, there will always be something you are not happy with, because it is never about the outside and always a sign that something inside of you is not comfortable. When you figure out what the inside things are and address those, the outside things will look after themselves.

You always deserve to feel good about yourself. Always.

You can effect change from the outside in as well as the inside out. If you are feeling bad about yourself, but you treat yourself with kindness by wearing clothes that make you feel good, you will start to feel better on the inside, because the vicious cycle can always be reversed into a cycle of kindness and love and generosity.

You are perfect, right now. Just the way you are. You are unique and wonderful and you deserve to feel fabulous in what you wear and how you think.

 

 

 

 

Lurgy Dressing

I hope you’ve all survived the January sales and if you’re still sticking to any new year’s resolutions you might have made, well done, particularly if it involves lycra, leisure wear and exercise.

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I am in the throes of a diabolical winter cold which has seen me wearing mostly pyjamas for the last week. Today however, despite the fact that I still feel rough, I decided to get properly dressed. This is a sign that I must be on the mend, and I do feel better for it.

It’s amazing how much paying attention to the small things can help boost your mood, even if things are still a bit grim. I thought I’d put some of my sartorial self care tips up on the blog in case you’re in the midst of the Winter doldrums yourself.

Some of these are really basic. They’re not meant to be insulting. When I am physically, or mentally in a dip, sometimes I need to be reminded that even though I may not have power over the big picture, I can still do the small stuff for myself, or get someone to help me if I can’t quite manage.

I have often found that the very basic things are the things that I tend to skip because everything seems too hard and what does it matter if I don’t brush my hair for a few days?  When I do them, I do feel better and sometimes it takes a nudge from someone I love to make me do them and then I kick myself for having forgotten how much of a difference they make.

Shower or bath. A hot shower, particularly when I’m feeling bone tired, or cold, or thick headed with cold, is a real tonic.

Clean sheets. This is paradise. I will hear no arguments to the contrary.

Kleenex Balsam. It just adds insult to injury to have a sore nose from blowing it on loo roll.

Hair and make up.  I don’t mean going out looking like Gigi Hadid. I mean putting your face on so that you feel more like you. Whatever that means.  For me, it’s usually about putting foundation on to cover up my eye bags and sticking some sculpting gel in my hair. It takes about two minutes.

Proper clothes.  I say this as someone who thinks that pyjamas are totally acceptable day wear. Again, I am not talking about getting ready for an interview clothes, or ball gowns, or corsets. I’m talking about what makes you feel good. Do you have something in your wardrobe that is clean and comfortable and that makes you feel ready to face the world again, or at least think about facing the world again? These are the clothes I mean.

So, as this is a blog about what you wear, here are some of the things that I turn to in my sartorial hour of need.

At the moment I look pretty rough. I ventured out to the post office the day before yesterday and got cornered by a drunk man who told me that I wouldn’t understand his desperate search for love because I have clearly been married for thirty or forty years. That’s the kind of skin I’m in right now.

So for now I am avoiding colours that draw what little colour I have out of my haggard skin. This means, for me, no black and no brights.  I’m wearing a lot of soft colours, and a lot of navy. Navy is very kind to ageing skin. My ageing skin.

Soft material. I don’t want scratchy clothes against my tender skin. This is one of those colds that makes you feel like you’ve accidentally put your skin on a boil wash and now it’s a bit tight. Gentle is the watchword here. So no linen, no heavy cotton or fierce wool and no nasty seams in all the wrong places.

I need shape when I’m not feeling myself. I need to be reminded I have a figure. This is just me. You might want to forget everything about your body, in which case, loose fitting layers and ponchos are the way forward. For me, I like to see that not all of me is going to the dogs, so structured clothes are good, but not too tight. I am currently wearing a midi length tea dress. I’m usually a size 10, but this is in a 12 so that it’s not pulling anywhere. It has bell sleeves with deep button cuffs and tailored panels. It’s got a soft, v neckline with a bow front. I’m not buttoning up the neck or doing up the bow, that’s too restrictive right now, but if I wanted to feel a bit more effortful, I could. It’s making me feel good but without me having to put any effort in.

