First a confession: I am a terrible hoarder. In cupboards, drawers and boxes I have compressed and stored the mess of my life.
I am paralyzed with indecision about what to keep with clothing. Hidden under my bed are dresses from 20 years ago, skirts that don't fit and pants that are never flattered.
I have spent more than a decade as Vogue Assistant Editor, and although I am never an extravagant buyer, I have collected a healthy number of design treasures that I unfortunately cannot squeeze into.
They could find happy new houses, but I cling to them selfishly. They read like a diary of my time in Vogue and evoke memories both happy and sad. Items such as the Prada shoes that I saved for months to wear to the shows in Paris, not long after I arrived.
Emily Sheffield (photo) who worked for Vogue for more than ten years, is inspired to tidy up her wardrobe after hearing about Oxfam & # 39; s # SecondHandS September campaign
They are deeply uncomfortable, but love mini art and represent that period of fun glamor in my life. I fear that I will lose something intrinsic if I give it away.
Then there is the fear of regretting a well-intended donation. After all, if I lose a few pounds, those YSL pants might fit. And certainly those Jimmy Choo death-defying heels are worth holding on to, even if it's just for theme party …
But the noise around our insatiable appetite for fashion and the damage it causes to our environment is too loud to ignore: 11 million items to landfill every week, with £ 50 million spent this summer on disposable pieces for one season.
So when I heard about Oxfam's #SecondHandS September campaign, which challenges us to buy worn-out and vintage for a month alone, I wanted to do my bit to help all of us reconsider our way of shopping.
Through my newly launched media company #ThisMuchIKnow, which helps people take positive action around the big problems of the day, I decided to take on my own wardrobe challenge. By voting, I would ask my Instagram followers (I have 19,000 of them) to help me decide what to keep, donate or sell – and hopefully persuade them to search their own cabinets.
With the help of my friend, stylist Bay Garnett, we have looped through many more willing participants, from actress Rachel Weisz to designer Bella Freud and singer Pixie Geldof.
And we want everyone to participate. The resale site Vestiaire Collective, also kindly agreed to organize a charity sale for donated designer items on September 19, with the proceeds going to Oxfam.
So far I have managed to remove around 50 items – with much more to go. So, from a recovering hoarder, here are a few lessons learned on how to responsibly decute.
Emily (photo) recommends sorting your clothing based on the number of years you have worn, when deciding which items you want to donate
GET IT ALL
Start by taking everything you've ever had doubts about, out of panic, no matter how panic you feel. Then sort it into piles, whether it is the number of years that have not been worn, the monetary value, or whether you think friends might want to grab them before going to a charity store.
I finished with five piles. There is a large pile (mainly Zara clothing) that goes to Oxfam. Another one of the more cherished, less worn items for Cloakroom, the chic, second-hand clothing website.
There are heirloom pieces that my nieces get as a present; items that are not in good condition to be worn by someone else that I will send to Oxfam & # 39; s recycling plant (donate to an Oxfam store and they will find their way there) and London-based Love Not Landfill clothing banks.
Then finally the pile that I want to keep, because I feel emotionally connected with them. I like to see them swing in my closet. And that's OK, as long as this isn't your only pile.
LOOK FOR FORGOTTEN GEMS
While searching through my attic, I found a silk paisley dress that I had bought ten years earlier from the British design duo Clements Ribeiro, last worn eight years ago on my 38th birthday – a particularly enjoyable evening. The resurrection prevented me from buying a new vacation reward. I also rediscovered an old Dries van Noten favorite in pigeon gray and violet, and another one from Joseph. Both were perfect office clothes this summer – so a total of three fewer new items were purchased.
Emily (pictured with her sister Samantha Cameron) recommends bringing clothing to the dry cleaners for repair instead of claiming damage as a lost cause
TURN A FAULT IN A PROFIT
We all have pieces that we knew were not quite right from the start. So, instead of feeling guilty about it, why not make up for your losses? Nine years ago I bought an elegant jacquard pencil skirt from my friend Jonathan Saunders.
Although it came from my favorite catwalk collection, the restrictive waistband actually meant that I never wore it. So now I finally decided to sell it – a decision that gives me a double feeling because his label ended two years ago, and to see it on someone else means that his designs continue to circulate.
TAKE THE TIME TO FIX THINGS
Just because something is damaged does not mean that it is a lost cause. Most dry cleaners do minor repairs, so ask around before you throw anything away. And boutiques are great places to find recommended seamstresses.
SHOP YOUR OWN GARDEROBE
After leaving Vogue and starting my own business, I placed strict budgets for my spending, so in the last six months I searched my rarely worn items in search of something new; something that would probably not have bothered me otherwise.
Emily suggests lending pieces you once loved to a friend if you can't record to let go completely
Items that I thought were a waste of money suddenly became stars of my weekly wardrobe. For example, a Loewe ribbed sweater from the space age that had always felt difficult, suddenly made a pleated silver skirt flattering.
CANNOT STOP? THEN Borrow
If you can't handle releasing a piece you once loved, I would be happy to lend to friends. You can always ask for it back! A cornflower blue silk slip dress – the first chic dress I bought at Vogue – was given to my best friend. She wore it last week during our vacation in Croatia.
PS I AM NOT PERFECT
I was crazy about a three-day sale after the death of Alexander McQueen. One of the pieces I bought was a swirling chiffon floor-length dress that I only wore once – during the opening night of his exhibition at the Q&A. I still do it for fun, just to feel like a naughty Cinderella.
Oxfam does not get that!
Emily (photo) recommends that you keep items that you regularly wear or that can be used in multiple outfit combinations
WHAT YOU MUST ALWAYS Stick To …
This is what is in my now tidy wardrobe for weekdays. If you have trouble reducing yours, think of the items that you wear regularly and that work in multiple outfit combinations.
THE WORK OUTPUT: I love work suits and have two sets of velvet jackets (black and ink blue from Frame) and velvet pants (black and moss green from Joseph) that I can combine with silk white shirts and T-shirts.
PERFECT JEAN SAVINGS: I've been wearing vintage Levis since I was 14. I tracked down my current pair, from the 1980s, in Los Angeles after an interview with Patricia Arquette for Vogue.
A SMALL BLACK DRESS: Or three to be precise – long-cherished treasures by Alex Eagle, Nina Ricci and Tibi.
WHITE TROUSERS: Mine are from Celine and are the most worn item in my wardrobe. I wore them to my departure party from Vogue, to a Louis Vuitton show in Tokyo and to my best friend's wedding.
GO-TO JACKET: An oversized soft Harris tweed from Holland & Holland – a gift from designer Stella Tennant. I throw it over everything. It is chic and yet homely.
LEOPARD PRINT: Every girl needs a little leopard print and my round skirt from Miu Miu has extra swirl.
Emily Sheffield's This Much I Know site will be launched on September 11. Participate in: thismuchiknow.news
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