The big summer wardrobe changeover

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I’ve been putting it off, but with temperatures rising into the high 20s, it’s time to change my wardrobe from winter to summer.

Some women have a clothing rail, and can just swap summer and winter from one end to the other, while others wear the same thing all year round, but I must admit I wear radically different clothes in different seasons.

This house is medieval pile with insufficient heating, perched on a hilltop exposed to the elements. And I work from home, so I’m here all day.

In winter, that means thermals, t-shirts, knitwear, Uggs and thick moleskin jeans, while in summer, only the t-shirts are still used. I’ll keep out a couple of lightweight cashmere knits, but my summer trousers are thin, I switch to blouses (too cold for those in winter here), and I get out all my linen skirts and dresses for working in our (very non-air-conditioned) home office.

However, I also confess to having that greatest of luxuries – another room in which to store my out-of-season clothing. Formally the spare room, and then the sewing room, one of its principal functions now is as extra wardrobe space. Somewhere in there my summer clothes are lurking in flatpacks, waiting to be shaken out, ironed and rehung.

It’s the ironing bit of this equation that’s putting me off. I’m not a great lover of ironing, though I press items religiously when I’m actually making clothes. But since I left The City, I don’t mind looking a tad more crumpled. After all, linen’s supposed to look creased… But I hit on an idea a couple of years ago that works really well – twist the stuff when it comes out of the washer, fasten it with elastic bands and dry it in the sun for a mega-creased shibori sort of look. It quite transforms a garment into something it never was before.

Anyhoo, for those of you who are about to get out the summer clothes, it’s a good opportunity to chuck stuff out, and the usual method applies.

1 Get it all out at once and pile it on the bed, and then go through it religiously and try it all on in front of a big mirror.

2 Shake and hang up anything that you look great in or feel happy in or that makes you smile.

3 Discard without mercy anything that doesn’t fit or that you haven’t worn in two years (no, don’t keep things to get into when you’ve lost the weight…). Discard any item that is out of date. Discard anything that’s disgracefully worn and not even the postman can see you in. Don’t feel guilty if you chuck some things just because they’ve had one outing too often. You’ll be taking all this to charity anyway, so someone else will get the benefit. I just remeasured myself and found I’d gone down a cup size in my bra, which means a refit.

4 Sort out the maybes – the clothes that would still be perfect with a bit of a tweak. These are either clothes you love but are bored with, or clothes that are great except for some minor problem (a juice stain on a blouse, for instance).

If you have clothes that you’re bored with, think first of all about changing the buttons – this is a minor tweak that takes about 10 minutes, but which can radically transform an outfit. If you’re a more talented sewist, think about braids, trims, embroideries and appliques to refresh a garment that still offers you a good cut and fit. I sometimes dye an item after a few years, which can change it completely.

With outfits that need minor repair, place to one side and aim to do one a week until they’re finished. Minor repairs might include loose buttons, fallen hems, hanging threads etc. Stains that aren’t treatable, think about dyeing. My well water often leaves indelible rust-coloured stains on clothing, and gradually turns all white garments a nasty shade of brown, so periodically I batch-dye a bunch of items a dark colour such as chocolate, navy or black. If the clothes are still in good condition, this is a very cheap way to give yourself a wardrobe boost.

Once you’ve got your wardrobe sorted (and the items arranged by colour and type of course), go through and spot the gaps – the right bra to go under a t-shirt (I bought two more Doreens on Ebay yesterday), the right length of jean for a flat sandal. Buy the clothes you need to get you through the summer first – before you get waylaid by prettier offerings. For me this year it’s long vests to go under short t-shirts. A black one, a grey one and a blue one should do the trick. Plus a pair of Footglove mules for when my feet spread in the heat. What with that and my new bras, I’m sorted.

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