Dresses all the way. Dresses are easy wins when getting dressed seems like a massive chore. I have one decision to make with a dress, as opposed to several with tops and sweaters and skirts and trousers. Sweater dresses can be brilliant for this kind of clothing emergency, although it’s all about the feel of them for me. Cashmere or cotton mix is fine, anything scratchy is not.

Elastication. This is wonderful. I don’t want hard lines, seams, panels, zips and buttons. Usually I love all these things. Right now it’s too fiddly.  I am completely in love with Kemi Telford’s clothes because they are all super easy to wear and elasticated without being ageing or frumpy. I haven’t bought a piece yet, but I will and I urge you to do the same.

I’m also all about layering. Menopausal as I am this is becoming a key feature for me. I spend my life freezing or boiling and ripping layers on or off as applicable. Right now that’s even worse because I have cold shivers or fevers on top, so I am doing layers. Hats, scarves, socks over my tights, t shirts with sweaters etc.

And my key comfort tip at home. No bra.  Oh the joy of no bra. Honestly, it’s the way forward. Unfettered bosoms for the win.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sumptuous

I’ve been away for the weekend, gearing up for my first, full time week back at work since Christmas. It was wonderfully relaxing, although even when I’m away I never turn down the chance to scout for new stock and I came back with some really beautiful pieces that I will be listing over the coming days. Luckily for me, that bit of my job never seems like work. I view it more as treasure hunting.

I’ll be featuring some of my amazing finds here on the blog, but in the mean time I want to share some of the fascinating stuff I read over the Christmas break, in a book called The Secret Lives of Colour by Kassia St. Clair.

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Each section of the book is broken up into colours and their varying shades, and the author takes you through lots of fascinating snippets of information with regard to how the colour was discovered, created and used.  There’s a lot of crossover with fashion as she talks about dyes as well as pigments for painting.

I was particularly interested in her mention of Sumptuary Laws.  These were introduced into the UK in the 14th century and remained enshrined in law until the 17th century, although their after-effects are still very much felt, even today.

Sumptuary laws were to do with luxury products and who could own and wear them. They were introduced for two reasons, one was to ensure that there was an easy way to recognise social class through the clothing and colours you wore, and the other was to keep luxury goods rare and expensive to manipulate trade and the economy.

There were restrictions on which sections of society could wear what colours. Some of this would have been easy to enforce in Medieval times as it was only with the advent of the Industrial Revolution that the dyeing process became cheap and accessible to most social strata. Before that, the time and effort required to produce colours like purple and green, for example, were so vast that the price of the material effectively put them out of the reach of regular citizens.  If you were a peasant, like me, brown or russet would have been the palette you were allowed to wear.

There were also laws regarding how short or long your clothing could be and what type of cloth you could wear and use.  As the centuries progressed, these laws became more complex and in some cases, even had nationalist overtones.  Queen Elizabeth I for example, banned traditional Irish costume on nationalist grounds.

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Even after sumptuary laws were relaxed, there were societal rules that governed dress, particularly for women. Pockets for example, were not a consideration for women until well into the 20th century because women were items to be owned, not individuals who owned things that could be put in pockets.

Queen Victoria’s obsession with mourning the death of her husband, Albert, plunged British society into a fashion for mourning, the rules of which could govern a woman’s entire life. Full mourning for close relatives had to be observed for two years, with half mourning thereafter. With the mortality rate so high, some women literally spent their entire adult life in mourning, confined to black, grey and occasionally mauve if you were lucky enough to make it into half mourning.

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Sumptuary law was also enforced to keep luxury items rare, desirable and expensive to buy.  We no longer have these kind of laws and you would think, with the increasing popularity of designer labels and their availability across class divides that this would no longer be a ‘thing’, but it is.

The label Burberry had a late renaissance with its signature check during 2005. It became fashionable amongst what was slightingly known as the ‘chav’ population and was regularly seen on high streets up and down the land, inspiring many a knock off market stall trader.  Sales of Burberry check rocketed, which you would think would be good for business, but at the same time, the desirability of Burberry as a brand amongst its regular customers plummeted.

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The crunch came when the passion for Burberry check was over. At this point its working class market walked away and its aristocratic market had already left, leaving Burberry with a big problem. Effectively it had to re-invent itself and re-create its luxury niche if it wanted to survive.  In the last few years it has been working hard at this with some success, but hit the headlines last year when it was found to be burning hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of unsold stock to keep its luxury, niche intact.

It seems that although we are no longer governed by sumptuary laws on the statute books, the ideas behind them are alive and well in the Twenty First Century market place.

 

Sales Shopping

Boostique is back with a fresh start for January 2019.

2018 did not go quite as planned chez Boo and family commitments meant that Boostique had to operate in a rather skeletal way for most of the year.  Things have now (hopefully) changed for the better and I am dusting down the blog and starting the year with my top tips for Sale shopping.

I do not do Sale shopping, personally. The High Street is not my natural shopping habitat at the best of times, and the sales do not bring out the best in people, so I tend to steer clear. I might venture out right at the bitter end and have a poke through the absolute dregs, but otherwise no.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t pick up fabulous items and real bargains, it’s just not how I like to shop.

All of you die hard January sales shoppers will have already done your sale shopping on Boxing day no doubt, but the sales rumble on for a good few weeks yet, and for those of you still thinking of browsing the rails here are some tips.

  1. It doesn’t matter if something is 70% off, if you didn’t like it before the sale when it was full price, you won’t like it now, even if it is a bargain. Avoid buying things just because they are cheap. This is a false economy. You are just spending money on things you will never wear and you will feel sad and guilty whenever you see it taking up space in your wardrobe.
  2. If you’re not sure about an item, try it on. This will make your decision for you. Never take a sale item home, telling yourself you will try it on there. When you get it home, if you don’t like it, you almost certainly won’t bother to return it. If you can’t be bothered to try it on in the shop, it’s usually a sign you don’t like it enough to own it, so put it back on the hanger and walk away.
  3. If you’re shopping the sales purely because they are value for money, think about the fact that shopping vintage and second hand will save you much more money than the sales ever will and you will be more likely to find things you like and which fit you.
  4. If you liked something before the sale and you see it for sale, then that’s perfect and you should snap it up. If it’s not in your size, take the opportunity to try a few sizes. Sizes are never true and vary from shop to shop, so experiment with size, but do try on before you buy. My point about not bothering to take sales stuff back holds here too. If an item is too big but you love it, think about spending a little on having it altered. If you’ve saved 50% on the ticket price you can afford to have the alteration made.
  5. If you are sale shopping because you need certain items, make a plan before you go and stick to it. This will cut down the risk of you coming home with a bag full of things that you didn’t mean to buy and still having to go out and buy the things you did.
  6. If you are the sort of person who is faithful to a particular brand, style or item, you can use the sales effectively to buy multiples of things you know you will wear again and again.
  7. If you are using the sale to shop for things outside of your normal, day to day wardrobe, take the opportunity to try on things you like but would normally not take a risk on.  The operative phrase here is ‘try on’. Do not take something home you are taking a risk on if you haven’t tried it on first. If you hate it, you will never take it back and it will just be something else clogging up your wardrobe.
  8. if you are thinking of shopping the sales for fun and you have some money put aside to ‘fritter’ away, have you thought about spending it on a piece that you have always wanted to own or buy that isn’t in the sale, but which will afford you much more pleasure than six pairs of cut price jeans or a weirdly cut top that looked like fun but now sheds sequins all over the inside of your wardrobe?

Finally, make sure you have plenty of pit stops for tea and cake and if you find yourself too stressed, give up and come home. There will be plenty of other times to shop for clothes and not destroy your own peace of mind.

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It’s not all ball gowns

Last week was an interesting one, here at Boostique. The relentless glamour of my life was interrupted by a violent vomiting bug that swept through the house like dose of salts and left us all rather windswept and battered.

As we all went down with it one by one, it took me back to when my children were very small and this was pretty much the daily grind. One would bring something awful back from school or nursery, and then it would get shared around like a grim version of pass the parcel only for something new to arrive as soon as the first thing had been recovered from. There was a solid ten years of my life where I was basically a glorified nursemaid. I don’t miss it.

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You might be wondering why this blog, which is all about finding your style has to do with spending your days mopping up vomit?

The thing is, unless you are a nudist (good luck to you), you have to get dressed every day, not just on the high days and holidays.  When you’re a busy mum of small children and you know that your day will almost certainly involve a much closer relationship with other people’s bodily fluids than you might like, stickiness, having to lift several stone of squirming child, carry a huge bag, and possibly run like the wind, you need your wardrobe figured out.  You’re asking a lot of it. It’s probably more important to dress well on these days than on the odd date night or at the occasional wedding.

People tend to forget that they can dress nicely every day, and that if they do, they can start to feel better about themselves.  It’s not about donning a ball gown with your Marigolds when you know you’re going to be wrestling Calpol into a feverish child all day.  It is about finding wardrobe staples that work for you pragmatically and stylishly and which give you a little bit more confidence in yourself and your abilities on days when you are otherwise worn to a frazzle.

It could be that finding a few pairs of a really flattering cut of jeans will lift your mood and make you feel like superwoman. It could be finding a perfect t-shirt with the ideal neckline and knowing that you have one in every colour.  It could be about sourcing a great pair of shoes that are beautiful but also really practical for pursuing a toddler across the park in. It’s different for every woman. It depends on your circumstances and your taste, but finding the key items to make your wardrobe fit for purpose whilst making you feel like you haven’t checked out of the human race, will make a world of difference.

If you are looking for a simple, cost-effective wardrobe revamp with practical needs high on the agenda, then talk to me today. I can help you.

I’m also really handy with Dettol and wet wipes.

Summer is icumen in

I hate to say this, in fear that I might blight things, but it seems as if summer may actually be upon us. I am, of course, crossing my fingers and whispering this in case it all goes horribly wrong now, but we have had several consecutive days of glorious sunshine, blisteringly blue skies, and heat which means I can throw all the doors and windows open and leave them open.

I have a confession to make. I actually find dressing for summer, harder than dressing for winter. I am good at layering. I am brilliant at covering my body up. I am less confident when it comes to peeling the layers off, but this is what summer demands.

I do not like the fact that my upper arms are chunkier than I am happy with. I don’t like the fact that I have the palest of pale white skin. Think lard. Think skimmed milk. Think blue veins. This is particularly problematic for me with regard to my legs, as I have, in the last year or two, developed a varicose vein, which is my nemesis.

I do not like my belly, which after five miscarriages, one emergency surgery and three c-sections is rather like a collapsed parachute, and the less said about the ruin of my belly button, the better. I am naturally a hairy person, and if I don’t shave daily I start to resemble a yeti within forty eight hours. I hate my feet, which are like hobbit feet, practical for the shire, but not winning any awards.

I could go on, but you get the picture.

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I am telling you this, not because I want your pity (or you to recoil from me if you meet me in the street), but because this is the reality of my body. It’s no good me going around pretending that I am comfortable with this when I’m not. It’s no good me dressing as if I were seventeen again, if it just makes me acutely aware of all the bits of me that are no longer seventeen.  This is me. This is my body. This is what I have to work with. So what do I do?

Well, I could pretend that summer isn’t happening, stay indoors with the blinds down and listen to sad songs until Autumn.

I could still pretend that summer isn’t happening and wear many layers and live with the fact that I will sweat like a pig for the next few months, get heat rash and chafing and feel miserable, but at least nobody will see my legs.

I could go on a crash diet, pay for my veins to be hoovered, spend hours in a tanning booth, get cosmetic surgery and do endless arm crunches. This will make me unspeakably miserable, suck all the joy out of summer and probably not be effective until winter, given that I have a lot to do.

Or I could learn to accept my body for what it is, try to love it as best I can for doing a frankly marvellous job in the face of neglect and adversity for the last 46 years, and learn to work my wardrobe so that I can accentuate the positive.

I think, given that I am a) lazy and b) not a masochist, that I am going to stick with the last option.  It’s more loving, less punishing and infinitely easier to achieve.

Here are a few tips and tricks I’m going to employ this summer in my wardrobe/dressing:

I’m going to seek out Fifties style swimming costumes because they’re flattering for almost all body sizes. They have structure, and are not cut so high at the leg.  Boden is a good place for these, but there are a million retro shops now that do them and there are some really lovely ones around for not too much money.

I’m going to ignore my upper arms, but on the days I can’t, I will go for interesting half or cap sleeves, and on the days when it’s chillier, I will be looking at lots of thin knit, cardigans. Statement sleeves were very popular last year, and the charity shops are full of them this year. If, like me, you don’t give a crap about what’s in and what’s out, go and fill your boots.

I’m going to embrace the maxi dress fully.  I have a selection of great, vintage Nineteen Seventies ones, which I prefer to modern ones because they usually have better sleeves, but there are a ton out there to suit everyone.

I am going to use layers, just like I do in winter, but I am going to go for thin cottons and linens. I’m particularly interested in asymmetric hems, and/or frills at various lengths which will draw attention away from my natural waist/belly. I am looking for a trompe l’oeil effect that lengthens my silhouette and pulls the eye from top to bottom rather than side to side. It’s actually a lot easier to do with cottons and linens, or even silk, because the fabric is thinner so you can add more layers and still feel cool.

I am going to ban myself from reading any magazines which talk about getting ‘beach body ready’ or which list tonnes of terrible, self-flagellating things you can do in order that other people will look at you and not cry. I am going to remind myself that the most important person to please is myself, and as long as I am content, it doesn’t matter if someone doesn’t think I should be wearing this or that.

I am going to throw the magazines away and read Diana Henry’s How to Eat a Peach instead, and spend all that time I’ve recouped from fretting, thinking about delicious food I can be eating this summer in my garden, with my friends and family, who will not care what I look like, because they love me.

The Cobbler’s Children

I have a confession to make.

My wardrobe has been in complete disarray for months. In fact, in wardrobe terms I had gone from being a woman who has an eclectic and wide array of interesting garments to the crazy cat lady hoarder.

The difficulty in my line of work you see, is saying no to things that are too good to pass up, either because they’re on my fashion bucket list, or because they will work with an outfit I want to style up. Then there’s the stuff that is such a good bargain it would be rude to say no.

This picture is an accurate reflection of what my wardrobe had become.

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As I have a somewhat eclectic style, there are no colours I will not wear and I ignore sizing labels completely. This means there is no way I can filter things out, because I learned that I can never say never when it comes to what is wearable and what isn’t.

In physical terms, I have a large wardrobe by anyone other than Mariah Carey’s exacting standards. My wardrobe is, in fact, a small room off the bedroom. Why it is there I am unsure. It is ‘L’-shaped and the width of a reasonably narrow corridor. The boiler (which looks like something out of a science fiction film) sits in one end, but the rest is just dead space. If it had been designed as an actual walk in wardrobe, I would have sacked the architect. It’s more of a sidle in wardrobe, and a ‘where the hell am I going to put that?’ wardrobe.

When we moved in, it had a wobbly clothing rail attached to the longest wall, and that was it. Over the last few years I have loaded and loaded things on to it, to the point where it was actually beginning to buckle. All other storage involved large plastic tubs on the floor and a small chest of drawers rammed up against the boiler which caused my long-suffering husband to shout ‘Christ Alive, this is a fire hazard!’ every time he had to go in there to fiddle with a valve.

Last year, we had a marvellous chap called Andy round for several weeks. He was the epitome of the handyman, indeed, for those of you old enough to recall the televisual feast that was Changing Rooms, he was like your actual Handy Andy. He worked through the list of ‘small jobs’ that we had accrued over the last few years, and managed to tick a fair few of them off. For me, the most significant thing was that he replaced my rickety clothes rail with scaffolding poles (truly) and made me some narrow shelves in various weird shaped alcoves in my wardrobe to try and maximise the usage for my difficult space.

For a while, this helped enormously, but the advent of my new business venture meant that clothes were piling in there faster than they were coming out, and we had reached critical mass by the time my saviour arrived.

It appears that I am absolutely invested in the whole ‘cobbler’s children’ story. Only the cobbler’s children have no shoes and I have four cupboards full. I can organise other people’s wardrobes with no trouble at all. I cannot organise my own to save my life.

Luckily, someone else can. I threw myself on the mercy of the absolutely brilliant, Carol Richardson. Carol, who I call Wonder Carol, because that is what she is, has a business that is dedicated to de-cluttering. It is called Absolutely Tidy, and it is, and so is she, and now I am on my way to being, and really I cannot recommend her enough.

I met Carol at a networking event, and we clicked. I knew I needed some help, and I trusted that she could help me in a way that would work for me. I wanted someone who I  felt wouldn’t be critical of me or my life or house. I wanted someone who was the calm to my chaos, and who had the patience to figure out what I needed. I wanted someone who would prompt me when I got off track, but who I never felt was forcing me to do things or rush decisions I wasn’t ready to make. I wanted someone who would be flexible in terms of working, and who wouldn’t just try to Marie Kondo me. I’m never going to be a minimalist, I just wanted someone to help me make my life and home more manageable.

I also wanted someone who wouldn’t judge the fact that I could do all these things for myself, but I just haven’t. My house bravely teeters on the brink between lovably eccentric and scary chaos. Sometimes, depending on what is going on, it tips over.

I know I am prone to hoarding. Most of the time I can rein it in sufficiently. Sometimes I don’t. Usually I get to a point where I am so sick of it, I crack and spend long, resentful evenings and weekends organising myself, running backwards and forwards to the tip, to the charity shop, to Homebase etc and turn it around.  I reckon it works on about a two year cycle. I knew this was the year I needed to get a grip. I’ve known for months, but it turns out that having a hysterectomy, starting a new business, spiritually spring cleaning your mental state and maintaining domestic harmony do not always make comfortable bed fellows, and domestic harmony seemed the least important, so I dropped it.

I am getting re-married to my lovely husband at the end of September. We are having it at our house. This means I need to have a workable, beautiful space where I can host about eighty people, and not worry that they are going to call social services on me. I also run a clothing business in which a significant amount of money is tied up in the clothes sitting in my wardrobe that I don’t wear any more. Things needed to change. I needed help, because although I could make the time to do all of the above, my time would be better spent doing other things, and I cannot do everything.

That’s exactly where Carol came in.

She emptied out my entire wardrobe and we went through it piece by piece, deciding what to keep, what to sell, what to bin and what to give to charity shops. We then organised what I was going to keep, and figured out how best to use the space in my wardrobe so that it was all accessible and I could see everything.

This took some time, as you can imagine. We kept in contact between sessions and she sent me links to various storage ideas, a Pinterest board she had created for me, and kept me up to date with various questions and ideas. She was quick to respond to my input, and was flexible enough to tailor her thoughts to my needs as we worked. The brief changed as we went on, mainly because she was extremely good at gently eliciting information from me with regard to what was important to me and how I really wanted things to be rather than how I imagined things would be. She was also extremely good with my budget. We ended up repurposing a lot of things I already have. Weirdly, by paying her, I ended up saving myself money because I didn’t throw money at storage ideas that looked good on paper, but which didn’t work in real life.

I am so delighted with what she has done for my wardrobe, I’m keeping her on to help me plan my wedding, and have also been inspired to tackle some of my smaller, tidying jobs on my own. She’s fantastic to work with and will organise everything from your sock drawer to getting you a new washing machine delivered and fitted.

Carol+Richardson+Professional+Organiser+Leicester

She really is Wonder Carol.